Coming back to life after Lockdown
August 08 2020
Filton businesses are gradually opening up again and Shane Gibson spent a couple of days finding out what the 'new normal' is like and speaking to staff and owners trying to pick up the pieces
The Lockdown undoubtedly pushed not only the people of Filton but also the local businesses into an era of uncertainty. However, from July 13 national government sanctions were lifted to allow businesses that offered beauty essentials to re-open, joining pubs and restaurants and non-essential shops. Over two days I paid a visit to a some of the businesses and facilities in and around the town.
At 8:15 I headed out towards the Greggs on Gloucester Road North. I had not visited for breakfast since March and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there really did not seem to be any items excluded from the breakfast menu. I ordered a double omelette with sausage bap and a double shot of espresso. Whilst waiting for my breakfast I spoke with store supervisor Suzanne who said: “Customers have adapted really well to the new procedures and as staff we all have our own zones to work in and are remaining safe. Honestly, we’re glad to be back!”
Sitting down at home to eat the food at 8:41 I realised that there had been a mistake. I had been given two omelette and sausage baps rather than a single bap with double omelette. The omelettes were fluffy, the sausage was meaty and tasted as expected, whilst the espresso was nicer than what is served by some other establishments who specialise in coffee. For £2.45 I certainly had nothing to complain about.
I entered The Filton Sports and Leisure outdoor fitness area at 9:26. Apart from myself the only other user at this time was a magpie hopping across the running track.
The area was relatively clean and tidy although the waste bin was overflowing. (Sadly I cannot say the same for the following evening, for I found the area at that time to be littered with crisp packets.)
As I approached the end of my morning workout, I spoke with two other users, Cameron, an engineer, and Oscar, a support worker. “The lockdown has meant that you can’t use your regular gym but having this here has allowed me to stay fit a little bit,” said Cameron. Oscar agreed saying:“Its not the gym, but they are very good facilities and they do the job.”
Vigour Café is located next to Reptile Zone on the edge of the Shield Centre. Whilst ordering my post-workout coffee I spoke with team member Sophie who spoke of the support that they have received from customers.
She said: “We thought that we were going to be quiet, but we are quite fortunate that we have a lot of local customers and other customers from before who wanted to come and support us. Customers have also been able to sit outside, it’s all been really nice.” As I sat outside enjoying my flat white and complimentary PURO biscuit I had to agree.
The following day at 10am I set out again for the Shield Centre, to pay a visit to Gloden. I had not tanned in four months, and my Celtic paleness was beginning to re-emerge. The tanning centre’s three-women team looked after me. They clearly laid out the new safety requirements and returned to me lotions that they had been able to store previously.
I found my cubicle and prepared for the sun bed session to start. After 5 minutes I called out for help. The bed was not working. After being closed for so long a slight hiccup can be forgiven. I was promptly moved to another cubicle with the same premium bed and the experience was as satisfying as I remembered. Afterwards I spoke with the Gloden ladies Adelay, Claire, and Lydia, all of whom were happy to be back and welcomed the new safety requirements. “We’re excited to be back, and we think our customers are as positive as we are,” said Adelay.
After a day of errands in Bristol I returned to Filton to take in an early afternoon meal at The Air Balloon. I was taken to my seat at 14:35.
I ordered my food through the Green King phone app. This took 10 minutes as I had to set up an account. The spacing of furniture to comply with social distancing has left the dining area feeling sparse. The service was prompt. Within a couple of minutes of placing my order of fish and chips and a glass of white wine, the wine was brought to the table. The food arrived 10 minutes later. After finishing off the relatively plain offering of fish and chips,(the advertised tartare sauce could not be supplied) I chose to stay for coffee and ice cream.
Ordering via the phone app allowed for decaffeinated regular sized coffees. Full strength coffees were only available in large sizes.
A waitress collected my empty plate but it was required that I push it off the edge of the table as staff are no longer allowed to lean over the table whilst customers are sat down.
My dessert, the chocoholic sundae arrived as I was contemplating the changes that each of the businesses I had visited had made.
I feel that The Air Balloon may have had to make too many changes although I did like the musical accompaniments.
As I finished the main course Europe’s The Final Countdown was as enjoyable as ever, now as I sipped the Americano, I looked around and realised that an enthusiastic beginning was turning into a tired ending.
As I walked home, I considered what I had observed over the two days and concluded that we are trying to make the best of our situation.
Today I ask, how much longer can we tolerate it?