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Photograph - Michele Kalish
The new normal

As my daughter lays out her yoga mat in the living room and goes off to find her laptop, the cat makes himself comfortable, naturally thinking its been put there specially for him.

In fact it's for the daily House Party gym session she holds with her mates in East London and Sydney. Part of the new routine our household has settled into.

Surreal and frightening though this past couple of weeks has been, life on lockdown is already becoming the new normal.

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Lockdown Things to Do

I've discovered all sorts of lovely things you can do online, if you did but have the time to do them.

From TED talks to browsing the collections of famous art galleries, singing in a virtual choir with Gareth Malone, to PE with Body Coach Joe Wicks and partying with Sophie Ellis-Bextor and her kids.

Some have been available online for ages, others, such as the free livestreaming of plays by the National Theatre, have been made available specially because of the Covid-19 emergency. 

I teased you in the last newsletter with a production of Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors, starring James Corden, this Thursday (2 April) then forgot to change the link - apologies to those of you who clicked on it only to find a completely different story.

Have a look at our new section on The Chiswick Calendar website of Lockdown - Things to Do, divided into things for younger children, older children (perfect for home schooling) and adults. 

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Keep Calm and Plant Your Own

There's been a massive increase in people buying seeds over the past few weeks. Given that it's spring, those of us on lockdown at home have more time on our hands and there's a vague unease about food security (though the shops are full of fresh fruit and veg), now might be a good time to start a vegetable patch.

Rose Lewis, who has had an allotment for several years in Chiswick, says we should keep calm and get planting.
Read her guest blog on The Chiswick Calendar website.
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Rose has you covered on the greens - four fast growing ones: radishes, rocket, spinach and Pok Choi, and three super easy ones: peas, broad beans and courgettes.

Meanwhile Abundance London have made a start with tomatoes and peppers (chillil and sweet), with blow by blow videos of how to plant them.

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Live online Boot camp, yoga and Pilates 

Brentford FC Community Sports Trust is organising a series of free health and fitness classes online.

Dubbed the #BeeatHome campaign, they aim to get your heart pumping in your living room with the Bootcamp sessions or help you de-stress with Yoga and Pilates sessions.

'Delivered by our experienced and qualified instructors, and funded by One You Hounslow, these classes are the perfect way to keep active and healthy at home. All classes are streamed through the conferencing platform Zoom'.

See the timetable on The Chiswick Calendar's Lockdown- Things to Do page. Classes start today. 

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Oh to have had shares in Zoom

Two weeks ago I'd never heard of Zoom. Up till now there's not been much call for international video conferencing with large groups of people on The Chiswick Calendar. 

Now at least once a day I find myself summoned to a Zoom conference. I am slightly handicapped by the lack of a camera on my PC, but at least have spared myself the embarrassment of the woman whose video has done the rounds when, forgetting she was on camera, she nipped to the loo mid conference. 

When I'm not indulging in group gossip sessions, I'm reading Philip Coggan's book More, a history of the world economy. 
Philip Coggan, author of More
Interview with Philip Coggan

Reading how populations have been decimated by famine and plague at various points in history and picked themselves up and continued, and even flourished, is oddly consoling.

In 1000 AD life expectancy was 24 and a third of children died in their first year of life. It's amazing we're here today at all really.

More - The 10,000-Year Rise of the World Economy is fascinating. A scholarly work, meticulously researched, which wears its scholarship lightly as the story skips along.

Read my interview with Philip, Chiswick resident and writer of the Bartleby column for the Economist, on The Chiswick Calendar website.
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Julia Fullerton-Batten
Have your photo taken for posterity

Photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten has started a new project documenting Covid-19. 

An internationally recognised fine-art photographer, Julia lives in Bedford Park. What she proposes takes very little time and no face to face contact.

'I would love to photograph you standing at the window in the front room of your home, either individually or as a group' she says. 

Read more detail on The Chiswick Calendar website.

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The Roebuck pub
Owners of the Roebuck go into administration

The owners of the Roebuck pub in Chiswick High Rd, Food & Fuel, have gone into administration. Its future now looks very uncertain as 250 staff at the company are made redundant and the owners look for a new buyer at the worst possible time.

The Steam Packet, which opened last summer at Strand on the Green, is in the same group, but looks at the moment as if it might survive.

Operations Manager Ian Slater told The Chiswick Calendar that it was not on the list for permanent closure at the moment as it was a later addition to the group and is owned by Food & Fuel’s parent company, The Restaurant Group, one of the biggest names in the hospitality business.

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar website.

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Can the big shopping malls survive the Coronavirus?

One of the UK’s largest landlords in the retail sector, Hammerson PLC, announced yesterday that their tenants have only paid around a third of the total rent due for the March quarter.

‘We have received a variety of requests for rent deferrals, monthly payments, and waivers, which we are reviewing on a case-by-case basis’ they said.

They own shopping malls in the UK France and Ireland, including Brent Cross shopping centre, the Bullring & Grand Central, Birmingham and Bicester Village, Oxfordshire, which are occupied by well-known national chains. Bicester Village was particularly hit as many of the shoppers used to be tourists from China.

It makes you wonder how Westfield is faring. Europe’s largest shopping centre, Westfield Shepherds Bush has had a big impact on Chiswick High Road and High Street Kensington. It cost £1.6bn to build when it opened in 2008, and was then significantly expanded in 2018.

See my interview with world-leading expert in the retail industry, Richard Hyman, on The Chiswick Calendar website.
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Stop wasting food

Hounslow Council has reported a lot of gone-off food is being thrown away, Refuse collection teams are reporting similar levels of waste to Christmas.

'Please don’t buy more fresh food than you think you’ll be able to eat' says council leader Steve Curran.

The Council set up its Community Support Hub last week. 'The priority of the Hub is to protect the most isolated and vulnerable individuals identified and contacted by the NHS to be 'shielded'.

'These residents have serious long-term health conditions and are isolated. It’s vital we ensure there are support networks in place so they’re looked after. It’s expected that there will be over 3,000 such people in Hounslow. 

'The Hub is also there for anyone else vulnerable and isolated who may not have been contacted by the NHS but needs urgent support'.  

Hounslow has received basic, emergency provisions from Government. 'The Council is looking to source its own, local supply of food for our vulnerable residents, and particularly provide more variety and fresh food' he said.

Read more about the Hounslow Community Hub on The Chiswick Calendar website.  
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Ealing Together

Ealing Council has also launched a community hub to support vulnerable residents. Called 'Ealilng Together' it is a coalition of the council, residents and businesses to provide support for those in need.

Read more about Ealig Together on The Chiswick Calendar website.
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Chiswick Calendar help & information

The Chiswick Calendar website now has a section of help and information about the Coronavirus.

You will find information about Hounslow's Community Hub and Ealing Together amongst other sources of local help and information. We are adding to it day by day the new initiatives springing up in this area to help us through this emergency, and we hope you will find it useful.

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Hammersmith & Fulham reopen parks

LB Hammersmith & Fulham decided on Friday to reopen their parks. Playgrounds will remain closed.

The parks were closed on Sunday 22 March after so many people were out enjoying the spring sunshine the previous weekend and ignoring the advice on social distancing.

A week on from Boris Johnson's instruction that we all stay home except for exercise once a day and essential journeys, people do seem to be following the advice much more

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar website.

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Save Our BBC

In times of crisis people turn to the BBC. That's a demonstrable fact. The BBC is not perfect but I know from 30+ years working there that BBC News is full of hard working people just trying to present facts in as interesting way as possible.

Last month the Government launched an attack on the BBC, leaking that it intends to scrap the licence fee and make it a subscription service, like Netflix. 

This month even the Government must admit the BBC is proving itself useful, offering 
dedicated education programmes for children whose schools are closed, and factual News coverage with medical experts giving us the facts we need about the current crisis, available to everyone.

Read more about the petition to save the BBC on The Chiswick Calendar website.
Save Our BBC
Still working on the Flower Market

We are still working on the Flower Market idea, though obviously the original intention of starting it in May has gone by the wayside.

One thing we'd like you to do, if you would be so kind, is to fill out a brief survey, which will help us with the next stage of development.

Read what we've done so far and what our next steps will be, aided by the feedback we get from the survey.

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Visit Strand on the Green virtually

The tow path is heaving when the sun comes out, which makes it hard to maintain a distance from other walkers and joggers. 

A D Cooper has been in touch with this beautiful little video of Strand on the Green in spring, which she made a couple of years ago, before the big willow blew down.

Man in the Middle

What to do with the elderly parent you know in your heart of hearts can no longer cope living alone? That is a dilemma for many people.

Our regular column 'The Man in the Middle' is the musings of a middle aged man on living with his family and aged mother. If you would like to read the columns in order from the beginning, you can read Episode One: The Letter, here. 

No. 29 Mother's birthday

Covid-19 cramps the style somewhat for people celebrating their birthdays. At 96 what Mother looks forward to is watching Friends and doing a spot of ironing.

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A little Gallic humour

Social distancing French style. It's in French, but you don't have to understand French to get the gag. You do, however, have to watch it to the end.
A song for all the family

This is good for dancing round the living room to with children. Sung to the tune of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
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