Going to the coffee shop with the girls has always been one of our ‘things’.
When we first moved here I discovered a cute child-friendly café in the village a few minutes up the road from us, and would take them there for a juice and a sprinkle cupcake while I guzzled down a much-needed latte. It quickly became our routine, a chance for them to have a little treat, and for me to take a break from the ceaseless demands of life with a baby and a toddler.
There was something really therapeutic about taking time out just to sit and breathe – it was my little oasis of calm in a hectic day.
It’s something I’ve continued as they’ve grown older, and we often pop in after school for a hot chocolate and a catch up. When they’re older, I plan to take them for the most famous afternoon tea in London (arguably the world) the iconic Palm Court at The Ritz.
Right now though, for obvious reasons, our café routine has ground to a halt, so I decided to throw the girls a lockdown lunch instead – a high tea at home. I picked up some eclairs and sponge cakes and some of their favourite chocolate clusters.
Next, I made some tiny ham and egg and cress sandwiches, filled the teapot with fruit cordial, and laid the table with our fancy Portmeirion Botanic Garden dinner set (you know, the crockery that only comes out a few times a year for really special occasions).
When I called the girls down, their eyes lit up: ‘Yum!’ they shouted, loading up their plates with treats. ‘This,’ the 11-year-old announced, ‘is the best meal EVER!
My family are all back in New Zealand – you can’t get more socially distanced that that – so what I’m looking forward to most after lockdown is eating out again. We’re lucky to have some lovely places nearby and it’s another thing we love to do together as a family.
In the meantime I’ve been taking full advantage of the secret recipes being released by some of our favourite chefs and restaurants to get us through lockdown. Square Meal, the restaurant review and booking site, has compiled a delicious collection, from The Belfry Hotel & Resort’s Hot Chocolate Fondant, to Jamie Oliver’s Singapore Style Fried Rice.
The site also has a really brilliant function that allows you to search and book event venues (and also view their hygiene ratings) so you can start catching up on all those missed celebrations the moment lockdown ends.
In a surprise twist, I’ve actually found my cooking groove during lockdown; I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love it, but I’ve definitely become more fond of the process and have added a list of easy, delicious meals to my (previously very limited) repertoire.
In saying that, I can not wait to turn off the oven and have someone cook for ME instead.
Fingers crossed it won’t be long now until we can all leave our homes and enjoy restaurant meals and pub lunches and trips to the local café. Until then, the girls and I will continue to enjoy our high tea at home.