Lockdown week 3

We’reinto our third week of lockdown; it’s amazing how quickly new situations become the norm, as anyone in Britain, reading this, will be well aware.

When it started, I searched the internet for guidance on what we could and could not do, but was unable to find anything. So I rang the maire of our village; no, he said, we couldn’t cycle; but if Nick wanted to take his mountain bike into the forest, that would be OK; and we could go for walks around the lake. So we went for walks around the lake, but Nick didn’t go mountain biking. Then we had an email from someone in one of the cycle clubs we’re part of, an email sent out to all members, complaining that he’d seen on Strava that some people had been out cycling and others walking 10km and more! This was strictly forbidden (even though we’d seen not a soul on our walks) and must stop immediately.

Eventually, thanks to a friend’s help, we found the information we needed online, including a form to print out, fill in, sign and date, specifying your reason for being out. The guidelines and form have changed twice, but it seems to have settled now; we can go out for one hour a day for exercise, as long as we stray no more than 1km from home; the newest form even requires you to fill in the time you left home. I haven’t been asked to produce it yet; I don’t suppose I will be, we don’t often see gendarmes around here, but I’ll take it with me. I don’t want a 135 euro fine.

An hour doesn’t seem much; time for a 6km walk, but that’s all, so I’ve started jogging. Only very slowly and not very far, but I’ve worked very hard over the last 3 years to regain some of the fitness I lost in the 10 years I couldn’t cycle and I’ll be very upset if I have to start from scratch again when all this is over.

Apart from trying to keep some fitness, we’re making the best of the confinement to get on with the house and garden. I finished the sitting room in the gite and attached false panelling to all the downstairs doors, but couldn’t get on with either the hall or the kitchen for all the tools etc. that Nick was using for the new bathroom. So I decided to tackle the entrance hall in our house instead, thinking it wouldn’t take long. How wrong I was; one single door and three sets of double doors lead off the small space and all the double doors were bought second hand, so need a lot of work, especially the pair with 21 small panes of glass in each door, which felt as though the last person to varnish them finished off by sprinkling them liberally with sand. I spent every morning last week sanding, this week I’m varnishing.

Nick’s spent his mornings getting on as far as he can with the bathroom, but has now ground to a halt; we successfully stocked up on food, but didn’t think about supplies for DIY projects. We’re kicking ourselves as we now find ourselves short of tile adhesive, crepi and cement, so there’s not an awful lot more he can do in the bathroom. Instead, he’s built a roof for the well in the front garden, is making noises about mending the mower that’s not worked for the last year and is driving me mad with suggestions of tasks I can do.

In the afternoons, when it’s dry, we’re busy gardening. We’ve sown plenty of seeds, but as they’re all last year’s packets, I don’t know how successful they’ll be; we’ve mown and strimmed the grass and dug up hundreds of molehills, and we’ve started levelling the ground under the big tilleul tree, ready for grassing. At last the grass is growing in the little triangle that we worked on last autumn, so things should begin to look good soon.

In the evenings I’ve painted the drawers Nick built for my workshop and soon want to do something along the same lines on the wall cupboard doors; Nick’s been clearing up some of the mess in the gite kitchen so that I can work in there.

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the wisteria is coming into flower on the front of the gite. It’s hard to believe, at the moment, that there’s a global catastrophe unfolding around us; I think that, until something happens to touch us personally, it will continue to seem a little unreal.

Bored? Us? Not a chance!