Lock-down take 2. Day 5. 3rd November 2020.

So, today’s the day my friends in the US. Election day.

I hope for two things. Firstly, that people will go out and vote (and I know many of you have done already). The right to vote is a precious thing that people fought long and hard for in the past. So many people take that for granted these days and just can’t be bothered to go out and have a say, make a difference.

Secondly, I hope this election remains peaceful. In these turbulent times, there seems to be so much agression and hatred around. We need less of that at the moment.

Happy news for the Loire. It looks like next year’s Tour de France will pass through the Loire. There’s set to be a ‘depart’ from Tours and then the cyclists will pass through Amboise and Chenonceaux. All fingers crossed that we will be back to some semblence of normality by then.

So, from today we can’t buy CDs, DVDs, toys, clothes, crockery and kitchen things, make up or electrical goods (apart from IT products) in the supermarket but we can still buy newspapers, hygiene and cleaning things, stationery and DIY goods. Shelves stocking the now banned products are being taped off or covered up.

My problem with this is that if the small shops remain closed and they’re not able to organise some kind of ‘click and collect’ or on-line delivery service, it will be of no use to them whatsoever. There is strong support for our local businesses and we’ll endeavour to rally round as much as we can.

The landline just rang. Number blocked. Someone trying to sell me something I imagine. Shall I pick up? Oh why not. And so I do.

“Hi, this Paul from Luxury Travel” he says, in that overfriendly tone that immediately puts my back up.

Hackles rising I reply “and what is Luxury Travel exactly?”

“Well, it’s a luxury travel magazine that covers luxury travel around the world advertising wonderful experiences such as yours and I’m just wondering if you might be interested in buying space in our upcoming issue?”

I know. I shouldn’t have. It was unfair of me. Poor guy has a job to do.

I just replied “Our business is f***** – along with all the other businesses round here providing WONDERFUL tourism experiences.”

Silence at the end of the line. I feel guilty about biting his head off. I apologise. He apologises. He says he’s sorry. That he hopes things will get better. That I’m not the first to have that reaction. He’s just sorry so many businesses are struggling. His is too I imagine.

We part on friendly terms. He wishes me all the best and me him.

I put the phone down. I feel the tears coming and sit quietly for a while.

Late afternoon we walked up into the vineyards for a walk. I wasn’t really in the mood if truth be known but once we were up among the vines I felt a lightening of heart and was pleased that Nigel had persuaded me to get some fresh air.

The vineyards are looking beautiful at the moment. The leaves have changed colour and as you look across the plateau there’s a sea of gold. In the more exposed parcels, the leaves have already dropped to the ground blown by the wind, providing a golden carpet and in other, more protected spots they are resolutely clinging on. When we have a frost, the leaves will drop and the landscape will change again.

We wandered in and among the vines observed by a falcon perched high in a walnut tree. It looks like Mathieu has worked his soil. Thierry’s new plantation looks healthy. He seems to have sown something between the rows. Could this be a change of direction for him? He’s a convential grower. We’ll see. The posts and wires are being replaced in the Clos de la Bretonnière. Old vines have been pulled up. Replacement vines have been planted.

As we gazed over at the setting sun, now a great ball of orange, illuminating the landscape, we realised that we’d forgotten to take an ‘attestation’ with us. That’s a 135 euro fine if we get caught.

Oh well. The chances of being checked in the vineyard are slim we thought. Best not to go back home on the road however and so we weaved our way back home through the vines.

Fire lit, glass of Touraine Sauvignon from Lionel Gosseaume in hand we caught up with the French news. Talk of an additional curfew in Paris as well as the lockdown is circulating and of course, there was the French take on the American elections. I don’t think we’ll have any concrete news tonight.

Dinner was simple this evening. I roasted two celeriac steaks in the oven. Rubbed with a little sea salt and olive oil they took around 45 minutes to become brown and tender. I prepared a sort of salsa verde to serve alongside.

Fresh mint and flat leaf parsley from the garden, a handful of capers and a couple of gherkins finely chopped, one clove of garlic, a little white vine vinegar, Dijon mustard and finally, lashings of olive oil to bring it all together.

And with that, a griddled entrecôte steak, served rare bien sur. The celeriac, the steak and the salsa verde on top. Simple strong flavours. I got out our favourite knives too, the 9.47’s from Perceval.

Arnaud Lambert’s Montée des Roches, Saumur Champigny 2017 was our wine of choice. The 17’s have more freshness than the 18’s. Slightly lighter weight but really ‘digest’ as the French would say. Ripe fruit, yes bags of it but with a lightness of touch and lovely acidity that makes it soo easy to drink.

A dose of The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and to bed. It never fails to make us laugh and a bit of laughter is what I needed today.

Hoping to wake up tomorrow and find the world at peace with itself. Any chance of that?