Monday, May 10, 2021

The beauty of freedom, one week post confinement

French Village Diaries the beauty of freedom, one week post confinement
The beauty of freedom

We have now been free for a week and what a week’s it’s been.

Monday began with a rather rude awakening at 3.00am when our ‘friendly’ local stone marten (fouine) clattered over the bedroom roof and in its search for sparrow eggs sent a roof tile crashing to the ground. This is its second night-raid on our resident birds and the second time it has destroyed a roof tile as it foraged for food. I’m not sure whether I am annoyed or impressed that something that only weighs around two kilograms can make such a racket and has the strength to move roof tiles. They might be great to have around to control snake, rat and mouse numbers, but their lack of care for our property is beginning to grate.


By 11.00am, when the accountant called for a year-end Zoom meeting, we’d walked the dog, hung out the washing and had a picnic packed and ready to go as soon as the meeting was done. With no work for over six months, it was no surprise that the accounts showed a loss for last year, but at least we saved over 11,000€ (based on the previous year’s figures) on flights, trains, hotels and food, as Adrian wasn’t traveling for work. It’s always good to look for the positives.


French Village Diaries the beauty of freedom, one week post confinement cycling V93 voie verte Brioux-sur-Boutonne
A slice of apple tart on the V93 cycle path in Brioux-sur-Boutonne

With no restrictions on where we go or how far we can now be from home, lunch was on a bench about fifteen kilometres into a fifty-eight-kilometre bike ride, that took us way outside of the ten-kilometre radius we have been confined to for the last month. Freedom was beautiful, as were the deer we saw in a field right next to us, the field of buttercups, the dragonflies and butterflies, and the afternoon patisserie on a bench by the Boutonne river.


In typical sods law fashion, the weather then took a turn for the worse with wind and rain battering the garden on Tuesday afternoon and pretty much all-day Thursday. Freedom was curtailed once more and bike rides were limited to quick loops from home, squeezed in around work and breaks in the weather.

French Village Diaries the beauty of freedom, one week post confinement
Updated vaccination information


President Macron spoke on Thursday about changes to the vaccination programme. From 10th May anyone aged over 50 can have an appointment for a vaccination and from Wednesday 12th May anyone aged over 18 can look online for availability of last-minute appointments for the following day, to ensure vaccination doses don’t get wasted. A quick check on the vaccination availability website showed almost 5000 vaccination within about 100kms from home, which was great news until I checked Adrian’s work calendar. Having had many weeks of not much going on earlier in the year, we are now in the position where he potentially has work scheduled all the way through to 8th June. When you are the trainer, running a course and having to talk coherently all day, the possibility of having a fever or flu-like symptoms isn’t something we can risk. We know from experience that his work schedule can change at short notice, so for now we will have to hold fire and hope we can both find a last-minute appointment if a gap appears in his schedule.


By Friday the week began to improve once more. We thought Ed was popping back for a few days over the weekend, but one look at the amount of stuff he’d cleared from his flat, and we weren’t so sure. His lectures are finished, and his exams are over, so although he may head back to Poitiers occasionally, university is done, and he’s moved back home. This put a big smile on my face and Mini was delighted her favourite dog-walker is back in residence.


French Village Diaries the beauty of freedom, one week post confinement Victory in Europe 8th May 2021
Victory in Europe Day 8th May 2021

The weather was warm and sunny on Saturday, so I was up early to make a start on Ed’s washing mountain, which was hung out to dry as the eight o’clock Angelus rang out over the village. Before heading off with a picnic lunch for an afternoon on the bikes, I joined the Maire and few others to pay my respects at the war memorial for Victory in Europe Day. For the second year running there has been no official ceremony, but the flags were flying, and flowers were laid, followed by a minute’s silence.

French Village Diaries the beauty of freedom, one week post confinement cycling Charente-Maritime vineyards
Vineyards in Le Gicq, Charente-Maritime


Our bike ride took us over the border and into the Charente-Maritime for sixty kilometres of cycling through pretty villages, and vineyards just bursting into life, before stopping for a picnic at a lake that we had to ourselves, despite it being a public holiday in France. The sun shone all afternoon and we were back in time to shower and change before pre-curfew apéros in a friend’s garden. 

French Village Diaries Freedom, one week post confinement cycling 1970s
On my first bike 1979


It was certainly a good idea to squeeze so much into one day, as Sunday was wet, wild and stormy, but it did give me the opportunity to sort through some old photo albums and look what I found, the first photo of me on a small-wheeled bicycle. It might not be a Brompton, but that Viky bike from the 1970’s, my first ever bike, holds a special place in my heart. I don’t think for one moment that seven-year-old me cycling around the back garden, would be able to imagine forty-nine-year-old me living in France and cycling around five thousand kilometres a year. 

Vive le vélo!  

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