Welcome to Blog number 4 on April 10th 2020 in The Olivia Rose Diaries. Life in France has been a bit of a mixed bag this week. There seemed to be a glimmer of hope over last weekend that we might be turning a corner as both the total number of cases and deaths rose more slowly. But then on Monday deaths rose from 510 to 833 and on Tuesday they shot up to a shocking 1417. On Wednesday they fell to 541 again, but on Thursday it was back up to 1341. I realise that looking at the figures is a roller-coaster ride of hopes rising and hopes dashed, and it seems impossible to find a pattern out of the the figures above, but it’s hard not to keep looking at them, particularly as this is the week that they had hoped would signify the French peak. Macron is due to address the nation again on Monday so we wait to see what he has to say. There is no doubt the lockdown will be extended.
Closer to home, here in the marina, the police are making their presence felt with the advent of the Easter weekend. They were checking forms by the supermarket doors as I did my weekly shop on Monday. On Tuesday we noticed a police helicopter flying overhead, passing around the marina and repeatedly along the river. On Wednesday Michael went out for his regular one kilometre morning walk along the river banks and was back within five minutes. The river footpath had been gated off, with official notices forbidding entry. We later found out that the reason for the tightening of restrictions was not just because of concerns over everybody flocking out into the countryside during the Easter break, but also because the sunny weather had tempted families from the bigger towns to drive out for bbq’s further back along the river. So now no-one can walk there at all. Our small world just got smaller. The irony is that we can walk for our prescribed kilometre in the village, whereas it was much easier to social distance along a deserted river bank.
It seems a small thing with so many other bad things happening but it really bought home to us how very, very different life is now. On top of that the police are patrolling the marina area at least twice a day by car to make sure no-one is congregating in the adjoining picnic area and we saw two police motorbikes at lunchtime as well. It feels like a police state. We understand what is at stake and why they are being so strict but it doesn’t feel comfortable.
It could be worse. Paris has banned all forms of exercise, apart from a short walk, between 10.00 and 19.00 hours and Nice is introducing obligatory face masks next week.
In a bid to lighten the tone, whilst there are no pleasure boats out on the water, the big commercial barges are still allowed to work and it cheers us up to see them powering up the river. It is a regular run for many of them so we are getting used to spotting the same names. Our favourite is ‘Loveboat’ a very unusual name for a barge that would typically be carrying a cargo of coal, grain or scrap metal. Perhaps they are delivering goods for Ann Summers!
Boat names generally are fascinating. The majority tend to have female names, like Olivia Rose, whilst others might have a connection to ‘living the dream’ or ‘a good life’, but there are plenty of wonderfully weird and obscure names. Just along the pontoon from us we have a boat from Luxembourg which goes by the slightly strange name of ‘Given’ the dog a bone’ and on the other side of the marina there is ‘Bubba gump’. It would be fascinating to ask their owners the story behind the names, but that will have to wait until normal life resumes, if indeed it does this year.
When we sold our house we gained a boat and lost a garden. I love flowers and growing things so I have become a manic collector of pots and now have a total of nineteen on board. I left our herbs out on deck over the winter but emptied out the other pots ready for planting up with summer flowers and vegetables for this season. Unfortunately I can’t buy any as the garden centres are shut, for now at least, so I have taken to feasting on other people’s gardens as I walk through the village to the boulangerie for our bread. One particular garden is full of tulips, yellow and red and immensely cheering to the soul as I walk past. I am half-tempted to creep out in the dead of night and cut a handful for a vase. Luckily, good moral fibre and a cosy bed have prevented me from doing so. My herbs have survived the winter and the mint is going strong already. Just as well as the weather has turned so warm that the Pimms is out most evenings. I fear this forced inactivity is turning us to drink……
And so, finally, to the quiz. Here are the answers from last week.
1.A baby pigeon is a squab.
2. A humming bird flies backwards.
3. An ostrich has two toes on each foot.
4.Budgies belong to the parrot family.
5. The study of bird eggs is ‘oology’.
Well done all for your efforts. The prize for the most gloriously wacky and wrong goes to Liz Mann !
And because you all enjoyed it so much, here is another one. The theme this week is loosely animals, with a riddle thrown in simply because I liked it – and could work out the answer for myself.
1.If you suffered from ‘ranidaphobia’ what would you be scared of?
2.What breed of dog has webbed feet?
3.A group of young kittens is known as a ‘litter’ but it has another name. What is it?
4.A riddle for you – I am the beginning of the end, and the end of time and space. I am essential to creation and I surround every place. What am I?
5. And lastly, because it’s Easter, when was the UK’s first chocolate Easter egg made, and by whom?
So that’s it for another week. Whilst I’ve been doing this Michael has made a chocolate mousse for dinner tonight and chocolate cookies – a double whammy. This is because chocolate is the way to happiness – and I know things are dire but I haven’t completely given up on being happy every now and then!
Until next week – when I hope to have some very exciting news to share.
Take care – MJ