Hello, how are you doing? We’ve been on lockdown for a month now here in France, and whilst on some levels, life carries on day by day, we still have moments where we have to remind ourselves that so much has changed!
Someone mentioned to me yesterday that they had seen us on A New Life in The Sun recently. Our episodes aired just under two months ago, and yet it feels like a lifetime ago already! Only a month ago, we were making plans to go visit friends in the Spring and were carrying on with our busy, running around lives… It feels weird to think about “then” and now”.
In a way, we feel incredibly lucky to be on lockdown where we are. We left our small house in bristol with tiny garden as we wanted a quieter lifestyle and more space, and it is exactly what we found here in Vouleme.
The weather has been beautiful, and we’ve all been catching on our dose of vitamin D. And when the storms come, we’re glad for some rain for the garden.
We are able to go for walks around the hamlet with the kids (and sometimes the cats!), which does us all good.
We’ve attempted crafts and baking. I’m persevering but I’m not the best baker or pasta maker it seems… Still I have fun trying. Barry alternates his time between gardening, going to work and doing all the shopping. Overall, we have now settled into a quieter routine and everyone does what they want, settling into this strange quiet time, waiting for life outside to improve. We are now on school holidays too so there’s a little pressure off the home schooling.
The tough side of Lockdown
Of course, it’s not all plain sailing. On the surface and on social media, it’s easy to make it look idyllic and perfect, but day to day, there is so much to it.
Worrying about loved ones. Finding out friends have the virus. Continually motivating the children to do their school work, which means sitting down with them for the duration, handling tantrums from them but also ourselves… Helping the children manage their anxiety, on top of your own, The lack of sleep. The worry about money. And most of all, the worry of how life will be after lockdown, once we are released back into “normal” lives.
We also worry about schools reopening on 11th May. Hugo’s asthma has been kicking off lately, affecting his playing and sleeping. We still worry about him getting the virus. And whilst we absolutely love their school, it’s a small buidling with 20 students in very close proximity to one another… Can they really maintain all the safety guidelines? The teacher is worried. The parents are worried. We’re worried. Are we there yet?
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I resisted giving them their tablets a whole week… but ultimately it keeps them quiet and out of the sun once homework and running around in the garden, giggling hysterically, has tired them out. It’s all about balance isn’t it? We’re in week two, and we’ve noticed that the kids do much better with a routine comprising of a mix of homework and playtime. So grateful for their teacher’s hard work in helping us achieve that 💚 Have you embraced a routine of sorts or still going with the flow?
So much uncertainty, so much we still do not know enough about or understand…
The Good Side of Lockdown
But there is also hope. On the days that we have been on social media, it’s been soothing to see so many wonderful things happening within communities. And so many people working on the frontlines : medical staff, postal staff, people working in supermarkets to name just a few. Amongst all the bad, it is always reassuring to see how much good there is in the world.
We’ve also been given a chance to truly appreciate the beauty of where we live. Spending more time sat in the garden with a cup of tea, watching the wildlife, of which we have plenty here! A pheasant has made his home nearby (we’ve named him Jeff). We’ve also spotted all the birds coming back, including the majestic Hoopoe. We’ve seen frogs and toads in the garden, a heron flying in and out of the long grasses in the fields and even a white owl on several occasions. It’s all pretty special!
The Gites on Lockdown
We worry about the gites future and miss having guests stay with us. However we remain hopeful we can start greeting guests once again when lockdown is lifted. We have been busy finalising the jobs we can, inside and out, checking in on the gites on a regular basis and letting the beautifully scented Spring air through their windows.
On his days off, Barry has been working on the dry stone wall for Emerald gite so we can finalise the private seating area, and we roped in the kids to help clear out the garden of Jade gite. There is still a lot to do in the garden but it felt good getting these jobs started in the very least.
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Today I was a good wife and helped @lejardincontemporain clear lots from Jade’ s garden. It was hot, and I hurt all over 😅, but I’m so pleased with the progress we made! 👨🌾 Hugo helped a fair bit and Siena spent most of it sulking… good old family time together too 😂😅 Now I need your help, we’re thinking of a mural for the beautifully filled concrete wall… What do you reckon? Barry suggested a farm scene, whereas I was thinking something floral/ botanical on a more abstract scale… @whitespacemuraldesign what ya reckon?
There’s no denying that these are strange times, unfamiliar to many of us. But this too will pass, making space for better, brighter days. And when they come, the gites will be ready for you, welcoming you into our little sanctuary in our beautiful region of France.
In the meantime, I hope you are all safe and sound. We look forward to catching up with you in the near future, hopefully with a glass of something cold, sat outside in the garden.