Isolation Diary – Jo, France

A couple of weeks ago, we spoke to Jo from Art Le Peyrail – a picturesque painting and art retreat in South-West France. In her semi-rural setting, getting her hands on all the essentials she needs has been a little difficult, but they’ve been very much making do. And what they’re lacking in supermarket trips, they’re certainly making up for in stunning scenery. Have a read below!

Already six weeks of lock down, life at Le Peyrail has taken on an easy going, gentle, if a little surreal routine. I’m in isolation with my adorable lodger Wanton, Laurrianne a genius helper from Normandy (who has since become a business partner) and a plethora of animals who bring us immense joy as well as taking up an inordinate amount of time. Procrastination has become the norm , we find ourselves checking on the welfare of newly hatched doves, hand feeding Belle our white goose or playing with Lilly our six week old English Staff pup rather than repainting the shutters or scrubbing down the terraces. But it matters not, in fact time seems to warp itself around us, our sleeping and waking times more fluid than before, dependent upon the morning sun or the night’s drop in temperature. If it’s cold and dark we sleep. If the sun is up we wake, and the day begins.

Belle the goose lives on one of the terraces with Henrietta and did not take well to last week’s drop in temperature. She sulked for almost a week sitting on her mound of hay with her beak tucked under her wing. I tried everything to get her to honk again and venture out onto the lower terrace but she is stubborn. It gave Henrietta the chance to shine (Belle can be a bit domineering) so I found myself being shadowed by a golden brown hen, making cute clucking noises whilst I sat at my easel outside the studio.

The sun has returned and Belle is back to her glorious self, hissing at Lilly as she scoots past and giving her a peck on the neck if she looks like eating the best fresh greens.

And so, life takes on a new order. We are strict about our confinement, so trips to Sainte Foy La Grande our local town are restricted, with Laurrianne and I taking it in turns to do a weekly shop. Food and cooking have always been a passion for me and eating a passion for Laurrianne, all in all a cool combination. We plan our meals meticulously trying to make sure nothing is wasted or forgotten at the back of the fridge. Henrietta our obliging hen is a fabulous eater of all things vegetable whilst the three dogs mop up any other left overs. Our cats always appear if fishy things are on the menu. Our shops are still well stocked, though the bread is snapped before 9 am every day. I have a stock of flour and yeast, so bread making is becoming a ritual here.

We are situated amidst the Bordeaux vines, where we can walk the dogs and ride out on the horses without seeing a soul (another of our pastimes). I was lucky enough to get the blacksmith over the week before lock-down so my horses have happy feet and plenty of fresh spring grass to eat. We have started adding garlic powder to their hard food in the mornings, this should get into their blood and keep away those horrid flies that always appear with the sun.

Last night there was a full moon. In fact it was a “Pink full moon” or so Michaela , my astrology guru tells me. This means the best time to plant or sow – and we actually managed to plant out our cabbages, courgettes and tomato plants. I added some chilli peppers to the herb table, all I need to do now is to stop Henrietta roosting on them.

I have an incubator full of quails eggs, they are due to hatch at the end of April, so we will have baby quails for the spring; they are adorable little birds. The incubator keeps them at a constant temperature and humidity and turns them just as a mother quail would do. An exciting prospect.

That is about it for today’s blog – time for a glass of chilled Aligoté.

I hope you enjoyed it , until the next time .. stay safe stay well. X. Jo & Laurrianne

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