Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

  • March 2020
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for March 19th, 2020

Life under lockdown, Part 2

Posted by contentedsouls on 19/03/2020

Wednesday 18th March

It is amazing just how quickly we human beings adjust to a ‘new normal’ and how quickly our expectations are reduced. By contrast, of course, our delight when expectations are exceeded, is magnified.

When G came back from a foraging shopping trip with, amongst other things, fresh broccoli, rice, pasta and wine glasses, I was as happy as the woman who found an unlocked skip open on a Marekrite island out of season. Whilst drinking wine and beer out of thick mugs does not directly impinge on our survival, the ability to drink wine out of a glass makes life feel so much more civilised – not to mention that it tastes much nicer.

Having shivered through Monday and woken up to rain on Tuesday, my priority for the day was to sort out firewood.

I didn’t have high hopes, but I had been given the name and telephone number of a man called Vincento who might still deliver. I thought about the words I needed – telephone calls in a foreign language are far more difficult than face to face – and dialled his number. He understood me and said that he would deliver that afternoon; 10 minutes later and the delightful Vincento was on our doorstep with 4 bags of wood and a cuddle for Muttley (he has 7 dogs himself). Woops there goes another rubber tree plant (see what I did there?)!

Today was a little drier and I decided to walk down the hill with my granny trolley and see if I could find some meat and veg (particularly onions – food without onion is, on the whole, pretty sad). It was the first time I’d been out to acquire food since this started; I’m not allowed to go with G in the van and I’m not, under any circumstance, going to drive a long wheel base tranny up here. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I stuck to individual shops.

My first encounter was at our little corner shop. Nothing untoward there and I was able to get a reasonable assortment of vegetables, including onions, and a bottle of brandy. Wine and alcohol are not in short supply – maybe the authorities feel we will riot if not kept sedated. A little bit of banter ensued at my speaking the total bill in Spanish and himself trying to do it in English – these tiny interactions have become very important in my life.

Further on down the hill (remember this is all unknown territory to me) I found a chemist. I needed contact lens cleaner. We queued patiently on the pavement and were let in, five at a time, to stand on the marked out red arrows as we awaited our turn at the counter, one metre away from the sales lady behind a taped barrier and a sheet of polythene between us as she talked to me through a mask and waved gloved hands about whilst we communicated. After being served, I left via a different exit – a one way system through the building.

The next ‘find’ was a butcher. Only two customers allowed in at a time here, but I was delighted to spot a whole chicken and realised that we could have a celebratory wedding anniversary dinner the next day, I also scored some belly pork. My frantic attempts to stop them from chopping both up into diminutive portions were met with great hilarity – I thoroughly enjoyed their piss take out of my appallingly bad Spanish. I am sooo glad that I took the trouble to learn some – in these troubled times, when so many expats haven’t ever bothered, it puts people on our side and they engage with me. No point in saying ‘us’, as ‘us’ is not allowed out together anymore.

I dragged my granny trolley back up the hills to our old town – they are very steep- and produced my goodies to G with a flourish, only to find that – yet again – we had the dates wrong; it was our anniversary today, not tomorrow. He’d knocked up a spag bog, which was way better than our 30th last year-a baguette and peanuts. We don’t seem to excel at wedding anniversaries!

Because we are tucked up the hill in the old village, we’re not seeing, or hearing, an awful lot of ‘life’. However, down in the new town at 8pm every evening there is a right old celebration of support (from balconies and roof tops) for all the hospital workers, police, shop keepers, delivery drivers and everyone that is helping us keep safe and alive. Under the (permitted) excuse of Muttley, I can walk down to soak it in (we’re allowed 500 metres from home with a dog) and remind myself that the world keeps turning.

I have no idea if I’m boring you with my ‘diary’, but it helps me keep some kind of perspective in this strange world we find ourselves living in.

I still have some pretty pictures left of spring springing.


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