Saturday, April 25, 2020

Diary of Covid-19 confinement, day forty

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day forty orchard
Ed finished mowing the orchard before the storm arrived

Day forty, 25th April 2020

There was a freshness and vibrancy to the garden this morning, following rain overnight and first thing, but despite a warm and sunny day so far, the clouds are gathering once more and there is a threat of storms. The long-range forecast shows no risk of frosts, but I think I will wait a little longer before planting out my courgettes, squash and pumpkins in the potager, even if they are as ready as we are to break out to pastures new.

Forty Days

We have now been in confinement for forty days and for number nerds like me, the number forty is a mysterious one, that is held in esteem in many religions and cultures and seen as a period of trial, transformation or purification. There are numerous bible references to forty days; God flooded the earth by sending forty days and forty nights of rain, Moses and Elijah spent forty days alone on mountains and Jesus fasted for forty days following his baptism. Lent is the forty days before Easter and often looked on as a time to give up something you enjoy.

The human pregnancy lasts for forty weeks and in many cultures a mother is then required to rest for forty days after giving birth for her post-partum confinement. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, the period of mourning lasts for forty days after death, the point at which it is believed the soul finds its place in heaven.

The word quarantine, meaning a restriction on the movement of goods or people to prevent the spread of disease, comes from the Italian root of forty days. This was the period of time merchant ships were required to remain at anchor before being allowed to land during the plague in the fourteenth century. 

Forty days hasn’t seen our lockdown come to an end, but maybe these next two weeks are the time we need to prepare for life after lockdown. It can’t and won’t go back to how it was before, but we have survived a forty-day period of change and are now ready to receive new instructions so we can make adjustments to our expectations and routines, to begin a new phase in our lives.

Looking back, I seem to have started many things, only to give up on them too soon. Sourdough (wasn’t for me), the clearing and sorting I promised myself in drawers, cupboards and bookshelves has ground to a halt and even my one barrow of weeds a day hasn’t lasted anywhere near forty days. I have kept busy, active and positive, although the virtual cycling on Zwift wasn’t a long-term thing for me either. One thing that has become obvious, if only to me, is that I am far happier as a family all together, than when I’m home alone. I think we all needed this reset phase and I know that by 11th May I’ll be ready to embrace a new future, as well as enjoy getting back out on my bike again.

Stay indoors, stay safe.

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day forty Rex Hotel Tarbes cycling
Four-star luxury at the Rex Hotel in Tarbes, 25th April 2017

April holiday memory 

Today I am looking back to 25th April 2017 when we had arrived in Tarbes, in the Pyrenees, by bike. We had left the car in Pierrefitte, near to Cauterets, and hopped on the Voie Verte Des Gaves, an old railway line with little or no incline, that is now a cycle friendly route to Tarbes, about 56km away. Just before we reached Lourdes we turned off the voie verte and took the road to St Créac, following a river and climbing rather alarmingly, but the road was free of traffic, the verge alive with wild flowers and the only noise came from cattle bells; a soft and gentle sound in the distance. We lunched in Arrodets-ez-Angles, seemingly on top of the world, looking across to huge snow-capped peaks as we greedily scoffed down baguettes filled with tinned fish. My efforts were rewarded with a night of four-star luxury at the Rex Hotel. You can see some more pictures of our day in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains here.


  1. I enjoyed reading that and I thought it was interesting. But I'm a 'facts' sort of guy.

    1. Thanks Chris, I love number patterns as well as facts!


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