The West Essex locals getting creative in lockdown
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
These people have made the best of lockdown, testifying to the spirit of West Essex during the coronavirus crisis
Janine Keen, from Buckhurst Hill, has lost nearly three stone in lockdown on The 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan
My weight loss journey began in 2019 following the birth of my daughter. I’d struggled with my weight my entire life and had felt miserable about it, and I wanted to give her the best chance of not following in my footsteps. About ten years before, I’d tried The 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan, but hadn’t been in the right headspace at that time. I decided to try it again – I knew it worked, and with a newborn to look after, I needed something quick and easy. In total, I’ve lost six stone since beginning my weight loss journey, but lockdown has given me a huge push. I decided I wanted to come out of it having achieved my weight loss goal, and I’ve dropped almost three stone during this time. I feel like a brand-new person since losing weight – I’m happier, I’ve got more energy and my confidence has soared. A few months after starting to lose weight, I also became a consultant for the diet, and my business has grown in lockdown. I chose to see lockdown as more of an opportunity than an inconvenience, and my determination has paid off. “I’m so proud of [Janine],” says Sharon Williamson, Janine’s consultant, later adding: “Not only has she lost weight herself, she’s now inspiring other people to do the same.”
If you’d like help with losing weight, call Janine on 07496 837873
Marc Stow, Chingford-based owner/operator of Stows Window Cleaning, has built his own bar in his back garden
My family and I have been spending lots of time in the garden during lockdown, and because we’re staying home, myself and my wife have been enjoying a cocktail or two. To make the cocktails, I was having to go back into the kitchen from the garden and try to find stuff. I thought: “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a place where everything alcohol-related was there?” So I decided to build an outdoor bar, sourcing pallets while I was out on my rounds and scaffolding boards from a customer.
It took less than a week to construct the bar, paint it and pour my first drink. The materials cost just £15 – the only things we bought were fabric for the bunting and some second-hand breakfast bar stools. We’re really big on upcycling – we like to try to take someone’s junk and make it into something useful.
- 1 The incredible Cornish stone structures with an exceptional history
- 2 These are the Devon beaches awarded Blue Flag status in 2022
- 3 5 wild swimming spots in Cheshire
- 4 Scotney Castle makes an appearance in Netflix's The Sandman
- 5 Win a luxury 2-night Lake District getaway to the Skiddaw Hotel worth £500
- 6 National Afternoon Tea Week: 10 of the best tearooms in Kent
- 7 11 pretty riverside pubs in Hertfordshire
- 8 Win the Cobra MX3440V Cordless Lawnmower
- 9 5 of the best places to visit in Cheshire this summer
- 10 4 of the best places for open water swimming in Hampshire
Now the bar’s fully open for my wife and I to use, with a range of drinks served. We’ve called it The Rusty Tap because it’s functional, with a rustic finish, but we’ve had a great reaction to it on Facebook. My wife and I will joke: “Shall we go down the pub?”... and three seconds later, we’re there!
Kelly Rose, who DJs in West Essex under the name DJ Digital-Pocahontas, has livestreamed disco sessions from her dining room
When coronavirus hit, all my work was cancelled or postponed. The Friday before lockdown, I was supposed to be DJing at a bar, but it was forced to close under UK Covid-19 restrictions, so I did the set at home by myself and livestreamed it online. The response was so good, I decided to carry on.
Now, I livestream my Friday Lockdown Disco sessions on Facebook and Instagram every Friday at 8pm. I’ve had over 5,000 views, and not just from local people – I’ve had hits from Canada, South Africa and even Australia and New Zealand!
The music I play is disco, soul, dance and house, but I have a different theme every week, with previous ones including old-skool house and 80s. I’ve even hosted a Take That-themed night, which reached lots of European countries. I’ve really enjoyed doing the sessions and have bought more equipment to carry on after lockdown ends. I look forward to the sets every week – before I go live, I get dressed up, do my hair and even put on perfume. It’s like I’m going on a proper night out!
Watch Kelly’s sessions at facebook.com/DigitalPocahontas or on her Instagram account, @djdigitalpocahontas
Jane Curry, from North Chingford, has created a salt dough rainbow tree with her sons, Samuel and Ben
The coronavirus crisis has been a terrible time, but there have been some silver linings, one being that my children, partner Adam, and I have spent more time together as a family. People were creating salt dough handprints to mark lockdown and Samuel and Ben said: “Why don’t we make some rainbow decorations instead?” I thought: “Actually, that’s a really nice idea.”
We have an ornamental tree that we get out for Christmas and Easter, and the boys used salt dough to make heart and star decorations for it, painting them in rainbow colours including the blue of the NHS logo to mark what was going on. It took about four days in all to make the decorations, which we draped over the tree along with battery-operated lights.
The tree now has pride of place in the fireplace in our front room. I like to think of it as “perfectly imperfect”, and it makes you think about the present situation. I can’t see us taking it down for a long while, but even when the decorations are put away, the tree will serve as a reminder of the unprecedented time we once lived through.
Ruth Rood, with Nicola Shubrook (both from Loughton), has compiled a charity e-cookbook on behalf of the Women in Business Network
Both of us are part of the Women in Business Network (WIBN) – I am an associate and run groups in East London and Essex, while Nicola is a Wanstead group member. One evening during the crisis, on a regular video chat I currently host on Zoom, I asked group members what they were having for dinner. The replies were so varied, I commented: “We could make a cookbook between us.” I then had messages from WIBN members from charities financially impacted by Covid-19, and the feeling was that money could be raised for them. Just a few days later, Nicola – a nutritional therapist with a graphic design background – messaged offering to help compile an e-cookbook.
Illustrated by Harlow group member Gabrielle Vickery, the book – put together in just two weeks – is in aid of five good causes: Transitions UK, Haven House Children’s Hospice, Brainwave, Streets2Homes and First Step. We invited WIBN members to submit family recipes to be included, and we had a great response: the book features recipes for mains, soups, desserts and cakes, as well as a range of different cuisines. It’s a wonderful example of how a community can come together in times of crisis.
The WIBN Charity Home-Cooking Recipe Book costs £5.45 and is available at fatfreecartpro.com/i/zlcq, as well as on E-junkie