Friday, March 27, 2020

Diary of Covid-19 confinement, day eleven

French Village Diaries Covid-19 confinement day eleven
With my emergency pack ready to head out

I’m feeling a little glum today. 

Having spent the last three years shying away from news reports as the reality of Brexit was too much, I’ve found myself oddly fixated with the current situation and have been binge watching the news, press conferences and addresses to the nation. I think I have overdosed. 

News from France has been pretty dire these last few days. Yesterday a sixteen-year-old died near Paris. The only symptom she had was a mild cough for a week or so, then she experienced shortness of breath. Her doctor sent her to hospital on Monday, the first tests they did for Covid-19 came back clear, then she tested positive and died on Thursday. How you come to terms with that as a parent, I have no idea.

Closer to home, the reports have been of local retirement homes who have been hit severely by the virus, resulting in a number of deaths in the same establishments this week. With no visiting allowed and no communal meals or socialising, life for the residents must feel like you are waiting for your turn, trapped, and with no escape.

As well as the reality of the health situation, we have also been advised to keep vigilant for con men. Two scenarios that are circulating are bogus plain clothed Gendarmes, stopping people in the street and claiming their paperwork is not in order before demanding immediate cash payment of the 135€ fine. No Gendarme out of uniform has the power to imposes a fine and no legit Gendarme will insist on payment on the spot, fines are posted to your home address. The other issue is a door to door scam targeting older people. The con men gain access by stating they have been sent by the council to conduct a deep clean of properties and once in, they are robbing the vulnerable residents. As if there isn’t enough to worry about already, these people are scum.

French Village Diaries Covid-19 confinement day eleven
Queuing to get into the supermarket 

My mood was not improved by the realisation that I had to leave the safety of my bubble and head out into potential germland to shop. I packed my authorisation form, my ID, my car documents, my purse, my latex gloves, my hand sanitiser, my Dettol wipes and almost forgot my shopping list. The local supermarket is operating a one in, one out policy, so I had to wait for six shoppers to leave before it was my turn to enter. Once inside it was quiet and calm and with only a few noticeable absences; flour and yeast, plus milk and pasta were looking a little depleted. Imagine my horror when one of my three packs of (stores own brand) butter was confiscated at the checkout (maximum of two allowed) at the same time a Gendarme walked into the store. Thankfully he obviously wasn’t there to arrest butter hoarders and I was free to pay the bill, pack the car and drive home.

Looking for distractions

It is days like today that I am desperately looking for things to distract me. I called Mum and Dad at lunchtime, to wish Dad a happy birthday and inflict my singing on him, and this evening we will be holding another virtual apero party with friends to celebrate surviving another week. It will be great to laugh together, even if there is sometimes a bit of a time delay on the sound.
French Village Diaries Covid-19 confinement day eleven
My courgette and tomato seeds

I am also spending far more time than is healthy watching my seeds grow. It is now ten days since we sowed them and we have about 30 germinated tomatoes, 12 courgettes, 6 butternut squash and 6 pumpkins. If I try really hard I can visualise myself in the weed-free potager, picking tomatoes and courgettes to make into a quiche, which we take on a bike ride and enjoy a shared picnic with friends this summer.
French Village Diaries Covid-19 confinement day eleven
Jackfruit, harvested from the back of the cupboard

In other exciting news, I've discovered a tin of Jackfruit at the back of the cupboard, which is supposed to be a vegan alternative to pulled pork. Never tried it, never cooked with it, but tonight's it's night to shine. If it does what it says it does on the tin, we will be fooled into thinking we are eating meat, when in fact it’s really a fruit. As Jackfruit virgins, I’ll let you know what we thought about it tomorrow.

Stay indoors, stay safe.

Lockdown Library

Today is the publication day for author Deborah Carr’s latest novel Mrs Boots. With the world focused on medical professions, including pharmacies, it seems quite appropriate as this book is a novel based on the early life of Florence Rowe, wife to Jesse Boot who opened the first Boots chemist store in Nottingham in the late 1800s.

This book is set in Jersey at a time where women didn’t have opinions, where young women obeyed their parent’s wishes and social expectations were strictly adhered to. Florence is a remarkable woman who despite the many obstacles she faced made positive changes to many lives and never let the fire within her die. It gives us a great insight into a forgotten era and is an enjoyable read that highlights the good that can be done in this world. It would be the perfect escapism read for those who enjoy historical fiction based on real lives.

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