Whilst normal life was on hold this year, it was hard not to lament the temporary loss of our favourite restaurants, shops, pubs and travel. The forced hibernation, however, also allowed many of us to discover small pleasures outside our door. Whether a garden we never knew existed or a restaurant that quickly pivoted to takeaway, here’s an anecdotal list of some of the things that got us through lockdown, in some very different corners of the world.
Marylebone Farmers’ Market, London
In accordance with government guidelines, farmers’ markets were deemed essential businesses and allowed to stay open throughout lockdown. Every Sunday, this beautiful market in the centre of Marylebone opened to long queues, offering fresh, organic produce, seafood, meat and baked goods. Plus, many flowers and plants added vibrancy to our homes whilst we were confined – but mostly, this market created a sense of community and connectedness when those sentiments were often fleeting.
Culpeper Community Garden, London
Community gardens and green spaces all over the world provided local residents with a bit of fresh air and nature. This Islington oasis, open to the public but managed and maintained by local volunteers, was no different. The first lockdown took place amidst a particularly sunny spring in London. For one nearby dweller, this petite park allowed her to enjoy her lunch outside on one of its benches – 'I got to experience the warm temperatures and blue skies for a bit of the afternoon, which was perfect.'
Netil Market, London
When restaurants had to close for eat-in dining, outdoor food markets like this quickly gained popularity. ‘I went every weekend for some fresh air and a break from cooking – tacos with homemade tortillas from Sonora Taqueria, bagels and affogato with soft serve. Heaven.’ And the doughnuts and desserts from Treats Club brought many smiles to grey lockdown days.
Saint Luke in the Fields Garden, NYC
Attached to Saint Luke in the Fields’ church, this peaceful little garden has provided welcome refuge from the city and the daunting reality of the pandemic. ‘I’ve lived in the West Village forever but never went into the Saint Luke in the Fields garden until we went into lockdown. I’d go for a short walk over each morning and sit for a moment with my coffee – it truly brought me calm during some really stressful days.’
Frenchette Bakery, NYC
‘Like a gift from the gods,’ this bakery offshoot of the celebrated restaurant of the same name opened in Tribeca in October. Staple classic pastries and bread, plus daily specials, all provided a bit of comfort and delicious distraction during the fall months in NYC. Clean and stylish, the bakery served as a respite for locals in the area. ‘It made me forget everything that was happening.’
Neighborhood Coffee Shop, LA
This cute La Brea coffee shop started doing fruit and veg boxes with curbside pickup in late spring. Featuring everything from speciality products to basic pantry staples alongside CSA-style fruit and veg, the locals who typically frequented for coffee were able to add on their shopping as well. ‘Neighborhood just makes me feel good! The employees and the vibe are so great. Plus, their vegan cinnamon roll is the best I’ve ever had, vegan or not.’
Ricky’s Fish Tacos, LA
Like the food markets in London, the ever-popular food trucks of LA suddenly skyrocketed in importance when restaurants closed for indoor dining. ‘The weather in LA was so hot, and it was hard to be at home all day. So for lunch, I’d walk to this food truck near Griffith Park and eat the most incredible fish tacos ever – lunch and fresh air for less than $10.’
Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, San Francisco
Tommy’s is a beloved neighbourhood restaurant in the Richmond District. Family-owned and run since 1965, it is a community staple. ‘I’ve been going to Tommy’s for years, and I was terrified they’d be hit hard by the pandemic. At least once a week, I’d order a giant pitcher of margarita and SF’s best enchiladas suisas for dinner. It was about so much more than the food, going there to pick it up was comforting. Seeing familiar faces was more important than I ever could’ve imagined before.’
Un Chau Estate Flower Tunnel, Hong Kong
This magical flower tunnel is located in Kowloon, in a secret spot between ten residential buildings. Each spring it blooms with vibrant bougainvillea, becoming a brilliant ceiling of pink leaves and white flowers for two months – the perfect fantasy escape from lockdown restrictions and a welcome reminder of the wonders of nature.
If you’re still in lockdown, contact your lifestyle manager for help unearthing your own special respite.