A year of pandemic – how has Chiswick fared?

Image above: Bell & Crown pub, closed spring 2020; photograph Joanna Raikes It's a year since Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock announced in Parliament that "all unnecessary social contact should cease". He made that announcement on 16 March 2020 and a week later Boris Johnson told the country that people "must" stay at home and that certain businesses must close. The Chiswick Calendar has been talking to people in Chiswick about how their year has been. For some who have lost loved ones it has been a year of tragedy. For some it has been financially disastrous. For others it's just been a boring and depressing time. But people have made the best of it and adapted and are now just hoping that the end of this lockdown is truly irreversible, as the Prime Minis

The roadmap out of lockdown 2021

Image above: Chiswick House Gardens; photograph Jennifer Griffiths March The schools went back on 8 March; colleges have reopened, and university students have returned to practical courses. Care home residents can have one nominated visitor, with testing and social distance precautions. From 29 March We can meet outside with one other household, or in groups of up to six, including in private gardens. The stay at home rule comes to an end, though the Government is still urging people to stay local. Outdoor sport facilities will reopen, including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts, and formally organised outdoor sports can restart. Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances. Imag

Remembering those the pandemic has taken – David Stewart

Images above: David Stewart We now know that the number of people who died from Covid-19 in Chiswick between March 2020 and the end of February 2021 is 61. That’s 61 groups of family and friends for whom the pandemic represents rather more than a financial loss or an inconvenience, who have suffered real loss. Local funeral director Oliver Peyton told us how hard people have found it not being able to mourn in the normal way. You can read an interview with him here: READ ALSO: A year of the pandemic. How has Chiswick fared? Here we remember David Stewart, who died in the very early days of the pandemic, leaving his wi

Chiswick’s ‘Concierge Cabbies’

How London's embattled black car drivers are faring after a year of the pandemic It’s been a tough year for many trades. But few have been as badly hit as London’s black cab drivers. With the City shuttered, and travel severely curtailed, their livelihood has all but disappeared. Pictures in the national press last November showed a black cab “graveyard” in a field near Epping Forest, with hundreds of cabs abandoned there. Around the same time, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) said it believed that only 20 per cent of cabbies were still driving their vehicles. So is the London black cab - already a rare sight on Chiswick High Road - about to become an endangered species? I know of a number of black cab drivers who’ve been forced to give up the trade

Retail: “I’ve never had to work so hard in my life”

Image above: Sally Price at Insider Dealings; photograph Anna Kunst Retailers have had a tough year. Trying to work out whether what they sell is 'essential' or not (flower stalls weren't essential but garden centres were); redesigning their premises to lay out social distancing, refitting them with screens to protect their till staff and customers; closing, opening, closing again ... Most have benefitted from business grants, a hold on business rates and furlough payments, but they've still had to pay a quarter of staff costs, rent and other overheads. We've talked to three Chiswick retailers to see how they've fared. Image above: Insider Dealings, 135 Chiswick High Rd; Interior design scheme Insider Dealings Sally Price, who owns the interior

Young people who started their own business during lockdown

Images above: Rita Kastrati; Olivia and Francesca Johns "We just thought, we have this long summer holiday stretching ahead of us with nothing to do and nowhere to go, so we'd go for it" Francesca and Olivia Johns are 22 and 20 respectively. In the summer of 2020 Francesca graduated from Kings, with a degree in Geography; her sister Olivia had just completed her first year studying Criminology at Oxford Brooks University. Did they spend the summer in pyjamas watching Netflix? No they did not. Well, maybe a little, but mainly they decided to act on an idea they'd been mulling for some years and set up a business together selling soft furnishings. READ MORE:

On being ‘elderly and vulnerable’ in a pandemic

Image above: Rainbow from the window of Barbara's flat It’s a pandem, and all stations panic Text and photogrpahs by Barbara Chandler Today, Tuesday, I will get my second Covid jab, thanks to the admirable enterprise of the local doctors who are selflessly running the large Chiswick vaccination centre. It’s within the 12 week window, with a week to spare. Will it bring some sort of “closure” to this dire year of medical muddle, missing-out and multiple miseries? Here’s hoping – I do feel so much more positive about things now. Looking back, memories, events and unhappystance whiz into the pin-sharp automatic focus of a high-spec digital camera, not necessarily in any particular order. There was the blind cramping fear at the beginning, watch

The Felix Project and Cookbook Kitchen provide basic supplies and simple cooking ideas

Pandemic hits poor Almost 700,000 people in the UK, including 120,000 children, have been plunged into poverty as a result of the Covid economic crisis, according to the thinktank the Legatum Institute. The Institute says it is only the Chancellor's temporary £20-a-week boost to Universal Credit which is stopping a further 700,000 people being in the same position. There are various definitions of 'poverty'; the Institute measures povery using the methodology developed by the independent Social Metrics Commission. They reckon that overall, the pandemic has pushed the total number of people in the UK living in poverty to more than 15 million – 23% of the population. In London poverty is higher than in any other region of the UK, where the costs of living in London are

Clare Balding: I’ve never been at home as much as this

Images above: Torin Douglas; Clare Balding The Boat Race on Easter Sunday will be the first major sporting event Clare Balding has done for the BBC for over a year. Normally jetting all over the world to cover sporting events, she talked about how a year full of lockdowns has been for her, in the first of the 2021 Spring Lectures for The Upper Room. Torin Douglas, Director of the Chiswick Book Festival and former Media Correspondent for the BBC, interviewed her in the online event to raise money for the west London charity which supports people who are homeless. He asked her about how she had spent 2020, about her career and what it was like

Desperate for kittens

Images above: Zeb and Ziggy Lockdown stampede for furry companions sees animal charity swamped by applications Freezing adoption applications for animals in need of a home is not a decision an animal charity takes lightly. But that is what the Covid emergency has forced Hounslow Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) to do. Since the first lockdown, exactly a year ago, they have been swamped with people wanting to adopt cats and kittens. And with the demand for feline companions showing no signs of abating, HAWS has had to call a temporary halt. “It’s a bit of a nightmare,” says HAWS trustee Carol Atkinson. “I even had one (adoption) application from Glasgow. People are desperate to get kittens, in particular.” Some people have told her that they’ve seen kitt

Cancelling Christmas for the love of animals

Image above: Village Vet staff member with a client Lara Waterson, Regional Support Manager at Village Vet, has always known that her colleagues were willing to go the extra mile to help the pets of Chiswick. But it took the Covid-19 emergency to prove just how much they’d be prepared to sacrifice to protect the animals in their care. Village Vet, at 113 Chiswick High Road, has remained open throughout the pandemic, while some other vets’ practices have been forced to close. That’s partly due to its size, and to the stringent PPE regulations the practice has adopted. But it’s also down to personal

Out of lockdown Harriet’s Kitchen was born

Image above: Harriet Benton and Alan Weavis; photograph Anna Kunst Harriet's Kitchen is celebrating its Golden anniversary - measured in weeks, not years that is, as Harriet's Kitchen is a child of 2020 and the first lockdown. Harriet Benton has been a caterer for more than 40 years. With her partner Alan Weavis she built up a very successful business as HarrietBenton.com providing events for a comprehensive mix of clients, from art galleries to five-course sit down meals, to weddings. Harriet and Alan did everything, looking after every detail from the marquee, food & drink to the presentation, and as a result have built up a loyal repeat clientele. When Covid-19 hit in March 20

Zooming with wine bottles: teaching Pilates during Covid

Images above: Ris Widdicombe celebrates the second birthday of the Pilates now! studio, Pilates Now! studio It doesn’t seem long since Ris Widdicombe proudly showed me around her Pilates studio, saying “In a year’s time, this will all be mine!" It was early 2020, and Ris was referring to the top-of-the range Reformer Pilates equipment she’d purchased for her business, Pilates Now! located in the Virgin Active Gym, Chiswick Business Park. Reformer machines use weights and other equipment to intensify your workout, bringing faster results than traditional Pilates mat classes. But such sophisticated machinery doesn’t come cheap - it cost Ris £35,000. She bought it on a three year finance scheme, to be paid off by October 2021. “The studio was going bril

Pandemic one year on – Unexpected silver linings: Ballet classes online

Image above: Donna Schoenherr, founder / owner, Ballet4Life teaching online “I was always very snobbish about doing dance classes online” “I was always very snobbish about doing dance classes online” says founder and owner of Ballet4Life, Donna Schoenherr. “For years people had been asking me to do dance online and I said it couldn’t be done that way”. As it turned out, putting her classes online during the pandemic is what enabled Ballet4Life to survive. Ballet4Life offers dance classes for adults and its sister charity Move Into Wellbeing gives people with restricted movement the opportunity to take part in friendly, fun, classes at a level which suits them. For seventeen years now professional ballet dancer Donna has been offering classes acr

Setting up a business in lockdown: Rita Kastrati – Bea’s Flowers London

Images above: Rita Kastrati; Rita and her mother Bea Bea's Flowers London Rita Kastrati, 21, graduated in the summer of 2020 with a degree in International Political Economy. She had a job lined up in New York which she wasn't able to take because she couldn't get there. She has gone into business with her mother, selling flowers. "In October 2020, during the second lockdown, I realised that online businesses were thriving". She saw an opportunity to work with her mother, learning her skills as a florist and bringing her own skillset to create something new. Rita's father Dino opened Casa Dino on Deveonshire Rd in 2019 and her mother Bea had started Bea's Flowers in 2017, working with her husband in the restaurant business and complementing fi

Setting up a business in lockdown: James Willcocks – software engineer

Images above: James Willcocks; James' dog Harry Software engineer James Willcocks, 24, lives on Dartmoor. Coming from a farming family, he wasn't convinced that he wanted to work in London, but thought he should at least give it a try. He moved to Chiswick in September 2019 but during the following year, as central London offices emptied and he improved his network of contacts, he realised that actually he could live in Devon and work perfectly well as a software engineer and web developer from home. "The experience of this past year has shown me that you no longer have to go to London to be working at the top in the tech industry" he says. Graduating in 2018 with degree in Computer Science from Hull University, (a First), he took a year off to expand his skil

Setting up a business in lockdown: Francesca & Olivia Johns – Boeboes

Images above: Francesca and Olivia Johns with Boeboes Roman blinds and cushions Boeboes Francesca and Olivia Johns are 22 and 20 respectively. In the summer of 2020 Francesca graduated from Kings, with a degree in Geography; her sister Olivia had just completed her first year studying Criminology at Oxford Brooks University. Did they spend the summer in pyjamas watching Netflix? No they did not. Well, maybe a little, but mainly they decided to act on an idea they'd been mulling for some years and set up a business together selling soft furnishings. "We've always had the idea" says Francesca. "Ten years ago we had the name". 'Boeboes' (as in 'time for beddy boeboes') is a word from their childhood which summons up an image of coziness: sitting

Setting up a business in lockdown: Jake Stewart – Cello

Images above: Jake Backer; Cello Cello Strictly speaking a pre-lockdown business, Jacob Stewart, 23, started Cello, a one-person company making and selling his homemade Limoncello, in late 2019 When he left school he taught fencing, football and cricket in a school for a couple of years before starting a degree in aeronautical engineering. But he quickly decided university wasn’t for him and decided to try his hand at what he really wanted to do: to set up his own business. Cello is Limoncello, the lemon liqueur which originated in southern Italy. Basically fresh lemon juice, sugar and vodka, Jacob’s version is the recipe perfected by his father which became a family tradition and always went down well at social gatherings. The two of them tweaked the r

Pandemic one year on – Unexpected silver linings: Bread making courses online

Remember when there was a run on eggs at the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020? Like toilet rolls and hand sanitiser, as the supermarket shelves emptied, they briefly became highly prized items. People who'd never kept chickens before suddenly decided they would, and the manufacturers of chicken coops quickly ran out of stock. Sara Ward at Hen Corner suddenly found there was a market for online chicken keeping courses. Sara runs Hen Corner - 'Hen' because she keeps chickens and 'Corner' because she keeps them in the back garden of an ordinary surburban house in Brentford which happens to be on a corner. Images above: Sara Ward with one of her girls; photographs from Hen Corner In 2010 she and her husband set out to become self-sufficient. They quickly reali

A visual record of the Covid-19 Lockdown

Images above: Kitty on Lockdown day 92; Julia Fullerton-Batten Looking Out From Within Fine Art photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten was "ultra-busy planning a photographic shoot with a large team of people, assistants, stylists, hair and make-up team, prop stylists, set designers etc." when suddenly everything stopped and her assignments were cancelled in March 2020. She decided to use her time during Lockdown documenting it by taking pictures of people inside their houses, from outside, through the window. She asked for volunteers through The Chiswick Calendar. Called Looking Out From Within, here are the results. Twenty four portraits of Chiswick residents, male and female, old and young, with their comments on living in Lockdown. She asked them al