Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Claire Ait-Hammi, The Med Shed

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Claire Ait-Hammi of The Med Shed. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

One thing I am absolutely loving at the moment is getting to know our local community a lot more. Usually I am dashing to work/from work/running after the kids/working at weekends, so I am really loving being able to take leisurely walks in our local area of Penylan.

So here’s my summary of my life so far in lockdown – as a mum to Zach (nine) and Sophia (seven), wife (to Nabil), full-time employee and co-owner of a small food business.

Even though it seems we were following the spread of COVID-19 for ages, and lockdown was inevitable, it still came on a bit sudden. One minute I was in the office, Nabil was at work, the kids at school. Next minute routine was completely out the window as I enjoyed a delicious amount of free time with Nabil and the kids but was the only one who had to get up the next day to work.

Anyway after a few weeks I started to get into the rhythm of things a little bit. Nabil and I were tinkering with various projects in the house, starting painting and tidying jobs that were well overdue.

Zach and Sophia were enjoying (and still very much are), the freedom of childhood not currently bound by strict timetabling and ferrying from one extracurricular activity to the other.

Unfortunately we are not the type of people happy to tinker in the house for very long. Despite working full-time, our weekends are usually busy with events for our street food business – The Med Shed.  At first I was enjoying the freedom of evenings and weekends at home, but we quickly became bored.

We started to see fellow food businesses branch out into other ventures – including offering meals to NHS workers and offering a takeaway service.

We approached a charity based in West Wales – FeedtheNHSWales and began supplying meals to our hardworking NHS staff in Cardiff and Llandough. It can be tough coming up with suitable meals – considering reheating, presentation and flavour – but we’ve had some great feedback so far.

It certainly presented a new and exciting challenge doing bulk catering from a domestic registered premises!  Meals that we have provided so far include:

  • Poulet Roti with Pommes Lyonnaise
  • Algerian Meatballs & Couscous
  • Tchakchouka & Couscous
  • Chicken Shawarma Wraps
  • Falafel Wraps
  • Butternut Squash & Goat’s Cheese Lasagne
  • Goats Cheese & Caramelised Onion Tartlet.

Nabil is Algerian, so our street food is usually heavily influenced by North Africa, but we decided to create a Mediterranean name and theme to enable us to offer dishes from all over the Med and experiment with different cuisine.

One week in to providing meals for the NHS we got the fever and started to offer takeaway delivery service to locals on a Saturday. We usually take orders during the week and offer a Saturday night delivery. This is going very well and has certainly been a huge learning curve taking on different aspects to a food business during this time!

We have had great support from various local suppliers in helping to feed the NHS. Huge thanks goes out to The Orchard Butchers (Rumney) and C Snell Potatoes. Their generosity knows no bounds and they offer quality produce.

One thing I am absolutely loving at the moment is getting to know our local community a lot more. Usually I am dashing to work/from work/running after the kids/working at weekends, so I am really loving being able to take leisurely walks in our local area of Penylan.

Being a member of a Facebook group such as the Penylan/Cyncoed/Roath community is lovely, but it doesn’t work as well as personal interaction. We were looking forward to hopefully working with everyone at the Penylan Picnic event this year (organised by Waterloo Gardens Fete).

Last year’s event made a huge difference to our community and it was great to meet so many other locals. Hopefully next year! I’m hoping that when things start to go back to ‘normal’ (not sure I ever knew the meaning of the word!), I don’t forget our family evening walks, bike rides and chats (currently at a distance!) to other locals. As someone who has split their time as a full time employee working from home, tutor and food business owner, I never anticipated the lack of energy I sometimes have for either one thing or the other.

Can I confess something? I had big plans for home educating when all this started. I have all the resources/subscription to Twinkl/years of early education/personal tutoring, but sometimes I really can’t be bothered!

I’m often feeling torn between thinking I could (or is that should?) do more with my children; and thinking hang on! They are happy – and as long as they continue to be happy and can reintegrate when all this is over isn’t that enough? Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling this way!

So in short – I, like so many others, am just doing the best I can during this time. I won’t be taking up another language or learning a new subject (although languages is a huge passion of mine and I’ve always wanted to study forensic linguistics), because I really don’t feel like it at the moment.

However I will try my best to get to know my community of Cardiff better and try to be content with what I achieve on a day to day basis. Who else is with me?!

Follow Claire on Facebook (Claire Ait-Hammi), or check out The Med Shed and order all the goodies from them! Email The Med Shed | The Med Shed Facebook | The Med Shed Twitter | The Med Shed Instagram

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