Lucy Tibbs: Food, drinks, and more food!
Updated: Aug 5
What a week it has been!
It finally feels like I'm getting the hang of studying online/at home. Trying to find the balance between working and having time to myself was difficult, to begin with, but recently I've been trying to maintain a 9 til 5 routine during the week and giving myself a well-deserved break at the weekends. Honestly, the difference this change has made is incredible, making me feel so much more productive and generally relaxed!
I think the lockdown rules easing has helped an awful lot too. Initially, I was quite anxious about heading out to any shop or pubs, but after taking the plunge and just going for it I found that I felt safe with all of the precautions the different businesses have taken.
The Woolpack Inn - Islip, Northamptonshire.
After finishing my work early on Tuesday, I decided to celebrate by spending some time with my family, going on a walk around Islip, and then stopping off at the Woolpack Inn. I hadn't been here since they re-opened, but my parents knew the drill. We sat outside, where all of the tables are separated at a good social distance, and one of the waitresses came out and took our order meaning that we didn't have to leave our seats. It was reassuring to know that we didn't have to keep getting up with the possibility of meeting other people on our way in and out of the building. The one-way system they have implemented also helped this, meaning that you can only go in one door and out the other, which further prevented people from bumping into and coming into contact with each other. It felt so safe and I actually enjoyed being out and about. Any worries disappeared and having that little bit of normality back was amazing!
The Boxwood Cafe - Oundle, Northamptonshire
The following day, Mum and I went out. We both just needed a hump-day treat, I think. Heading over to Oundle, we did our favourite past-time of exploring charity shops and stopping off for some tea and cake somewhere. We both fancied buying some houseplants, so headed over to The Barn Garden Centre. I have never been here before, but to my surprise, they had gluten-free options!! A blessing!
We were greeted at the door by one of the waitresses who asked us to fill out the Track and Trace form and then sit down at a table where she would collect it from us once we had placed our order at the till. After selecting our food and drinks, we sat down and they brought it all over for us. It felt very natural and normal in there. There weren't many people inside, as the weather was quite nice and we visited quite late on in the day, so I think this helped, nevertheless, I think their set-up would have little to no issues during peak times. It is definitely on my list to return to because I felt so comfortable and the fact that there are gluten-free options always helps!
The Tap and Kitchen - Oundle, Northamptonshire
Me and my boyfriend, Aaron spent Saturday looking around Oundle after I discovered what I can only assume is a new vintage shop on the square: Lilly's.
After spending what seemed like a lifetime in there, because we simply could not decide what we wanted to purchase (that place is a hidden gem!), we headed over to the Tap & Kitchen for some lunch. What an excellent decision that was! We viewed their menu online, which they update daily, and I had been eyeing up the dressed Cromer Crab starter. As we were only stopping for lunch, I added some hand-cut chips to turn it into a mini-meal. Those of you who know me, know how much I love my seafood and this crab stepped up the game! Aaron had the Rose Harissa Udon Noodle Salad. The colours popping out from his plate were so beautiful, they had my mouth watering from the other side of the table! We really enjoyed our lunch experience, from start to finish.
The place felt very safe, with hand sanitiser pumps dotted around and tables and chairs moved in the bar area to make queueing to place your order at the bar safe. Everything was spaced out at a social distance and they have a full breakdown of the rules/changes they have put in place to ensure everyone's safety on their website so that you can brief yourself before arriving if that's what makes you more comfortable. I would say that it felt like the most 'natural' and 'normal' pub I've been since lockdown lifted, whilst also keeping everyone safe, which I quite liked.
Oh and for my gluten-free readers, I'll also mention that their menu does have gluten-free options highlighted. I messaged them before via. Instagram to check that they did gluten-free veggie/pescatarian food and they happily pointed me in the right direction. Nene Valley Brewery is also next door and supplies the restaurant with a lot of their beers, so there if you're gluten-free and a fan of beer, this place has got you covered! I've had their beers at home before, collecting them from their shop, and they are up there! When we popped round to get a few cans to take home, I found out that nearly, if not all, of their range in their shop is gluten-free. From cans to bottles, to kegs! I am very excited to try all of the different styles of beer they produce. Yes, you heard it right! They do 'Everyday IPA's through to a 'Lavish Chocolate Porter'. After years of searching all over, I am so glad to have found a brewery that has so many gluten-free options and it's only 9 miles up the road! Incredible!
Considering I was a little bit concerned about heading out in the real world once again and that it would be packed full of people, you could definitely say I did alright managing to go out three times within one week feeling A-OK!
Nevertheless, whilst everything is opening up and a sense of normality is returning for some, some are still shielding or don't feel comfortable heading back out and there is no problem with that at all. It's still a very scary time, especially for certain groups of people, so please remember this and be mindful of others. Remember to respect others' decisions to stay indoors or away from more crowded areas and wear a mask where you can.
If you've had any experiences of eating or drinking since lockdown has started easing, let me know how you found it by dropping me a message via. my social media pages.
Stay safe, everyone!