While journalists at Moneywise are working from home, we have had the chance to find small local firms that have made life easier. Here, we share our favourites
Sam Barker: “A cocktail made my evening a lot classier”
I believe in supporting local businesses, but in my area the lockdown hit them hard and almost everything except for Tesco has shut.
I am lucky in that I still have a full-time income and the lockdown has drastically reduced my outgoings, leaving me with some spare cash to splash.
Going online, I found something still open that looked appealing.
I’m normally a ‘pint of real ale’ man but decided to nurture my inner sophisticate and order a couple of cocktails from a local bar, Pamela, which is offering home deliveries during the outbreak.
This looks far healthier than it is — it is actually a jalapeno vodka and kiwi cocktail. As you may have just guessed, I live in London.
I was very impressed with the results — the cocktails arrived promptly, along with garnish (chilli salt in this case) and some ice. A minute to shake it all together and, hey presto — my evening got considerably classier.
Brean Horne: “The food is a sure-fire way to brighten up mealtimes”
Earlier this year I discovered Ochi, a small Caribbean restaurant based in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, which boasts an extensive menu of traditional dishes.
It was an instant favourite. The food is incredibly delicious and a sure-fire way to brighten up mealtimes.
Ochi first opened its doors in 1996, attracting famous names such as Rihanna and Damian Marley.
Since the lockdown, I have ordered from Ochi several times and have been impressed by the quality of food and service. My favourite dishes are brown stew fish, jerk chicken and their selection of amazing patties.
Rachel Lacey: “Ed put together a bundle of wine, cheese and crackers for VE Day”
When Morrisons first ran out of pasta, it was a little cheesemonger around the corner from me that was able to help me keep my favourite spag bol on the menu. But it is since lockdown that The Fleetville Larder (a cheesemonger and deli with café) has come into its own, with owner Ed doing everything he can to make lockdown that bit more bearable for the people of St Albans.
We got together with a group of friends on Zoom to celebrate VE Day in May, and Ed put together a lovely bundle of wine, cheese and crackers for us to enjoy.
A friend collected all the goodie bags and delivered them to each of our doorsteps. If you can’t get into the shop (which is allowing one customer in at a time), Ed will also deliver same-day emergency supplies of cheese, wine and other deli treats as well as more practical staples such as milk, eggs and flour, free of charge to the surrounding area.
Stephen Little: “We need to support our local businesses”
While the lockdown measures are necessary to help save lives, the unfortunate consequence is that many small businesses are seeing their profits plummet.
The local economy has been severely hit in Eastbourne, East Sussex, where I live but some businesses are learning to adapt by turning their businesses into community shops and delivering key provisions or a takeaway service.
The Cavendish has some of the most delicious bread, rolls, savouries, pastries and cakes I have ever tasted.
There is also a home delivery service for customers who are self-isolating at home and a free hot drink to NHS staff who show their ID badge.
Local businesses on the high street have been struggling in recent years and if we don’t support them, they might not be here when normality finally returns.
Hannah Nemeth: “I’ve even tried a belly-dancing class”
One of the (few) benefits of the lockdown has been my reintroduction to exercise.
I now enjoy the sights and sounds of my local park with an early morning walk before work. But when it is rainy or I feel more vigorous, I turn to the classes I used to attend in church and school halls in Muswell Hill, North London.
I gave them up because I was too tired after my hour’s commute to Moneywise HQ. But now that classes at JCW Fitness are on Facebook, it takes me just five minutes to leave my office, throw on my gym clothes and choose from daily cardio and dance classes or yoga and pilates.
My favourites are Dionne’s dance fit and tone, with its Zumba rhythms, and a Vinyasa flow yoga run by JCW founder Jane Wrafter. This week (behind tightly shut curtains), I’ve even tried a belly-dancing session.
You can follow classes live and interact via comments or catch up any time. I hope an online option will continue once the lockdown is lifted.
Rachel Rickard Straus: “Brioche pastries are our breakfast staple at weekends”
We always knew that we were lucky to have the Wildgoose Bakery in East London so close to home. Its brioche pastries are our weekend breakfast staple — flaky, with a sticky glaze and a dreamy, light, buttery centre.
But since lockdown, we’ve realised just how fortunate we are.
Forced to shut their two cafes, Wildgoose has been focusing on selling flours, eggs, ground coffee and other basics that were hard to come by anywhere else for some time. We pop down there and fill our pockets with eggs (it has only ended badly once) and count ourselves lucky we could make cakes when there wasn’t a bag of flour to be found in supermarkets for miles around.
But along with adapting in this way, the family-owned bakery has been making care packages for people in the community who need them, working with the local food bank to supply bread and other essentials.
It has proven to be so much more than a breakfast hero.
Mark Stammers: “We had enough flour for a Nigella chocolate fudge cake”
My daughter’s birthday was fast approaching, and a home-made birthday cake was the order of the day. But none of our local supermarkets had a grain of flour in stock. It looked as if she would have to settle for a shop-bought Colin the Caterpillar (not ideal for a 25-year-old).
Luckily, my Mum saw on Facebook that 1066 Bakery — our local bakers in Hastings, East Sussex — was bagging up and selling off its unused flour.
With all its shops and cafes shut, except for its outlet inside our local hospital, it had more flour than they could use. It spotted the lack of supplies in supermarkets and advertised that its surplus would be for sale from 8.30am the next day.
An early-morning trip, and a 15-minute queue with other locals hunting baking supplies, and we had enough plain flour for the requested Nigella chocolate fudge birthday cake. Yum!