A bit of a surreal set of circumstances to find oneself in, but as you may have seen on Instagram I am confined to my French home for fifteen days as part of the French government’s approach to tackling the COVID-19 coronavirus.
My husband and I are both fortunate enough to be able to work from home during this period and we have plenty of food, wine (!!) and toilet roll (!!!) thanks to our routine of shopping once a month. Perhaps through frugality – not wanting to spend at shops each week, nor on the not insignificant amount of fuel our very uneconomical car uses to get there and back – we are the original doomsday preppers (which if you haven’t watched on Netflix or elsewhere, I highly recommend, taken with a pinch of salt…)
So I’m sitting here in our newly painted kitchen on day two of this enforced nationwide rest, and looking for ways to spend my day. We had a conversation this morning about how useful it would have been to have had our chickens by now – reader, full disclosure: we don’t yet have them because we have not wanted to get up on the cold, dark mornings to let them out – now, as we keenly monitor our egg supply, we’re regretting not acting sooner.
This led me onto thinking of what other kinds of smallholding-type activities we could begin during this period, and an obvious one for us was always going to be to have a good go at filling the potager.
Thankfully, I had already bought our seed potatoes for this year and they were sitting unloved in our chaufferie room, so I have released them into their trays for chitting – not that they much need it, some are ready to walk! So a task for me will be getting them into the ground. If you too are looking for some tips on growing some veg to occupy yourself through this unsettling time ça tombe bien because I currently have an article in Living France Magazine April 2020 edition which describes this very thing. If you see it, do let me know what you think of it and my fetching leopard print gardening gloves…
Inside the house, I am thinking it’s time to tackle last year’s glut of pears, apples, peaches and grapes which are patiently waiting in our chaufferie room freezers for me to get a wriggle on. At some point last year I borrowed a beautiful book from our village library called “Retrouver le goût de la nature. 140 recettes de campagne” by Camille Le Foll. It has so many sweet traditional French recipes to try, many of which use foraged items from the abundant French countryside. Plus it’s in French, so a good opportunity to practice your vocabulary. It’s a really tactile book, with a woven cover and various types of paper stock inside, the photography is fantastic. I really could not recommend it more as a gift, or for yourself since we will all be looking for ways to occupy ourselves or our families. I’m very grateful that my husband bought me a copy for Christmas, as I had to give up renewing it at our local library and depriving our neighbours of its loveliness.
Aside from recipe trawling, I’ll be reading my own copy of Living France in the garden – with a gin and tonic before too long I would hazard – and will maybe even venture out with Margot for a government-sanctioned walk using one of my Attestation de déplacement forms (I’ll include a link below in case you too need it). I hope you’re all keeping well and virus-free wherever you are, and if you’re in confinement like us please do share how you’re spending your time in the comments. I feel as though by day eleven I’m going to need some ideas!