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 got some big pots up on the balcony (Mike did) and filled them with compost and summer bulbs from B&Q. I bought them a few weeks ago and some of them haven’t survived the journey very well. The iris’s have sprouted and lost weight. They should be fat and firm but they aren’t. I’ve planted them anyway, they may be OK. Tried to weed the front border but my back hurts, so I’ll do some more tomorrow.

My sister, who works in Derby Crown Court, says it’s very grim over there. Normal in court but then you come out to the reality. Her Dettol wipes were well employed all day.

Mike has been getting to grips with the petrol mower, which apparently drives itself and only needs guiding. It has no petrol. I assumed it needs 2 stroke but no, it uses ordinary petrol, and also uses oil but that’s empty too. We bought it from the last owners and also a monstrous contraption which is a 5 in 1. The one is a strimmer, but we don’t know what the other four functions are. It is petrol and oil driven but there’s no fuel in that either. It’s heavy, has a shoulder strap and Mike will have to wear protective clothing. What could possibly go wrong?

Our (grownup) families are being great. Steve has set up a WhatsApp group called Family Sanity and they all seem to be contributing. Its very funny. I wonder how all of them will manage to work though with kids at home. It’s going to be very difficult. Surely parents cant be expected to teach them. It’s not fair, and some families are going to struggle with space, if they live in flats or small houses with no gardens. Fortunately ours have all got gardens and reasonably sized houses.

The birdsong is uninterrupted here. Two blackbirds are nesting in the trees nearby and there’s a very cheeky robin pushing his luck. Lovely to hear. On Monday a particularly short sighted sparrow flew into the French window. It lay there shaking for a long time and after about an hour I took some water out and a tiny piece of bread with honey and placed it very close. It perked up after a while and then later again, it had moved a few feet. So I tried to follow it with the water, but it was scared and fluttered up the path so I retreated. I tend to know when my ministrations are unwelcome. It was gone in the morning but later Mike found it dead under a bush. I don’t think there was much else we could have done but it made me sad.

We’ve run out of bread today. We had a large pain complet, which is a solid piece of work and lasted a couple of days, ending as toast with pate today. We’ll get another tomorrow. We need to get a few things, household not food.

Mike cleaned up the lawnmower in a reverential fashion while I made up beds and photographed rooms, but without pictures on walls and mirrors, it’s all a bit sterile.

I made a horrid dinner of frozen breaded fish which stuck to the pan, potato wedges, peas and broccoli. I think the gaz is running out as it didn’t cook fast enough. We will have to find a bottle tomorrow.

Planning ahead for letting the place, I’m short of 5 pillows, 4 double duvet covers, 4 fitted double sheets, I single duvet cover, 2 king size and one king size fitted sheets, so about 200€ still to spend. But certainly not needed yet, who knows what will happen this year, all very depressing. Still it’s lovely to see the rooms come to life. Just like ‘Escape to the Chateau DIY’ only not as imaginative. All those chateau owners will be hard pressed to survive in the coming months with weddings cancelled and France shut down.