30 March

Now 10.45. spent most of the morning trying to sort out the Orange account and hope we’ve done it now. Got roaming back on my mobile and caught up with all the emails and messages. Already spent £10s worth of the next month’s allowance.. hope to hell we get wifi this week.

Its raining so Mike’s put the heating on. It’s as cold as yesterday. I painted the piece of wood that Mike put up for utensils and then painted the panels on the cupboard doors in the biggest bedroom, bit messy edges but they’ll do for now, should have used masking tape. My hand is not as steady as I thought … 

Mike has moved on to making shelves for the back of the larder – he’s really taken to that wonderful cupboard!

A couple of days ago we heard that Boris has CV and now Dominic Cummings has the virus – good, should keep him from doing any more damage to the UK for a few days or weeks. Nick Handcock the Health Minister also has it. Irony doesn’t cover it.

I’ve written another 1400 words today on the blog, did that yesterday too and I’m still only up to Tuesday 17th . its raining again, I write when it rains. It’s going to get colder tonight apparently, down to -2 by dawn tomorrow. After that it begins to get warmer.

Stuart said yesterday that Parisiens who own houses in this area are coming down to escape the virus. I don’t know if it’s true, but worrying if it is. We don’t have it here and hope we stay free until it all goes away. Dominic Raab is doing the press conference tonight, talking about bringing UK travellers home, hundreds of thousands apparently. All the major airlines are being pressed into service to do this. The CMO says the peak is a couple of weeks away, but he says the population is following guidelines and it’s having an effect. 

The UK reckons it’s on a par with France, but yesterday someone on the radio said that France was on the curve and the UK behind it. Last night Jersey finally locked down, behind the curve, imposed for a month. 

Heard from Karen, a friend in Jersey, today. She’s been working from home for 2 weeks and doesn’t like it.

Rosemary wrote to me and Rosie. I can’t find her message but Rosie replied. Mollie in the second week of shingles and Arthur stoic but missing contact. Poor Mollie, that’s so painful, I wonder why she hasn’t had the jab.

There are so many bits and pieces we need for the house and the shops to get them are not open, no bricolages. We need picture frames, brackets, hooks, indoor dryer, paint etc. Mike’s been great at salvaging bits of wood and repurposing other bits of flotsam and jetsom, but we’re getting to a point where we need to buy weed killer, printer paper and other things. Wonder if I could make weed killer? Bet there’s somewhere on the internet that could tell me…. Oh wait, we don’t have the internet …

29 March

Clocks went back so it’s officially summer time but no sun today, quite dull.

Stepped outside this morning and the wind is bitter. I got very cold cleaning the kitchen properly for the first time. We had just dumped stuff in it, but now as we organise a bit better, more of the filthy worktops are showing. Mike’s made a utensil bar to put hooks on but we don’t have any hooks and the bar needs painting white. Then he made a small shelf to go into another kitchen cupboard that can sit on the worksurface.

with hooks and the bar painted white

It’s gradual but I think we are making some sense of the kitchen now, which is just as well as we will be using it for the foreseeable future! Dave wont be able to work on the kitchen until the lockdown is lifted, and France has extended the lockdown until 15th April and I would think it will be extended further.

Mike has almost drained the pool cover of all that water, shame for the birds who like to bathe in it.

the ‘before’ picture

I started typing this up today as a blog – it’s based on this journal which is weird – am I squaring the circle?

We had chilli tonight, very nice and we’re eating in the light. We put the heating on at lunchtime but I was still cold this afternoon, had a shawl and Mike’s thick knitted jacket on. This cold weather will not help the seeds and bulbs I’ve put in. They had a week of warmth and now this.

28 March

Another sunny day, we are very lucky. Still gutted about the Battle decision but I suppose it had to be made now as people would be working on the floats in close proximity. we will have to find an alternative. The boys will be disappointed but apparently Louise told Roselle last night that it wasn’t really about BOF, more about the family being together. She’s quite right and that’s a better reaction than I expected.

Mike went round to V&S to get a shopping list from them and went off with his form. I went round to find out what my 5 emails are about and get the main one printed off, Stuart printed off the English translation and then kindly read it to me to make sure I understood it!

I managed to ring both my girls today and they are fine, although Jo sounded stressed by the job at the moment, trying to keep clients engaged and not to lose jobs. Louise was going to upcycle a storage box that Richard found in the street, which she’s been meaning to do for ages. Brilliant, it’s what I used to do, and what I still like to do. William is teaching himself Minecraft and she says he’s very patient, but it’s on her laptop so she can’t work while he’s doing it. It keeps him occupied so she’s in a cleft stick. Daniel is doing the work set for him on zoom, apparently the teachers are being brilliant with them. Jo was worried his work would suffer but now she doesn’t think it will. Today, Saturday I think, he’s on Fortnite, gabbing with his mates.

It was great to have that contact with them and since Marijke suggested we all get together here in this house after meeting in Jersey, they’re all a bit excited about the prospect. We could just about fit them in. however I don’t think it will come off sadly.

I attempted the green railings on the balcony again today. It will have to be done a couple of times to get it all off and I only did one seventh yesterday. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow so perhaps I’ll be spared.

We had another fence party. Stuart suggested 3pm, but I knocked him back to 4 – too much to do. We talked music most of the time. Interestingly we learned that Aubeterre is the centre for Dutch dope smokers! Can’t wait to tell the troops, the rest of the day was an anti-climax!

26 & 27 March

Phoned Orange and as suspected the Tech helpdesk is closed so I got onto the Invoicing and an hour and a quarter later, we had some sort of answer. They are going to send us a SIM for £3 extra a month because we have to have a French phone and therefore they reckon the engineer cannot speak to us as they can’t ring English mobiles. We have to give all our details again including passports because it’s a change of contract – so bloody bureaucratic. 

I had to give Carol’s number so I rang to tell her and she told us there is a new attestation form, as of 23rdMarch and we don’t have it of course. I went round to V&S to ask them to print off for me. I was able to copy it on our new printer but we don’t have any paper. I went to Chalais and got stopped at the roundabout, where a very young gendarme asked me if I was going to Intermarche. I said Lidl pour le nourriture and  Intermarche pour le gaz. He smiled and waved me through. That was about 11.15. when I got back from Lidl they had gone – French lunchtime!

Couldn’t get printer paper. Had to buy a pack of squared paper in single sheets and hope they go through the printer, I think they will.

Mike’s mowed the rest of the lawn while I’ve been out, looks much smarter. My potato pot has been knocked over. It’s a big heavy pot, wonder what did that, I only planted it yesterday, so no damage done, just shoved potaoes and soil back in.

Mike rang one of his tenants – Roberta – whose parents live near Rome and they’re fine. The virus is mainly in the north with a terrible death toll. I think it’s to do with families all living closely together in flats, same in Spain.

Washed all the small cushion covers and wrestled them back on, feel better now it’s all been cleaned. Put the aspirator together and I will clean all the mucky rugs tomorrow. We had tarte de poireaux, and salad potatoes which I put in the bottom of the oven with some butter to keep warm, completely forgetting that the bottom of a gas oven is where the flames are, and so we had roast potatoes – delish!

Cold today, no shorts or drinks outside, heating on tonight, getting colder.

Friday 27th

Another beautiful sunny day and not as cold as yesterday. Roselle texted to say Lucy much better and the awful Boris has the virus. Couldn’t happen to a nicer man … so is all the cabinet in isolation now? What about the civil servants – who is running the country?

Had loads of texts from Rosie this am and, lovely surprise, one from Marijke. They’re ok. I love to sit after lunch in the sun and write this journal as Mike does the washing up. We have 2 dishwashers, neither of them connected. If only Dave could come and do some work, because we’re a bit tardy about washing up! It would be great to have speakers downstairs as well but we’ll have to wait for wifi on that. We need lots more sockets everywhere, another job for Dave.

I’m trying to get the green off the balcony railings. They are wrought iron, black but with strong overtones of green mould. It’s a scrubbing job, not my favourite but has to be done. It’s a worse job than I thought. Scrubbing it is fine but when it dries the green is still there, albeit less than before. Hmm. It needs painting as well but that is for the future when we can get the right paint. Is it enamel paint? Clueless in Aubeterre!

Both ipad and iphone are complaining that they have not been backed up for a fortnight, so went round to V&S’s but it took ages, over 30 mins, and I could only plug in one device so the phone didn’t back up, will try again, maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, Mike took Stuart’s advice, got a hose and syphoned off the water. Slow process but infinitely better than buckets on the end of a pole! I was using the water running off to water the garden but couldn’t keep up with the flow. 

I had 161 Whatsapps, most of which seem to be funny videos that I couldn’t open, and 50 emails which I wish I hadn’t. Condor have cancelled all sailings until 30th April, so that settles it, we can’t go home until May. Worst news is that Battle is cancelled. I’m desperately hoping everyone will still want to come over, but gutted just the same.

There were 5 emails from Orange that I couldn’t begin to interpret but which seemed to contain threats of no service unless we did several things. Mike read them and he thinks 4 of them are asking for information that is provided to us in the fifth! There are attachments so I will have to impose on the voisins tomorrow to download them.

Mike sorted out his shed, put hooks on the wall and corresponding hooks on the top of each implement and now it looks very shipshape. He ripped the old canvas off 2 old deckchairs and I washed them and will paint them. I don’t know where you get new canvas from though, probably from the Internet – if only …

I got frozen fish in Lidl. The first time I got salmon which was fine and solid. This time I got white fish and when it defrosted it was a third water. Not impressed.

Watched a documentary on Eel Pie Island Blues club where Mike spent his youth. He saw loads of people there but sadly didn’t appear in the footage. Nearly famous – again.

24 & 25th March

First day of UK schools being shut. Very funny posts on WA Family Sanity. Suze looking to blow into a paper bag because her sons had made their own lunch while she was on a work skype call, and William gatecrashed Louise’s video call to colleagues to ask if they had had a poo this morning.

Did the rest of the covers this morning, swapped some contents of cupboards about and myriad of other small jobs while Mike made a shelf for the larder. After lunch he mowed the front garden. It’s all looking a lot better, even got stripes into the weeds. it’s made up mainly of daisies, clover and moss, very little grass there!

My niece Lucy is tired, has sore throat, can’t be sure what it is, so she’s isolated in her room.

We had salmon steaks with salad potatoes and green beans. Wanted to make a parsley sauce, but we have no parsley, so made white wine sauce instead but it was thick and lumpy like wallpaper paste. not channelling my inner Delia today.

Apparently the London tubes are still full and someone had a barbeque for friends in Birmingham. The fine was only £30 – no deterrent at all. 

Wednesday 25th

The day we should have wifi, but of course we have not and I can’t get through on the English line. Tried to get onto JT to extend my roaming and restore it but can’t do that either. 

It’s lovely and sunny but with a cold wind and it will get colder in the next couple of days. It’s still only March, we can’t hope for warmth yet. If we are stuck inside I can always write  but Mike hasn’t brought his Ethel and Emma project with him so he will be scratching round for something to do – there’s always the housework!!

Viv used to work in government in Cornwall in charge of Objective 1 funding. £300 mill received from the EU apparently, and then the idiots voted Brexit. I despair! 

Planted some potatoes but can’t remember which way up the chits go so I’ve planted one up and the other down. Mike spent the morning sorting pots and other detritus left here. Found a couple of bases for sunbrollies but one is broken, so we need to buy another.

Mike rang one of the Portsmouth apartment owners to find out about the freehold sale but there has been no movement on it yet. The guy will text me if necessary because of course, Mike’s phone doesn’t work. We checked with the Apple store before we left and it’s too old to be upgraded, so can’t roam. If we don’t get wifi soon, I’ll be reduced to writing to family soon!

Mike mowed the upper garden on a lower setting while I planted some bulbs I had left and transplanted primroses which were in the lawn, before he mowed them down. They look a bit sick, but they are hardy, I’m sure they’ll be ok. I also cleaned the white plastic table that had been chucked at the edge of the garden. I was all for chucking it out,  because we have plenty of tables for the garden, but I cleaned it anyway. I love Mr Propre! It’s the equivalent of Mr Muscle in the UK.

Mike went to do some emailing next door and I watered the pots and took chairs down to a sunny spot by the fence. Viv and Stuart brought their chairs to the opposite side of the fence and we all had a drink each on our own side. A fence party – hilarious, especially as Mike filled 2 glasses with kir, put them on a tray that he now swears has a bevel in the middle. Hmm! The glasses fell off and smashed. They were plastic, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that we had very little white wine left so Mike had a beer.

They are an interesting couple. They met in Jersey in 1970 where she worked in the Gloucester House Hotel, (I stayed there years ago with the girls). A good chat, then watered the ever-growing collection of pots and borders.

Mike cooked while I did something useful although I don’t remember what …

The news is dire from Italy and Spain. Jersey still not locking down although Guernsey has. The Chief Minister says not the same circumstances and ‘more people could die if lockdown occurs too early’. He doesn’t say what those circumstances could be – it’s bollocks!

Sunday 22nd & Monday 23rd March

Opened Jo’s Mother’s Day card, has pride of place on my chest of drawers. Louise put a message on WhatsApp to say my card was in Jersey!

Another sunny day but with a bit of cloud around, hope it’s not going to change. Talking of change, it’s sheet changing today. I can get the washing in and out using my new washing  basket and peg basket – woohoo! It’s the little things …

I have used roaming too much today but past caring. I took the mats out of the bedroom and gave them a good beating and brushing but really need a hoover. Mike has finally completed the job of putting a louvered door back on a cupboard. It’s been defeating him for 2 days but he wouldn’t let it lie and he has finally found a solution by reversing a track. I know! Grit and determination will take that lad far. I’d have given up days ago.

And now we’re pruning the apple tree, or the bits of it we can reach anyway. I’m not actually doing anything, except pointing out the twigs and branches that need to come off because they are growing over one another. They poor tree is crowded out. 

I’ve been beating a couple more rugs and now I am going to clear the veg patch ready for planting tomatoes today, because that’s all I’ve got. They were here in the shed, don’t know if they will take because I don’t know how old they are. Mike found some little pots so I’ve put in lettuce, courgettes and some flowers and lined them up at the front as it gets sun for most of the day.

Monday 23rd

Mike’s gone to the superU in Montmoreau to get lots of household things, and I’ve done the ironing, polished the furniture in the living room, something that hasn’t been done for a long time. I thought the cushion covers on the settees looked a bit manky so I’ve stripped one of them and the detritus underneath and down the sides was scary. No money though! Put one set of cushions in the machine to see what they turn out like. Should be ok, it’s from Ikea. Alliance Francaise emailed to say that they would run the conversation class through zoom. I hope we have the wifi by then (Wednesday) so I can join.

Mike was gone 3 hours. I was beginning to panic, terrible not having a phone each. I wish he had a PAYG one here. It turned out that he had been stopped by the police who didn’t believe him that he was going to the SuperU. They said he was going the wrong way and then called him a liar – in English! A police car followed him to the SuperU car park and then shot off.

He had to wait in a (very patient) queue for 1 hour, 15 mins before he could get in, and when he was let in there were only about 20 shoppers in there. That’s why it took so long. He got the lawnmower oil he needed and mowed the lower garden, while I planted peas, beans, parsley and cucumber seeds that Mike had bought this morning. Then we weeded the other smaller border and planted bulbs. He also bought some peony bulbs but we need to see what comes up before planting into the gaps. 

It was quite easy to put the covers back on the settee cushions except that one of the zips is coming away so I have to repair it. TBH it doesn’t look much cleaner but I know it is. I’ll do the others tomorrow.

We waited for the Boris’s announcement at 8.30 pm UK time. What a shambles the man is. He was very undynamic and unconvincing, whereas Nicola Sturgeon, appearing afterwards (we get Scottish channels on account of the last owners), was very statespersonlike. No wooliness like BJ, which still left people wondering what the definitive instruction is. Nothing like – You will stay at home – like Scotland and the French, just mealy-mouthed exhortations with the vague threat of a fine.

The local gardener came to see us. He’s young and called Jeremy, works with his Dad, not cheap but everyone has him round here so that’s ok. He’s very much in demand and can start in a fortnight. He’s going to cut the hedges

Viv passed by and said hello. She’s a very pleasant person. Her niece has got a bug and self-isolating, and Roselle texted to say Lucy has a sore throat and fever so she’s isolated now.

21st March

First day of Spring – what a peculiar life we’re living! I tried JT again this morning and they’ve changed all the options on the helpdesk and none of them match my problem. I think they are gearing up to people working from home. They were all about core plan, auto bill paying and stolen phones, so I will just have to wait and dispute the bill retrospectively.

We cleared one half of the lounge this morning and I swept and washed it twice with some diluted polish stuff for parquet floors. It’s a lovely floor, I really like the room. It dried and we shifted all the stuff up to the other end and I’ve just done one wash on it and stopped for lunch.

Stuart is helping Mike get the mower going this am but the auto bit doesn’t work so he’s having to push it, and it’s a heavy one to push up and down this hilly garden. Need to feed him spinach.

I opened the postbox to find a card from Jo for Mother’s day, which is lovely and I won’t open until tomorrow. It’s so nice that she remembered.

After putting the other coat of dilution on the floor, I set about the border again. It’s very weedy but they come out easily. Mike’s helped me so we finished the bigger border, left the smaller one to tackle tomorrow. Left in the peculiar plants that look like they might be onions or garlic. Planted the bulbs from B&Q but the iris’s don’t seem too healthy, already sprouting but no body to them. Watered but need a hose or a watering can with rose.

what are the strange plants already in the border?

The gaz has run out on us, so I used the little oven to heat the flan that we’re having for dinner. Worked ok but we need to change the gaz bottle tomorrow.

Watched the interminable news about Covid19. People being arseholes about stockpiling food and then there is none left when essential workers go. It has to stop, the Government needs to step in with rationing if people can’t be civilised. Also what will happen to all the fresh food and veg that they are clearing off the shelves? Landfill in a week’s time, no doubt. The French are just shopping for what they need.

20th March

Another beautiful day, we are lucky with the weather and every day the blossom on the trees comes out a bit more.

We need to go shopping this morning for household things more than food. We may go to several places.

Roaming is costing a lot. I will ring JT and see if they can do a deal for me as in May they have a package coming out for free roaming in Europe. The more worrying thing is that Orange is demanding money from us but we think we’re on direct debit, that’s what we signed up for in January. He took all our bank details. Of course we can’t check because we have no wifi!!! I’m sure I saw the first payment taken from our LCL account before we left. 

JT mobile services on voicemail – not helpful. Orange more use. For some reason a direct debit has not been set up so I pay on the card and he then set up a DD which may start in April but maybe too late so need to see when the facture arrives. He said we will get a refund for the time we have not had wifi.

Lidl is almost empty apart from 2 English ladies wearing masks which seemed to create a need to talk loudly to one another. ‘They’ve got cakes. They look quite new. Do you want a cake, Sandra?’ Intermarche is like the grave but it’s a one in one out basis again. We’re soon in as it’s a fast turnaround, and once in we can see it’s almost empty too. We get most of what we need but the Bricolage department across the car park is closed, so choice was limited, but we find the square gaz bottle we need by the petrol pumps. It’s a rigmarole to buy as we are buying the bottle as well as the gaz, signing forms and it costs 50€, while a refill is only 21€.

We have lunch outside most days. We bought bread from the boulangerie across from Lidl and it was lovely, and there are cakes for tea!

Haven’t had a text back from Rosie today which is unusual – maybe mine didn’t go. I can’t roam this morning, sometimes we don’t have a signal. 

The cakes were gorgeous!!

Doing more weeding of the border this afternoon while Mike’s gone down to the village for petrol for the mower. He needed oil as well but the garage didn’t have it.

Cooking a veal casserole in the slow cooker, while watching hours of news on Covid19. UK has now ordered restaurants to close although they can maintain a takeaway service. Look forward to The Ivy’s take away service … UK government offering every employee 80% of their salary, up to £2 and half thousand a month. Huge package, but they say social distancing could last 12 months. Incredible and the speed with which this is happening all over the world is breathtaking.

Tried JT again – nothing, will try again tomorrow.

19th March

Phoned Orange at 9am, got through to be told the fault wouldn’t be fixed until 25th March. Gutted! The reason I couldn’t get through between 4 and 5pm yesterday was that they are shutting at 3.30pm now. That’s not what the message says. All very frustrating!

I got some big pots up on the balcony (Mike did) and filled them with compost and summer bulbs from B&Q. I bought them a few weeks ago and some of them haven’t survived the journey very well. The iris’s have sprouted and lost weight. They should be fat and firm but they aren’t. I’ve planted them anyway, they may be OK. Tried to weed the front border but my back hurts, so I’ll do some more tomorrow.

My sister, who works in Derby Crown Court, says it’s very grim over there. Normal in court but then you come out to the reality. Her Dettol wipes were well employed all day.

Mike has been getting to grips with the petrol mower, which apparently drives itself and only needs guiding. It has no petrol. I assumed it needs 2 stroke but no, it uses ordinary petrol, and also uses oil but that’s empty too. We bought it from the last owners and also a monstrous contraption which is a 5 in 1. The one is a strimmer, but we don’t know what the other four functions are. It is petrol and oil driven but there’s no fuel in that either. It’s heavy, has a shoulder strap and Mike will have to wear protective clothing. What could possibly go wrong?

Our  (grownup) families are being great. Steve has set up a WhatsApp group called Family Sanity and they all seem to be contributing. Its very funny. I wonder how all of them will manage to work though with kids at home. It’s going to be very difficult. Surely parents cant be expected to teach them. It’s not fair, and some families are going to struggle with space, if they live in flats or small houses with no gardens. Fortunately ours have all got gardens and reasonably sized houses.

The birdsong is uninterrupted here. Two blackbirds are nesting in the trees nearby and there’s a very cheeky robin pushing his luck. Lovely to hear. On Monday a particularly short sighted sparrow flew into the French window. It lay there shaking for a long time and after about an hour I took some water out and a tiny piece of bread with honey and placed it very close. It perked up after a while and then later again, it had moved a few feet. So I tried to follow it with the water, but it was scared and fluttered up the path so I retreated. I tend to know when my ministrations are unwelcome. It was gone in the morning but later Mike found it dead under a bush. I don’t think there was much else we could have done but it made me sad.

We’ve run out of bread today. We had a large pain complet, which is a solid piece of work and lasted a couple of days, ending as toast with pate today. We’ll get another tomorrow.  We need to get a few things, household not food. 

Mike cleaned up the lawnmower in a reverential fashion while I made up beds and photographed rooms, but without pictures on walls and mirrors, it’s all a bit sterile.

I made a horrid dinner of frozen breaded fish which stuck to the pan, potato wedges, peas and broccoli. I think the gaz is running out as it didn’t cook fast enough. We will have to find a bottle tomorrow.

Planning ahead for letting the place, I’m short of 5 pillows, 4 double duvet covers, 4 fitted double sheets, I single duvet cover, 2 king size and one king size fitted sheets, so about 200€ still to spend. But certainly not needed yet, who knows what will happen this year, all very depressing. Still it’s lovely to see the rooms come to life. Just like ‘Escape to the Chateau DIY’ only not as imaginative. All those chateau owners will be hard pressed to survive in the coming months with weddings cancelled and France shut down.

18th March 2020

Sun pouring in the windows this morning, very heavy dew, but a great improvement on yesterday and Monday. I put the washing on. When it was done I stuck on my lovely new (to me), yellow wellies, bought from the Jersey Arts Centre sale a few Saturdays ago. They have Jack written inside each boot, I think they were used in Wind in the Willows, which I took Daniel to see the Christmas before last.

Anyway I plodded across the meadow that should be a lawn and put up the rotary line. It couldn’t be further away from both kitchens, and I would like it moved to in front of the downstairs kitchen, but when I dared to mention this, the look I got confirmed that it’s quite a long way down the priority list, if even on it at all, 95 I think he was heard to growl …

We keep losing things – my mother’s mirror for one, that I insisted I wanted to bring from the flat. I don’t have many mementoes of her, and it’s a nice mirror. I thought I remembered packing it in the van when we left, but we’ve looked everywhere. Later it was to be found fraternizing with the flatpacks in one of the bedrooms. Then I wanted to cut out the dead wood from the hydrangeas at the side of the house on the drive, and we couldn’t find the long handled secateurs. Viv loaned me some but later my secateurs were discovered canoodling with a large saw in the boiler room.

Viv printed out some forms for us in case we wanted to go out. Even walking a dog needs a form and you can only go 1 km. it’s a fine of 150€ to be caught without a form. Two lots of washing done and dried, very proud! Mike cleaned out the room he painted yesterday and put it back together. Very smart it looks, just needs some pictures and a mirror to make it liveable innable.

I cleaned out the upstairs bedroom he painted the first time we were here, but only after he had removed 2 peculiar looking large insects with lots of legs and antennae. Washed that floor and the bathroom upstairs.

Outside I raked the leaves off the pool cover and Mike got a bucket on a pole and took some of the water off.

Its going to be a long job, it’s been a particularly rainy winter here. We need a gardener and a pool man but I don’t suppose either can come in lockdown. I am in contact with a guy who does pools and who could provide a summer cover. Without that it’s going to be too cold to swim in.

Its been a funny day. On the first full day of lockdown, you could hear the sound of hitherto neglected gardens being tended – strimmers, mowers, clippers – all the weapons in the neighbour’s armory were out. I wonder how long this will last … Under the circumstances, I think we have to write off this year for letting purposes. Unless we get some interest at the back end of the summer, because people have to cancel overseas trips, we may possibly get some French, German, Dutch, coming down for a break.

Mike’s daughter Sue rang to say the UK schools are shutting as of Monday. Lucy, my niece, a Phd student in Swansea has very sensibly gone home to Derby. She did not want to be isolated in Swansea when she could be at home with Mum and Dad.

Mike made a good Chinese meal last night, the bigger supermarkets have a small section with Chinese food – noodles, bean sprouts, soya sauce – we enjoyed it for a change. The night before I did an all purpose fryup and kept it warm in the oven until everything was ready. Didn’t put enough protection on the wooden dining table and it’s left a ring. Very annoyed at my own stupidity. However, by coincidence we had watched a clip from ‘The Repair Shop’ advising that mayonnaise would restore wood after a burn, so we’re trying it and we’ll see what happens.

I made attempts to ring Orange but all I got was the irritating American female voice – ‘all of our aperaders are busy, try again layder’ – really pissed off. But what put me in a worse mood was watching the documentary on Dominic Cummings and how he seems to have masterminded and manipulated the referendum, the elections since and probably the crucifiction – what a nasty piece of work he is. Can no-one stop him and his bid for world dominance?