Life in the Loire on lock-down – Sunday March 15th. Day one.

What a beautiful day. The first bright and sunny day for weeks. Something to lift the spirits as we enter into a rather dark period of our lives.

The sky was clear and blue and we were able to enjoy lunch in the garden for the first time this year. I moved the table and two chairs onto the terrace in front of the house and we enjoyed a glass of chilled white wine while listening to the blackbird singing in the tree above.

We made various phone calls to friends and family to catch up with their news. The UK is taking a rather different approach it seems. No schools shut there. No restaurants, cafés and shops closing their doors. Just a lock down for anyone over the age of 70 for the next 4 months. My parents are not happy with that. They are 90 and in great health. The thought of isolation for so long is not going down well with them. Which approach is right? Who knows. This is uncharted territory.

Another first today. I was able to hang the washing outside to dry. It’s only a little thing I know but there’s something different about clothes and linen that have been dried by fresh air.

I caught up with Rosie in Angers. She had been out with friends in the centre of town when the news of the lock-down came though. The restaurant owner was in tears, eveyone in shock. How are people with small businesses going to cope?

As the day went on, various messages came through from local friends. Our writing group has been put on hold. One or two are feeling quite frightened having existing medical conditions that make them more vulnerable. Social arrangements and parties have been cancelled.

Late afternoon we went for a walk through the vineyards. We saw a couple of growers out pruning their vines in the warmth of the late afternoon sun. Tiny buds are pushing from the vines. The forecast is for warmer days and more sunshine to come so they will be bursting forth any day now and giving more worry to those involved in growing grapes.

Returning home, I set about preparing dinner. I jointed the guinea fowl that we bought at the market. 2 legs for dinner tonight, 2 breasts for another meal this week, the carcass into a large pot together with some carrots, leeks, cabbage and onions, a bay leaf or two and some fresh thyme. Once covered with water and a teaspoon of salt, I let it simmer all evening until we went to bed. That will give me some wonderful stock to make a soup tomorrow for lunch.

I roasted the guinea fowl legs with some par boiled potatoes, fresh thyme and some goose fat to give lovely crispy roasties. Some pan fried flat mushrooms alongside made a tasty and satisfying dinner. Our wine of choice tonight was a Langhe Nebbiolo 2015 Disfrancesco.

Roasted guinea fowl leg with crispy roast potatoes

The vineyards for this wine are in the La Morra and Barolo area of Piemonte, Northern Italy. No chemicals or pesticides used in the vineyard and no additives in the winery. I love Nebbiolo as a grape. It seems so delicate and yet packs a punch on both flavour and tannin. Just delicious and what we needed to finish the end of a rather strange week.

It seemed appropriate to serve an Italian wine tonight.