Now we are in the ninth week of lockdown, and a lot of us are fairly used to our new lives, it’s possible that we might gloss over the early days of lockdown, and think it wasn’t actually that stressful, and that things aren’t so dramatically different from ‘LIFE BEFORE THE COVID’.

That assessment is probably incorrect… it is significantly different, and it will be a long time before things are back to how they were… presuming that day WILL come. 😬

So, to things that have made my life and other people’s lives better… the local food heroes in my area.

The VeryGreen Grocer

Based in Shooters Hill, The VeryGreen Grocer has been delivering to homes in South East London since 2010. Run by Mike, Mike, Barbara and Simone, their vans deliver groceries, dairy and bread every week, Monday to Friday.

Luckily for us, the husband had registered as a new customer 3 weeks before lockdown, and we started getting a weekly delivery at the end of March. The company stopped accepting new customers for a while due to demand from far and wide, but we were very reassured by their tweets explaining their new ordering process.

Things seem to have settled down since March and customers can now order through their site as usual. And they are now accepting new customers, so do email them your address and postcode if you would like an account, and the team will respond.

Below is the box we had delivered at beginning of April – full of lovely tasty good things, and we’ve been reminding ourselves how to eat in order of freshness. I’ve also had a lot of fun looking up BBC Good Food recipes to work out what to cook with what we have, and I’ve become a big fan of cabbage – which I never expected! Blame Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

We are still doing a big shop at Sainsbury’s every fortnight, but we are keeping up a weekly fruit and veg order, and are very happy to continue to support the VeryGreen family.

The Plumstead Pantry

Usually a cafe on Plumstead Common, The Plumstead Pantry has converted itself into a bakery cum grocer cum delivery service over the past two months. The owners Ash and Julia also used crowdfunding to help with the conversion, and were able to raise over £5,000 in just 14 days.

I wasn’t really aware of the business until April as I’ve only driven through Plumstead Common a few times, but I saw a tweet from a local friend about the cafe, and after a good nosey at their Twitter and Facebook, it turned out they were having regular deliveries of plain flour. At the time we had nearly run out, and as the flour shelves were/are usually empty at Sainsburys, the husband was very keen to get some!

After buying 2kg of plain flour, plus 1kg for our friends, we have since branched out into tin loaves and their very scrumptious cinnamon buns – they drip with sweetness and are just heavenly.

As well as their 1 in, 1 out policy at the cafe (with beautiful views across the Common), you can also pre-order goods for collection or delivery. Delivery is free within SE18 and surrounding areas, and there is a handy WhatsApp button on their Facebook page if you want to place an order (DMs on Twitter are also used).

And many thanks to Julia for not ringing the doorbell when delivering, Rafe nap time is sacred! 😊

(Image: The Plumstead Pantry, Facebook)

Old Cottage Coffee Shop Cafe

We used to live in Charlton and one of my favourite haunts was the Old Cottage Coffee Shop Cafe in Charlton Park. I still visit before Monday music at Charlton House, and do I love having a jacket potato with bacon and cheese while Rafe wriggles about with his own lunch.

Every Christmas the cafe organises a Christmas Day lunch for the elderly, and since Coronavirus closed their doors, Michael and Mimi have been cooking and delivering food to those unable to leave their homes. Based on their tweets, they are delivering lunches to at least 20 people 3 times a week. Amazing! If you can help with the lunch deliveries, please contact Michael.

Hopefully we will all be back there soon!

(Image: Old Cottage Coffee Shop Cafe, Twitter)

The Red Lion

Since a new management team took over in 2019, The Red Lion has been aiming for a more family friendly vibe. A few months ago I went with my husband, son and in-laws for an early evening meal, we had a great time, and we all really enjoyed the food.

While the pub is closed, Danny Brooker and his team have been supporting a number of individuals, NHS hospitals, care homes and hospices in the local area.

Funds are being raised through crowdfunding, and hundreds of meals are being prepared at each cooking session. A separate team are then organising and delivering the food. Super super impressive, and a wonderful thing to read about.

Another local spot I want to visit again soon!

(Image: The Red Lion at Shootershill, Facebook)