Ramblings of a confined artist (and the trouble with tea)

It's been five weeks today that we have been in 'lockdown' here in France. To be honest it hasn't really had that much of an impact on my day to day existence other than a few minor changes that have caused me slight irritation, which I'll talk about later. As an artist I've been practicing 'social-distancing' for as long as I can remember. Always trying to avoid any social situations so that I can just be alone in my studio, thinking and creating. Being in crowded places just isn't my thing so nothing has changed there for me.

My Studio (my happy place!)

I have been using the time to do things I wouldn't normally do. Namely, not washing my hair for five weeks! I've always wanted to try this but have never had the nerve. After about three days, as usual, it was dripping in grease and smelling revolting. I thought perhaps this would start to eventually ease up over the weeks that followed as I'd heard that it will 'clean itself'. It didn't. So yesterday after wearing it up in a soggy bun for all that time, I finally cracked and gave it a really good scrub with lots of shampoo. Now my hair smells like fresh summer meadows! I won't be doing that again any time soon. It was interesting though and I'm glad I tried it.

My hair after five weeks of not being washed.

I've also started reading again. I used to read all the time but somehow I got out of the habit. Now I don't feel guilty about sitting down during the day to read because I know that a huge percentage of the population are in the same boat and are profiting in whichever way they can at this time and rightly so. There is a certain amount of satisfaction in that knowledge.

The Spring has already arrived here in the Dordogne region of France and the garden is a constant source of delight.

Luckily there is lots of land with the garden so I havn't even ventured out for a walk into the surrounding countryside. Too much hassle and waste having to fill in yet another 'permission' form that just ends up in the recycling. I'd rather walk around the garden and do some odd jobs on the way. Although this lack of excercise and probably way too much comfort eating could result in disaster!

(This could be how I look if the lockdown continues for too long!!!)

So apart from the bore of form filling and missing the odd social interaction, my other complaint is the trouble with tea.

Tea, being one of the greatest pleasures in life ( I am English after all!) is in terribly short supply. The already limited stock of decent english tea in the supermarkets has already been taken (by other english people I presume) desperate not to be without their daily fix. Usually I'm a drinker of Yorkshire Tea, the best in my opinion. Deep orange colour and really strong flavour. Just perfect!

In 18 years of living in France I have been lucky enough to have had a steady stream of supplies brought to me by kind friends and relatives returning from trips to the U.K. Never has my supply been so dangerously low. You could say that I'm on the brink of panic only now having a few 'Yorkshires' left. I thought it was time to take precautions and see if I could get any english tea from the supermarket. After the first 'post-lockdown' trip, the only thing I could find that resembled tea was 'Typhoo'. I was disappointed to find that it was quite disgusting. Grey in colour and tasting of rotting twigs. You can imagine my despair. I tolerated them for a while, alternating between them and the Yorkshires to eke out my supplies. On the second visit, I was lucky enough to grab the last box of 'PG Tips' left on the shelf. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. A nice golden colour (could have been a Yorkshire) and not a bad flavour.

(Typhoo on left, PG Tips on right)

Feeling quite delighted by this hopeful discovery I went back for a third visit in the hope there would be new stock, but alas there was nothing! So I have resorted to herbal tea and even instant coffee to try and keep my precious Yorkshire Tea bags to last just that little bit longer.

So, really this lockdown hasn't been too bad and has given me yet more time to paint which is always a wonderful blessing.

A new small canvas waiting to be painted.

I have been working on a series of small oil paintings with two figures in each. I've just finished those and now I'm working on another series of very english themed paintings in a different palette. I do get frustrated using oils and I can easily loose my momentum so these next ones will be in acrylics. Apart from that, just waiting for the end of lockdown, whenever that will be. Then I might venture out and go somewhere different. Still, it's not a bad place to be in isolation. The sunsets that I see out of the window each evening are usually amazing and the view is wide, the sky so big.

For the time being though I will be here in my studio just taking daily trips into my imagination, as it's always the best and most interesting place to be!

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