A Ray of Hope Dawns

Well my friends, another month gone. Once again this has been a very strange May for us and I suspect for most of you too. The self isolation of lockdown is becoming very waring now, but I am hoping that there is a bit more freedom arriving at last with the partial relaxing of the rules. I just hope also that everyone does not go mad as this virus is still very much with us and will be for a very long time, I fear. As far as we are concerned, a little bit of “freedom” to go out walking in new areas, all pretty near to Carlisle I hasten to add, has been wonderful and I certainly don`t need anyone doing stupid stuff & messing it all up again.

May in France was always chocablock full of public holidays so the fact that we only had 2 here was a bit strange! Also, the fact that the Mayday holiday actually happened here on May 7th took a lot of explaining to our French friends. Although the French do have a holiday to commemorate the end of the war in France on May 8th the concept of celebrating VE day is also very odd to them. We gave up trying to explain long ago! The VE day celebrations really passed us by Im afraid and apart from the rather noisy flapping bunting which the girls next door put up, it was a non-event for us. I have always detested anything to do with war of any kind and I find it hard to “celebrate” on days like this. Commemorate and say thank you to those who died for us, but celebrate…no. I just cant do it…sorry. And the bank holiday at the end of May also passed most people by, I think, as not many of us are working any more, whether that is temporarily, or permanent as in the case of us retired folk! Having said that, Geoff did get a document to revise in a rush, so he did spend most of that day working. It was not a holiday in France remember and the university people he does this work for, were very late in getting the document to him, as usual. In fact, Geoff has been doing quite a few revision documents lately…the French Uni folk are obviously using the lockdown time to write up all their research articles! It keeps him busy so I`m not complaining!

My tedious diet continues but I am starting to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel I suppose. My blood sugar levels are much lower now than when I started and I have begun to relax a bit more about them. I only test once a day now. I also decided, in the middle of the month, that I just couldnt do this “no carb” malarkey for the rest of my life and so I have relaxed a bit with the diet too, allowing myself a few tiny portions of naughty stuff like rice & pasta or a small potato etc. It doesnt seem to make a lot of difference to the BS levels and I am a lot less grumpy now! The chats with the nurse, I find, are a total waste of time and I am happy that I don`t have another one until the end of July when they will do a “full review” – whatever that means. I look forward to that with great joy!

I have continued to amuse myself by knitting, doing a bit of cross stich (oh my eyes are not as good as they were!) and doing jig saws. I managed eventually to get my ebay account sorted out…what a struggle that was, as I had started it in France…nightmare! Anyway, apart from them continuing to send all email communications in French (le sigh) I was at last able to bid for some jigsaws and so my stock has been increased. Also, Hazel`s friends came up trumps for me and I found myself doing an absolutely beautiful but fiendishly difficult puzzle of the Lake District, which was loaned to me on the condition that I took a photo of the completed puzzle at the end! It turned out that someone had bought it for this lady as a gift, because she was homesick for Cumbria, but she was not a jig saw person and so had never done it. Personally…I now know why, as I nearly sent it across the room on several occasions! It was mighty hard I can tell you! I am currently recuperating from that trauma, by doing a very nice little puzzle of Azay Le Rideau –our all-time favourite Loire valley chateau, which is bringing back many happy memories of the family camping holidays we spent there. And this morning, amongst my birthday presents is a fabulous jig saw of my grandchildren which I will look forward to doing very soon :blush:

We have also started to enjoy some UK TV again although there is still an awful lot of rubbish on there! Our children have encouraged us to buy a Firestick and once we figured out how to a) connect it and b) use it (we are very techy challenged remember – our son & son in law despair!) we have been enjoying catching up with some of the stuff we never saw whilst in France. We particularly like the Race across the World program and are about to move on to the next series. On the normal TV though, I am really horrified at how much advertising there is for gambling these days…especially in these days of lockdown and people having little spare cash, I would have thought. My grandfather, who used to preach & fight against the “evils” of alcohol and gambling in his mining communities, would be horrified if he could see this. So dangerous, I think.

Now that the lockdown restrictions have eased a little, we have been out and about a bit more and at last we are able to explore our local environment. I was getting very bored with our very local walks - nice though they are - but doing the same route every day was getting a bit tedious. So, this last week or so we have been picking up the dog from Hazel`s and taking her in the car to walk a bit further afield. So far, we have enjoyed some lovely walks around Talkin Tarn, near Brampton, along the salt marshes of the Solway at Drumsburgh, a lovely walk through the Wray Woods to see the bluebells and have discovered also the super walks along the River Eden in Carlisle, nboth directions, leaving from Bitts Park. Last Thursday, as the weather was really warm and sunny, we headed back to the Solway coast and actually managed our first swim of the year in the sea, at Allonby. And yes…the water was flipping cold…but then we are hardy souls, having swum for many years in our lovely lake in France which was at 800m altitude and so was never that warm! We were very tingly afterwards! Xena, of course, is loving all this. She adores playing in water and so has had ample opportunity to do so on these outings. However, we are not so popular with our daughter and son in law as we keep taking her home wet… and sandy too on Thursday! Tee Hee!! We are quite enjoying having pets “on loan” here. I have a sweet little white cat who comes to see me each day in the garden – well I think she comes to see me but I suspect all the birds who visit my bird feeders are the main attraction unfortunately! And, of course we “borrow” Xena frequently for walks. So, we end up enjoying the animals but not having to feed them or clear up animal hair! Great arrangement all round!

I havent really done any painting during lockdown…I really havent felt in the mood. I did get the watercolours out early in the month and did a picture of 3 hares but somehow wasnt entirely happy with it. I did however put one of my poppy paintings into an online art auction which was raising money for hospice care and was pleased that one of my old friends bought it. I love seeing my paintings go to good new homes 😊 The auction was a great success too, raising over £2,000 in total, so that was great too. One of the other things I have really enjoyed doing during this month has been the song Challenge I set for my friends on Facebook. I have loved getting up each morning to set people (me included) off thinking & posting their responses to find a song which corresponds to an idea I have set them. It has made me listen to a lot of music to find my own choices & then to sometimes listen to other peoples choices too…some of which Ive never heard before. But the best thing of all for me has been chatting to old friends & some distant friends with whom I have had very little contact before this challenge. Also nice, was the way they all responded to each other too, even though they didnt know each other at all in lots of cases. It has been a fantastic experience all round and I am going to miss it greatly now it has finished. A lot of folk criticise social media and FB in particular but for this sort of thing you really can`t beat it.

I have a real dilemma now as the days drag on and there is no sight of hairdressers getting back to work any time soon. My hair is getting quite long which I dont really mind too much, but the big problem is the steadily creeping amount of grey hair at the roots! I am not good with my hair…I always like it to look nice, but have not the patience to fiddle with it and the though of home dyeing leaves me panic stricken! Geoff has wanted me to grow out the colour for ages and go grey gracefully, but Im still not really convinced. Maybe by the time we all get back to the coiffeuse the decision will have been made for me! Meanwhile, Geoffs hair is also looking a bit worse for wear now. He was hoping (as was I) that it would revert to his youthful lovely curls but so far that hasnt happened. He keeps threatening to put it into a man bun, much to the total dismay of our kids, but it is not quite long enough for that yet. I suspect the children will disown him if he does that!

Hazel`s birthday (a significant one too) came and went and she did seem to enjoy it despite having to settle for a zoom meet up with her pals and a few bits and pieces from us including a wave and blown kisses from the end of the drive. Her main present (a cherry tree) arrived a few days later (typical) but is now looking good in her garden. Its my birthday today and we are stretching the lockdown rules just a tiny bit, by having a socially distanced BBQ with Hazel & Phil in their big garden. We have cleared it with the neighbours & there will be no close contact…honest. I long for things to go back to “normal” someday so I can have a birthday hug though.

And so off we go into June my friends and with a bit of luck we might all be experiencing a bit more freedom by the time I write the next blog. I hope that everyone stays sensible and remains safe and well. As I said at the beginning of this post, this dreadful virus is still with us and will be for quite a while yet so we must still be careful, but hopefully we might get to see a bit more of our family and friends soon.

A bientot mes amis


I don’t understand this sentence, May 8th is VE day and that is why it is a public holiday in France, it marks the end of the war in Europe. We celebrate VE day every single year, just not the same way you do, for us it is about remembrance more than dressing up in 1940s clothes, putting up bunting, and having a street party.


Yes I know. I much prefer the way the French commemorate VE day. Normally in the uk we dont celebrate it at all but this year because it was the 75th anniversary there were special celebrations...all very strange as we were all still in lockdown. I am sorry...I didnt express this very well really.

I have heard that there is a lot of virus up in Cumbria, especially round Barrow, so your attitude is perfectly understandable.
It is beautiful weather here in the Clunysois and I am swimming every day. It has been too cold to swim before the start of June for the past couple of years, so I was delighted to see the pool opening people actually turning up when we asked.
We are hoping that our Munich family will be here for the end of August, but even if hotels etc are opening, the thought of two weeks quarantine on returning to UK
will put most people off entirely.
Cumbria is a beautiful place to be, enjoy.

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It is indeed. we are really liking living here in Carlisle & discovering some wonderful places onour doorstep. We still havent ventured into the Lakes again as we dont want to cause any problems. Mind you we are also longing to get back to our little flat in France too. The Med is a lot warmer to swim in than the Solway I think!