Charleroi, Belgium

Charleroi, or Charlwah as I have heard it pronounced by a local, is by far and away the most rundown city I’ve seen in ages. Up til now Milford Haven had had that dubious honour but Charleroi definitely beats it into a cocked hat for derelict buildings, rundown buildings, strewn litter and graffiti, wasteland and old rundown and derelict industrial areas. I’d long wanted to visit simply because I knew it was a historical place, something to do with Bonaparte on his way to the battle of Waterloo. 

The reason I first went in was because my TomTom decided to play up badly. I’d only got a message from TomTom a few days before saying they would no longer support my device as it was classed as ‘obsolete’ by them. In other words, they wanted me to dispose of it and buy another one lol I’d never been happy with TomTom mapping and a few other things about the company so I had decided to get a new SatNav and this time but a Garmin. I was hoping that Charleroi might have a decent shop where I could buy one.

While there was a massive regeneration going on in the new city centre, the shops were very limited in Charleroi and consisted mainly of rundown independents selling tobacco, food and cheap clothes. I walked the entire city from end to end and corner to corner and there was nowhere that sold anything like SatNav’s. Luckily after messing around at teatime with my TomTom after about an hour I got it working but as a SatNav is quite important to travelling I was still intent on getting a Garmin as soon as I could.

I did not take any photos of Charleroi: I was dedicated to one task and to photo nothing but rundown misery was not my thing that day. And non stop misery was pretty much all I saw. 

Update: Almost a year after visiting, I read this article on the BBC website about Charleroi.

Update: Call me lazy…

It’s been a very long time since my last post and as this is a sort of personal journal as well as a blog I thought it worth putting something up as a sort of quick update. 

I’ve not really been anywhere til the last few weeks, trying to get my van fixed which is proving to be impossible now. Another Peugeot dealer says 2 crank case seals need to be replaced for £1200 and also the turbo for about £900. I took it elsewhere and they fitted a new crankcase breather valve and the oil leak has stopped. £140 as opposed to £2100 at the dealer lol. 
I’ve also replaced the mass air flow sensor and cleaned the EGR valve and it doesn’t seem to have made any difference at all. I also replaced all the glow plugs with brand new Bosch ones and put some refurbished injectors in, one of which failed so I had to take that back out again. More on that later. Premier engines in Glasgow refused to even answer my emails when I asked them about the leak. I’ve never in my life known such a poor company and Paul Eades is without doubt the most insulting and rude person I’ve ever spoken to. 

Anyway, I had a rear wheel bearing replaced and a ball joint and took it back to the people who fitted the new calipers last year as one was binding. That’s all sorted now and I also bought a new water sensor for the fuel filter as the wiring had been damaged by someone at some point, however nothing has made any difference at all: apart from the odd inexplicable occasion I get 22 mpg or thereabouts instead of the 29 I used to get. I cheered myself up by fitting new high security locks on the cab doors. 

One bit of cheery news from the last year was when I rang Safeguard to let them know my change of address. The guy I spoke to was ace and he not only changed that but was pedantic about checking details and it turns out I was due a £70 refund! Obviously this year’s premium will be cheaper too so that was a godsend. 
Another bit of cheer is that I have just come back from a few weeks in France and Belgium. I managed to get away! I broke down in Belgium but that’s another story lol but I came back as my son is expecting his 3rd child so obviously I want to see that baby. After which…I’m offsky again and I also have some exciting news about that which I’ll share later.