Tag Archives: sint pieters

Thursday 7th April 2022 – MY BLOOD PRESSURE …

… is up. When it was checked at the hospital this morning, it was at 168 over 109 and that set all sorts of alarm bells ringing in there.

They have told me to double the dose of certain medication that I take, and to visit my GP for a blood test in 14 days time to see if this extra medication is causing any more problems.

Mind you, had I told them the real reason for the high blood pressure they wouldn’t have done anything at all and allowed it to pass. It’s all to do with the fact that I had a visitor during the night, someone who stayed with me all the way through.

Not Zero though, despite my comments yesterday. In actual fact TOTGA had the call-up last night, and a very young TOTGA it was too. There was a group of us on board a ship – maybe even THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR discussing all kinds of things. For some reason I lay down to sleep under a blanket. It was one of those sleeps where you were asleep but you could hear everything that was going on. They were talking away. I turned over and fell off the seat onto the floor. Everyone came round to see me and to see what I was doing and help me up. Gradually the conversation drifted off and it was just me and TOTGA. I started to become quite familiar with her. I happened to mention that I knew almost everyone on board to which she replied that so did she. She pointed out a few people whom she knew. There were persons who were friends of my mother so she said “let’s go downstairs and see who I know through my grandfather”. At this point I slapped her behind. We were halfway down the stairs when there was a bride and groom coming up. They had married and were travelling on their honeymoon, still in their wedding clothes. They were saying that they had just bought a pub in Alsager and had demolished it and were going to build houses on it. They were really surprised to see TOTGA here. The way that the two of us were fooling around, it was quite obvious to anyone that the two of us were a couple, which would have been quite strange because of the difference between our two ages during this dream but it was pretty clear to everyone. TOTGA knew the bride and that’s how we were talking but it was clear to everyone that the two of us were certainly a couple.

I forgot to mention that the group of us was doing things in music and the reason why the 2 of us were alone was that we had to persuade whoever was supposed to be looking after her that she could come on a tour abroad with the rest of us and play the music and that she’d be fine and well-looked after (clearly whoever writes the script and directs these nocturnal rambles doesn’t know me very well. Since when would TOTGA ever be safe alone with me?) etc but we didn’t reach that point in the dream

Later on I stepped back into this dream where the leader of the orchestra was trying to spit up TOTGA and me. He thought that our relationship was inappropriate but I was so unwilling to give her up and she was so unwilling to give me up. All around us things like Russian songs and Russian poems had been written on the walls of this ship and the 2 of us wrote something on there too but I can’t remember what.

And then I was back in this dream yet again but I missed a lot of the start that I can’t remember that I’d dictated into my hand without the dictaphone being there. The 2 of us were walking down a set of steps with some people whom she knew, her parents or guardians or something. I had my arm around her but considering her age that would be most unlikely. Again we were looking for these musicians, talking about playing in this music group. I’ve missed so much off the start of this with dictating into my hand.

Finally I was back in this dream again. We’d made it to Köln. I came out of the station and onto the square there and was thinking about where we were going to play. It looked very much as if we’d made up our minds so I went back to the station to find everyone else and that’s all that i can remember of this, coming out of the station, making up my mind and going back. But I’m sure that there was a lot more to it that I can’t remember now.

So having spent the whole night in the company of a very young TOTGA and on a very familiar basis too, it’s hardly surprising that my blood pressure was racing. Yours would have been racing too under these circumstances.

When the alarm went off I was already up and about and when the second one went off, I had actually already had a shower. It goes to show that I can do it when I really try.

rebuilding tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022Having made my butties I staggered off outside into the rain and my walk up to the hospital.

At the start of the Tiensestraat where it leaves the Rector de Somerplein I walked past the building that they started to knock about a couple of months ago.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we were lucky enough to have had a peek inside back then but it’s not quite so easy right now with all of the goings-on.

But I’m intrigued to see what they are going to be doing with it. I hope that it’s not going to become another fast-food joint. There are already plenty of those in the town and it would be nice to see something rather more substantial.

photographer rector de somerplein leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that taking photos of people taking photos is a fairly regular theme that runs through these pages.

Today we have something slightly different, a photo of someone making a film.

Back there where they have the camera, there’s some kind of plaque set in the floor that doesn’t announce anything in particular yet it seems to be of a great interest to the guy with his camera and his assistant.

That prompted me to make a mental note to go for a closer look on the way home but regrettably, it seems that I forgot.

marquee stand demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022My route carried on through the rain down to the demolition site that was formerly Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

The site over there where there’s the concrete base is where they occasionally erect a marquee when there is something going on in the town but right now there isn’t anything happening anywhere.

But as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … if they are going to be building some kind of “model village” on this site with expensive apartments and all that kind of thing, they are going to have to do something about the view.

demolition site brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022This isn’t really what you want to see if you’ve shelled out a lot of money for somewhere reasonable to live, is it?

But then again, as we have often said about Belgium, they don’t seem to be in all that much of a hurry to do things around here so I’m not expecting these apartments to see the light of day for quite a while yet. It took them long enough to knock down the hospital.

But as we saw yesterday, the pile of soil on the extreme right seems to be slowly growing. Perhaps one of these days they’ll get round to landscaping part of the site with it. Just imagine the weeds that will be growing in it once the summer arrives.

new building kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022And while we’re on the subject of growing … “well, one of us is” – ed … the newt building in between the Kupicijnenvoer and the Zongang seems to have stopped.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last time that we are here we saw them caulking the joints where they had installed the windows. This month they have now gone along and installed the exterior cladding.

They have been quite quick doing that, which just goes to show that even Belgian builders can get a move on when they have to. It won’t be long before the tenants start moving in.

It’s not for me though. It’ll be quite dark in there, I reckon. I’ll need more light than they can offer otherwise I’ll wilt.

new building kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022Another new building that has attracted our interest over the last few months is the one that they are erecting further down the Kapucijnenvoer on the other side of the road.

They are making a start on the second floor now and in the normal course of events it shouldn’t take them too long to do that. But the depth of the foundations and the height of the cranes onsite seem to suggest that the building is going to be a lot higher that that.

The size of the underground car park is quite impressive too so I’m intrigued to see how tall the building will be and who is going to occupy it. In Leuven you would think that it would be something to do with the University, but why would they need such a car park?

And the final climb up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan finished me off. Despite the cooling effect of the rain I was defeated at the halfway mark and had to stop for breath

furniture lift monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022And a couple of places further up the hill too, although one was for a photo opportunity too.

This is something that you don’t see too often, except in Belgium where you find them quite often. Moving house is sometimes complicated when apartment-dwelling is commonplace, and the easiest way to shift your furniture can often be “out of the window”.

That’s where these furniture lifts come in handy. They can do the job in a couple of minutes. When I moved into my apartment in Brussels in 2000 I hired one, but when I finally moved out in 2011 I went out in the hours of darkness via the interior lift.

And so I struggled on up the hill to the hospital. It was a bad day.

At the urology department they poked and prodded me around, took piles of copious notes and weighed me. Despite all of the exercise that I’ve had over the last week I’ve gained 2kg and I don’t know how. And they’ll “get back to me” in due course.

They had already been looking for me at the Haematology Day Clinic so when I arrived they were ready for me. As soon as I walked into the reception she had the paperwork and my ID bracelet all ready. The fact that they are beginning to know me in the hospital is a little disturbing.

With everything ready, I was coupled up quite quickly and I didn’t have to wait very long for the doctor to see me.

She was much more friendly than the one last time but she had no concrete suggestions about my struggles. Next month I have the appointment with the heart specialist and we’ll see what he can suggest.

Having picked up some extra medication I headed for home and halfway down the hill I had a ‘phone call from Urology. “Come back on 5th May”. So that’s now three appointments on that day. Things are obviously reaching a critical point.

bicycle rack kruisstraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo April 2022Several months ago I noticed that they were installing some cycle racks at the side of the Sin Jakobuskerk.

At the time I speculated that they weren’t likely to see much business because they were rather off the beaten track as far as accommodation goes, and it looks as if I might have been right.

What caught my interest though was the electric bike in the foreground. I noticed that it was carrying some kind of registration plate. As well as that, instead of having a chain it has a synthetic drive belt.

Next time that I’m out and about I’ll have to keep an eye out for what’s happening with this situation. I’ve not encountered it before.

The banana-flavoured soya milk that I love and can only buy in Belgium has now run out so I called into Delhaize for more supplies on the way home. And back here I had a coffee and a chat with Liz before I rather unceremoniously crashed out.

This evening I’m not all that hungry so I’ve just had a couple of biscuits. This weight issue isn’t do to food but to water issues, but even so I should take every opportunity to cut down on my food intake.

So having written my notes I’m going to lounge around for a while before going to bed.

But a whole night with TOTGA! Whatever next?

Thursday 14th October 2021 – IT’S BEEN ONE …

…of those days when very little seemed to go right today.

Such things as having yet another bad night’s sleep, awakening bolt-upright for no good reason at 06:00 exactly, that sort of thing.

And despite having turned on the heating in the room last night, it was flaming cold as well.

The way that I leapt out of bed was hardly “with alacrity” this morning. I waited around for a few minutes for the room to stop spinning before I left my stinking pit.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages, had my breakfast and then went for a shower. And despite having turned up the heating to “full”, it was still cold and I didn’t enjoy the shower at all.

There had been a couple of voyages on the dictaphone during the night too. I was out looking at property or trying to find somewhere last night for me and my cars but there was nothing suitable. Nowhere had any land – anything with any land was immediately bought, demolished and built on and you couldn’t find a thing. The Estate Agent wasn’t very helpful either. He was telling me that that was what happens and the only thing to do was to keep on looking, put my name of a few properties and see what happens. He asked me the usual questions – what kind of place did I want? Did it need to be improved? And so on. He asked how many cars I had and he nearly died when I said “12”.

There was also something about our friend in Virlet last night, whoever “our friend in Virlet” might be. It was going dark and I was working round the side of the barn when someone came round and they weren’t expecting to see me. They were totally surprised that I was there. They asked where was the handle – the broken handle out of the fork that I had taken out yesterday that I’d put down somewhere? I replied “I gave the fork and the handle back to you. Where did you put it?”. He couldn’t remember where and that was all that I remember.

Having made my sandwiches I headed off through town towards the hospital, taking a few photos on the way.

balls and glory tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Some of the photos didn’t turn out, for a reason that I haven’t understood.

But of the ones that did, this is a shop and restaurant in the Tiensestraat that sells hand-crafted meatballs. And I’m not sure exactly how much demand there might be for hand-crafted meatballs but they have been here for a while so they must be doing some good somehow.

The shop is called “Balls and Glory” but if you ask me, there isn’t much glory in making hand-crafted meatballs. To me, it sounds like it’s all … well, quite.

olleke bolleke sweet shop tiensestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021A little further on down the road is another shop with a bizarre name.

Olleke Bolleke is a sweet shop that sells by the 100 grammes these gelatine-laden sweets that are bad for the teeth. I first encountered one of these shops in Brugge in the 1970s and the chain seems to be going from strength to strength.

As it happens, I’ve never actually been in one but I don’t think that there’s very much olleke being sold in there . It’s probably all … well, quite.

There wasn’t all that much happening in the town centre today. The exhibition for the cycle race has been cleared away and there’s nothing much as yet been put in its place.

pavilion sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021The exhibition has even gone from the site of the Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

The marquee or pergola or whatever it is is looking very sad right now with nothing going on. Just a pile of benches and a few tables that aren’t serving any useful purpose.

But imagine that in the UK. You would have to chain the furniture down to the floor and even so, it would still go missing. Life is so much calmer here in Europe.

But the palm trees will need to go missing soon because it won’t be long before we start to have the frosts and I can’t see them doing very well over the winter if they are left out there.

building work demolition work sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021Further along the Brusselsestraat work is continuing apace.

Not on the old medieval tower though, that’s still covered in scaffolding and roofing sheets to protect it from damage while the demolition continues.

But you can tell by the rest of the machinery that they are still in there demolishing that other building. I’d have shown you how that was proceeding, except that the photo didn’t turn out.

Several others didn’t turn out either, as I discovered later, and I’ve no idea why.

building work kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric Hall photo October 2021usually I leave the photos of the building work in the kapucijnenvoer until on the way home but as I’m not coming straight home this evening, I went that way towards the hospital.

The building that backs onto the Zongang is coming on in leaps and bounds which is quite a surprise for Belgium and it can’t be long now before they think about finding some occupants for it.

It’s rather tough though for the occupants of that nice little house in the Zongang who now have this new building blocking out all their light.

There’s another building site in the Kapucijnenvoer as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but the photo of that was one that didn’t turn out.

The climb up the hill to the hospital was a little better than it had been last time. I managed to push 50 yards on the distance that I made last time before I needed to stop for breath.

At the hospital I had a CT scan of my chest – and then I had to wait. “I’m sorry that you had to wait so long” said the nurse. “I had to send for a doctor to look at the images”. I don’t like the sound of that very much.

After a wait around I had to go for another test to measure the capacity of my lungs – breathing in and out of a long tube.

Finally I could go round to the Oncology department for my usual treatment. I arrived there at 13:40 for my treatment that was timed for 14:00, and I was finally seen at 14:45. I’ve no idea what was happening today that was making them run so late.

It was 17.30 before the doctor came to see me too but at least this time it was a doctor who was very concerned and very interested – not like the one that I had a couple of times ago.

My blood count has seen a dramatic rise – to 9.7 and I’ve no idea why. He went through my other results too and explained them to me. Apparently there wasn’t much out of order with my breathing and my lungs in the way in which they are functioning.

As a result he’s going to try to make an appointment with a cardiologist for me who will hopefully probe my case a little further. I didn’t tell him that my doctor at home is also on the case. 2 opinions are better than one.

This all finished by me being hours late for everything so I waited at the hospital for Alison to come there and pick me up. We went round to her house, having to go back to the hospital to pick up the medication that I had forgotten.

Alison had bought some vegan sausages so while I cooked them, she went to the fritkot for some chips. And it was a lovely tea too.

Afterwards we had a lengthy chat until I began to go to sleep so she kindly ran me home. Now I’m off to bed for a good lie in. No alarm in the morning – I’m going to sleep until I wake up

Thursday 18th August 2021 – THAT WAS A …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 16th July 2021 – HOW LONG IS IT …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 17th June 2021 – THEY DIDN’T KEEP …

… me in the hospital. They soon kicked me out of the hospital yesterday and I’m back in my comfy little digs now where I started out this morning.

When the alarm went off this morning I awoke in a really damp sweat again. I staggered out of bed at 06:00 and the first thng that I did after that was to listen to the dictaphone. there were a couple of files on there – one from two nights ago that I had yet to transcribe, and the one for last night.

This was something like I’d joined the Army and I had a whole list of things that I wanted to do. One of the things was to go for a whole series of medical examinations but the map was so confusing and the details so confusing that I wasn’t sure when or where to go. In the end I set off to try to find the place. It was a staggering set of old buildings, old ruined medieval towers propped up with wood, old burnt-out houses, two cars that had collided outside a house all entangled in a big heap of metal. Just totally strange. Luckily I met one of the professors whom I knew and I asked her where I was supposed to go. She pointed me to the place, just opposite the shop. She showed me a side street as well and said “down there is the French educational building” or French school or whatever. So I set off for my medical.

So having dealt with that, I made a start on writing up the blog but the next thing that I remember was at it was 08:00. I’d crashed out for about an hour or so sitting on my sofa. But once I pulled myself round, made myself a coffee and carried on with the notes.

Once they were published I made some toast for breakfast and then chose the music for the next radio programme.

A shower and a clothes-washing session was next, followed by making my sandwiches ready for the hospital, and then I hit the streets.

people at tables in street tienestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAnd it was nice to see so many people taking advantage of the easing of the Corona Virus situations.

In the beautiful sunny weather and at lunchtime too there were crowds of people sitting at tables at the various restaurants in the town, like here in the Tienesestraat. And beautiful weather it was too. Summer has arrived at long last and the restrictions have been eased in time for people to enjoy it.

But I can’t help the feeling in the back of my mind that all of this is happening far too soon. We’ve already seen that the ease in restrictions in the UK has led to a rise in cases from less than 2,000 per day to the figure today of 11,007.

But as REACT – the body that surveys the spread of the virus in the UK – has said, the UK’s policy of just a single vaccination has been a failure. At least, in Europe, they’ve concentrated on double vaccinations.

road works amerikalaan, Franz Tielemanslaan brusselsestraat Leuven belgium Eric HallCarrying on down the hill through the town centre and out the other side, I came to the road junction of the Brusselsestraat, the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan

When we were here last month we had seen them working on the pavement there doing some remodelling. They seem to have advanced quite nicely with that and I do have to say that while I’m not too keen on the brickwork for the cycle path, it’s a vast improvement on the slabs of asphalt that they used in the Monseigneur Van Waeyenbeghlaan.

They seem to have moved on now and are doing some kind of work on the little square that is build over the River Dijle at the back. It’s going to be interesting to see what they are going to do there and how it’s going to look when it’s all finished.

velodrome brusselsestrat Leuven belgium Eric HallWhile we’re on the subject of how things are going to look in the future, I went along the Brusselsestraat to see how things were developing at the site of St Pieter’s hospital that they have spent the last year or so demolishing.

Part of the site has been cleared and they were erecting a huge wooden structure in the place of part of it.

There was a guy standing underneath a parasol nearby who came over to chat with me.He told me that they were building a velodrome on the site. Apparently it’s going to take 6 years for the whole of the site to be cleared and redeveloped, so as a temporary measure, they are erecting this velodrome.

The velodrome is expected to be there for three years before they will be starting to redevelop this part of the site.

clearing site of sint pieter's hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Eric HallAs for the rest of the site, they are clearing the site fairly rapidly as you can see.

They seem to have ground up the rubble into a fine powder and now they are loading it up onto a series of lorries which will presumably take it off to another site to use as infill or as part of a mix for some new concrete somewhere.

But it’s going to be a long time, I reckon, before they uncover the river that runs underneath the site. That’s certainly the plan, but we shall have to see how things develop.

Right now though, I’m continuing down the street on my way towards the hospital There is still plenty to see.

bicycle racks kruisstraat leuven Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that last time that we were here we saw them erecting some bicycle racks in the Kruisstraat. I mentioned at the time that I couldn’t see why they were erecting them there as there weren’t the clients there to use them.

Now that they have been here for four weeks we can see how things are developing here. And it looks as if my assumptions were correct because there can’t be more than half a dozen bikes and scooters there. Not like the bike racks elsewhere that are bursting to overflow.

At the hospital they gave me a Covid test, which was negative, of course. Then they took a blood sample and coupled me up to the stuff that they pump into me. And I had an interesting trilingual chat with the nurse who was dealing with me.

The doctor who came to see me told me that my blood count had increased to 8.9 and so I can go home. There’s no reason for the increase that I can see, and it certainly doesn’t seem like it. All that I can say is that Liz Messenger’s cake contains many secret ingredients and has magic properties.

But the doctor didn’t really have too many answers for the other points that I raised – the night sweats, the increase in weight and all of that. But next time that I come, I have four appointments at different units of the hospital, and we shall see how things develop at that point.

vegetarian menu frittoerist sint jacobsplein leuven belgium Eric HallOn the way home I walked down the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan towards the Sint jacobsplein when the menu at the Frittoerist, the Fritkot in the Sint Jacobsplein.

It shows you how much things have evolved these days when even a fritkot can offer a vegetarian menu to the public. Mind you, this is Leuven, a town full of students where I’m sure that they outnumber the locals, as anyone who remembers my desperate search for accommodation here 5 years ago will recall.

At least the fritkot is open and accessible. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the street here in front of the fritkot and the square behind it were dug up for well over a year and access to the place was rather difficult. Clambering over a pile of bricks and mud was not the easiest way to go about buying a cornet de fritjes.

building site kapucijnenvoer leuven belgium Eric HallDown at the end of the street is the street known as the Kapucijnenvoer where there is more building work being undertaken.

They are progressing with the development of this site, pourig ton after ton of concrete into the place. The base is now concreted over and they are building some kind of rooms down there. These might be private cellars for the residents or they might be machinery rooms for lifts, air conditioning, power plants and the like.

The rest of the subterranean labyrinth is quite possibly going to be used as a car park, but there is no ramp installed there right now.

And you can see the red-capped metal strengthening bars. It looks as if they are going to be building concrete pillars to support the building that’s going to be erected here. And by the diameter of the pillars, it’s going to be some substantial building.

building site kapucijnenvoer zongang leuven belgium Eric HallThere’s another building site in the Kapucijnenvoer on which we are keeping an eye. It’s the one in between the Kapicijnenvoer and the Zongang.

They seem to be making some rather rapid progress on this particular site and that makes quite a change here in Belgium. It’s going to be some kind of block of flats by the looks of things, but on a restrictive site like that, the apartments are going to be rather restricted in size. It’s another one of these “we shall have to see” situations.

All that I can say is that it’s a shame that the nice building behind it that was revealed by the demolition of whatever was on this site previously is going to be obscured by the building that they are erecting. And I can bet my bottom dollar that whatever they are going to erect here won’t be anything half as attractive as the building behind it.

digger being taken away from building site sint pieters hospital brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallBack now in the Brusselsestraat on the way into the city centre I went past the site of the demolition of St Pieters hospital.

And to my surprise there’s a big lorry here that seems to be taking away one of the big machines that has been working on the site for the past ever so many months.

What is so surprising about this is that even though the building has been brought down, they are still a long way from clearing the site. And with them in the near future having to lift the culvert off the river here, they are going to need all of the heavy equipment that they can get.

Maybe they are taking it off to work elsewhere and they’ll be bringing it back in due course when it’s needed back here.

crowds of people watching football zeelstraat leuven belgium Eric HallOne of the things that I have to do today is to go along to the bank and withdraw some money as I’m rather short of ready cash.

Going into the town wentre the crowds of people were all sitting on seats in the public areas watching the football, just like here in the Zeelstraat. Belgium are playing Denmark in the European Championships and it seems to be the thing here that rather than sit lone in the comfort and privacy of your own home, you go out and sit in the square with the crowds.

Having arranged some cash I set off to meet Alison and while I was on my way through one of the back squares stumbled across a new ice cream parlour. They had two varieties of vegan ice-cream – chocolate and moka – so despite the dreadful service in the place I eventually walked away with my prize.

Alison and I went for a meal at the Greenway Vegan Restaurant. I had a red pepper burger and Alison had a Thai wrap. And then we went off for a coffee and a chat.

Aliso had to leave early so I came back home – totally hot and sweaty, drained of blood and having walked 124% of my daily activity. No wonder I was exhausted. And so I hauled myself off to bed thinking that I will write up my notes tomorrow.

Friday 28th May 2021 – I HAVEN’T BEEN …

… discharged from the hospital, it seems that I’ve been expelled.

And I heard at least one nurse say “if he comes back, then I’m leaving!”.

So right now I’m sitting on my comfy sofa back in my room in the Dekenstraat here. I’ve had to re-book it again but I found it just as I left it, with my frozen food still in the freezer and the cold stuff still in the fridge. Just like old times.

What was also like old times was that I almost fell sleep watching a film last night. I summoned up enough energy to switch off the laptop before collapsing and that was basically that until the nurses awoke me at 07:30.

2 files on the dictaphone though. It must have been a busy night. There was something going on between me and my brother. Someone else stepped in and said that he was going to fence off half of this ground and I wasn’t going to be allowed on it . I thought “yes, try and stop me”. He was extremely insistent and extremely unpleasant with it as well so we were walking off across a field somewhere and we came to a river or canal. There was some kind of activity taking place on the other side that involved processions. I noticed that half of it had been closed off as well. There was a really strong wind and I had some kind of tap washer or rubber seal joint type of thing. It suddenly blew our of my hands and in a big circuit up in the air and then blew round and blew back again much to the astonishment of this little boy in this procession. We had a laugh about that and someone else said “yes, he’s going to do something else spectacular in a minute”. I wondered what this procession was about, closed off on half of this ground by this net that went across this canal and what was going on on the other half. As I said, someone said that we couldn’t go that way but that kind of net wasn’t going to stop me no matter how offensive and aggressive that other guy had been towards me in the matter of how talking to my brother had been.

Later on we’d been doing some plumbing repairs in the house of a girl we knew at school, at least it was a house somewhere near Acton. I turned up with some guy who was going to do the work, and a young kid. We started to dismantle this pipework, which wasn’t easy because it had been done in a Heath Robinson matter with these really long nuts and bolts. We had it dismantled and then we had to reassemble it. To dismantle it, it had all gone out of centre and it was tightening up the nuts on the threads so we couldn’t undo it the more by hand no matter how long they were. We had to use a spanner right through to the end. So we repositioned it better and anyway I was determined not to do the last bolt. I ended up running some kind of jewelled ornament down these threads until everyone complained. In the end I found the missing nut and put it back on. But the girl was there. It was her parents’ house. We were about to, or I was trying to manoeuvre myself round to having a really good chat with her, but then I awoke before I could actually start to talk to her. Another one of my friends had been saying for years that he wished that he knew how he could get in touch with her and he’s going to be ever so pleased and impressed that I’d actually met her. I was going to give her his contact details, everything

After the medication it was comparatively quiet. No doctor and train of students from urology or anywhere else, and even my own doctor never put in an appearance.

There was the usual bustle of nurses with their students practising on me, but I don’t mind that at all. It’s all part of the thing about being a guinea-pig and they have to learn somehow. And of course they are all young and pretty and keen and enthusiastic, with a nice cheery smile, and they always bring me a cup of coffee afterwards.

There was a shower and a shave too, so now I’m all clean – well, sort-of – and in clean clothes too.

The absence of bustle meant that I could finish off the notes for the radio programme on which I’ve been working, and then finish off choosing the music for one that I had started before I was hauled off to hospital

And when I’d done that, there was even time to choose the music for another one too. After all, I may as well use this time profitably.

After lunch they brought round my blood results – 8.0. So it had gone up to reach the critical level. And they also brought more blood. “When you’ve had this, the doctor says that you can go home”.

Well, that was news to me, although regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday I’d suggested that as a possibility.

The doctor came to see me in mid-transfusion with a pile of paperwork. The amount of medication that I now have to take is astonishing. I’m sure that this time next week, if you were to shake me I would rattle.

Disturbingly, one of the things that he’s prescribed for me is Vitamin B12 and that’s a bad sign. As a vegan I don’t have it naturally and I have to have supplements. I always look for stuff that has it in. And not enough Folic Acid either, so I need more of that.

4 lots of ointment for various things too. You can’t say that their examination wasn’t thorough.

Another thing that he mentioned was that in certain cases there was an injection that they can give to people with renal issues that will help and will stimulate the blood cells too. It’s given very rarely but he reckons that I qualify and so he will be making his recommendation.

When the transfusion was over they unhooked me and the nurse brought me a pile of medication “so I don’t have to go to the chemist until Monday”. They are really sweet here.

There was still one thing that I needed to do before I left the hospital. The doctor had given me a written report but addressed it to the wrong doctor. “That’s what it says on your record” he said. So I had to go to the office and change my doctor to the correct one.

road accident herestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallMy trek into town didn’t get me very far before I had to reach for the camera.

On the car park there was an ambulance with its blue lights flashing, and also a plain-clothes police car with his blue lights flashing too, blocking part of the road. And sitting up on the bank with one of its doors open.

I’ve no idea what was happening there, but I did muse to myself that if anyone were injured, they wouldn’t have far to go in order to seek medical attention. Not from the hospital car park, anyway.

digger monseigneur vanwaeyeberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallHaving dispensed with that, I carried on down the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan just in time to see a big digger drive up onto the trailer at the back of this lorry.

“What’s going on here then?” I thought. “They have only just finished digging up this road. They surely aren’t going to be starting again”. But there is some kind of park just there where all of that green shrubbery is and apparently the digger is doing something in there.

At the corner of the Goedsbloemstraat the workmen were cutting all of the stones to fit the new tactile avement around the street furniture. And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I had some kind of thing once with the girl who invented tactile paving.

men repairing door monseigneur vanwaeyenberghlaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhat these workmen are doing here is extremely interesting – at least to me anyway.

Another thing that regular readers of this runnish will recall is that for a period of a considerable number of months a year or two ago a reasonably modern building was completely gutted, rebuilt and refurbished and the apartments were sold at … errr … something of a premium.

And so it’s not very impressive if they have had to call out the repairers to repair the door to the building’s garage when the paint is only just dry. It’s not what I would call confidence-building.

So I left them to it and carried on down the road without any further incident except narrowly avoiding being squidged by the schoolchildren stampeding out of school at home-time.

digger building site kapucijnenvoer zongang Leuven Belgium Eric HallThere’s another building site in the vicinity that’s attracted our attention of late. Well two, really, but I was looking at this one.

This is in the Kapucijnenvoer and backs onto the Zongang, and it was only when I noticed the fine building at the back of the site that I realised that something has gone from the ploy. But we saw them clearing the site a month ago and now something is springing up like a mushroom on the site.

So it’s not every Belgian (or French) building company that takes its time. Some of them can really crack on. Although I shall probably need reminding that I said that in 6 months time

digger in hole st pieters hospital brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallOne site that has held our attention for quite a long time – far longer than really it ought – is the demolition of St Pieter’s hospital here in the Brusselsestraat.

Now that all of the superstructure had finally bitten the dust (and quite literally too) I was intrigued to see where they would be going next. And the answer to that is that they seem to be going down.

We’d noticed them doing something at an old cellar or something the other day, and today we can see that at some point they have dropped a digger down into there. Unfortunately it’s impossible to see what it’s doing.

Nut all of the rubble is being ground up into very small pieces and even into sand and there’s piles of the stuff all around, all heaped into nice big … errr … piles. So they are making quite an effort to tidy up the plac.

And in 6 months time I’ll probably regret saying that as well.

roadworks amerikalaan franz tielemanslaan Leuven Belgium Eric HallOne thing that we have noticed over the last week or 10 days since we’ve been here has been the work that they have started at the junction of the Brusselsestraat, the Amerikalaan and the Franz Tielemanslaan.

They seem to be cracking along with this as well – not hanging about at all which is good news. Although I would have liked it so much more had they uncovered more of the River Dijle.

Climbing up the hill was killing me. It’s a long hill to climb and when I think of the hills in Granville that I have to negotiate and the trouble that I have in getting up this one, I’m not looking at all forward to going home.

Halfway up is the ice-cream place and already having stopped once or twice to catch my breath (something that I have never done before) it’s a case of third time lucky and I grabbed an ice cream. I may as well take advantage of my rest-stops while I can.

film cameraman tiensestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will recall that a feature that runs through these pages is me taking photos of people taking photos.

We’ve graduated beyond there on numerous occasions, such as today in this shot where there’s a guy taking moving pictures of the events taking place in the Tiensestraat. And I’m not sure what it is that he finds so interesting because I couldn’t see anything.

When I knew that I was to leave hospital I’d telephoned the guy who runs the place where I stay to see if he had a room. Better than that, he had my previous room with all of my food still in it. And as I had the key, nothing could be better. I came in here and flaked out completely.

A little later I summoned up the energy to nip to the Spar supermarket down the road here for a handful of things and now I think that I have everything to last me until Monday morning. I was going to go home on Sunday but there are rail issues holding things up around Paris and I can’t stomach the bus trip.

The Covid test that I had before I left the hospital is valid until Monday afternoon so I’m staying here for the weekend and coming home on the Monday after a weekend’s rest.

Now that Alison has been to check up on my and I’ve written my notes, I can go to bed. I’m whacked and if I don’t improve over the weekend I’ll be going back to the hospital on Monday morning.

Thursday 20th May 2021 – FOR THE FIRST TIME …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 22nd April 2021 – THE BAD NEWS …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 25th March 2021 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… night that was!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Wednesday 27th January 2021 – MEANWHILE AT CASTLE ANTHRAX …

… my blood count is down yet again. To 9.6 this time – not a dramatic drop so I’m still holding my own (although I’m glad that I’m not holding anyone else’s too).

They aren’t able to help me with the Corona Virus vaccination though – but there again that was something of a forlorn hope. They still haven’t finished injecting all of the staff, and the in-patients are next in the queue. I shall have to continue to persevere with whatever I can find in France.

As well as that, I’ve changed my date of visit to Thursday with effect from the next time. With it being on a Wednesday, I can’t travel up on the Tuesday because that’s my Welsh class. So I have to come up on the train on Monday, missing my radio work and lugging all of my Welsh paperwork with me too.

With the appointment on Wednesday, I can do my radio stuff on Monday and have my Welsh class on Tuesday morning, all in the comfort and privacy of my own home, travel up on the Wednesday and go home on the Saturday, saving the cost of a day’s accommodation and benefiting from a cheap weekend fare on the train on the way home.

That makes much more sense to me.

This morning I was in no rush to leave the bed. 09:30 was good enough for me today.

And having had my medication and then my breakfast (more toast on the hob element) I had a shower and then washed my clothes.

Later on I headed out to the hospital in the rain, rather intrepidly in view of the issues about my virus test for which I hadn’t had the results.

sint pieters brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallMy route, as usual, took me through the city centre and out down the Brusselsestraat past the old Sint Pieter’s Hospital.

The demolition there doesn’t look all that different from when I was here 4 weeks ago. They hardly seem to have advanced at all. At this rate it’s going to take them for ever to bring the building to the ground.

But it is a shame to see it like this. Built for the French community in Flanders, it was barely completed when the French community moved out to Louvain-le-Neuve and never had anything like the occupancy that was intended.

An important casualty of the Guerre Linguistic that has raged in the country between the Walloons and the Flemish for well over 100 years.

sint jakobs kerk leuven belgium Eric HallFrom the old hospital I continued on down the Brusselsestraat towards the Sint Jakobs Kerk – Saint Jacob’s Church and stuck my head inside the door.

For 6 months I lived in a room in a building just across the road and I never ever had the opportunity to go in to see it. A couple of times I saw people going to the door and on one occasion I was quick enough to join them, but the door would never open. It had been abandoned for years as it was falling down.

But over this last year or so they’ve started to renovate it and as I went past, I noticed that someone had left the door open. That was an opportunity not to be missed but I couldn’t go too far in, for fear of being observed by the workmen.

monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallThe roadworks in the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan are still far deom being completed.

My route led me down there so that I could see the carnage. They have been working on relaying the drains for about 18 months at least, as far as I remember, and while they seem to have filled in all of the holes now, they are still nowhere near putting down the final road surface.

This is inconveniencing everyone in the neighbourhood. Higher up the street is the building that they renovated. And parked there as best as they can is a furniture remover and a furniture lift. And they can’t position themselves close enough to the building to pass the furniture upwards.

sint hubertusstraat leuven belgium Eric HallAnd if you think that the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan is in a mess, you should see the other direction, looking towards town.

This is the Sint Hubertusstraat and that’s even more messed up and muddy. It does make me wonder whether they are being paid by the hour or by the contract because there seems to be no incentive to hurry.

But turning my back on this end of town, I headed up the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan, past the furniture guys struggling with their equipment.

corner ploengang monseigneur van waeyenberghlaan leuven belgium Eric HallAlong the Monseigneur van Waeyenberghlaan there are several small side streets, like this on to the right, which I think is the Ploengang.

They seem to be realigning the road junction here and that’s going to be interesting to see how that turns out, because straight ion down the hill is a service bus route when the road is in good condition. That road is going to make it difficult for the buses to negotiate.

Luckily I had my Covid test serial number with me, because the hospital receptionist presumably checked the national database and my number isn’t on it, which seems to indicate that I’m not a person of interest (at least, from that point of view) and I could have my treatment.

It was a rather indiscreet male nurse who saw me today to connect me up to my treatment. he told me, as I suspected, that there are a few of us undergoing this research as guinea pigs and we’ve all been here for a while. It seems that I applied to the University for treatment just at the right time when they were looking for guinea pigs, although he didn’t say that directly.

While I was at the hospital having the treatment, I attacked the pile of outstanding notes on the dictaphone.

There was an opera being broadcast or filmed or something and being overdubbed in English. We were doing the overdubbing and as it started under way we were still some way ahead but we hadn’t finished. At one point my brother brought me a huge mug of tea while I did some editing on the computer but he dropped the tea or the tea fell and it absolutely soaked that corner of the room in tea. He just stood there looking at this so I had to scuttle off and fetch a flannel and stuff like that to mop up the tea and clean that corner which was in a terrible state. He was still there looking at me and looking stupid so I asked him where was the recording of this certain aria. He didn’t know so I started to prepare to sing it myself in English to do the over-dubbing but I could see that he was in no mood to play the piano and I couldn’t play the piano but I could see that I was going to have to end up playing the piano and singing at the same time because I seemed to be the only person who was doing anything at that point.

Later on, I was on a bike, an old single-speed upright kind of thing. I would cycle everywhere on that but one day I decided that enough was enough and I decided that I would get myself a modern bike with derailleur gears and I could get about 10 times quicker than that. I ended up in Nantwich, out the other side in Henhull Lane (actually Welshman’s Lane) by the old Cottage Hospital there. As I turned into the yard there first of all came a boy whom I knew at school (what was he doing there, seeing as he is someone about whom I haven’t given a moment’s thought for over 50 years?) and another boy from school out jogging and he ran past. I had a good chat to the first boy about a few things and then I foolishly went in and told the guys in this bike shop that was looking for another bike. They only had a choice of about 4 or 5 and there was only 1 that was really my size. I apologised and said that there wasn’t really what I wanted here. He started on a rant about costs and so on. he showed me all of the wholesale prices and everything like that, how he wasn’t making much money on bikes and how he wasn’t here normally because he was off working elsewhere That wasn’t what I wanted to hear from a shopkeeper.

James Bond was on the loose later on driving down an Italian motorway on a motorbike and sidecar and there was someone on a motorbike pursuing him or at least keeping behind him, observing him. We were watching this from another car further behind. They were stuck in traffic working their way through this traffic queue. All of a sudden Bond seizes the opportunity, swerved his motorcycle around and brought it crashing down on the head of this guy who was following him. This guy picked himself up and ran off. Bond ran after him and we could hear sounds of fighting. Bond came back to our car and said “I killed the wrong man there. That was one of Blofeld’s men”. Not the enemy that he was expecting. We thought that if Blofeld’s men are now angry with us and if someone else is still behind us, the real villains, we’re pretty much blocked in here in this street in the mountains. There’s no way out from here. This road just leads to a town in the mountains. We can’t turn round and if we go on, we are going to be stuck. We really have no choice but to go on so off we set. Our car by this time was a dark blue Hillman Hunter.

Finally last night, I was with Liz Ayers. We had a car and caravan. We pulled into Hankelow Hall, or what I thought was Hankelow Hall in the dream. Who should be there but Marianne and a workman. They were going through the house looking at things. There was a huge fire burning with all kinds of stuff going on, stuff all over the place, loaves of bread, all that kind of thing. I was wondering what on earth was going on here. When I went in the builder came over to me and told me about a pile of work that needed doing on the house. he would give me a bill for it, all this kind of thing. In the end I said “no”. I told him to clear off. Marianne had ordered him and made the arrangements so he can clear off. I thought that when Marianne comes back I’ll have something to say about this. I started to tidy up a few things, put things away in rubbish bags. There were a couple of loaves on there, quite green. They had been there for a while. There was a pile of election leaflets from Guy Verhofstadt the MEP, tons of stuff like that. I was trying to sort it out. Liz came over with someone for there were crowds of people there too. She said that they were going to have a sleep on the beach. I said “what? Through the night? We have a caravan on the back of the car”. She said “no, we’ll watch a film about a Maternity Hospital attached to a University and the students took it over to run it”. She described the film and I said “oh I’ve seen that”. Anyway she went off. I kept on having to go back and to between rooms in this place. The quickest way was to go through the fire although the fire was roaring hot and there was tons of ash so the final time I decided that I won’t go that way, I’ll walk round which I did but there were all of these people hanging around there not doing very much at all. It made me wonder what was going on.

The treatment didn’t take long. The longest part was waiting for the doctor afterwards to come to see me. It was quite late when I was let out.

new post office brusselsestraat leuven belgium Eric HallBack into town and back down the Brusselsestraat when I was interrupted by this office place here that I hadn’t noticed before.

It seems that while many countries are actively closing their Post Offices, Belgium is reopening them. This seems to be a parcels pick-up point – Belgium is having a lot of issues with handling the volume of mail order parcels at the moment with all of this internet shopping with the Covid issues.

Stopping off at Delhaize for more bread, I nipped home to dump my stuff and then went back out to meet Alison in the town.

We had a walk around and a chat and then she came back for a quick coffee.

Later on I had tea and now having written my notes, I’m off to bed. A leisurely day tomorrow and then on friday I’m off on my marathon journey back home.

Thursday 31st December 2020 – BY THE TIME …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They don’t make them like that any more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 4th November 2020 – AS SEEMS TO BE …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 8th October 2020 – IF EVER I …

… get my hands on whoever it was who telephoned me this morning at 07:02, they’ll be eating soup through a straw for the next three month.

It’s always the case though – you can absolutely rely on it. Whenever I plan on having a lie-in, someone always comes along to disturb it. Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous incarnations will recall that my bank, not having contacted me for several years, once rang me up a good few years ago at 05:00 when I was fast asleep in a motel somewhere in North Carolina.

What was worse was that I’d left my phone downstairs and by the time that I was down there, whoever it was rang off.

Nevertheless, I went back to bed where I stayed until about 09:10.

While i was having a coffee, I listened to the dictaphone. I had walked for miles and miles last night but I can’t remember anything about it now hardly. Except that we were out in the countryside somewhere near Barthomley way and the group had had a huge row and I was sulking for some reason or other. Someone was talking about all of this, the past, showing us photos, all kinds of stuff. One of the photos came across what looked like some kind of farm building. There was an old coach there and drawings showing hos they wanted to extend this farm building to make a garage for the coach. It turned out that one of the guys said “oh yes can you imagine – while you lot were doing whatever it was that you were doing in the early 70s I was living in this coach. We all said “wow that’s amazing”. he said “yes my BMW was behind the hedge here”. it turned out that he was a famous rock star from the period when he was living in the Crewe area. We were talking about all the goings-on in that particular area and how there was someone who hired out wedding cars and how the place would be decorated when there was a wedding. Then he mentioned a name and it immediately rang a bell with me . He played in a rock group from Nantwich and they had an LP out. This album bombed spectacularly so I asked “do you have any idea where I can get in touch with this guy?” “Ohh, he’s still around. Why are you interested?”. I said “I want to get my hands on their LP because I want to broadcast it on the radio”. H replied “I have a copy”. I asked “I don’t suppose that I could borrow it so that I could record it and play it?”. He seemed to be quite enthusiastic at the idea and one or two other people started to become interested in it.

Strangely enough, there was a rock group from Nantwich, a group called Strife. They fitted the bill and there was a musician in this group who actually had the same name as the one last night. And even more of a coincidence, I have in fact during my daylight hours, I have been trying to track down a copy of their album – and for years to – for just that reason.

No success as yet, but I live in hope.

This morning I’ve been doing some housework on the laptop. I have several files that have been duplicated and I’ve been going through a few of them and merging them in together. Plenty to do though, and that reminds me that there is a whole raft (like 4TBs worth) of this to do on the backup drive that I created earlier this year.

In fact I was trying to do something with the trip that I had on board Spirit of Conrad but it seems that I don’t have the edited photos with me and I can’t remember the numbering sequence.

Replacing House Roof Dekenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter lunch I decided to go for a nice long walk to stretch my legs

While I was out on my travels yesterday I noticed that a house down the end of the street in the neighbourhood was having its roof ripped off. I thought that I may as well go into town that way and see what was going on.

And they are certainly making a really good job of it – going flat out at it and making a completely thorough job of it. Obviously, with the house being in Dekenstraat -Blanket Street – it’s having a new blanket.

There was nothing exciting in FNAC, nor Wibra, nor Kruidvat, nor Zeeman, nor Hema. But in Sports Direct I bought another couple of pairs of the trousers that I like seeing as they were on special offer. The ones that I’ve had for three or four years are starting to look pretty thin and I damaged a pair when I was in the Auvergne the other week.

Sign For Renovation Of City Walls Handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallAfter my little trip to the shops I went for a walk out of town.

In the past, regular readers of this rubbish have seen the sad state of the part of medieval city walls at the Handbooghof right by the River Dijle, and yesterday we saw that some renovation was about to be carried out. My trip around to the Handbooghof was to see what was happening there.

They’ve stuck up a sign to give a little hint as to what is going on. Only a little though because it doesn’t contain very much interesting information.

Renovation of City Walls Handbooghof Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt doesn’t really help matters either that they have shrouded the work in this corrugated iron fence.

Even with the camera held high above my head I couldn’t really see over it to find out hos they were doing. But there were some big bags of rubble lying around so it looks as if they are dismantling them.

But whether they are going to rebuilt them is another matter. It certainly seems to be pointless if they are taking away some of the bricks that were used in its building. It won’t be the same at all with modern bricks.

While we’re on the subject of bricks … “well, one of us is” – ed … I went to look at that building that I mentioned yesterday – the one that has recently been exposed by the demolition of a more modern building in front ot it.

There is no evidence (like a date-carved lintel) to give an idea of the date, and while the bricks certainly look contemporary to the appropriate historical period, they look extremely clean and the pointwork looks to be extremely tidy.

Not at all what you’d expect from a building several hundred years old so you take your choice.

Advert For Project Waeyenberg Leuven Belgium Eric HallRegular readers of this rubbish will also recall that yesterday we went past that building in the Monseigneur Van Waeyenberglaan – the one that was stripped right out.

We’ve been keeping an eye on its renovation over the past while and today, purely by chance, I went past the estate agent’s office where the apartments are advertised for sale.

There seems to me to be little doubt that this is it, and if you have a close look at the asking prices you’ll see why I could never ever afford to come and live in Leuven. Some of the prices here are totally out of anyone’s reach.

St Rafael Hospital Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallOne of the things that I intended to do was to go and take a few photos of the old St Rafael Hospital before anything happens to it, so after I’d been and bought my pepper I went round for a look.

The best view of the building is from down the Biezenstraat, and then it isn’t particularly good.

So dodging the school kids coming out of school I took a photo from this corner. At least it had the more modern part visible behind it, and there was a good view of the roof too. It’s green but it’s very unlikely to be copper.

St Rafael Hospital Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric Hall The Kapucinenvoer, the street where the Sint Rafael is situated, is quite narrow and built up on both sides down its whole length so it’s not possible to step back and take a photo of all of it from face-on.

The only way that I could take another photograph is from further down the street on the opposite corner of the building, and it doesn’t look anything like as imposing from this angle.

It’s not really much better inside. I’ve had to go there on a couple of occasions and it’s really just a maze of corridors and tiny consulting rooms. At least – that’s what I saw of it. I didn’t go very far in there.

St Rafael Hospital Kapucijnenvoer Leuven Belgium Eric HallA little further along the street towards the Brusselsestraat by the Cuythoek, there’s a more modern extension.

It won’t be much of a loss to the community if that part of the building were to disappear. It seems to be nothing more than a typical early 20th Century Government building.

The only drawback would be whatever they would build in its place. We’ve seen PLENTY OF EXAMPLES in the past of modern buildings conjoined to older masterpieces, and all it seems to do is to show up the lack of skill and appreciation held by modern rchitects and builders.

Demolition St Pieters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallOn that depressing note I went around to the Brusselsestraat to see how they were getting on with the demolition of Sint Pieters Hospital.

When we were here in July, we saw a couple of large grabs at work, just like dinosaurs, nibbling away at the brickwork. But they don’t seem to be there any more. Instead, what we seem to have is someone inside the building on the top floor throwing material out of the window.

And if there’s any more pointless task than that, I really don’t know what is.

Demolition St Pieters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallAs I (and quite a crowd of other people) watched, more objcts, and then brickwork and the like, followed the first batch of stuff down to the ground.

And I really can’t see what is going on here at all. Surely, if they are demolishing the building, they’ll do it from the outside with machines like the big ones that we saw back in July. Whatever was still inside it would come down automatically with the rest of it.

It seems to be a waste of time and money to send someone up there like that. It’ll take them forever to knock down the building like that.

Spray Stream Demolition St Pieters Hospital Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallWhile I was there, I noticed that they had taken out a fence panel. That meant that I could approach that machine that I saw yesterday.

On a closer look at it, I could see that it isn’t a water atomiser as I had thought. It’s not powered by compressed air but by electricity (at least, there’s an electric cable attached to it) and the name that’s written on it – “Spray Stream” – seems to indicate that it’s nothing more than a water sprayer.

The huge fan at the back helps to disperse the water all over the rubble. But at least I was right about that – it’s to keep the dust down while they are knocking down the brickwork.

River Dijle Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallIt was a good job that that fence panel was out, because while I was down there admiring the Spray Stream, my eyes alighted on something else.

The city is honeycombed by branches of the River Dijle, and we’ve seen quite a few of those in the past in all kinds of different places in the city.

But this is one that I haven’t noticed before. It’s been pretty well concealed underneath the Leistraat across the road and it isn’t shown on any maps.

River Dijle Brusselsestraat Leuven Belgium Eric HallThere’s a medieval religious house here on the site that has been pretty much built over the river.

It’s the Sint Elizabeth Gasthuis, dating from about 1090 and was the city’s hospital from the 13th to the 17th Century. And when I worked out what it was, that rang a bell with me because I recall having read somewhere that it was the fashion to build hospitals over running water during the Medieval period.

It was something to do with hygene, if I remember correctly, and I’ll have to track down what it was that I read and remind myself.

Back here I had a few things to do, and then I had tea. Another falafel burger with the rest of the vegetables and some pasta with tomato sauce.

No possibility of going out for a walk right now because it was teeming down with rain, so I made a start on writing up my notes.

Condo Gardens Dekenstraat Leuven Belgium Eric Hall. The rain did ease up for a little moment so I nipped out to make the most of it.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen a few photos of where I stay taken during the day, but I can’t remember whether I’ve ever photographed it in the night. So here it is. My little room is down the little alleyway to the left just by where the tree is.

So having taken the photo I walked on around the block to run up the time on the fitbit to over 100%. I might have gone farther but I suddenly realised that I didn’t have my facemask with me so I’d better head back. Not for health reasons, but for fear of frightening the locals.

But now I’m off to bed. It’s a 5:30 start in the morning so I need to be on form.

Wednesday 7th October 2020 – MEANWHILE, BACK AT …

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

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

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

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

And then I hit the streets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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