Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Diary of Covid-19 confinement, day thirty-six

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day thirty-six mowing orchard
Mowing in the orchard

Day thirty-six, 21st April 2020

Busy bees

Not only has Adrian been out for the weekly shop, he has also cleaned all the windows, inside and out, (and we have a lot of windows) plus he’s mowed out in the orchard. I know, he’s a keeper. 

The apple blossom is looking lovely at the moment and so far, it looks like it will be a good year for cherries and plums. 

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day thirty-six apple blossoms
Apple blossoms

I’ve been almost as busy in the kitchen, rustling up some tasty treats for his birthday tomorrow, some more successful than others. Let’s just say I’m not sure I’ll ever bother again with trying a yoghurt frosting for a carrot cake. I really do need to learn to stick to my tried and tested favourites and never deviate, no matter how good things look on the internet.

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day thirty-six Mont Ventoux
Rouvy Mont Ventoux

Virtual birthday treat

As Adrian’s birthday is going to be a big one, he has decided that although we are living in lockdown, he needs to do something big, even if it’s not quite how we planned it to be. 

In 2014, when he first planned to cycle up Mont Ventoux in Provence, we had catastrophic engine failure in Gizmo the Mini Cooper on the way there and never made it. In 2017 he took himself off to the Ardeche and planned for a Ventoux summit on the way home, then had a catastrophic shoulder failure when he cycled off the edge of a mountain and needed rescuing. This year we planned to try once more, but Covid-19 has rather got in the way of that. Three times our plans have been thwarted, but he’s not to be defeated.

On Wednesday morning, 22nd April, using the wonder of Rouvy, a virtual cycling app connected to the turbo trainer, he will virtually set off from Bédoin for the ascent to the summit. I can watch from the comfort of a chair, cheer him on when necessary and provide coffee, snacks and water, and we won’t even have to leave the house. Wish him luck, it might not be quite the real thing, but he’ll still have to put the effort in to succeed.

Positive effects of lockdown

France Bleu reported today that pollution levels in Paris and surrounding areas have been reduced by up to 35% (some weeks were better than others) since confinement began, taking them to a 40-year low. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we are somehow able to hold on to this benefit when we are free to roam once more?  If major cities improve their cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to enable active alternatives to cars as a way of achieving this, then so much the better.

French Village Diaries covid-19 confinement day thirty-six Loir Sarthe
Crossing the river Loir in the Sarthe

April holiday memory 

On the 21st April 2016 we were in Le Mans on the halfway point of our Sarthe à vélo tour, although the picture I have chosen is a nice sunny one of me crossing the Loir for the final time the day before. Le Mans was a day off cycling, but it was far from a lazy day. We were lucky enough to enjoy a guided tour of the medieval cobbled streets of the Plantagenet City, where the timber framed buildings crowd around the narrow streets and St Julien’s Cathedral dominates the skyline. We were then whisked away to the Abbey de’Epau, final resting place of Queen Bérengère, Queen of England and widow of Richard the Lionheart and after lunch we visited the museum at the 24 Hour racing circuit, with the accompanying roar of engines in the background from a track day. One day wasn’t really long enough to do Le Mans justice, but maybe one day we will return.

Stay indoors, stay safe.


  1. As many here in the US want the lock-down to end - not me - it's encouraging to hear how you are surviving. Apologies for not dropping by for days, I've been writing frantically while attempting to ignore the spread of stupidity.

    Happy birthday to your husband - one of my step-sons is celebrating his 44th today - hope the ascent went well. Stay safe, sensible and inspired.

    1. Thanks Roland. He certainly gave the ascent his all and was quite tired afterwards, but glad he'd managed to do something for his lockdown birthday. Take care and stay safe.


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