Friday, July 2, 2021

Back at the Bibliothèque

French Village Diaries back at the bibliothèque
Arriving at the library by bike

A celebration of firsts

Yesterday was the first day of the month, my first day back at the library, my first commute by bike and the first time ever that all three of us went off to work after breakfast. If that wasn’t enough, this week, Ed’s been paid for the first time and tonight he’s off to his first work’s do, a summer barbeque. Yesterday, he even made a quiche (including making pastry for the first time, under my expert guidance) to take as his contribution to the shared meal. I’m struggling to keep up with the changes in our lives this summer and to accept how mature three-weeks work at the library has made Ed.  


Back at the bibliothèque

The reassuringly familiar smell of books that hit my nose as I walked back into the library yesterday morning, left me feeling calm, despite my first-day nervous excitement. Whilst the layout hasn’t changed much since 2018, not everything is as it was last time. Instead of the eye-catching new arrivals laid out at the side of the welcome desk by the door, there is now a bottle of hand gel that must be used and of course everyone needs to wear a mask. 


Last time, I arrived after the lady I’m replacing left on her maternity leave, but this time we have two mornings working together before she gets to put her feet up. With a busy summer of events on the calendar, it is vital that I am up to speed on the day to day tasks from the get-go. Thankfully, I still have my trusty notebook with the comprehensive instructions I wrote in 2018, and as I tentatively began familiarising myself with the system, I was relieved that things began to filter back into my head.


With Covid-19 closing down village life and Brexit removing me from the local council, my interaction with my French friends, and therefore my spoken French, has taken a real hit this last year. With the additional barrier of speaking through a mask, I’m pretty sure my biggest hurdle will be the communicating, but as my two colleagues chatted away yesterday morning, it felt good to be able to follow pretty much everything. I’m hoping this job is just what I need to coax me out of the safe, family bubble I’ve created since the first confinement and remind me there is still a world out there. Tomorrow morning, I will face my first test of interacting with the public, so fingers crossed for me please.


French Village Diaries back at the bibliothèque
The view from the bike on my commute

One big difference with working this time, is that I arrived at the library by bike rather than by car. Chef Boutonne is about eight kilometres from our village and since Covid-19, we have made a real effort to take the bikes rather than the car for journeys under ten kilometres. I can’t promise I’ll only commute by bike for the next four months, as the weather isn’t likely to be on my side every day, but I am certainly planning to use the bike whenever possible. With a quiet commute through fields where sunflowers will bloom in the coming weeks, it really isn’t going to be a hard decision to take the bike instead of the car when the sun is shining.


French Village Diaries back at the bibliothèque
A library on holiday

My first day wouldn’t have been complete without finding a book to read, and while putting away some of the returned books, this one found me. 


“Une bibliothèque en voyage” (A library on holiday), is a first-reads novel for children from six years old, so shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for my written French. With a cover depicting a slightly greying librarian on her bicycle, I knew as soon as I picked it up, this book was there for me. As I am determined to read more in French this year, at least this has got me off to a good start. 

French Village Diaries back at the bibliothèque
Madame Chut (Mrs Shush)

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  1. Welcome back to the library! And it sounds like it has been a very good week for your family all around. It's fun to hear you are cycling in each day. I know you'll find plenty of good things to read!

  2. Thank you for the post. It brought back to life, life after covid. We still in lockdown here and seem in a time warp.


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