When we asked to find a title or tag line for their blog post, Martine told us that she thought the motto of footballer Johan Cruyff was appropriate to describe their almost 2 months of lockdown. She found a balance in routine,
in sunshine and in the wildness of her husband Hemko's confinement beard.
It doesn't happen often, but for the first time in a long time there was something you couldn't find on Google. What is a COVID-19 confinement in France, how does it work and when will it be over?
But there wasn't much information initially so, we thought... well, we'll need to come up with some sort of answer ourselves.
We sat around the table and made some kind of a plan of action. We said to each other: we will not be sleeping in, but get up at our normal time and get to work, because time will go by faster that way. Every day, all day long, we put on music to stay cheerful. We also tried to stay in touch with family and friends in the Netherlands and France as much as possible. We read the news and government websites on the internet and social media, but eventually found we should limit the "information overload".
After all, the first reports about the virus weren't very uplifting or positive. In Wuhan (China) there was a very strict lock down, we heard gripping stories from Italy and also about the theft of large quantities of masks in French hospitals. Well that's promising, we thought.
Hemko, my husband, decided not to shave anymore, because he wouldn't see many people for the time being, he thought.
The beginning of the confinement initially instilled a somewhat disturbing feeling, but slowly it subsided and a kind of peace, a new rhythm, emerged.
Everyday life took over. With a B&B and holiday homes (Au Passage du Gois) there is always a lot to do in spring. Pruning trees, removing weeds, cleaning, painting, oiling wooden garden furniture, emptying and cleaning the swimming pool. For several weeks the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was excellent and kept us in a good mood.
By the way, nature did not care at all about anything that's going on in the world. Asparagus peeked their heads from the ground, birds laid their eggs, flowers blossomed as they always do and it seemed as if nothing was amiss... until you did the weekly shopping and saw people with masks on standing in line at the bakery with a neat meter-and-a-half between each person, and here and there empty shelves in the supermarket.
On March 17th, the first day of the lock down, we were still completely booked in the morning, but all our guests left in great haste. It's a very strange feeling to be 'home alone', as we usually have guests here year-round. Our schedule was initially quite full until the end of June, but after every speech by the French president or the Dutch prime minister, or an article about France in the Dutch press or after an update on our Facebook page there were messages with questions about reservations.
Now, our schedule is almost completely empty until the end of June, but we are very happy to have so many returning guests, because on balance there are only 2 real cancellations. All other reservations have been postponed to later in the summer, 2021, or 2022. Due to the good information provided by the French government there was clarity about our social charges, financial support, taxes etc. We are grateful for this.
We also became more and more self-sufficient. The post offices were closed, but we discovered that you could also just print stamps online. We bought seeds in the supermarket and sowed tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes ourselves. Fortunately, Hemko had just been to the hairdresser's, but his lock down beard grew a bit wild with the passage of time. He ordered a trimming set to get it under control and I cleaned up a moustache for the first time in my life.
It is very funny to see how quickly you adapt to a new situation ... how quickly your habits change and how quickly you learn new things.
In the meantime, we are writing an extra page for our website, to explain what we're doing in terms of cleaning and the like, so that we can reassure future guests that they can have a carefree holiday with us. We even want to propose a contact-less stay for those who prefer it, where we prepare everything ahead of time with the key in the door, tourist information on the table and beyond that only contact by phone, even if we're located just next door.
We reexamined our beautiful region, the Vendée, with different eyes and concluded that there is a lot to do and see without having to meet a lot of people. We are making an overview of this as well.
We're assuming that everyone is quite anxious to travel and to enjoy the upcoming holidays. Personally, we've never looked forward to the arrival of our guests as much as we do now! Everything is super clean, both the inside and outside have a frash coat of paint. The garden is superb and some big jobs have been taken care of, because after all we weren't bothering anyone.
So it is true as it turns out: every disadvantage has its advantage.
Bed & Breakfast - Gites Au Passage du Gois is located in Beauvoir-sur-Mer 85230, just 800 meters from the Atlantic Ocean. Open all year. Wonderful and safe place for cycling, walking along the coast. Pornic, St Gilles and the island of Noirmoutier are nearby. Every week from May to September there is a fun activity to discover the region with guests (free / voluntary e.g. shrimp fishing, a visit to Port du Bec when the oyster farmers return, or a visit to a salt marches). Dutch, English, French and German spoken.
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