A French Experience
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How did we find ourselves locked down in mid-March in a tiny village in the Poitou-Charente department of France? It wasn’t the plan, not in the grand scheme of things for Spring 2020. If you’d asked me what my dearest wish was, I probably wouldn’t have chosen 2 months in St Romain. Where? Exactly!

My husband, Mike, is a guest lecturer at one of the French universities on the outskirts of Paris. He was due to give lectures to staff and students for 2 weeks on the baffling subject of Brexit. He relishes seeing the incredulous looks pass between them at the folly of the British shooting themselves in the collective foot. I, being self-employed, (or more recently, self-unemployed), enjoy tagging along with no responsibilities, enjoying good food and visiting favourite parts of Paris while he’s working.

The plan was to then go for 3 weeks to a house we’ve just bought in St Romain near Aubeterre-sur-Dronne which is in the Poitou Charente.

Last year we sold a 1 bed apartment we had for 18 years in Provence very close to the sea. We loved the apartment and the area, but it was too small for family to stay, or for us to spend more time in retirement. We needed more space and certainly couldn’t afford anything bigger in Provence. The house we’ve bought is a four bed detatched arranged in 2 apartments so we’re jumping straight out of the frying pan into the fire.

There’s work to be done in it, painting, cleaning, sorting out the overgrown garden- we went for a week in January to assess what we would have to do to get it ready to let part of it in the summer, and the priority is to replace the kitchen upstairs, so we ordered the flatpacks, hired the man to do the work, and intended to leave Paris on or before 25th March. The intention was to drive back to pick up our motorhome from its garage in St Malo. It’s full of our possessions from the apartment, and one of us will be driving it down to its new home at the back of our new home, while the other continues in the car.

‘People don’t take trips, trips take people’ – John Steinbeck.

24 & 25th March

First day of UK schools being shut. Very funny posts on WA Family Sanity. Suze looking to blow into a paper bag because her sons had made their own lunch while she was on a work skype call, and William gatecrashed Louise’s video call to...

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Sunday 22nd & Monday 23rd March

Opened Jo’s Mother's Day card, has pride of place on my chest of drawers. Louise put a message on WhatsApp to say my card was in Jersey! Another sunny day but with a bit of cloud around, hope it’s not going to change. Talking of change,...

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21st March

First day of Spring – what a peculiar life we’re living! I tried JT again this morning and they’ve changed all the options on the helpdesk and none of them match my problem. I think they are gearing up to people working from home. They...

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20th March

Another beautiful day, we are lucky with the weather and every day the blossom on the trees comes out a bit more. We need to go shopping this morning for household things more than food. We may go to several places. Roaming is costing a lot....

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19th March

Phoned Orange at 9am, got through to be told the fault wouldn't be fixed until 25th March. Gutted! The reason I couldn’t get through between 4 and 5pm yesterday was that they are shutting at 3.30pm now. That’s not what the message says. All very frustrating! I...

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18th March 2020

Sun pouring in the windows this morning, very heavy dew, but a great improvement on yesterday and Monday. I put the washing on. When it was done I stuck on my lovely new (to me), yellow wellies, bought from the Jersey Arts Centre sale a...

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16th March 2020

I may not have mentioned the boiler room – it’s very large and has staging all round. The toys we’ve brought down for kids to play with have gone in there as has the new bedding and the old stuff we’ve brought from the flat....

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15th March 2020

It’s warmer today, thank goodness. Ok to be outside and in, without a coat on. Mike starts to empty the van and I take 4 bags and boxes of crockery, cutlery and other kitchen/dining room stuff upstairs. We bought all the furniture from the previous...

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14th March 2020

Downstairs is very cold, only the bedrooms and bathroom heated, the main area which was the garage is bitter. It has a stone floor and double glazed patio doors with an electronic shutter outside but there is a gap between the door and the shutter...

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13th March 2020 – Jersey

We woke up just before the alarm, car was packed except for the contents of the fridge, when Mike’s phone rang. It was Catherine, the course leader in Paris. ‘Have you left yet?’ she asked. ‘No,’ said Mike cautiously. ‘Oh good,’ she was quite breathless,...

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