Sunday, April 19, 2020

Diary of Covid-19 confinement, day thirty-four

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day thirty-four
Homemade soup

Day thirty-four, 19th April 2020

A kitchen day

We awoke to a dull and grey Sunday morning, the sky heavy with rain that has fallen steadily all day. The universe had decided, it was to be a kitchen day. There is nothing better on a Sunday than making up a batch of vegetable soup for the week, a cake (that will be lucky if it survives three days) and roasting pig bones for pork meat and stock, and I was in my happy place. 

I was also over the moon that the sourdough pizzas last night were delicious and there were new bubbles in the starter jar this morning, so it looks like I haven’t managed to kill it just yet.

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day thirty-four
In Adrian's pain cave

Then Adrian had an idea. If I am to climb mountains with him on our bikes once lockdown is over, and our big plans for this year (all being well) include cycle climbing trips to the Pyrenees and Mont Ventoux (to celebrate his 50th birthday), then I need to be cycle fit. The only way to tell how fit I am was to set me up on Zwift, fit my bike to the turbo trainer and have me take an FTP (functional threshold power) test to work out my watts per kilo power. This was how I found myself, somewhere between soup making, sourdough feeding and cake baking, sweating my ass off in his pain cave on a bike that after Katie the Tiny Tourer, felt like it had been made for a giant. 

Oh my days. It was not a pretty sight and with a score of 117, or 2.34w/kg, I’m slightly below the average (2.5-3w/kg) for a recreational cyclist. No surprise there. All I can say is say is, thank the heavens I had cake. Next time he mentions anything to do with cadence, power to weight ratio or turbo trainers, you’ll find me hiding in my yoga nook, probably with a slice or two of cake to keep me company.

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day thirty-four
Croque madames in Chateau-du-Loir, 19th April 2016

April holiday memory 

With food, and especially comfort food, being on my mind today, my holiday memory is from 19thApril 2016 when a particularly challenging morning on the bike in the Sarthe, was followed by the best croque madame, in the world. We started the day with a wander in the grounds of the chateau in Le Lude and just after Vaas, the cycle route became an off-road track with an impressive collection of potholes that were not kind on our wheels, our bottoms or our average speed. Admiring the view was also difficult as we swayed around like drunks trying to avoid falling off.

By the time we arrived in Chateau-du-Loir, I was ready for a rest and we fell into the first café we found, situated on a main road and nothing special. It was a treat to order chips with our croque madames, but when they arrived, they were so much better than expected. Light, fluffy and cheesy toasted sandwich, topped with a fried egg, and with a generous portion of chunky chips on the side. It is a meal I still remember fondly and the perfect fuel for the hilly terrain after lunch climbing to the fôret de Bércé.

The final part of the day took us through the vineyards of the Loir where we had a tour of the Fresneau caves at Domaine de Cézin in Marçon and I fell in love once more, with the Jasnières, a dry, fruity white, with a honey flavour that isn't sweet. A perfect wine for summer aperos on a shady terrace, but from such a small appellation it is difficult to get hold of here in the Poitou Charentes.

Stay indoors, stay safe.

Lockdown library

My reading selection today is for the books written by comedian Ian Moore. His two memoirs about the life of a French/British family in the Loire Valley are great fun reads and his first novel Playing the Martyr, set in and around Tours, has a great cast and sense of place, plus a humorous plot that kept me guessing.


  1. Good morning Jacqui, my husband cycled up Mount Ventoux for his 50th birthday (TREAT)! I had not taken cycling back up at that point and supported with water etc. It was certainly a day to remember, there were a LOT of flies as I have to holiday in the school holidays Lee had to do it in August unfortunately. Still he did it and we still have great memories of that day. The hardest bit for me was worrying about the descent which is incredibly steep. As you can see I am still catching up on the diary :-) Have a good Monday in France. Jayne Gray

    1. Oh wow. We are still determined to do it, especially as the road to the summit is only open to walkers and cyclists until end of October.


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