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Lockdown Life

23rd Jun 2020

Can anyone honestly say they didn't see this coming?

We all knew lockdown was on it's way and we all had thoughts of what it would be like. I had thought we would be staying at home slipping into bankruptcy with a bottle of gin and plenty of time on our hands.

We had known we would be in for a tough time when I phoned our insurance back in February only to be told that we wouldn't be covered as Covid-19 wasn't a named virus on our policy, so much for insurance after 16 years without a claim. The way we closed was bizarre, when the public were told not to go to restaurants it left us in limbo with no customers we had no income but we weren't closed. Most of our staff have been with us over 10 years facing the prospect of redundancies was heart breaking, the closure and furlough scheme announcement was such a relief. No matter what tough decisions will need to be made we have dodged the toughest of all.

Sitting still wasn't an option, we had to face things head on, we started cooking meals for the RUH staff, it's been great to see inside the kitchens at the hospital and meet some of the people working there. Our first effort to cover our fixed costs was a failed attempt at doing takeaways, we had to rethink that one and decided to offer ready meal deliveries which is already doing well enough to pay the bills. I'd be lying if I said we nailed it straight away, we didn't and have made plenty of mistakes. In the beginning we totally miscalculated the amount of time we would have to queue to buy ingredients, then we bungled a few orders, apologies to those on the receiving end. We discovered it's not so easy to fix a mistake when you're several miles from the kitchen. We are getting better and who knows we may have stumbled upon something we can take into the future with us.

On the home front it's been great, it feels wrong to say that but it has, for the first time in years we have time. Time to eat together everyday not just once a week, time to get on with writing up recipes for the cookery book, the one we've been talking about for years and time to dig up the garden. It seems the pigeons that moved from Bath centre are now living in the tree above our veg garden. They sit there day after day patiently waiting for a juicy new shoot that the slugs missed to emerge, then when no one's looking down they swoop and peck it to pieces. So we're still unintendedly feeding the pigeons.

We also have what I believe to be the happiest dog on earth, when we closed we had to empty the fridges, it's amazing how many treats 1 dog can manage and with everyone home she is getting all the attention she could have dreamt of. Nyima's been on lots of dog walks, judged a family stick throwing competition and of course she's been going swimming every day, dog heaven.

Working in the restaurant has been an eerie experience, no busses thundering past, no singing from Jeevan doing the daily cleaning jobs, the smell of roasting spices is still there much fainter now, just enough to remind us of life before lockdown. The next hurdle we have to face will be re-opening, we will have to find 100 % of the costs and with social distancing we estimate business will be only 30% pre Covid levels. It's going to be quite a challenge to get ourselves to the other side of that, we will get there but how we write the next chapter is still a mystery.

Maybe we're lucky, maybe not but life in Nepal set us up perfectly for coping with what's happening now. In Nepal we had years of experience of natural disasters and civil war even before the earthquake, bad as Covid-19 it isn't worse than some of the things we've witnessed. We know this won't last forever because we've lived through some pretty scary times before and people always have a way of bouncing back.

Sarah Gurung Yak Yeti Yak, Bath @yakyetiyakbath @sarahskichentravels

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