Life in the Loire on lock-down. 7th May. Day fifty four.

Up early. Tea downstairs in the ‘big red’ (as my dressing gown is affectionately known). Sourdough in the oven.

Back upstairs to get dressed. Jeans, check, camisole, check, t-shirt, check, purple jumper, check, brown fleece, check, blue trainers, check. All set for the day.

Pesto is not at all well. She hasn’t eaten for two days now and has developed the most awful dry cough that is disturbing her at night. Sounds like classic Coronavirus symptoms. Eek! Is that possible? We have an appointment to see the vet this afternoon.

There’s a rhubarb and custard cake in the oven. That has to be one life’s perfect combinations doesn’t it?

Rhubarb and custard has two connotations for the average English person my age. In the seventies we used to buy rhubarb and custard sweets. Half pink and half yellow, sweet and sour – heavenly. And then there’s the cartoon. Roobarb was the dog and Custard was the cat. “The eternal optimist, Roobarb plays the holy fool and Custard the cat, his sarcastic pink friend, sits on the fence and is almost always joined by the lunatic birds”.

Whenever I hear someone say ‘rhubarb and custard’, the theme tune of the cartoon pops into my head. As I put my cake into the oven, I was humming it to myself .

Had the fill up the car with fuel today for the first time since before the lock-down. I’d almost forgotten what to do it’s so long.

Cake out of the oven. It looks scrumptious (even if I say so myself) and smells divine. I feel a small slice coming on after lunch with a coffee.

Rhubarb and custard cake

A quick ham sandwich for lunch and a slice of the rhubarb and custard cake and that set me up for the afternoon.

I had a meeting with Louisa to crunch the final details for ‘The Montdomaine Guided Tasting Case’. Quick cuppa then back home to take Pesto to the vet.

Pesto absolutely hates going in the car so it’s always a bit of trauma when we go to the vet (which hasn’t been very often thankfully). How can I put this politely? Suffice it to say that Nigel makes sure he wears something old (how convenient on this occasion), puts a towel on his knees and takes the kitchen roll.

We thought we’d made a bit of progress on that front. Ah – maybe not. A little puddle. Oh, not too bad.

She has a fever and is a bit dehydrated. A virus the vet thinks. Not ‘THE’ virus. ‘A’ virus. An injection later and armed with eye drops and Metacam we are back home. The journey back wasn’t quite as succesful. She delivered a little parcel right on Nigel’s knee just as we drove up to the roundabout where there were 3 gendarmes checking paperwork.

We willed them not to stop us. Thankfully they didn’t and we returned home holding our noses. Imagine explaining that to the gendarmes.

Back just in time to listen to Edouard Philippe’s update on the de-confinement next week. Thankfully our department (Indre et Loire) has moved from orange to green which means we will enjoy a little more freedom from Monday. Shops will reopen, cafés and restaurants remain closed. We can socialise but with a maximum of 10 people. Who are we going to invite over for dinner?

We ate on our knees tonight. The dining table is out of action and we thought it was a bit unfair to eat in the garden as Pesto is confined to barracks (at least until tomorrow morning). A very simple dinner, I used up the last of the lemon and thyme sausages Nigel bought at the market a couple of weeks ago. A little sweet potato mash and some good old fashioned peas and there you go.

Not the most beautiful dinner but easy and tasty.

Sweet potatoes tend to divide people. There are those that love them and those that find them too sweet. I love them, especially as mash. The addition of shallot, garlic, chilli and herbs or spices transforms them into something really comforting.

We enjoyed a bottle of Chenin Blanc from Domaine Marc Bredif this evening. Reserve Privée Vigne Blanche Vouvray 2016. It’s fermented and aged in oak barrels so makes for a serious style of wine that has quite citric notes and an agrume quality that pairs well with food.