Last week of lock-down

Welcome to blog number eight in The Olivia Rose Diaries on May 8th 2020.

I confess I sat down to write this week’s blog and, for the first time, found myself running short of ideas. In a bid for inspiration I decided to go out for a walk with the camera and see if I could get some pictures that would lead me to a theme.

I noticed two things on my walk. Firstly, that there is a wealth of beauty to be found in small things, right under my nose, there to be discovered if only I took the time to go slowly and look properly.

Neither Michael nor myself are very good at taking life slowly. You might think that strange as we live on a boat that does an average of 8 km/hour but we’ve always managed to pack a lot into our days. In our first full season of cruising we covered 2,227 miles, beginning in northern France and travelling all the way south to the Mediterranean, then west along the Canal du Midi and the Canal de Garonne almost as far as Bordeaux, before re-tracing our steps and exploring through central France. Along the way we met seasoned boaters who planned to spend the next six months going no further than 200 miles. We were opposite ends of the spectrum, poles apart.

Now we have been forced not just to slow down, but to stop completely. I am chafing at the bit to be on the move again, but I can also see that some good things have come out of this challenging time.

The other thing that struck me as I walked is how utterly different humans are to all other species. I passed Bernie the bull, sitting with his harem in the shade, doing nothing much.

Syd the swan spends hours paddling up and down the same patch of river. He stops every now and then to feed, but mainly he just paddles.

George the heron is getting bolder and spending more time on the pontoons, stalking between the boats, patiently staring down into the water in the hope of a passing fish he can skewer.

None of them hurry. None of them worry. They live in the moment.

Many humans realise that they will get more out of life if they also live in the moment. I regularly try to do this and I regularly fail. In my defense I will state the obvious and say that I am not a cow or a bird. I am human and my needs are different, more complex, and so whilst I am glad that this interlude has taught me to value the benefit of slowing down, I also realise that it is human nature to look to the future, to dream and to plan – and that there is nothing wrong with that.

France begins to come out of lock-down on Monday May 11th 2020. It will be a gradual process, but the immediate differences for us are that we will no longer have to carry that horrible form (yay!), that we can travel together in the van and the one kilometre restriction is lifted, with a maximum of 100 kilometres now allowed. Exercise such as cycling will be permitted – another yay! There are still lots of other restrictions in place, particularly with regard to campsites and restaurants, but if things go well these will be lifted, hopefully, in the not too distant future. Obviously there is the risk that we may find the infection rates going back up. If we do, then we’ll deal with it. But right now, I choose to feel hopeful about the future, to dream again of good things and to plan forwards.

Last week Michael asked you for suggestions of birds for him to draw. He has two offerings for you this week. The first is a red kite for Tricia and Tony, a bird they regularly see flying high above their home in Wales.

The second is a hoopoe, requested by Helen and Jeremy, also in Wales. This bird brings back memories of the time they lived in the south-west of France.

Something else we are looking forward to from next week is to be able to buy Michael some proper drawing paper and more pencils. All these sketches have been done on A4 copier paper as that is all we had available.

Now we just have to get through the weekend. I wonder if the French people will wait until Monday, or decide they’ve been patient long enough. If we find the cycle trail along the river full of cyclists tomorrow, we’ll have our answer!

Take care, wherever you are in the world. I know some of you are already beginning to come out of lock-down and others aren’t quite there yet. I hope things start to get better for all of you soon.


11 thoughts on “Last week of lock-down

  1. Hi Mary Jane I loved reading today’s instalment thank you. I’m seeing Rob this afternoon in Bury and will enjoy recounting it to him! As France emerges from Lockdown, when do you anticipate being allowed to sail again? A le prochaine


    On Fri, 8 May 2020, 13:47 The Olivia Rose Diaries, wrote:

    > maryjane678 posted: ” Welcome to blog number eight in The Olivia Rose > Diaries on May 8th 2020. I confess I sat down to write this week’s blog > and, for the first time, found myself running short of ideas. In a bid for > inspiration I decided to go out for a walk with the came” >


    1. Hi Dennis. Good to hear from you and glad you are enjoying the blog. Canals are due to open May 29th – we shall be on the move at 9am sharp! Well, maybe…. we’ll see what happens between then and now. Take care. MJ


  2. Another great reflection on life in lock-down, but also more importantly how we as humans have just got too used to going faster and faster, and have as a result lost touch with so much that nature has to offer. Not only that, but we as a species are ruining this beautiful planet by global warming and plastic. Will these horrors all return in due course – I so hope not. If we do not pay attention to this warning, we should remember what happened to the dinosaurs. ‘Nature’ sorted them out, maybe nature will find a way of sorting us out if we fail to look after the world we call home.


  3. Loving your photographs Mary-Jane. We are lucky to be having some lovely weather to enable us all to get out into the fresh air and listen to nature. Ironically, in the past week, we have had Ecologist here (flora and fauna) and putting down mats for insects, bugs etc. ( this is all in readiness for the buyer of our property here as everything has been held delayed)!
    I think everyone we are in touch with at present is tearing their hair out. We all try to keep sane and carry on, but it isn’t always easy! We count ourselves lucky to be safe and well, as some we hear about through friends haven’t fared well at all, and some are still battling this awful virus. We await Boris’ speech tomorrow evening (Sunday) but it won’t be easy for our Government to make those decisions and can assume it will only be small steps. Even with some movement there will still be a lot of trepidation and unsureness.

    Good news for you on the canal openings at the end of the month – all fingers crossed for it all going ahead. Take care ……


  4. Hello Mary-Jane and Michael What a wonderful idea this newsletter you send every week! I sincerely hope you’ll be able to travel on very soon and discover as many regions as you like. As we are allowed 1 hour outside per day, I often go to the marina to meet the little Anglophone community confined there. 5 couples spend the time of confinement on their boats, 3 of about my age and 2 younger ones.  By now we’ve become good friends. Reading your last blog I realize that you’ve got the same idea of giving names to the animals surrounding you. Each of them has its special duck or goose or even swan they attract by calling their names… and it works. Last Friday a couple of geese came over to present their ducklings to the people on the boats. Before ending this message, I wanted to congratulate Michael for his wonderful drawings. Keep well, look after yourselves Yours Ulrike   Mit freundlichen Grüßen / Best regards / Meilleures salutations   Ulrike et Bernard BIEN8, rue du Canal Louis XIIF-51000 CHALONS EN CHAMPAGNE(33) (0)6 70 05 17 09             > Message du 08/05/20 14:47> De : “The Olivia Rose Diaries” > A :> Copie à : > Objet : [New post] Last week of lock-down> >

    maryjane678 posted: ” Welcome to blog number eight in The Olivia Rose Diaries on May 8th 2020. I confess I sat down to write this week’s blog and, for the first time, found myself running short of ideas. In a bid for inspiration I decided to go out for a walk with the came”


  5. Hi Ulrike. How lovely to hear your news. It brings back so many happy memories of our first winter in the marina in Chalons en Champagne with you and Lise coming round to us for tea. And now you have new friends! We are beginning to think about our possible routes when we get back on the water and one option would bring us through Chalons again. How lovely that would be, but it is too soon to say yet. I am glad you are well. Take care and say hello to your boat friends from us! I am envious that they have a little community there as we are all alone here. MaryJane


  6. Love your blogs and thoroughly enjoyed your book, we discussed it at our Shillingstone book club and we are all impressed and slightly envious, continue blogging,


    1. Hi Maureen. So pleased you enjoyed the book and the blog. Hopefully we shall get back out on the water before too long. Regards to all at your book club. MaryJane


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