Everything you need to know about living in Cheshire during the lockdown

PUBLISHED: 10:07 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:07 05 May 2020

Halfpoint/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Halfpoint/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

From Joe Wicks-ing and reading Mrs Gaskell to decluttering and getting creative in the kitchen, there are many ways to occupy your days of solitary confinement – and carry on supporting local businesses.

We’re all in this together and we’re #therewithyou. That’s the spirit stoking the nation throughout the unprecedented tidal wave of Covid-19. This invisible and raging virus is proving that across the globe, we’re all linked… we all have a common enemy. But there remain flashes of optimism and extraordinary tales of goodwill spreading as rapidly as the virus itself, and our county is finding innovative ways to break the boredom and fearfulness of self-isolation. Here’s the Cheshire Life guide…

FOOD AND COOKERY

No one quite knows how the world will look as it begins to heal, but as we battle our way to the other side, the food industry has been dealt a devastating blow. Where once restaurants and bars hummed until late, spaces lie dark and empty. A whisky bar in Edinburgh summed up the desperate pressures felt by the hospitality industry: “If you would like to know how it feels to be in hospitality during this coronavirus pandemic, remember when the Titanic was sinking and the band continued to play? Well, we’re the band…”– a sentiment picked up and spread across social media by countless places in Cheshire. But cooks and restaurants are being creative, showing remarkable resilience and ingenuity. Here’s how you can help Cheshire’s bars, pubs and restaurants weather the storm… and eat incredibly well too.

1. Evidence that takeaways have evolved far beyond congealed pizza slices, there’s a new wave of healthy home delivery services. Cheshire-based Fit Chef is one of those ventures, dreamt up by personal trainers and pro chefs Will Lee and Matt Williams with a fixation on healthy meals that are damn tasty – think Vietnamese lamb shank curry and Jamaican jerk chicken. The Fit Chef chefs, who run a subscription service too, are even offering exclusive discounts for the over-65s during this tumultuous time, and there’s 25% off the first order for all Cheshire Life readers who use code CHESHIRE25. fit-chef.co.uk

2. The new #payitforward voucher scheme has sprung up in Manchester and Cheshire, encouraging diners to buy discounted vouchers at a bunch of participating restaurants – including Aiden Byrne’s The Church Green – in the hope they’ll be redeemed from May onwards. For every voucher bought, restaurants are donating £1 to the charity Hospitality Action, which provides crisis and essential grants to workers in UK hospitality. pay-it-forward.co.uk

3. A whole raft of Cheshire restaurants and pubs are getting takeaway and delivery services off the ground; ring or check online to find who’s still firing up their kitchens (and see this month’s food section). The Lambing Shed in Knutsford has launched free home deliveries of its local produce – we’re talking home-reared beef and lamb, artisan cheeses and breads, and homemade pies. thelambingshed.com

4. For deliveries direct to your door from local suppliers, look to the Modern Milkman – a thriving business with an eye on sustainability. And they don’t just deal in milk. There are veg boxes and flaky pastries, fruit juice and eggs. themodernmilkman.co.uk

5. If you’re in need of baking inspo, look to Raw Bake Station – an all-delicious enterprise in Altrincham – cooking up vegan sweet treats that can be delivered straight to your door. The bright spark behind it, Evie Waxman, also shares recipes on Instagram (@rawbakestation) for you to get stuck into – granola fudge sticks anyone? rawbakestation.co.uk

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BOOKS

When Alan Garner first wove his tales of sleeping knights, mysterious elves and a dark wizard in Alderley Edge, he set in motion one of the greatest works of fiction in British children’s literature – The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. This is an author, described as better than Tolkien by Philip Pullman, whose classics have garnered a cult following – legions of whom have descended onto the Edge to seek out his mythically tinged Stormy Point, Iron Gates and Golden Stone; real-life locations where the atmosphere is as dark and eerie as the caves lying beneath this part of our shire. And it’s not just Alderley Edge that’s inspired spectacular novels. With time on your hands, curl up and thumb through one of these Cheshire-inspired reads…

1. Originally a series of short stories for Charles Dickens’ Household Words magazine, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford is a frank and witty portrait of Knutsford in the 19th century, focusing on the power of female friendships, the ignorance of the wealthy, and keeping up appearances in the face of ominous change. When you’re done with Cranford, turn to the Cheshire author’s posthumous biography of Charlotte Brontë – a publication named by The Guardian as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time.

2. We might think we all know Cheshire inside out, but leaf through Bradt’s Slow Travel Cheshire book and you’ll find some sites ripe for re-exploration and never-knew-existed gems… even if only for armchair travelling. To claim your 50% discount, visit bradtguides.com/shop and enter code DREAM50 at the checkout. Giving the lowdown on festivals, farm shops, walks and more are journalist duo Kate Simon – a former travel editor of the Independent on Sunday – and freelance travel writer, Suzanne King, who both grew up here.

3. If there’s one thing you should know about Wilmslow, it’s that coding genius Alan Turing once lived here, and his former home at 43 Adlington Road is stamped with a blue plaque. Scores of books have been written about Turing, his triumphs, and his tragic suicide. For a different take on this extraordinary character, there’s Fall of Man in Wilmslow by acclaimed Swedish author David Lagercrantz.

4. It’s not just fiction that Alan Garner can spin so beautifully. In his memoir, Where Shall We Run To?, Garner returns to his childhood in Alderley Edge as WWII unfolds, trying on gas masks at school, playing with nettles and delving into the countryside that would one day become the mythical backdrop for his famed fantasy novels.

5. Recently listed as the number one Manchester United book on Amazon, Growing Up with the Trinity by Brendon McGuire brings to life 1960s Manchester, where the young McGuire found inspiration while sitting in the stalls at Old Trafford, gazing at Charlton, Best, Law, et al.

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IN AND AROUND THE HOME

Considering we are all hunkering down at home, you might want to think about giving your place a good old polish. Findings from the Happiness Research Institute have revealed the state of our homes directly affects our happiness, even more so than our income or job. So if the idea of staring at that hideous wallpaper or fireplace for several weeks gives you the shivers, it’s time to start a spruce-up and a declutter, transforming your abode into a sanctuary you’ll be quite happy to hide away in.

1. You can get stuck into your garden. “Now’s a great time for some general tidying up,” says Nira Sharma of Hale’s Ultimate Garden Designs. “Prune away any dead, thin or weak stems on your perennials, roses, hydrangeas and fuchsias, cutting back any congested stems and neatening up the overall shape. Top-dress any established roses and shrubs with a good fertiliser – gardens always benefit from a good feed in spring. If you have areas of lawn that need revamping, cut out the dead patches and either sow seeds or lay new turf. And don’t forget to top up bird feeders and water baths too.” ultimategardendesigns.co.uk

2. Sisters Sarah Mccall and Emma Bolton are the creative minds behind interior design business The Lavender Tree in Alderley Edge. And although face-to-face meetings are off the cards for the foreseeable, the duo is still working their interiors magic for clients over FaceTime, giving advice about room configuration, the best flooring for your kitchen, and where to buy that fabric for your curtains. thelavendertree.co.uk

3. Chester-based interior design firm Jojo Bradley has introduced e-design packages for new and existing clients who can send over photos, videos and any details about their project. The team will then create floorplans, 3D renderings, and PDF moodboards, featuring any potential furniture, accessories and fabrics. jojobradleyinteriors.co.uk

4. If you’re thinking about interiors on a smaller scale, there are plenty of minor DIY tweaks you can make to freshen and liven up spaces. “Create a gallery wall,” says Gemma Schofield, a director of Middlewich styling firm, Lifestyle Interiors. “You can also try painting ceilings rather than walls for a unique impact, restyling a bookcase to help declutter a corner, and ordering in a few houseplants to nail the botanicals trend while adding pops of greenery.” lifestyleinteriors.org

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KIDS

It’s all very well waxing lyrical about learning a language, painting the hallway, and sorting through the loft during self-isolation. But what if you’ve got kids to entertain? Whether you’ll have freewheeling toddlers wrestling with cushions, or teens trying to get their head around equations that’ll leave you stumped, being stuck in the house is going to be a challenge. But thanks to the digital world, a good whack of patience and a whole sprinkling of creativity, families will survive the lockdown – even if your 10-year-old scowls when you suggest den-making beneath the dining table…

1. Taking the stress out of conjuring creative ideas every half an hour, the Scouts have come up with dozens of ideas for teens and tweens in the great indoors, from crafting photo frames and miniature rafts to writing letters to your future self. scouts.org.uk/the-great-indoors

2. Author and illustrator Sarah Parkinson will be running live interactive writing and drawing workshops, every Wednesday, for kids during lockdown. Designed for children aged five to seven, the workshops will pop up on Instagram @sparkauthor and the Stockport-based writer will reveal different themes each week for budding authors. Parents can log on too, the night before, for some handy tips on guiding their little ones through the process. sparkyauthor.com

3. Fitness guru Joe Wicks has become a global phenomenon live-streaming PE classes for kids on YouTube five days a week. His first live workout in March saw millions of people tune in for the 30-minute session, and the views continue to go through the roof, with kids and grown-ups star-jumping, jogging and lunging around their living rooms, and lots of money from the advertising on his site going to the NHS.

4. We might be stuck at home, but there’s nothing to say teens can’t dabble in a bit of armchair travelling. Using Google Street View, you can walk along the canals of Venice, stand on the summit of Kilimanjaro, and look out over the Golden Gate Bridge. instantstreetview.com

5. Maths supremo Carol Vorderman has announced primary school kids can get their daily fix of sums for free from her online maths school. themathsfactor.com

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WHEN IT’S ALL OVER

There will be life on the other side of coronavirus. And that means we will head out on planes and trains and cruise ships once more, journeying to places we can only dream of right now. As Covid-19 hit, people across the globe lost their income almost overnight, from the travel agents to the trekking guides – a whole raft of workers who have perfected the art of the great escape. So rather than scrapping your holiday plans and demanding a refund, the travel industry needs you to delay them. Hotels and airlines and a collective of travel companies are quick-wittedly thinking how they can navigate this shifting, unpredictable behemoth, waiving cancellation fees and figuring out how to fix people’s travelling plans. Let’s face it, we’ll be desperate to head overseas post Covid-19. And perhaps it’s time to start thinking about giving something back to our favourite destinations. Here we reveal three ethical travel companies that help you do just that…

1. Take the European Safari Company – a travel firm with a keen eye on nature conservation. Sign up to one of its experiential nature-based tours across Europe and your cash goes straight towards rewilding initiatives and local communities, from exploring Italy’s Abruzzo National Park with soaring eagles and ancient forests, to bison tracking in the Southern Carpathians. europeansafaricompany.com

2. Adventure Alternative was way ahead of its time when it started championing responsible travel 30 years ago. And alongside its charity, Moving Mountains, the visionary operator has built an innovative business model that ensures its trips benefit local communities and share in the equity. For a classic African safari experience with a conscience, try its seven-day Maasai Mara and Rift Valley trip – sundowners, night walks, game drives and all. adventurealternative.com

3. Book a trip with Rickshaw Travel and it’s possible to see the tangible impact of your cash – each and every one of its trips supports a local project, from elephant rescue and rehabilitation in Thailand, to caring for victims of human trafficking in Vietnam and marine conservation in Borneo. rickshawtravel.co.uk

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DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY

Community: Reaching out to the elderly, the isolated and the vulnerable are a new collection of Covid-19 Mutual Aid Groups across the nation, with dozens across Cheshire helping to pick up shopping, deliver medicine or chat over the phone. If you’d like to access the support or volunteer, log on to: covidmutualaid.org/local-groups. Elsewhere, several taxi firms have taken the noble reins for free collection and delivery of prescriptions for the elderly and vulnerable, including Diamond No1 Taxis in Middleton and Silvertown Taxis in Macclesfield.

Exercise: The Studio is a balmy, serene space in Nether Alderley, where toned yogis take clients through hot dharma, yin and vinyasa practice. You can now follow their wildly popular classes online, from Yin Yang Flow to Core Stability, using the Zoom app (zoom.us). thestudiocheshire.com. Also using the cloud-meetings-app is Wilmslow bootcamp fixture, MRK5, whose hardcore fitness sessions have been translated to virtual classes from head honcho and former professional football player, Mark Lynch. mrk5.co.uk

Crafts: Ribbon and trimming creative store V V Rouleaux has launched weekly crafty projects using products that can be ordered online. First up is ribbon roses, from tightly ringed rosebuds to colourful blooms you can sew to lampshades or cushions, or bunch up in a vase. vvrouleaux.com

Sue France Creative Connecting in Cheshire: Sue France has been running hugely popular events for female entrepreneurs for more than a decade with keynote speakers and a collective of women in business from Cheshire, Manchester and Merseyside. And while her face-to-face events have been temporarily put on hold, she’s still pressing ahead with virtual sessions. For her upcoming events, email suemarthafrance@gmail.com

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