January …a continuation of life as before ☹**

A bit belated but Happy New Year everyone. As I predicted at the end of last month, 2021 sems to be starting where we left off with 2020 unfortunately, with still no end of this ruddy virus and all the consequent restrictions to our lives still firmly in place. In fact, things seem to have become even worse as far as the virus is concerned with all these terrible statistics which are being trundled out at every opportunity. I have almost stopped listening to the news now, limiting myself to a brief watch of the 10 pm diatribe on the BBC before turning it off as the newscasters do not report much news, but fill the programme with doom, gloom and misery. It really is too depressing for words.

We, of course, are still very much in lockdown, so we are not going out and about much at all. The highlight of my week is a trip to our local Aldi for the weekly shopping…how exciting is that! We do still see a bit of our daughter but we are back to leaving the length of the driveway between us, and Geoff collects the dog from the end of that driveway each morning, for her daily walk. Meeting up with our son and grandchildren is not an option again now, so we have to rely once more on Skype calls and photos in order to keep in touch. Matthew and Susie are finding home schooling of Ethan difficult like the vast majority of parents in the same situation, I suspect. Keeping a 6-year-old on task is not easy at all. Things are not made easier by the fact that Hadley is still able to go to nursery…in the same school, but Ethan`s class is not open. Hard for both of them to understand. Fortunately, though, both of our children are still able to work from home so at least, they are still working hard thankfully.

So, what have we been up to then? Well, we have been trying to keep ourselves as busy as we can under the circumstances. Geoff is still getting some document revision work from the University of Clermont Ferrand which keeps him occupied. He has also decided to take an online Italian course and so I often hear Italian phrases wafting through the flat! We both have dreams of getting back to taking cruises again in the future, when we are allowed to travel again, and as we have always loved the Italian cruise lines (Costa and MSC) I will be expecting great things of him in being able to converse fluently with the crew and natives when we visit Italian ports! Both of us are also enjoying the French conversation U3A group which is making us both speak French on a weekly basis. Geoff has now found a lovely French lady, who lives in Bourges, to join in with the group occasionally and this has given the group a chance to actually converse with a native French speaker. It was nice for us too to be reminded of how lovely Bourges is and how much we enjoyed staying there once. We do really still miss France at times and although we have had to cancel our flights which were booked for March out to Nice yet again, we are still hoping to get out to our flat sometime this year.

We are both continuing to keep in contact with our friends via zoom. Geoff now has weekly chats with his old school friends and I am “meeting up” with my old nursing friends on a regular basis too. Thank goodness for technology in these miserable times I say!

Technology is also playing its part in the replacement of my attire too. I have lost quite a bit of weight following this low carb diet (which incidentally I still loathe!) and now find that a lot of my clothes no longer fit me. I have been trying to replace some of them by buying on line…a perilous task as I am not entirely sure of what suits me, or even what size I am these days. However, I now have a new skirt. I have not bought a skirt for decades (and I`m not sure why I bought this one really except that it was very cheap!) and I even bought a new dress the other day, which I am very pleased with. If anyone had told me a year ago that I would be buying size 14 clothes and having blonde streaks put into my hair I would never have believed them! I am a new woman!! All I need now is some occasion to wear these new clothes…I am looking forward to that big time when we are “free” again and I am tempted to wear something other than “lounge around” gear! I do now really have to sort out my wardrobe though…I suspect there will be a few bags to go to the charity shop when it opens again.

I am continuing with my self- inflicted new year challenge to recite and record a poem every day. I have always loved reading poetry aloud. This goes back to my childhood, when I was lucky enough to have speech and drama lessons for many years and as part of all that, I took part in Musical and Speech and Drama festivals throughout the North East. I won many trophies and prizes for reciting poetry, sonnets, speeches from plays and doing mimes. Our bookcase contains many poetry books and at Christmas, I received two new ones as gifts…one of which suggests a poem for every day of the year. I dont always choose that books suggestion…some are too long and some just dont appeal…but because I have a lot of other books, I have been able to find something which suits me every day so far. I post the videos on my Twitter feed each day and I am thrilled at the number of people who seem to be appreciating them. Posting is often “fun” due to our continuing poor broadband speeds, but so far, so good. I have to say though, that I am really enjoying this challenge, so for the most part, it is me who is benefitting from this activity. By recording them and saving them in a computer file, I shall also leave a little legacy for my family too…wonder if they will appreciate that when Im gone??

I have also been continuing with my knitting. As the baby hats are becoming a bit boring to knit, I have once again been making toys for my grandchildren. I have just completed a Super Mario figure for Ethan and am very pleased with him. He was OK to knit, but as usual I hated every minute of his assembly! I like knitting, but hate sewing, and Mario had lots of “bits” (ears, nose, hair, moustache hat, hat badge etc) to be sewn on separately…arggh! My next project is to be Hadleys favourite character from Paw Patrol…a dog called Chase. And yes, I did have to look that one up! I am hoping to get some dark brown yarn soon so that I can start that one. It is such a pain not being able to pop out to the shops for something like that isnt it? I have to wait for a delivery instead so things are on hold for now.

With not much else to do here, I have been catching up on some TV shows which I missed seeing whilst in France. I am still loving the Call the Midwife series as I mentioned last time and my old midwifery skills are all coming back to me with each episode I watch! I am though seriously realising, by watching this series, in these days of medical catastrophe due to this virus, how easily we forget all those deadly diseases of the not-so-distant past, such as polio, diphtheria, TB, measles etc which have been almost eradicated by vaccination programmes. And I love to use my medical knowledge in hindsight to diagnose the “rare” and “new to them” conditions which are covered by the programmes. We have also started to watch The Derry Girls, which if you can blank out the bad language, is hilarious. I am not sure though if the fact that my son in law says that Sister Michael reminds him of me, is a compliment or not!

We watched, and enjoyed, the recent series with Robson Green (always a chou- chou of mine!) walking Hadrian`s wall…with detours! It brought back many memories for me, as my Dad loved anything “Roman” so the wall & forts along it were regular destinations for us, as children. The other programme we really enjoyed last week, was the Windermere Children. It was very thought provoking and seeing that a lot of those poor kids went on to make great lives for themselves, after the horrors of the Holocaust, was truly fantastic. If you missed it, I recommend that you watch it sometime.

The weather here is continuing to be cold and damp but so far, we seem to have missed out on the snow. I do miss the snow, but only the crisp, deep, dry snow we used to get in France. Our friends in Chabanol have been sending many pictures of their snowy surroundings this month which brought back many memories! My little garden is beginning to show signs of Spring though, with some snowdrops and primroses already in flower. There are also loads of daffodils and other bulbs pushing up now which is lifting my spirits a lot as Spring cant be that faraway can it? I am continuing to feed the birds and trying to encourage new birds to visit the feeders. We do now, occasionally, get a flock of long tailed tits visiting briefly which I love to see…they are beautiful little birds. I have just done the Big Garden Birdwatch this morning & of course they didnt put in an appearance while that was going on! That would have been too much to hope for! The birdwatch was fun though and most of the usual birds turned up…as did the neighbours white cat for a while, which wasnt helpful! Hazel and I did it together via WhatsApp as she needed help at times with bird identification :blush:

And so, January is at an end. February also looks like being spent in lockdown but hopeful there are things to look forward to. My next eye injections for a start (Im being ironic here!), Geoffs birthday, Valentine`s day, Shrove Tuesday…to name but a few. We might even have our vaccinations by the end of Feb… who knows? Stay safe everyone

A bientot mes amis

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The lockdown drags on, but I constantly have to remind OH (and less fortunate younger siblings) that as retirees in rural SW France, we recognise that we’re in a very privileged situation. No worries about employment or income, or even who and who not to invite for the next diner chez nous!

I was caught out during the first confinement by the sudden closure of brico stores, whereas yesterday bought a new pair of pruning shears for when the rain ceases. Currently, despite absence of barbed wire, trench foot, corpses and burnt-out tanks, for me the garden evokes pictures of the Somme, but at least the new pruning shears are now there ready and waiting. Normally, at this time of rear we spend a few weeks in Spain and often get back too late for much of the pruning - but not this year - can’t wait.

Yes…we too have to keep reminding ourselves that we are very lucky to have each other, to have a nice warm flat and no worries re income or food. There are many a lot worse off than we are. I thank my lucky stars that we have a small garden here…I still like to be outside as much as possible and my plants, flowers & birds cheer me up enormously. I need to start painting again as I seem to have lost the motivation of late. Thank you for the comment :slight_smile: