The first frost arrived in our part of SW France yesterday, a reminder that we are heading full tilt towards winter and Christmas. The weather remains glorious, though, as it did for much of the first lockdown.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we don’t have the same sense of anxiety as we did the first time around. This time, the frustration is greater: with having to fill in a form every time we set foot outside the gate; with not being able to go where we want; and, in particular, with not being able to see our friends.
We spoke to our friends Marie-Jo and Claude on the phone last week and caught up with their news and that of mutual friends. We all agreed that social interaction is one of the things we miss the most. Skype, Zoom and all that just aren’t the same.
Everyone dearly hopes that some assouplissement of the current restrictions might occur next week. This second lockdown has been particularly hard for “non-essential” shops and for bars and restaurants, all of which have been forced to close for the second time this year. The expectation is that Macron will allow the shops to re-open from next Saturday. By that time, it will be less than a month until Christmas.
Some local restaurants have diversified by offering a traiteur or takeaway service. We have taken advantage of the Najac hotel-restaurant l’Oustal del Barry’s takeaway lunches on several occasions. They are amazing value: three courses for 12 euros a head. Najac is about a 40 km round trip, but it’s nice to have an excuse for an outing at the moment.
We decided to have an Oustal takeaway yesterday. The last time we actually ate in a restaurant was in early March. On the menu: local ham with lentils; stuffed roast veal and veg; and tiramisu.
It was my turn to collect the meal. I left here in thick fog. We are in a fog pocket: sometimes it doesn’t disperse until 4 pm. Two kilometres away, the sun beamed down from a wall-to-wall blue sky.
The drive to Najac was lovely. There was hardly another car on the road and the autumn colours shone in the sunshine. The clarity of the air was such that I could even see the hump-backed Monts du Cantal quite distinctly in the distance (not the photo below; that was taken somewhat closer at hand). This provoked a little spark of nostalgia for the glorious mountainous area where we love to walk, but which we haven’t seen for two years. Maybe next year.
Over the hill at Mazerolles, the fog closed in again and lingered in the Aveyron Valley below Najac, so that the fortress appeared to float on a sea of mist. The village itself was almost empty in sharp contrast to its summer incarnation.
Working off all this food is, of course, de rigueur if we’re not to look like the Michelin man post-lockdown. Fortunately, after the worst October weather in our 23 years here, this November is shaping up to be one of the best, so we can get outside.
The SF (Statistics Freak) gets his exercise by rebuilding the terrace wall that collapsed in the torrential October downpours. It’s coming along pretty well. He’s pretty much a champion dry-stone wall builder after so much practice here.
While he hefts boulders around, I find creative ways of walking within the regulation 1 km limit. It gets a bit tedious if you always take the same route. So this sometimes involves climbing over the metal five-barred gates that block one of the tracks or shooing errant calves off the path. Or forcing my way down overgrown trails that haven’t been used for years. I am certainly getting to know the neighbourhood even more intimately.
We really have no right to complain. There are far less appealing places to be locked down, and so many people are worse off than we are. But sometimes we can’t help yearning for life before Covid, when freedom was something we took for granted.
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Lovely to read about our old haunts. Miss them but our new life in the UK is keeping us busy
Hope you are all well
Karen and James Sweeting
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Lovely to hear from you, and I hope you’re both well.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of our haunts these days under lockdown! So a jaunt to Najac was very welcome.
The walking group is still going, as you probably know, but of course is in abeyance while lockdown continues.