In a departure from our usual ‘Local Authority’ travel pieces – for one time only, we introduce ‘Lockdown Authority’!
Who are you? Simon Mortimer, Art Editor of Practical Motorhome. Like everyone, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home at the moment, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and observations with you.
Why are you an expert on your flat? Quite simply, I’ve been over every square inch of the place. There isn’t a patch of the abode that hasn’t been pondered and prodded in my quest to keep cabin fever at bay. I can rightfully call myself the authority on all things Chez Mortimer.
What do you love about it? Sharing a flat of only 69 square metres with my wife and two children (six and six months) might be seen by some as a kind of psychological torture. Not me, I have managed to polish my ninja skills to phenomenal levels. It’s amazing how quietly you can move about when trying not to wake a sleeping baby, or simply trying to find somewhere quiet to avoid the 726th question of the day from the six year old. You’d think the toilet would be somewhere you could get some peace. You’d think wrong…
What’s your favourite place to visit in the area? I never realised quite what a treat for the senses a trip to the communal bins would be. Granted, you have to take sensible precautions (marigold gloves, face mask, goggles), but the peace and quiet afforded by a trip through the car park and to the bin store has taken on an appeal all of its own. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the local wildlife on this bin safari. Foxes and rats are a particular delight, and so much fatter here in London.
Which local campsite would you recommend? Not a campsite as such, but the bedroom is delightful this time of year. Who would have thought spending so much time at home could be so tiring? As with a campsite though, the neighbours on the next pitch can be a bit problematic. In our case, it’s our six-month old, who just loves a bit of nightlife. Most evenings you can experience an awful racket at around 3am when he decides he is hungry and doesn’t care who he wakes up in his quest for food. Very inconsiderate…
What food and drink is the area best known for? Lockdown has enabled me to stretch my culinary wings, and much like the world and his wife, I took up the challenge of mastering sourdough. It wasn’t a smooth journey, and many sourdough starters were sacrificed in the quest for perfect pain quotidien. However, I am proud to say that I can now knock up a loaf that I am proud of. Just don’t mention the whole day of processes and proofing it takes, before cooking on a Sunday morning. Well you have to find something to fill all that time indoors.
Tell us somewhere great to eat Apart from Dad’s Bakery (see above), we have some beautiful creations from other members of the family. Mum’s crumble is not to be missed, and daughter Celeste has decided to open her own Deliveroo-based catering business from her bedroom. It’s a limited menu though, and a lot of the food looks distinctly plasticky. Good on her though, for spotting a gap in the market and exploiting the current situation.
Where can you get spare kit? Well, the local supermarkets are your best bet, although the queues can be horrific. Just don’t rely on getting what you actually want eh? You might go in with a shopping list of all your favourites, but you are more likely to come out with a packet of beef jerky, gluten-free pancake mix and a battered tin of chickpeas. Today’s challenge is rustling up a family meal with that little lot!
Where can you find the cheapest petrol/diesel in the area? Have you been living on a different planet? No one is driving anywhere at the moment. Instead the only talk is of where to source your toilet roll and flour. And if you think I am going to tell you where I get hold of mine, you have got another thing coming!
Where should you avoid when you’re in the area? The baby boy’s changing mat has been the scene of some horrific incidents in the past, and a visit to the bathroom at rush hour is only going to end in disappointment and resentment.
Share a secret highlight that only a local would know For those in the know, there are fantastic fitness sessions available every morning at 9am. A young man called Joe appears every morning and leads a fun half hour of fitness for all the family, and even better, he does it for free! How many campsites offer that level of service?
For more genuine travel pieces – check out our regular Travel section
The only talk is of where to source your toilet roll and flour. And if you think I am going to tell you where I get hold of mine, you have got another thing coming!