Life has become a little bit strange of late and we’ve had to very quickly get used to a new way of living and working. But it’s not our style to get down in the dumps about it, we’ve risen to the challenge and found ways of keeping calm, carrying on and maintaining our fantastic lifestyle!
Things started to wind down a few weeks ago, with college courses ending, horse riding stopping and social activities being cancelled.
Coronavirus was all over the news and we had to quickly get our heads around it. The wonderful staff team pulled together in gently explaining what coronavirus was and what steps we could take to protect ourselves, and reassuring everyone that things were going to be ok.
Finally, we decided that leaving the services was no longer safe and having any visitors was too risky. Understandably this was really hard for some people to comprehend and accept, but again, the support of the great staff team was paramount in easing everyone’s anxiety.
We knew that to get through this, we needed something big to focus on and here was born the idea of creating our own cafe. Several of the supported individuals have voluntary positions at the local community run café and shop, so they had the skills and experience to pull it off. So, we started to clear out our old craft room – a wooden building in the garden – in preparation for the café.
The focus of the project wasn’t just on the finished product, but also on the journey of getting there. People were involved in every step of the process, from clearing it all (we had some very enthusiastic helpers who wanted to throw nearly everything in the skip!), interior design and decoration, and setting up the café’s layout.
Once the volunteers had a short training session on how to use the new coffee machine, they were ready to rock and roll! And, I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that it was an instant success!! Take a look for yourself…
The café quickly evolved into a shop as well (where else are we going to buy our TV Times from?!) and now stocks all the essentials: ‘Inside Soap’ magazine, diet coke and chocolate buttons! And what would a café be without cake? The day after opening, our volunteer bakers got to work on lemon drizzle cakes, which were polished off before they’d even cooled down! Since opening we’ve had scones, chocolate cake, biscuits and we now stock toasted tea cakes too! The plan is to start looking at some healthier recipes now or we’ll have to be rolled out when the lockdown ends!
The only thing the cafe didn’t have was a name. After much thought and discussion, the residents of The Grange decided to dedicate the café to the memory of their great friend and fellow tea and cake enthusiast, Peter – ‘Pete’s Café’. We think he would have loved it as much as we do, and I’m sure he would’ve worked a shift or two as well.
However, there is still much to do, we have just had a generous offer of a donation for flooring in the café, we still need soft furnishings and more decoration. The volunteers have their hearts set on fancy aprons with their names embroidered on them too!
Aside from the café, we’ve been doing some other things too… we’ve moved our games table to the main lounge where there is a lot more room to manoeuvre when it comes to table tennis and air hockey championships; and we’ve dusted off the cricket bat and are back on the cricket pitch – we’ve been lucky enough to discover one person’s talent for batting, bowling and sledging!!
We’ve also been donated some fantastic new raised beds which are forming a new kitchen garden.
AND we’re making our greenhouse even more green by converting it into a plastic bottle greenhouse.
We have also tried to maintain some of the regular activities – Ed is our new substitute yoga teacher. The weather has been kind to us and has enabled us to make the most of our beautiful surroundings.
So, it’s all going on! At the beginning of the process, things were undoubtedly a little scary but when we took a step back, we found that not being able to go out made a lot more time for doing the things we’ve been meaning to do for ages. It has also forced us all into the 21st century with frequent video calls now taking place between people and their loved ones. We hope that it won’t last too much longer but for now we are sitting back, smelling the coffee and enjoying the cake in the sunshine.