Firstly I have to sincerely apologise for my column last month. Tucked away on top of the Pyrenees mountains, I grossly underestimated this deluge we were about to endure, which by the time the R&DN went to print two weeks later had escalated beyond all belief. We arrived back to France on Friday 13th March and I have been out of the gate only once since then, on my old tractor to mow the grass verges in the village. Wendy gets our weekly shopping and drops some in for a few of our older and more vulnerable friends, en-route. As yet, this part of the world has seen only one case of C19, but still we obey the rules and bunker down.
Like everyone else, I have glanced at the TV News from behind the sofa, seen the cases and death-toll rising with both dismay and sadness. I am sure this subject will be discussed in more detail than I am prepared to offer, and for once will keep my offensive comments to myself about those without enough intelligence to stay home, lock the door and keep this wretched thing in confinement.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch, our daily exercise consists of 'best of five' competitions of table-tennis, non-stop gardening and beating a path to the fridge, much the same as it has done for the last 14 years. We have also taken to amusing ourselves with 'bored-games' such as Rummikub, Backgammon and Scrabble, the latter being played online 'With Friends', something that irritates me when folks take ages to play their move! How can it take her 24 hours to come up with POMPADOUR, and what the heck does it mean anyway?
Out in the fields, one of the best crops of lambs we have had in a while continue to grow themselves into freezer condition although, as I write, we are in desperate need of rain. Early potatoes in 'Le potager' won't be long now, as the last of the frosts disappear, and I have re-opened my old potting-shed this year, growing dozens of seeds, as young plants are not available from my usual supplier. I have to admit it is quite therapeutic, although my first attempt did fail due to my planting from out-of-date packets - a lesson learnt. It may be a few more months before we see tomatoes, but I am sure they will be well worth the wait.
With the aid of modern technology, we keep in touch with friends and families through video calls, all of whom, I am glad to report, are safe and well. However, a few weeks ago my niece was having a 'house-party' and dialled me around midnight. Rudely awaking from my sleep and assuming something was wrong, I flicked on the light and hit the green button, only to hear the gasps on the other end as my naked body was displayed on the screens of some twenty or so other guests! Hopefully a few weeks of alcohol-therapy will help them get over the shock!
Stop press...as of today, we are in extended lockdown here in France, until May 11th, by which time I suspect it will start getting a bit tedious, and I will more than likely need a haircut. Due to my previous life as a cattle-hairdresser, this is something I am quite happy to contend with and using my electric cattle shears in the mirror has been commonplace for me over the last few decades. However, not so with my wife who is a regular client of one of Edinburgh's more exclusive salons and takes a lot more pride in her appearance that this author. Inevitably the day is getting closer when she will have to relent to my skilful coiffing efforts. But little does she know I always secretly fancied Sinead O'Connor?
Ha! POMPADOUR is just an eight letter word?