Friday, October 30, 2020

Lockdown in France, part two

French Village Diaries lockdown in France, part two
Autumn in the Lot, the night before lockdown

At the stroke of midnight last night, as I slept soundly in a bed that wasn’t mine, France went into Covid-19 lockdown for a second time. 

As with the last time, there are strict rules we must follow in order to leave home without risking a 135€ fine. A form must be filled in, on paper or digitally, (see here) proving you are going out for one of the allowed reasons:

1)   Going between home and work, or where you are on a training course, or taking an exam

2)   Going out to get the necessary supplies to run your business, or to buy your essential shopping (from any of the shops the government is allowing to remain open) or to collect an ordered item.

3)   Medical appointments that can’t be done remotely or postponed, and to collect prescriptions

4)   Leaving home to help other family members or look after children

5)   Accompanying someone who is disabled

6)   Your one hour of daily exercise, one kilometre from your home, not including any group activities and keeping away from others doing the same, although family members from the same household may be together. To walk your pets

7)   If you are summoned by the courts or doing a public service

8)   Voluntary work that has been authorised

9)   Taking your children to and from school


It is day one and already we have broken the rules, making a 265km journey through south west France, for none of the permitted reasons. Tempting though it was to shut out the madness of the world outside and stay put in our blissful holiday bubble in the beautiful Lot, we did the grown-up thing and packed the bikes back in the car and headed home.


Handwritten on the back pages of my notebook were our carefully worded documents stating, on our honour, that we were on holiday when lockdown was announced and our only reason for being out today was to return home. What a magnificent return it was. Traffic was light (until we crossed into the Charente after lunch), the sun shone on the autumn colours all around us and everywhere I looked there was something to feast my eyes on. A turreted chateau on a hill, the Cahors vineyards wearing their bronze leaves with pride, the rich textured landscapes and pretty villages of the Lot and Dordogne, the steep sandstone cliffs that rise along the Dordogne river with caves and overhanging rocks, and that was just this morning. I hope I never tire of travelling through France.


French Village Diaries lockdown in France, part two
St Vincent Rive d'Olt

These few days away have been a real boost to our minds and bodies, something that I appreciate even more now we are facing at least a month of lockdown and staying close to home. I am not really sure how I feel about another period of lockdown. On the one hand I am very happy the three of us will be together, protected from the outside world and safe. There is an element of relief that the decisions about going out have been taken from us and I’m ready to cocoon within our family unit and not be distracted by the outside world. There have been many times over the summer where I’ve struggled with safely balancing wanting to socialise and carry on as normal, with not wanting to take unnecessary risks and mix with too many people. I’ve had similar battles in my mind between allowing Ed his independence, now he has his driving licence and university life in Poitiers had resumed almost as normal but hating that meant he wasn’t in our safe bubble anymore. Only last weekend he drove the two hundred kilometres from Poitiers to Le Mans for a visit to Pearl’s sister. It was an all family event, but still a mix of households and meals out. I will also admit to my heart being in my mouth as we tracked his progress along the motorway (for the first time). This weekend not only will there be no extended family gatherings, there will be no Pearl either as they enter their second enforced separation this year. It is this that makes me the saddest. Their freedom, independence and life together being put on hold once more.


During the last lockdown we functioned pretty well in our family unit. Things will be slightly different this time as Ed will have online lectures to log onto and Adrian has a number of online courses scheduled to run from home. The house has changed a bit since last time too as we now have better defined (and decorated) zones for online work and now we’ve started, there are plenty more decorating projects to keep us all busy. The first thing we did after lockdown was announced this week was to hot foot it to the shops for as many tins of white satin wood paint as we could carry and when we passed a DIY store today, open as usual, we just had to pop in for the wallpaper for the hallways. 


French Village Diaries lockdown in France, part two
Autumn colours in the Cahors vineyards

We feel incredibly lucky to have picked this week for our last cycling break of 2020 and certainly made every moment count. We cycled two hundred kilometres through vineyards and along rivers surrounded by stunning autumn colours, and partook in patisseries wherever possible too. It was our first visit to the Lot department, but we were in agreement that we liked the Lot a lot and we’d love to go back.


La France est belle, vive la France, vive le vélo and stay safe mes amis.

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