Sometimes a bit of a routine can be a good thing

Lac de Bassillon with Pyrenees in the background

Welcome to the latest blog about our lives in our off-grid cabin in France. It’s December 11th 2020 and a rainy and wet day.

I’m not generally a lover of routine. When we are on the boat we have only one routine – get up and turn the engine on. You could argue that every day is the same in that we are on a boat and the boat is on the water, but in truth every day is different and completely without routine. We don’t know who we will meet, how far we will travel, what unforeseen dramas will wander into our path or whether we will be able to stop in the place we might have planned to stop that night. And I like it that way.

But now our wings are clipped and we are tethered firmly to the same tiny patch of land I find my views on routines are changing. This last year has been limited for all of us in different ways and finding new routines can be a positive way to deal with it, giving us an anchor, a bright spot in the week and something to look forward to. I think that need for something to look forward to is an essential part of being human, something precious that has temporarily been taken away. We need to find different things to look forward to and maybe new routines can help.

Now we are landlubbers in a lock-down – how I love a bit of alliteration – routines are beginning to insinuate their way into our lives and I am surprisingly happy for them to do so. We have fallen into the habit of three different routines so far this year.

The first, and the best, is my blog, which started back in March as a direct result of the pandemic. The weekly blog is my way of measuring the passing of time, of giving me a reason to go out and look for photos and ramble on in videos. Without it I think my weeks could all too easily merge blandly one into the other in this Covid world and that is definitely not what I want my life to be. It is a personally enriching experience, for I enjoy both writing it and also receiving your comments. I couldn’t do it without you all, so thank you!

The second new routine is also enriching, but in a more literal sense as it relates to food. Every Friday afternoon, just after 4 pm I walk 200 yards down the lane to the organic farm that we are incredibly lucky to have on our doorstep, and pick up my pre-ordered veggie box. With my basket swinging on my arm I like to think I could be mistaken for a regular French woman, preferably of the stylish and elegant Parisian type rather than the rural peasant variety, but I guess we all know my natural inclination is to the latter. If there was a competition for least food miles on buying spinach, leeks, carrots, squashes, beets and lettuce, I would surely win it. The wooden boxes are all stacked on tables in the yard, with our names on them and an envelope for paying. And, just occasionally, I might be lucky enough to turn up at the same time as another customer and a rare event takes place. I think it is called social interaction, a conversation and it is a rare and wonderful treat. We still have our masks on, so we don’t look particularly human, but talking to a fellow human being reassures me that I am still one after all. A few minutes later I struggle on back up the hill, my basket full to overflowing with some of the best vegetables that I’ve tasted in a long time and a happy smile on my face.

Our third routine is a good walk on Saturday morning, longer than our daily dog walks, and we try to make it somewhere new each week. Two things have threatened to spoil our mornings; the first being the one kilometre and one hour restriction, now thankfully extended a little, although our daily cases are not coming down as much as hoped so I am not hopeful for any further improvement in the immediate future, and the second is la chasse, which is the French term for the hunt. Every day is hunt day, but Wednesdays and Saturdays are major hunt days, where les chasseurs and their dogs come out in greater numbers to shoot wild boar, deer, birds – anything that moves, including, unfortunately for us, humans. I wish I could say that those last few words were said tongue-in-cheek, but sadly an average of 20 people are shot dead by the hunt every year, with many more injured. Our local hunt is an enthusiastic one, with the sound of gunshot, baying hounds and shouting men now a regular part of our lives.

Our way of dealing with it is to find a place to walk where they are not allowed to shoot, nature reserves or lakes where large numbers of the public take recreation. The videos for this week are of one such lake, the lovely Lac de Bassillon, a twenty-minute drive from home. We had to drive through a hunt to get here, taciturn men standing by the edge of the forest road with rifles slung over their shoulders, and even at the lake we could hear them shooting in the distance. Every Eden has a serpent.

I took these videos a few weeks ago on a bright and sunny day, and it was just as well that I did for the weather since then has finally turned more wintry, wet and grey days replacing our blue skies. Our pond has filled up and the track is a muddy quagmire. We needed the rain – but now I need it to go away again!

Three routines – and I think three is quite enough. I still find life much more interesting if I have no idea what is going to happen day by day.

Take care all of you – see you next week.

Part one
Part two

10 thoughts on “Sometimes a bit of a routine can be a good thing

  1. Thank you again, one of our highlights, and indeed ‘routines’ of our week. I like the usage of the nautical term ‘anchor’ in your landlubber routine. You must be keeping your other life awake, albeit subconsciously! Watch out for the Chase after lunchtime. They always used to enjoy a good alcoholic lunch, so after lunch was much more hazardous!


  2. Hiya you two out there in the wild,

    Maybe you could round off your experience of contacts with humans as well as living off the land by connecting with the hunters and let them provide for your table ? (To be taken with a pinch of salt … not only the meat, but the suggestion …).
    All the best,


  3. Mary Jane, we can’t wait for your blogs to arrive. They get better and better each week. I am glad Robert introduced us. Have a good week.


  4. Wow, the lac is really low… Is that normal or is it a drought? Now I expect it must be filling up with the winter rain.
    I’m envious of your fresh veggies. No gardens here now, all ‘fresh’ 😉 produce must come from California, Arizona and Florida, days old.
    Stay safe from the virus and the drunken huntsmen!


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