I don’t know about you, but I need some things to smile about this week. My Twitter and Instagram are clogged with pictures of people going to pub gardens, bookshops, even bars outside bookshops. Heartfelt relief on faces as people see friends and family they haven’t seen for months.
It’s not that I begrudge everyone their newfound freedom, I’m just very jealous. Over here in France we are still in lockdown which means everything is shut, there’s a 7pm curfew, I can’t travel more than 10km and I am with the same four people I was with last year for four months. Don’t get me wrong, they’re lovely people, but I’ve found myself sighing a bit and looking around for something to cheer me up (maybe I could set up a fake beer garden, with books in).
So anyway, here is a list of 10 random things that are keeping me going this week. Enjoy.
1. This tree in the garden. The flowers are still there after three snowfalls. At one point we couldn’t tell where the snow ended and the flowers began.
2. Obviously I don’t need this, but apparently there’s a way of cultivating wit. Not only does it make us more charming and hilarious, it also leads to lowered stress and a general reduction in your white hot rage at how crappy the world is. Which is nice.
3. Cheese. While I mourn the lack of cheddar in this country (yes, I know, how it’s viewed here), there’s not only a staggering range, there’s also a tradition of having cheese at least once a day. This is something I would be happy to take home with me.
4. This amazing picture of a ‘renoduct’ (reindeer viaduct) that is part of a global project to help wildlife get squashed less. I saw a ‘nature bridge’ here in France just the other day and pictured badgers and hedgehogs trolling over it and sticking one paw up at the hurtling traffic below. Well done, world.
5. The ‘apero.’ Another food-related win. This time, it involves snacks and some sort of aperitif in the middle of the day (at the weekend). A cheeky Muscadet with some garlic marinated prawns? Don’t mind if I do.
6. Cutting my hair. For some reason I stopped cutting it when the first lockdown started, so it’s basically been pretty much the same for a year. I like a change. I like having a light head. It makes me feel summery.
7. Lego. In a bid to entertain the toddler, we rummaged around in the loft and found boxes and boxes of old Lego from when my partner and his brothers were kids. Initially it was for her, but I found myself looking at the ‘plans’ and ended up making a few constructions of my own. Incredibly satisfying. Until she wrecked them, of course.
8. Box wine. I’m now in a land where you can buy a box of reasonable wine for a decent price and not feel like you’re in some suspect town hall meeting while you’re drinking it. There’s something about the shlushing noise it makes as it comes out which is also very rewarding.
9. Books. It may be quiet at the in-laws but I’ve already got through three books in a week and a half. I particularly enjoyed The Making Of Her by Susie Nott Bower and All Our Squandered Beauty by Amanda Huggins.
10. Restaurant food. On Friday we’re getting takeaway burgers. Proper local beef with burger sauce. It says it has cheddar on it, which would be magical if it were true. My cheddar stock ran out months ago. Maybe I can go to the ‘foreigner’ aisle in the supermarket to get some decent British beer to go with it.
And there it is. I hope that if you are similarly still confined you are finding your own list of smiley things. And if you’re going to the pub, have one for me.
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