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.