….and what have we done?
Well, it’s been a quick year ; and a long one.
I remember distinctly writing last year’s Christmas post and vowing to be more consistent in my warblings. I was only ever so slightly late when Covid struck and sent the whole world into a spin. Life, as we knew it, was completely turned upside down.
Who on earth would ever have thought that on a Wednesday afternoon in March we would be making a fool of ourselves, en famille, doing zumba over Zoom? That didn’t last long.
The novelty of confinement quickly wore off. Literally all of our bookings were (understandably) cancelled. The French Government were very responsive and helped us out short term during April and May ; eventually the Summer was all rebooked with French guests (British guests tend to book really far in advance so French Summer guests are a bit of a rarity!) and most of those who had to cancel rebooked for 2021 so we count ourselves very lucky indeed.
We were also very lucky in that the 1km allowance for daily exercise could easily be stretched to long walks in the woods without ever meeting another soul – just one of the advantages of life in the sticks. I have to admit to feeling pretty stupid , filling out my “attestation de déplacement” just in case a bored gendarme might be lurking in the bushes waiting to pounce out and fine me 135 euros on the spot for not having filled it out before leaving home. But then again, I’ve always been a rules and regulations kinda gal and old habits die hard!
I decided to keep myself busy and signed up at the local Mairie to sew masks for Jayac’s release. I hadn’t sewn for quite a while so I was really looking forward to getting back behind the machine. A small group of women also turned up to offer their services and discuss the various techniques on which was the best design, how to adapt patterns etc etc.I was getting quite carried away with the idea and when the Mayor asked how many masks we would like to sew I enthusiastically blurted, out, “I’ll take 50 to start off with!”.
Other voices followed. “I’ll take 10”. “I might manage 20 but I’m not sure”. I’ll just take 5″.
They obviously knew more about this mask making marlarky than I did. I was there for days, measuring, cutting, folding, sewing, adding elastics … I soon got into a rythym though and was quite proud of my little pile of completed masks when Emma & Alistair asked if I could make some for them and their friends. Off I went again, glad I had kept all the offcuts of material from previous sewing projects. Waste not, want not!
Our own house build was thrown into chaos as well. It was all going swimmingly and we were secretly quite proud at how quickly it was advancing, given that bureaucratic speed isn’t one of France’s great fortés. The ground floor was more or less complete and our two man team of trusty workers decided to have a week’s break before tackling the upstairs – the night before confinement struck. They didn’t come back.
Amar was thrown into disarray. This was mid March and we needed to be out of our rented accommodation by the end of May.
I could see him mentally looking around for solutions and feeling his eyes land on me, wondering if I would cut the mustard. Probably not, but let’s face it, he didn’t have much choice.
Luckily we had pre bought most of the materials before so we had the necessary stock of metal rails, plasterboard, insulation, etc. We just needed to get it all assembed over a near 5 metre drop over the empty stairwell.
Boards laid on thick wooden planks to cover most of the hole and two ladders on top so we could work at the same height did nothing for my confidence. I struggled to get the screws in at a height and even more trying to hold the plasterboard in place while Amar took charge of the electric screwdriver. He was exasperated with his new, next to useless assistant! I practically begged him to take some photos of me at work ( for posterity and fun factor!) but he saw this as futile and time-wasting – there was work to be done, for goodness sake!!
Nothing else for it then but to take them myself. While he was off collecting supplies from the garage, I quicky set up the camera on the self timer and took photos of me myself – with varying degrees of success I have to say!
We got the job done though, in spite of it all and eventually moved in at the end of June.
Just in tme for me to start a temporary part time job as a helpline agent for UK Nationals applying for their obligatory post Brexit French residency permits.
Having left behind 7 gites and all the work that went along with that, I figured I’d have plenty of spare time 😉 Well, confinement and travel restrictions have certainly given me more free time than I would have liked, but apart from ensuring that I’ve had little opportunity to be bored, I have had the best experience, learning new skills, meeting some fantastic work collegues (albeit still only virtually) and helping to alleviate the stress of filling in online forms for those who are not computer savvy or don’t have internet.
I even managed to get myself on French TV ( for all of 3 blink and miss it seconds 🙂 ! )The Brexit deadline has come and gone but as long as you are already here, you can still apply up until 30th June. I can honestly say I’ll be sorry when my contract finishes but I’m sure I’ll stay in touch with the team so that’s one good thing to have come out of 2020!!
Let’s hope there’s a lot more positive things coming our way in 2021!