Us Wallys are a frugal pair. We never throw away food: food! Why throw it away? Do something with it; re-imagine yesterdays meal. To us it is no different to throwing away hard cash and that is another thing we never do.
Another thing we do not enjoy is shopping. It is time we begrudge throwing away; time that we could better use to do something truly memorable or creative, or simply to sit and stare at the walls. Choice is a great luxury.
Where is all this heading we hear you ask? Clearly if we do not waste food and do not shop, unless we have to, it is inevitable that, from time to time, we find ourselves ‘eating the fridge’. That is, we pull out anything lurking in it’s darkest recesses and in the bright, well lit, front and we attempt to use it all up at one sitting. Sometimes we do this with friends; usually we stretch it to 3 courses. Only then can we truly say that it is time to go to the shop.
You would think now we are all embracing coronavirus, things would be a little different, but, for us they are not. Now, more than ever, our meanness with waste and time is proving to be a life saver. If we are not out shopping for food, then we are not exposed to the present danger that scares us.
Right now, life is undiluted, time is undisturbed; the weather is hot. We may be in lockdown, but there is food in the fridge, some simple vegetables and herbs in the garden, and plenty of things to keep us occupied. Life is good.
Short and sweet was the order of the week simply because we are putting together a longer piece for the near future. In the meantime, please let us know what you think of our work by using one or all of the buttons below. All the best, stay safe. The Wallys. xx
People are like viruses, you never know where they have been, but you know where they are going; to the shops.
A snatch in time saves stitches
The other day as we were walking to the shop. To distance myself from another pedestrian, I stepped off the pavement, only to have my arm wrenched from it’s socket by Wally, as he swished me out of the path of a car. It has been so peaceful here recently that I had forgotten that cars exist and, actually, that they are what the roads are for. There are some cars about, of course, though not many. Every day feels like a snow day, silent, but for the spring bird song and the voices of people shouting greetings at each other across the great social divide. It is a time of wonder for those of us who are terminally nosy, as we listen in to conversations meant for others, but heard by all.
What doesn’t kill you gives you PTSD
We have all become vigilantes. We are masked, armed and dangerous. As I drift around the supermarket, nobody is safe from me and my body’s microbe zoo. I mooch around the the tinned tomatoes, there are none, and the flour, there is none, with my pathogen laden skin cells shedding from me and floating softly onto nearby products. As I do not want any more species added to my body’s collection, I attempt to ward off people with impotent stern looks from behind my grubby bra-sk. Thus, we all keep well apart, whilst picking our way through the left behind residue of others.
We meander home, with our bags bulging with food we never normally eat. No longer shopping to a well organised list, we buy what we can get, from where ever we can get to on foot. We went weeks with no flour, or eggs, or sugar. What a wonderful diet. I wish I had been overweight at the start of all this, so that the 3 kilos I have lost would be a bonus. As it is, we are both hoping that skeletal is the new beach perfect body.
Fastidiousness is next to madness
Once back at home our new lifestyle clicks into operation. It brings a new meaning to ‘staying at home to work on my CV’. Which reminds me, many decades ago, when I was attempting the thankless task of writing my own CV, I realised that it could double as the script for my obituary, which, if I did not land the job, would make it prescient. No matter how hard I tried, everything I wrote unsettled me. I was not confident about my attention to the important details. This was life and death stuff and here I was, wrestling with clouds. I could not pin them down, or catch a clear view of whether, or not, I had got things perfectly right. And if it was wrong? Well, I would be deluged by bitter rain as retribution. The current situation feels the same, with the ‘out damned spot’ need to incessantly scrub up, never knowing if the little blighters are still there, lurking under a flap of skin, or nail, or forfend, a scab, ready to multiply and recolonise the rest of your hand, and from there, the rest of the world, starting with my little universe here at home.
You can’t please everyone all of the time, but you can piss off some of them, some of the time.
On the up side, we are making and receiving a lot of social phone calls. Gone are the nuisance calls. Oh how I miss those wonderful, liberating moments when I start to cry having been asked if they are speaking to a certain individual, or, my piece de theatre, I tell them I can’t take any more and will end it all if they keep calling me; all in an over the top, melodramatic style, of course; and finally, my favourite, having asked very calmly and politely if I might say something, they always say yes, I scream full pitch down the phone. Today, quite out of the blue, we had a phone call and were offered a payment in cash, an incredibly rare thing these days. It took us a while to realise it was genuine, a repayment of a loan to a friend, and that we have no way of safely collecting the money, or having it delivered to us. As for spending the money; impossible, or paying it into the bank; tricky, as it would mean a drive to the nearest town and queuing. Of course we assume that banks are still handling virus laden money now that payment by card is the order of the day. Contactless suits everyone, naturally. Wally and I have become cash rich, in a cash and bank free society. We feel as if we are in a pub with no beer.
Ignorance is a kiss
At home there is confusion from the moment we wake up. I do not have a clue what day of the week it is and look at my phone for reassurance, at least every half an hour, or so. I am becoming a teenager, all over again, but without the puppy fat. We have degree of social distancing in our wee house. We have our own towels, our own cups and, if one of us gets sick, we will have our own bedrooms; a dream come true for some couples. I wonder, that if left in isolation for long enough, there will be a mutation into a less deadly organism. How good it would be if the virus could mutate in this way too.
Better silly than sorry
We have all had to think about new ways to kill time at home. Most have resorted to TV, crafts, art, growing plants. Some have gone over the top and climbed Everest, in three days, by going up and down their stairs. That is one of life’s pinnacle achievements, so how will this person top this over the remaining weeks, or months, of the lockdown? Perhaps they will spend the next few days getting off the mountain. And then there is the walk back to civilization from basecamp. We are building a staircase; it’s one step for Wally kind, one giant step towards the peak of Everest for lockdowners everywhere. Another person is watching a thousand movies and writing a brief critique on each one. Radio broadcasters are going on air from home. Some are doing their shows in their dressing gowns, others complete the theme by hiding under a duvet with a headtorch to illuminate their script. TV quiz shows, streamed from the stars homes, are a revelation; who does not want to see through the keyhole? We all want them to live like us, only better?
Ignorance is pestilence
Outside, as BT staff have worked, they have been attacked, because of a fake news item claiming a link between 5G masts and CoronaVirus. These attackers are clever enough to read and yet gullible enough to believe all they read, and then they go outside and attack the people who enable them to receive the fake news in the first place. They raise the word oxymoron to a new level. And meanwhile, on the farm, that long running documentary about a sleepy village called Ambridge, has not mentioned CoronaVirus at all. Yes the Archers, that everyday tale of everyday folk, has no need to mention loo roll and is in denial.
You can lead a herd to knowledge, but you can’t make it think
We are on a very long, bumpy and dangerous corduroy road. Only the fit and the lucky, and some say, the young, will make it to that nirvana that is herd immunity, or vaccination. We are the cattle and our wranglers are clearly new to their job. We are all being prodded and whacked into following their orders, the punishment for disobedience is not conscionable.
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Waves come in sets and if you catch a good one, you can ride it all the way to heaven.
Today we travelled up through Spain to Ampolla. It was clear that our plans of a slow journey, taking in some of the country’s best wildlife areas, was in jeopardy because of the CoronaVirus.
Our first morning, and we knew we would have to make a decision whether to dash for home, or hang on and hope for the best. The Spanish President was to make a speech at 4pm and the rumour was that the country would be going into lockdown. He had issued a warning the day before. A great idea as it caused the mass exodus of people who rushed off to their second homes, or out shopping for all the things they might need for month of house arrest, or both. I cannot imagine what they were stocking up on, as shelves had been empty for days. Not a single loo roll could be found throughout the land. Sadly that was not the case for the virus which had undoubtably been spread further by the 24 hour forewarning.
We decided that we would spend the day riding our mountain bikes around the salt marshes and paddy fields of the area, taking in the wildlife and the stunning scenery. Why not? Then we would see what the great man had to say.
This morning the campsite asked everyone to leave. They had to close down as they were not a ‘long term’ site. Spain is now in Lockdown.
So, what to do?
Italy locked down seven days ago and France was also teetering. France would lockdown within the week, with the UK within two weeks. That was our guess. We needed to get a squirt on.
We decided to head up through France and switch our ferry from Bilbao, Spain, to Caen, France. We had no guarantee that our Spanish ferry would be sailing in a weeks time. We did not want to get there and find we were stranded, with no ferry and the borders to France shut. As wonderful as the north Spanish coast is, we didn’t want to be wild camping, in winter there. Barri does not enjoy the cold.
Then we started to hear reports from our friends and the BBC that France was closing their borders at some point between midnight and 8am. I do not want to be too pedantic here, but schengen has meant the removal of all border paraphernalia throughout inland Europe. France has no ‘borders’ to close, apart from it’s coastal ports, but it can put up road blocks, and the police have guns. I wont argue.
The ever shifting news was that all hospitality in Spain was closed. France was enforcing the lockdown the following day, although both countries had made their pronouncements on the 17th of March. We had a tiny window of opportunity to get over the border, after which there were no guarantees. Ampolla’s local Spar had everything we might need to eat for four or five days. There was no hint of a panic buying here. It was surreal; no shortages, no empty shelves, no queues.
We set off on a steady drive along the stunning Mediterranean Sea. We had to shun Barcelona and it’s environs as it was a CoronaVirus hotspot. Garages had no loos open and we did not want to handle pumps without good hand washing facilities. Yes, we do carry sanitiser, always, but there is no substitute for good hand washing. We were reminded, trapped as we were, between the sea on one side and a wall of death on the other, of a journey we made up through California. Somehow we managed to get trapped in a forest fire and had to outrun it. As it thundered north west, the fire finally caught us, forcing us along the 101 coast road. We had the fire behind us and alongside us, with the sea as a potential escape route. At least with the fire, we could see, feel and taste how close it was. Worryingly, none of that applies to this invisible killer.
California forest fire, we only just managed to outrun it, it took us 8 hours!
It was just after midnight when we crossed the Spanish French border. We had ridden the Spanish wave and come skimming down it’s gorgeous green face plummeting into France, jubilant that we had not dropped off once.
The French customs officials massed at the motorway services. We counted at least 50 of them. We guessed they were being deployed to the borders.
We headed to the first town over the border, Le Boulou, with campervan parking, an aire, and found it completely packed. Road after road of vans of all descriptions, parked in every possible location. Hundreds of them had washed up here on the crest of that wave. It was one of the most remarkable things I have ever seen. We found a small space with a scrubby woodland just outside the door, need I go into detail?
In the morning we headed off. The little town was awash with motorhomes travelling in every direction and seemingly, coming and going up and down every street. It was probably the world’s most valuable ever gridlock.
We managed to get away and drove north towards Bordeaux, hoping our chosen campsite would take us in. The news, as it came in was dire. France was locking down, we were on that wave again and running coast to coast, rolling up and down the hilly landscape and carving around sweeping rivers. What a delight this route is.
Carcassone came and went and our destination was soon hoving into view. And there it was, our campsite. We booked in and found a perfect lakeside pitch.
We have transferred our ferry ticket and will be leaving from Caen tomorrow morning, unless they can fit us in tonight. Off we went, determined to get to the port before tonight’s sailing, just in case they can squeeze us onto the boat and take us to the UK. France is locking down tightly. In the services vending machine drinks and loos are available for the weary traveller.
At last the sea appeared in front of us, along with migrants, dashing along the roads looking for a lift to a new life. All of them, young, fit men, some little more than boys, living their groundhog days in this unforgiving climate. There was no boat out of town for us, so we headed for the aire a short walk from the ferry terminal and it’s loos and hot water.
This evening as we sat in our van twiddling our thumbs, the van shook noticeably. And again. And again. We investigated and found a lovely young guy, thin, kindly and gentle, hiding behind our trailer. I asked him to leave. No. I told him to leave. No. He kept pointing at something and trying to walk between our van and our neighbours. Our side door was open and he could have popped in and locked the door behind him. I held him back, telling him that he must leave by the other route, but no, he would not do that. Wally caught a glimpse of something dark, on the tarmac, under the neighbours van. It was the lads winter jacket. We helped him put it on and wished him good luck as he left. I felt so sorry for him and his predicament.
We are on the ferry bright and early. Happy day. We have made it.
On the ferry, our neighbour from the night before stopped me for a chat. He was a rather curmudgeonly chap, but pleasant enough, so I stayed on my feet as he talked away. He had a shock this morning because his motorhome had been checked by the immigration team at the ferry port and they had found the lad from the night before hiding in his spare wheel hanger, under the chassis. The sweet kid had almost made it.
Today the UK went into lockdown. We had ridden that wave all the way home and it is heaven.
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