Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Rosie Dent

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Rosie Dent, who runs the @pontcanape food Instagram. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

I live in Pontcanna with my partner Dean and my best friend, Buddy the cat. I would definitely find this situation much harder without them (I promise that’ll be the only cheesy sentiment in this letter, probably). It’s impossible to get bored or lonely with Buddy around, he’s a cheeky little ball of energy and acts as an effective alarm clock too!

We actually began our new life indoors almost two weeks before most people, we were both unwell with COVID-19 symptoms so had to fully isolate for over a week because our fever didn’t shift. We had one day, well until 5pm, of “freedom” before that incredibly surreal moment the PM told us we must stay indoors. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.

If I’m honest, I’ve not found the lockdown as difficult as I would have imagined. I’m taking in the news, but am struggling to process the scale of what’s happening in Cardiff, Wales and the world right now – how can you? When it comes to my little bubble, I’m enjoying this pace of life one day at a time and I’m enjoying taking some time with less pressure to be busy. Although there have been moments! 

I feel extremely fortunate when it comes to work. I work in the public sector in a communications role. We help communities across Wales by supporting the third sector. It’s a challenging time, but there are some incredible things happening out there, people really are stepping up to support each other more than ever. It’s humbling.

I can easily work from home and am still able to work efficiently and effectively. As a team we work and live across Wales anyway, so we’re used to working remotely. We’ve found that we’re actually talking to each other more now, which is fantastic. I work from home regularly during normal times, but now I’ve levelled-up my set up on the kitchen table – right next to the fridge…perfect!

Just before lockdown we were renovating our garden. We still don’t have proper outdoor furniture and the raised beds are empty, but the fence and decking were thankfully finished. We’ve gone from a small patch of mud and weeds to a nice calming outdoor space to relax. It’s also helped to keep me busy, giving more space for pots to grow veggies! I’m in my second year growing and I’ve ended up with far too many jalapeoño and courgette plants – I would usually give them away, but it’s a little more difficult now. 

My vice during this time has been cooking.

I love to cook and have become a little obsessed with food over the past few years. I’ve been cooking relentlessly since lockdown began, thinking about starting to make the next meal as soon as I finish one! I’ve been ordering veg boxes from Kemi’s which has made cooking even more enjoyable. I order them for a Friday and it’s like a game of Ready Steady Cook deciding how to use all the goodies! 

I’m really pleased to see more people buying local and appreciating the amazing small businesses we have in Cardiff.

Personally alongside the Kemi’s boxes I’ve ordered some beautiful coffee from Hard Lines in Canton, loads of beer from Pipes, plant based pies from Saveg, picked up some bread from Alex Gooch and of course, stocked up on Oatly barista from Little Man Coffee (such a bargain for any fellow Oatly addicts out there).

The extra time has allowed me to get into making food that takes a little more patience and time than I tend to have. I’ve made a couple of batches of kimchi, made my first corn tortillas and I’ve started bigtime on my sourdough game. I’m hoping to keep the freshly baked sourdough breakfast on a Saturday morning routine going long after this ends. 

I’m feeling healthier than usual, I think it’s thanks to adding a lot more veg to my diet and more of what I’m eating is made from scratch. I’m also more aware of the waste produced in the kitchen and have upped my game when it comes to reducing waste by saving veg scraps to make stock and I’ve started regrowing veg from scratch, starting with lettuce, it’s honestly so easy.

I do miss eating out. I miss grabbing a Lazy Leek burger at Kings Road Yard, I miss “pizza club” – where we catch up with friends at a different Italian/pizza place, doing it on Skype isn’t quite the same.

I miss digging into small plates at places like Nook or Bar 44. This hiatus is temporary, but in the meantime I’ve been trying to recreate the restaurant experience at home. I’ve been doing some copycat meals from some well known chains starting with Wahaca, Wagamama and YO! Sushi. I’ve been sharing these on my Instagram @pontcanape in the hope of inspiring others to get creative in the kitchen. 

Instagram has helped me during this time. Generally too much time on social media isn’t a great thing for me, but at the moment feels like time well spent, engaging with other like minded people, getting ideas for things to do and make and passing on my own ideas and trying to inspire others. 

One thing that has really helped me during moments where I’m feeling restless or fed up was the quote “You’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home.”. I usually dislike inspirational or motivational quotes, but this one has really stuck with me and gives me the reality check I sometimes need!

For anyone struggling, remember this is temporary. Do whatever you need to do. Cooking is helping me, but if you can’t be bothered, that’s fine, if you want to sit and do nothing, that’s fine, if you want to work out all day, that’s fine. Do what makes you happy, keeps you sane and most importantly, stay safe and healthy. One day at a time.

Rosie works in the public sector and runs a Cardiff plant-based food Instagram account – @pontcanape.

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