I have been feeling guilty that I hadn’t managed to get myself back to secours populaire on Tuesday afternoons. Before Christmas we had a saga here with our ‘chaudiere’, the oil fired boiler which, we realised with surprise, was fifteen years old, the average life for one according to Google! That wasn’t much comfort as we filled up every camping bidon we owned and turned the mains water on just long enough to flush the toilet. Two weeks it took for two hopeful repairs to prove it was ‘mort’ and the replacement (ouch) which happened Christmas week. We still have a drip pronounced ‘pas grave’ by the plumber as he ignores us to deal with the umpteen broken down boilers during the recent frosts and snow.
Then there was the replacement of our internet with fibre optique. We moved furniture and a lot of dust in anticipation of where the new socket may be located. Then when the two man team arrived they chose somewhere we hadn’t thought of..more moving of ‘meubles’ and more surreptitious cleaning!
So what with that, an unanticipated snow fall and waiting for a possible plumber visit I hadn’t got around to going back to do my volunteering. Then today I read that our ‘antenne’ is closed as someone on the team has tested positive. That’s scary. We all wear masks, use gel religiously and keep our distance. I don’t know if the person contracted it while working at the shop or elsewhere but scary that I could now be isolating if I had gone in.
January is a gloomy month at the best of times but you can ward off dark thoughts by planning summer holidays and spring breaks. But with an imposed 6pm curfew and disturbing new virus variants and horrendous figures coming out of the UK and stubborn resistance here at home of our own significant numbers refusing to fall, it all looks pretty desperate and thoughts of holidays seem far too frivolous.
When the weather was better we could go out for walks which is always good for the morale but wet and windy days don’t encourage being outside for long. Our elderly cat, marmalade, sums it up well. He burrows under the top cover on the spare bed and sleeps the afternoons away hidden from the world. Would that I could too!
I’m trying to keep positive. My Christmas present of an exercise bike is being used every day. I’m up to ten kilometres in twenty minutes, not that it is making an iota of difference to the weight gained over Christmas! I do fifteen minutes a day of Duolingo French lessons, an irritating online course, extremely repetitive and cursed with advertisements but is slowly filling gaps in my knowledge of conjugation. I continue to take photos in the garden and places I go to entertain Facebook friends although the weather and time of year means they might as well be in black and white, the countryside is so grey at the moment.
Last Friday, the day I nearly heaved a sack of old clothes into sec pop, we went to St Cere to take back our old livebox. The relais was an electronic vaping shop. Now those are something relatively new. A shop full of flavours and fake cigarettes. I listened to the sales assistant explaining to a customer how you can mix your ‘aromes’. Wierd. As we were nearby we popped into the camera shop and had some photos taken for our eventual, we hope, carte de sejour permanents. If we ever get called by the prefecture, that is, to go down and be fingerprinted. We did all that in march 2019 but my Facebook group page tells me the photos will be too old. Presumably not the fingerprints? Of course, we emerged with photographs that make us look like elderly criminals as is the way with photos that don’t allow for disguising gestures; the merry smile, the hand under the chin to hide the ones sagging behind. Usually, trips into our biggest local town end with a coffee in one of the many bars but all are closed due to doom virus and not even a chair is to be seen on their terraces.
The beautiful plane trees that shade you so prettily in summer have had their annual winter mauling and stand like so many twisted and bent witches, black against the grey sky (it was a very wet day).
Our weekly drive shop had been unable to deliver clementines the day before so I went along to the Carrefour, a small supermarket I rarely use, but hoping I might find their own brand cereal as well as some fruit. Yes to clementines, oddly carrying a label stating ‘avion’. Do they have customers opposed to air freight? And no to the cereal. But as I queued for the checkout on the obligatory strip of plastic a metre distance from the customer in front I spotted my favourite tea…in tea bag form ..and not costing an arm and a leg! I buy loose redbush tea but the other half (a coffee only drinker) hates the faff of leaves and prefers a bag when making me a cup. My blighty supplies have dried up due to no trips across the channel last year. I took a box and then another…and then a third, just in case. Oh, joy, the comfort of my favourite redbush vanilla tea in the morning when himself brings me that first cup. I smiled all the way back to the car.
And on reflection, I’ve decided that’s what will get me through the next few difficult weeks,months…looking for those little moments of joy each day. Meanwhile, I’ll just finish this cup of tea..