Saturday, April 18, 2020

Diary of Covid-19 confinement, day thirty-three

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day thirty-three
Courgette seedlings, one month old

Day thirty-three, 18th April 2020

Staying alive

It was one month ago today when Ed and I sowed our courgette, butternut squash, pumpkin and pattisson seeds and they are looking great. They have certainly benefited from the extra time we have with life in lockdown as they have been well and truly pampered, from warming the soil in the sun before sowing, to using the radiators to give a gentle boost of heat to encourage germination. Then the new seedlings got their daily dose of sunshine in the garden but were tucked up warm and cosy indoors at night, with just enough, but not too much, watering. They are growing so well in their own pots that we are now keeping them in the shade during the day, just so they don’t get too big before it’s safe to plant them outside in the potager once the frost risk has passed. I can almost taste that first courgette.

Yesterday a friend in the village left me a gift of some sourdough starter, alive and bubbling in a jam jar. She had had the patience that I didn’t and had followed local baker Keith, from Jambon de Printemps’s six-day video guide (see here) to create her own starter. The fact that it’s alive and I now have to regularly do things with it, so as not to kill it; you have no idea how terrified I am of it! There are days when I wonder how I manage to keep a husband, a son, a twelve-year-old dog, an odd assortment of ancient chickens, a duck and a goose alive, in addition to the homemade natural yoghurt that I keep going by using a few teaspoons to start a new batch off every four or five days. 

It was time to be brave. I took a deep breath, opened the jar and split the starter. 20g was fed, watered and left to grow and the remainder is now (hopefully) a tasty pizza dough proving in a bowl for dinner tonight. I’ll let you know how successful it was tomorrow.

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day thirty-three
18th April 2016 cycling in La Sarthe

April holiday memory 

18th April 2016 and we had just set off on our first ever cycle tour, in the Sarthe department, near Le Mans. Our 74km day started following the river Sarthe, passing a Benedictine Abbey, pretty medieval villages and a bluebell wood, before visiting the Faïence museum in Malicorne. Leaving behind the river Sarthe, we found the river Loir in La Fléche, where we enjoyed a sunny beer before following an old railway line, now La Vallée du Loir cycle path, to Le Lude. Ever the gentleman, Adrian was not only head navigator and route planner, he was also carrying pretty much all of our luggage. If you look closely in the picture above you will see he thought of everything, including a cycle specific wine bottle carrier, and wine.

Stay indoors, stay safe.

Lockdown library

My reading selection today is the fun and inspiring cycle travel memoirs from Australian author Steven Herrick. Over the years, Steven and his wife Cathie have cycled a number of epic rides in France, as well as many long-distance routes that have crossed Europe. If armchair travel is your thing, you’ll love them, if you can’t wait to get back out and travel for real, these will prove great planning tools for your next adventure.


  1. Good morning Jacqui, as you can see I am working my way through the diary entries (falling behind with my own diary!). My hubby and I have had some fabulous cycling holidays in France one of which was in The Loire, loving the wine holder. X

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment and I hope this brings back some great memories of your cycling trips in France. Keep writing the diary, these accounts of life in these extraordinary times will be fascinating to leave ok back on.


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