Pilgrims remain under lockdown

Today is our 45th day under lockdown.

According to our schedule we should have finished the first tranche of our pilgrimage, at Bar sur Aube in southern Champagne, last week and attended Tom’s Godson’s wedding in Sussex at the weekend. Sadly, neither happened because of lockdown restrictions.

So what have these pilgrims been up to in the meantime?

Julie returned out of retirement to help out at the Salisbury Hospital at the beginning of April, and remains there. Meanwhile Tom has been making himself useful at home and in the garden. He’s been stripping down the conservatory for a much needed repaint and has tied up the occasional trout fly. He’s also just started an Offshore Yachtmaster shore-based course by Zoom, which is turning out to be fun and the next best thing to going sailing, which of course we’re not allowed. Concerned by the implications of Brexit for our sailing ventures to the continent without a formal competency ‘ticket’, he decided it was time to revisit the course he started 20 years ago but wasn’t able to complete at the time because of overseas work commitments.

Progress had been made in the garden if it hasn’t with the pilgrimage. This has been much helped by the glorious weather we’ve been having. April was more like a normal July. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful for our walk down through Champagne!

The lilacs are the best they’ve ever been

We’ve been busy setting up a new veggie patch in the back garden. Fortunately our house and plot are orientated almost exactly north-south-east-west, so the top end of the back garden gets plenty of sun.

First we had to build raised beds which we made from recycled plastic decking planks so they would last.

Next they had to be assembled…….

…..and filled with topsoil and compost. Next there was the matter of how to keep the rabbits out. We found a design online recommending that the wire mesh be buried into the surrounding ground and there should be a horizontal element to prevent any would be salad eater from burrowing underneath.

Once the fence was complete we put up trellis work to grow roses on. They were ordered on line and arrived yesterday.

So far we’ve planted/sown French beans, radishes, spinach, lettuce, carrots, broad beans and onions. Meanwhile we’ve got lots of other seedlings on the go in the conservatory. All very exciting!

So what next? Tom reckons we’ve got just enough space to plant about 15 vines on three trellises to one side of the vegetable enclosure. It’s perfect south aspect with light, well drained, chalky soil. Hmm, maybe that’s a project for another year!

We will be watching very carefully what happens as we and other European countries ease lockdown restrictions over the next weeks, to try to gauge when we might be able to restart our walk. At this stage we really don’t know. Might we be able to get going again by August or September? One thing we are quite concerned about is the impact lockdown may have had on the many gites, chambres d’hote hostels and places to eat we will need to rely on and whether they will have survived in business. Moreover, how welcome will visitors from foreign parts be, especially given the number of cases of Covid we’ve had in the UK? The reality might be that we can’t get going again until next spring. Who knows?

Well, that’s about it for now, as it’s time for Tom to get ready for this afternoon’s Yachtmaster Zoom session.

Stay well and stay sane!

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