Nearly 24 hours after I began, I can so far report that travelling is neither as thrilling or as pleasurable as it's cracked up to be. Essentially, this is because I am dog-sick. But let me first go back the beginning to ensure I don't miss out anything important...
At 17:04 on the afternoon of Wednesday 18th June in the year of our Lord 2008, after a final-final-final check that I had packed my passport and tickets, I set off. Pushing the keys back through the letterbox after I locked the front door was an odd feeling and I held them in my hand through the hole in the door for about ten seconds rechecking everything in my head one more time before finally dropping them irretrievably onto the hallway carpet that lay beyond.
So then it was down to the tube station and onto the train to St Pancras for the Eurostar. Upon arrival, it all started to go wrong. When the security scanners picked up my Swiss-army knife, they made me unpack EVERY SINGLE ITEM from my backpack (my silk dressing gown, a pair of haggises, my violin...)* so they could be put back through the scanners for individual checking. The Eurostar itself was cancelled so everyone had to queue up to be reallocated seats on the next one an hour later. Worst of all, the French guy behind the snack counter had no idea what I meant when I asked him six times for a Bakewell Slice as I pointed at them, presumably because it was labelled "Almond Fondant". Still, I suppose I'm going to have to get used to Johnny Foreigner's ignorance over the next few months.
I should probably have spent the Eurostar journey thinking "My God, this is actually happening" and getting all excited and scared. But all I could think about was how ill I was. My very-sick self finally arrived at Leighton & Silvie's in the Brussels suburbs near Hankar around half-eleven local time. Being the hosts par excellence that they always are, I found my room decorated with a dozen lit candles and with a selection of toiletries laid out in a pretty pattern. Silvie even made me an omlette with potatoes. I almost feel guilty for seemingly passing on my bug to them as they're both feeling sick with the same sore throat today.
Yesterday I cancelled a lunch appointment and went to see a doctor in Leuven. It's funny how life keeps bringing me back to this little town, even though I no longer work there or even know anyone who lives there any more. The extremely-helpful Dr Elfriede Vangheluwe gave me a thorough examination, showed me how I could, ahem, make best use of the system to save money on my treatment and packed me off to a laboratory with some phials of my blood to be tested. Then it was back home in time to see the Portuguese get their amusing come-uppence in the football.
Today it's another cancelled lunch before catching a later-than planned train up to Amsterdam whereupon I will hopefully be feeling a little better.
* - one of these is actually true