‘Come outside…

Two weeks into reconfinement and the prime minister will be making an announcement tonight about how it’s going. He promised at the start things would be reviewed after ‘quinze jours’ and we await his pronouncements but doubt there will be any easing just yet.

The figures are still daunting and, depending on which set I read, our department is either doing better than most in our region…or not!

But I’m doing better. Or, at least, that’s what a friend in the village just told me. ‘You’re looking better than when I last saw you’, she said. I remember that morning, the first Saturday of the last confinement. We passed each other at the village baker and I shrank away from her. ‘You’re very shifty’, she commented. I didn’t like to own up to how frightened I was of not just her but anyone!

Today, I was happily riding my bike, not hiding in the car, and had just hailed two other friends and neighbours as I swept past them. Bike riding was forbidden last confinement but I have recently discovered it is ok this time so long as I stay within the radius of a kilometre from home and only stay out for an hour. I was so frustrated last time as I enjoy a little tootle through the walnut orchards or a ride along the river.

So bike riding has been added to my almost daily walks. The weather is glorious for November and because we haven’t had any frosts the leaves are mostly still on the trees making walking under them a joy.

On the French government website I found an app which gave you a personalised map of the one kilometre radius around your address….except it wouldn’t let me print off a copy. In the end we dug out the oldest and scruffiest map of our area and, with the aid of a pair of compasses, drew a circle around our location. Armed with that it is possible to work out all manner of permutations for walks and rides. ‘I’m only the chauffeur’ has just taken a walk with that app that talks to him (remember the lac de causse walk?) and reports he has done over 4km in 56 minutes. We will stay fit after all.

It’s not just about fitness though. For me, the loss of social contact was the hardest thing to adapt to. I loved all my activities and regret the lack of opportunities to speak French in our ‘new normal’. There is still lots of contact happening on social media but it’s not the same. Out walking I have had the chance to say bonjour to fellow walkers, chat over the garden gate to various neighbours and catch up with friends as our paths cross. As we don’t live in the middle of the village anymore I didn’t bump into former neighbours that often. But now that the village is in our permitted radius it is fast becoming a regular event. Which has to be a positive.

If there are any ‘easements’ in tonight’s announcement I must make sure I carry on getting outdoors and keeping the contact going, not just with our glorious countryside but with the people who inhabit it too!

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