So, we’re back in ‘confinement’, i.e. lockdown, here in France. Or at least some of us are. Kids are still going to school, workers are going to work, farmers are farming, but anyone who runs a home-based business or is without active employment for whatever reason cannot go further than 1 km from their home unless to shop, go to the doctor or perform some other very necessary task. Once again we feel like we’re imprisoned.

It’s annoying. Since things kicked off here in March we’ve done our bit 100%. We’ve never gone into public without a mask, even during the period when France was trying to decide whether masks were important or not; we’ve not socialised with other households or undertaken any risky encounters; we observed strict social distancing and hygiene measures during the few weeks we actually had anglers our on lakes, and basically kept ourselves to ourselves as much as possible. On top of that we’ve suffered a massive financial hit from lost revenue. So this second lockdown is not going down well in our household. Given that our hobbies of cycling, geocaching and walking are all non-contact pastimes, and generally we never meet another living soul during them, it’s tough being stopped from doing them. Getting out and about once a week or so is how we keep ourselves motivated and on top of things. Once again it feels like country dwellers, who are outdoorsy, active people on the whole, are being drastically penalised. Rural isolation has long been recognised as a social and mental health problem, yet it’s now being widely enforced.

And as for the matter of ‘essential’ and ‘non essential’ businesses, well, it’s a travesty. (Only shops deemed ‘essential’ can continue trading during confinement.) One person’s non essential’ is someone else’s ‘can’t live without’, and vice versa. I don’t smoke so for me a tobacconists is totally non essential, but I constantly need yarn and fabric for my hobbies and yet shops selling those have had to shut. And bookshops. And florists. And toyshops. And many other specialist shops that someone in government has decided peddle unnecessary luxuries. If one shop can open, then why not all of them? Have there really been massive Covid outbreaks spawned in bookshops and wool shops? Have hairdressers all been super-spreaders? In my experience shops and little commerces have generally been extremely sensible and taken all possible precautions.

On a domestic front, this time round I’m determined to make more of confinement. The first time it came as a shock and was fraught with general anxiety plus specific worry about the children, especially the two older ones. Caiti still isn’t safely under our roof, and I shall be concerned about her, but I can tick the two boys off the worry list, at least healthwise. So I’ll have a bit more energy to be constructive and creative with for the next month. I’m thus going to make this the Lockdown of Lotions and Potions. If the inclination is there, it will also be the Confinement of Cleaning Out Cupboards, but I shan’t make any rash commitments!

I’ve mentioned my new hobby of soap, shampoo bar and lotion making in previous blogs. Here’s an opportunity to hone my skills, and trust me, they need some honing! I’m aiming to produce something every day. So far – all three days of confinement to date - I’ve managed. A promising start!

On the first day I made some beer shampoo bars.

And yesterday, as well as baking some Halloweeny goodies for our party tea, I rustled up some rose hip oil.

Today’s hot process holiday spice soap is still cooling so not looking very photogenic, but these coffee cup candles (chocolate-nut scented) are. I’m not yet sure what’s on the menu for tomorrow, but first we’ll be heading off, attestations (declarations) on our phones, on our daily permitted hour’s constitutional, carefully remaining within 1 km of various corners of our property. I dare say I’ll work out what to make while we’re out.

I get the feeling November will be a looong month, but, all being well, a productive one.