These are some of my photos taken on a trip to Angles-sur-L'Anglin in the middle of August last year.
Unbelievably, it is now exactly one year, come Monday, that we have been very much in the grip of the pandemic. On the Monday 16th March last year we were advised not to go to the pub or to mix with anyone much, but the pubs, shops and schools stayed open. Nobody took a lot of notice and people carried on more or less as before.
No. 15, the salon de thé in Angles, is one of the few places where you can get tea and cake in the middle of the afternoon.
With horrifying images from Italy on our TVs every day, we had a sense of both disbelief and impending doom. Boris Johnson visited a hospital where patients with the virus were being treated and shook hands with everyone he met. This, presumably to prove that if he had nothing to fear from the disease then nobody else should be concerned either.
A pair of iconic old French cars.
Come Monday 23rd March in the evening, the true seriousness of the situation was spelled out to the nation and we immediately went into real lockdown. It was a week too late.
The brocante shops were all open for business.
Following the lead (i.e pinching the idea) of one of my favourite blogs, how was it for you? After a whole year of ups and downs, hopes and fears, joy and disappointments, how have you fared?
We enjoyed a walk along the river with Hugo. Rain clouds were gathering.
We are, I think, much calmer and accepting than we were this time last year. The first lockdown of last year came just as we would normally be packing up to go to France for the spring and summer. We felt a huge sense of loss.
Although we have visited Angles many, many times, we had never done this walk by the river before. We were probably too busy taking tea and cake!
We were like cats on hot bricks all spring on summer, feeling very cheated, anxious and as if it was all a bad dream. Covid-19 was sweeping through the country at a terrifying rate and as we queued outside the supermarket with our trolley we were very unsettled.
The château has the perfect spot overlooking the village and the river.
Who would have thought, when our prime minister told us it would all be over in twelve weeks, that we would, twelve months later, still be in lockdown and with several weeks to go - if it all goes to plan. It could be longer.
Angles is a very photogenic place. There are great pictures to be taken at every corner.
This time last year you could not buy a toilet roll, bag of flour, packet of pasta, bar of soap or tin of tomatoes because the hoarders had got there before you. This year we are in a better position. For a while anyway, until the trading problems arising from Brexit kick in.
We passed this on our way home from Angles. I can't remember where it was because we took the pretty route home and meandered around a bit.
We spent spring and early summer mostly in our garden. The weather was unusually good. Gradually the restrictions were lifted and in late July we made it to France, staying for eight whole weeks. What precious weeks they were. Normally we are there for 26 weeks of the year but as the situation worsened again in September we cut short our stay, packed up early and came home. We have now been back in the UK for exactly six months.
Last year we got to France after being away for seven months but this year it looks like being nine, or even ten. Even when all we had was the little house in the village where we just spent our holidays, until 2020 we had never been away from the place for more than five months. (I dread that in 2021 it could actually be as much as a whole year.)
We also passed several late crops of sunflowers on the way home.
We spent much of last year trying to get my dad into his sheltered housing accommodation and, in the end, in desperation, we resorted to getting our local MP involved. That did the trick. I have a suspicion that this particular Conservative MP wanted to show that not all of his ilk were completely heartless when it comes to caring for our elderly citizens. Thousands of care home residents had already lost their lives to the virus because infected patients were discharged from the hospitals to the care homes to free up hospital beds.
More of these seem to appear with every year.
So, one year and 127,000 UK deaths further on, we are still in lockdown. Things are looking hopeful as the vaccination programme takes effect. Numbers are still going in the right direction. They go up and down a bit in different areas but on the whole there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Well, on this side of the channel tunnel anyway.
I have begun to hear people say that they could live like this forever if need be. I couldn't. Well, I could if I had to but I wouldn't want to. I would never be content living like this, but I accept that there is no point hankering after what we can't have and we now keep a note of interesting places we could go and visit in the UK that we have never been before. This is a back up plan if we are allowed to travel freely here but the European borders remain closed. That's something we thought we would only do once we had finally hung up our travelling shoes and returned properly to the UK. Not yet, not now.
I read in your post something of the resignation, albeit hopeful resignation, that I am experiencing. I remain hopeful that we will get to France, but I want our young people (under 50s!)to get their turn at the vaccine before we open up too much. It would be awful for them if they are left unable to travel and the R rate rises and another wave of the virus takes hold. I have a vested interest here for Tom. I'm worried that Japan will reopen their borders but maybe stipulate that only vaccinated people can travel. He is (understandably) going to be way down the vaccine pecking order because he isn't prepared to lie, as I know others are doing, to push himself forward.ReplyDelete
We haven't got a backup plan in place - now I'm worrying that I should!
Gaynor, I'm sure you have explored all morally right ways for getting Tom to Japan. It's another tragic consequence of the pandemic that he can't go to take up his post properly.Delete
I have made my peace with the pandemic and the lockdowns - after months of huge frustration and if I'm honest a certain subliminal anger at it all, I am more hopeful than not. It will come eventually I expect, though the situation in France remains hugely frustrating. I expect I will travel there at some point in the summer - and I have booked regardless, but if doesn't come to pass then we too will make the most of the UK. Meanwhile I was jabbed yesterday and felt a certain tangible relief - not for fear of the virus, but because it felt like another step on the road. So many more to go, and I could write all day about the mature informed debates we need instead of the fear mongering and binary choices we are presented with ... but for now I'm thinking that one year from here, I suspect we'll be in much better place again. As they say... this too will pass.ReplyDelete
Mark, the subliminal anger has been with me all of these twelve months. I'm sure you're right and that one year from now life will be back to some kind of normal. The anger arises from the feeling of being robbed of precious time, or at least the free will to do what we wanted with what's left of our time. At the back of my mind is always the fact that my mother died when she was only five years older than I am now.Delete
After a whole year more or less in lockdown I really don't know how I will cope if and when all restrictions are lifted.ReplyDelete
Weave, you have had a difficult year but I'm sure that as restrictions are gradually lifted you will adapt and build for yourself the kind of life you want, even if it is not exactly how it was before.Delete
We have a trip to Madera booked in August and a trip to Scotland for June... Both have been moved from earlier in the year... We also want a trip to France to see our friends in the village but the French being the French who knows when the will open up... Stay Positive...ReplyDelete
Colin, like you, I feel sure we will get there at some point.Delete
I can’t help feeling a little bit guilty (well a lot actually) when I read here about everyone’s many holiday plans (mine included) for, hopefully, this year of 2021, and then I watch a bbc video of the terrible struggle and dire situation of the poor refugees, babies and children, trying to get to the ‘American dream’ ...fleeing the violence of their home countries...and it brings me up short to think that all WE have to worry about is whether we’ll get our holidays this year... what a world.ReplyDelete
Stella, agreed, we should count our blessings but knowing that other people are having a worse time of things somehow doesn't actually make me feel any better. It just makes me feel more unsettled.Delete
In Italy the flags were at half mast to mark a year of covid deaths and restrictions and we are more or less back where we were last March in full lockdown. People are beginning to feel defeated. Despite the arrival of spring and some vaccinations, there is a long way to go, but we remain hopeful, busy and cheery, what else can we do,ReplyDelete
Jenny, we do manage to be busy, hopeful and cheery most of the time....as long as we don't watch the news!!Delete
So many of our plans were dashed last year that we haven’t even decided what we are doing the week of 29th when the Stay at Home order is lifted; we just don’t want to tempt fate and end up being disappointed again!ReplyDelete
This is the main problem, not being able to plan anything for fear of disappointment!Delete