Popping to the shops pandemic-style

London’s weather is getting mild! I am counting down the days until I can finally retire this winter coat that you have probably seen too much of already. And I think that day will be coming soon.

As much as I wanted to stay in for a second day I really couldn’t as I needed to buy some things. It is funny how fast a food stock can diminish when there is little to do but stay inside. I found the appropriate socks for the occasion and made my way.

*warning- strong but relatable language*

That same blue crane is still there from a recent post, does it really take that long to install the flowers or did they just share the same feeling as the guy on my socks?!

On my adrenaline fueled walk there didn’t seem to be too much panic and the streets weren’t as empty as I was expecting. The coffee shops had a load more take outs (the two cafes I walked by were empty, I only saw one customer sitting at a table) but the roads were busy and still a fair few pedestrians of all ages.

The picture above is a little blurrier now I look at it on my laptop screen, sorry about that. However I am situated right underneath the M by Montcalm boutique hotel, it is best known for being somewhat of an optical illusion when walking towards it. You can see it below in the shots I have taken from the roundabout (basically walking right down the road you can see above and turning 180), the first shot was a few days ago, the second taken today and you can see it is a little quieter in comparison.

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Googling the optical illusion building I found a Reddit forum with a bunch of mixed reviews. What do you think of it? For me it is a little uneasy on the eye as my brain is trying to make sense of it as I walk, but I don’t mind it. And I am sure it is very nice on the inside.

Below, queues in the local pharmacy. I am in central London though so I don’t think this it too different to the norm.

The main difference being hand sanitizers are now kept behind the till and a limit of two per person is in effect, however I am sure there are similar measures around the world too.

I might keep growing my beard until this is all over, yay or nay? I wonder how long it would get. My hair might keep greying too, we shall see. The mask in the featured image was just a GIF I found on Instagram, but I’m sure you could tell anyways. I was a little more exposed to the elements in real life.

Shelves are empty though… I was trying to get the ingredients to make a chili that would last me a few days, it took me four shops to get it all.

Toilet paper was well stocked though.

I walked a fair bit between the stores. The thing I like about Old Street is that it is a mish-mash of all kinds of architecture. Some old and new, some dull and boring and others full of colour. If I had to describe this area in one word, I don’t think I could. I can’t really describe it… it’s dirty and full of construction however some areas are very bright and clean. Old buildings situated next to new ones. Thankfully street art really helps and reflects the exciting and vibrant side to it.

Below is a bar called Bounce, located right next to the local fire station. It offers food and drink, but most importantly ping pong. I have heard it is really good and seems to be very popular. I am looking forward to giving it a try.

Don’t be fooled, these bars are still open. Boris (our PM) hasn’t put us in lockdown but has urged us to stay away from bars and restaurants and avoid unnecessary travel. He is giving us daily updates live on TV with the help of experts and today announced that schools are finally closing. The hospitality industry is on it’s knees but is still operating.

I made my way to the final store, all out. On my way back I decided to fancy my chances in the small grocery store on the corner. On the same street as the two comparison photos above, a little closer to the hotel. What I have realised is that the shelves are emptying in the chain supermarkets, but the local grocery shops still seem to be fully stocked. Where the shelves were empty of tins in Sainsbury’s and Tesco, they look like they have hardly been touched here. How long will this last? Hopefully a long time!! When I thought I was going to have to try again tomorrow I struck gold. There’s me sorted for the next week.

 

That is all for now from me. Have a good evening, eat well and stay safe.

Bye for now!

Sam


 

 

Travel updates on social media will be delayed until further notice, but thank you to those that have followed me on Instagram and the like in the mean time. I can’t wait to be back at it!

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Is it still Sunday?!

Sundays are a great day to work. I know how silly this sounds to people that get the weekend off however I prefer working the weekend. It’s much more peaceful.

Weekends are quiet working in a residential building. We don’t have to oversee hundreds of parcels arriving, we don’t have to constantly sign contractors in and out doing whatever work needs to be done on site. And despite most residents being off work there is little footfall in and around the lobby. The quiet time is such a contrast and it’s great. Security is still present because of the increase in drunks etc outside of the building, but if anything this makes the slower days more pleasant. We can actually have conversation and the team I work with are great.

You can finally hear the lobby music playing and is a relaxing end to the week. With the virus going round the less people the better right now. Some residents are debating whether or not to return to their home countries during all of this, and some already have. Three girls left yesterday with suitcases and I’m not exaggerating when I say they were wearing protective gear from head to toe. It looked like they were about to examine a murder scene but they were just getting a taxi to the airport, the driver in his own mask didn’t really seem too phased. They took some selfies with one friend they left behind, laughing and throwing peace signs up so it was all in good spirits.

This was yesterday. I am typing this just before 11pm on Monday British time, so I know it seems a little late as the weekend is well and truly over. But today was a weird day. It seemed like a Sunday after midday as the streets were quiet and our building started to close down some of the facilities late afternoon. The swimming pool, spa and steam room have been closed to our residents in all of this, our other facilities still open. For now. It seems like just a matter of time before more is closed, not just here but everywhere. 

This morning felt more like a Monday though, as I was walking towards the roundabout people were up and about, workers working and business as usual. I saw this team installing flowers into the Alchemist’s wall, a bar not too far from me and the green exterior really is great to see in Old Street. That blue sky was welcomed too.

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At work, a business owner came in as he was using our car park. He was pretty worried about his business (not the one above), now closed on weekends as sales are half of what they were before the virus. Staff have been laid off too. It is pretty crazy to think of all the things a business has to consider to survive, a virus! Not the first threat whatsoever. But it is here and now he is having to deal with it with his team. 

Store shelves are emptying, our PM despite not calling for a full lockdown has asked Britons to refrain from mass gatherings, non-essential travel and a lack of physical contact with others. Avoid bars and restaurants, however kids still need to go to school. Many have brought up the fact that a school pretty much is a mass gathering, I am hoping there is some logic as to why classes are still on. Kids can’t be trusted to stay indoors if school is out? I am not sure.

I stocked up myself today to get me through the next couple weeks, I am pretty annoyed as I have just signed up for a gym that I doubt I will be using for the foreseeable future at least. I finally found the motivation and the universe has found a way for me to avoid it further. Perfect.

I really, really want to take some shots of London whilst it is quiet though. Have you seen the movie 28 Days Later? Maybe it won’t go this far buuuuut seeing a crowded city slowly become more deserted would be fascinating. It would be fascinating to document too, as who knows how long it will be before something makes us all go into a lockdown again. This isn’t just one city or wider state during a storm or something. It is global. As much as it is a burden there is something fascinating about that.

It is now after midnight, my eyes are closing. I would say it was a long 13 hour shift today, however time went by so fast. But it was incredibly tiring. I will stop there though as I realise those that really are working hard through this are the health workers. It isn’t an easy job at all. My thoughts go out to them, as well as those being treated and those that have sadly lost their lives. 

The mood has really changed here in the UK, as I’m sure it has in so many other countries. People are beginning to admit defeat and self isolate, grabbing what they can to get them through. I plan to have a load of soup in the next couple weeks. Something I was brought up on and appreciate much more as an adult. 

If you currently are in lockdown or believe it is around the corner, what is the one food you couldn’t be without? I would love to know.

See you in the comments hopefully, and stay safe!

Sam

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Where I live in London

This is Old Street, the area in Central London I now get to call home.

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I am quickly learning to love this area. It has a great buzz and Shoreditch, the wider district, has a lot of cool bars and restaurants making it a pretty fun place to be. I live and work very close to Old Street roundabout, the busiest area of Old Street with Old Street Underground directly underneath it, so my location is great for getting around the whole of London.

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In fact, I remember when I first got to London asking for directions to Kings Cross. I was the idiot dragging a whole suitcase onto the tube making my way from City Airport to King’s Cross, and for some reason I got off at this station. I remember the roundabout well and the two people I approached that were just as clueless as I was about the area, ensuring I had a mental breakdown on route. I assume I was just stressed on the tube and wanted to get off a couple stops earlier (Kings Cross is just two stops away from Old Street) and misjudged how long it would take to walk.

Now, I am used to the tube a lot more and not taking such large items with me makes it a lot more tolerable. That and I don’t have to get transport to work as I am a five minute walk away. It really is the dream. I get the tube when I am wanting to visit people or do a little exploring, and with this I can choose to avoid the rush hour.

But saying that, as the advert above states I have found myself tutting at people in London. Not out of a dislike for them but being stuck when all I want is to be as far away from the crowds as possible. The city is filled with tourists wanting to take their time appreciating the sights, it is also filled with workers rushing around trying to get to work on time. It isn’t a good mix and from time to time I try to remind myself that I am both of these people. I am sure I have angered a few Londoners when I swap my suit for a camera and wander around with my eyes on everything other than the path ahead. And I am sure that the impatient bunch in the rush hour annoy the locals when on their own holidays outside of London. It is just the way of the world and it helps to realise that despite being annoyed, we too are just as annoying. We simply don’t see it as much as other people do.

And escaping the crowds is my main focus right now with all of this Coronavirus malarkey affecting the world, crowded places are places I want to avoid. In and around work I am seeing more and more people wearing masks, people from all over the world. I work in a luxury residential building with many nationalities, and if I am honest I am really happy not to be working in a hotel as I was just over a month ago. I am mainly interacting with the same few people daily, and many residents have been told to stay at home until further notice. As with many other countries toilet paper is as valuable as gold and hand sanitizer can only be found on the deep web. That being said the streets are a little quieter, a bonus for sure.

And for those that read my recent post, the lighty-up cone now has a friend. Someone caught onto the idea that you can whack a traffic cone onto a ground light and magic things happen. It is the kind of joy I need in a world full of depressing news.

But I am happy, I am settled and I am now feeling the motivation to blog again. The motivation to do a lot more in general really, I have joined a gym nearby as getting fit is my main priority this year and I am hoping that helps to motivate me further in all kinds of ways.

But tell me about you, has the virus affected you where you are? I know Europe is getting hit pretty hard right now and in fact yesterday most views to my website came from Italy. Due to the lockdown? I would assume so, however if it was just one reader I thank you dearly for making your way through my posts. Stay safe over there! And stay safe wherever you may be.

Love you all, thanks for reading and I will speak to you all soon.