Well confinement has been going OK.
In family life we get what we need. Flour has sometimes been an issue, but at Carrefour we sometimes hit rich seams of bread flour (T65), plain flour (T45) and I even got some organic wholemeal spelt flour (spelt f l o u r). The other day they had piles of yeast, so we're set up for a good long while, but the spelt flour will come in useful if and when we decide to make a sourdough starter.
Standard recipes now are honey and oatflake bread, slow-cooker bread and turbo no-knead. All recipes from YouTube.
For breads that go in the oven here's my top tips.
1) put water in a tin in the base of the oven. Steam helps.
2) preheat the oven to its maximum temperature using the fan if it's a fan-oven.
3) when you put the bread in turn the oven down to the temperature you need and turn the fan off.
The extra oven heat at the start really helps the bread to rise.
Why have I been a bit fed-up?
Well for one thing I miss the city I live in.
I want to get out by the riverbank, but though we can see the river from our flat there's a dirty great road that cuts it off from us.
I want to see my friends who run cafés. They're grand lads and I miss them.
I want to see the horse chesnuts flowering. Every year they take me by surprise, but not this year. I've hunted around our neighbourhood but if there's a horse chestnut within a kilometre of our flat I haven't found it.
Meanwhile we have some great blessings. We're getting on very well together. The flat is big enough for us to get away from each other. We have very good internet, so we can hold three different meetings in three parts of the flat by Skype, Zoom and Facetime and it all works great. We have access to some great films and TV series. Our health is good, except for my allergic reaction to the rats, and that doesn't really count. And we know now that soon we'll be set free.
May 11th is the end of this phase of confinement. We'll be able to roam the city once more and shops will be able to open again. The bars, cafés and restaurants will stay closed at least until the beginning of June, however, because the government wants to see how well this gradual deconfinement works before going any further.
Churches can be open but we're asked not to hold any ceremonies until the beginning of June.
We'll need to wear masks in public transport.
So Pat has been making masks using some old material from Ikea and some joyful cotton prints from Africa that I was supposed to make bags from, but the sewing machine was playing up. Somehow she got it to work long enough to make perhaps a couple of dozen masks. Some we use and some we put in the hallway of our flats for others to use as they want.
We also put up a list for people to put up phone numbers, email addresses or to communicate via a facebook page, but that got no responses at all. I wasn't all that surprised. People love their privacy and once you're in your flat you can forget that there's people living above you, below you, to the right, left and behind you...
So there we are.
Meanwhile church life continues, and I feel busier than usual, partly because of the time it takes to keep in touch with all the folk who are making sure we're OK! I think this time may turn out to have been beneficial to the church's community life.
Thinking wider, the departmental committee of the CNEF (Conseil National des Evangeliques de France) met at the end of last week, and we plan a pastors' fellowship in mid May when we'll try and share best practice on health precautions to take ready for when our churches reopen.