Snooker on the box, a blanket and a warm spaniel, and sunglasses, yes really, against the snowglare coming through the windows, what more could a man want?
We are remarkably lucky in all this, and doing rather well. Power, phone lines, internet connection and personal and canine health are still holding out - touchwood - and by miraculous good fortune, we seem to have all we need. I am waiting to stumble upon the intolerable oversight, the one thing we don't have in the house that we can't do without, but so far, fingers crossed, everything has come up trumps; we have reasonable stocks of dog food, tea, coffee, sugar, flour, butter, loo paper, toothpaste, onions, carrots, tinned fish, bread in the freezer, a sack of potatoes in the hall, as well as quantities of post-Christmas goodies to get through. Milk - we only use skimmed UHT which we keep stocked anyway - is the only thing we're having to eke out a bit, but when that goes in a few days, if we still can't get out, tea without milk is not unthinkable, we have Darjeeling and white tea and other fancy stuff (strings and ceiling wax are probably to be found in the cupboards somewhere also...).
I don't know how this has happened; I'm never usually so organised or well-supplied, I tend to have over-abundance of some things and be down to the last parings of something else more important. Now, having to fall back on the lingering contents of the store cupboards, I am finding those kind of things that you buy on a whim, perhaps because they are unusual and/or going cheap, then don't use, because they're a bit special or you can't quite decide what to do with them, or you just forget you have them. I reached into the back of the cupboard this lunchtime, and found a jar of dear little mixed forest mushrooms in preserved in oil. They made me think of that bit in 'War and Peace' where the Rostovs go galloping off on a snowy hunting trip and meet up with Uncle, who takes them back to his house in the backwoods, where he lives with his housekeeper who's really his wife, and Natasha dances to the balalaika, and they live again in the real Old Russia. Why did they remind me of that...? Oh yes, Uncle gives them pickled mushrooms from his larder and several different kinds of vodka. I think these probably came from Lidl and I sautéd them (dreadful Franglais double past participle) with brown rice, shallots, pimento peppers also from a jar, and frozen peas. The War and Peace flashback was a piquant bonus.
(I sometimes wonder if there'd be an interesting project in separating the Peace bits from the War bits in 'War and Peace', so love interest and pickled mushrooms could be read in a different volume from battlefields and Napoleonic politics. I'm sure more people would read it, you could give them pink and blue bindings... ).
So with time on our hands and the need to use stores imaginatively, we are really eating and drinking rather well. Sunday's lunchtime 'sherry' becomes an everyday event, and while milk is rationed, there are still a couple of small cartons of pouring cream leftover from Christmas, which I can put up with in coffee... The main problem is, if the snow-in continues much longer, we'll get enormously fat.
We try to go for walks every day to offset the serendipitous gluttony. Yesterday, Saturday, we couldn't because there was a blizzard. On Friday, Jean-Charles Gibet the butcher, known to ourselves as Charlie Giblet, was to be seen dispensing viandes to our neighbours.
He has an impressive set of chains on his wheels, which I would have liked to take a 'gear and tackle' type photo of, but on our approach we had to embark on a round of greeting and wishing of a good-New-Year-and-good-health-above-all, so I missed my opportunity.
A few people, with and without chained wheels, are cautiously driving about. Seeing them makes Tom restless 'They're getting about...' he frets. I have so far convinced him that affronted pride is not enough reason to risk himself or the car, that we are fine here, that there is really no justification for going anywhere other than on foot. The roads are patchy and untreated, save where a tractor with a shovel has scraped them in places; conditions aren't really safe yet. D and J made a foray the other day from Henon, a bigger village with gritted roads, lower than us and nearer the coast, intending to go to Lamballe, but even in their ancient but very sturdy Subaru estate with 4-wheel drive, found the going too treacherous, and stopped closer to hand, (where they procured some milk for us, but then neither they nor we want to risk venturing through the back hills to hand it over).
But I'm afflicted with the same two-mindedness, as next week and my own commitments, some of them already postponed, approach. Neither I nor my car are well-suited to difficult driving conditions, especially with dark early starts, and I'm not convinced that anything I have to do is important enough to take the risk, and certainly won't earn enough to pay a car repair bill, but I also can't help the feeling that I'm being a shiftless wimp. From that point of view, this is becoming slightly less fun.
Nevertheless, I'm appreciative: that I'm warm and healthy,
that thanks to Tom wrestling over the years with enormous quantities of glass wool and polystyrene, we probably have the best insulated roof in the village,
that I'm still finding it all very pretty,
that the Christmas cactus continues to flower, and that I've got so much stored up stuff to live on, in the cupboards and in my head, and I don't mind falling back on it. I'll sort the rest out as it comes.