We love being a local

London, Manchester – we’re out-out again.  Here are five ways to reconnect with the world.

1. Support local independent businesses

Nothing roots you in your local community like seeing familiar faces every day. Gosh, we’ve missed them! When your local barista knows your coffee order off by heart, you’ll know you’re a valued customer.  So now that non-essential shops are open for business again, it’s a perfect time to scope out local gems that you’d like to frequent and make part of your network.

New Makers Yard in Manchester is located a 15-20 minute walk from Spinningfields, one of the city’s go-to destinations for shopping, food and drink, and leisure activities. Here you’ll find The Alchemist, a cocktail bar that’s patented its own style of “molecular mixology”, and fusion restaurant Sunset by Australasia, which is known for its Asian-influenced take on afternoon tea.

 

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Elephant Central in London is a stone’s throw from Castle Square, an open-air shopping destination with 26 independent retailers offering everything from fashion alterations to bespoke food products. You’ll want to check out the Ayca Sweet & Nuts shop, Colombian food spot La Bodeguita, and Kaieteur Kitchen, a local favourite at which Faye Gomes has been cooking Guyana’s most popular dishes since 2003.

 

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Shout out to El Cafecito, a premium coffee hut right by Stratford International DLR serving up 100% Columbian coffee. Get your pick-me-up, meet Chris the founder or one of his diligent and passionate baristas and if you like the coffee as much as us, you can buy it by the bag-load. For summer, check out their iced coffee. It’s good.

 

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2. Rediscover the joy of alfresco dining

At this point, you’re probably takeawayed-out? So, now that the weather is warming up and groups of six people can socialise outdoors again, it’s a great time to get into alfresco dining. Many of your local restaurants will have laid out extra outdoor seating so they can welcome as many customers as possible, but do book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Elephant Central residents will find plenty to try on Sayer Street, home restaurants and bars serving food from across the globe. Local favourites include Beza, which serves Ethiopian vegan food, and Pizzeria Pappagone, now in its 24th year.

 

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East Village really spoils us with a plethora of lip-smacking hot spots all with outdoor seating, most canal-side. We’ve been dreaming about Darkhorse‘s Fresh Artichoke & truffle ravioli for as long as we care to remember.

Or hop, skip, jump right back to the Wick, home to faves, Crate Brewery and Barge East or totter up to Here East for a Mother Works vegan feast.

3. Have an evening drink outdoors

Nothing says “summer is coming” like enjoying a pint or a glass of wine in the open air. Residents of East Village in London will definitely want to check out Roots community cocktail bar, which offers botanical-inspired tipples, non-alcoholic cocktails and tasty small plates in a warm and friendly environment.

 

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Beer aficionados at New Makers Yard will want to bookmark Seven Bro7hers, a bespoke brewery run by seven brothers from Salford. Just remember to bring layers, because as any Londoner or Mancunian will know, the temperature can really drop after sundown even in May and June.

 

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4. Make the most of your green spaces

If you can’t get a booking anywhere, or just fancy keeping things simple, why not take a picnic to the park? Elephant Park has reopened just in time for the warmer months: the first phase of the 2.5 acre park offers landscaped green space and a new home for local wildlife, right in the heart of Elephant and Castle.

Elephant Central is also within walking distance of Kennington Park – which has a popular café serving sourdough pizza and an “old English”-style flower garden –  and Burgess Park. At 56 hectares, the latter is Southwark’s largest park; it has its own lake, sports centre and community gardens.

 

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East Village is located a stone’s throw from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Here you’ll find free wildlife trails, two children’s playgrounds and waterways offering rides on swan pedalos. The park also has a beautiful blossom garden which has been chosen by the Mayor of London as the capital’s memorial to the Coronavirus pandemic.

 

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New Makers Yard isn’t far from The Meadow, a green space surrounded by the River Irwell, and the famous Peel Park, immortalised in a number of paintings by Salford artist L.S. Lowry. It’s well known that regular contact with nature can boost our mental health, so it definitely pays to make the most of your local green spaces.

 

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5. Do everything in your own time

If you don’t feel comfortable socialising in a group yet, don’t beat yourself up about it. Even a 20-minute walk around the block with your partner or flatmate is a great, pressure-free way to reconnect with your local community.

While re-discovering what’s on your doorstep, don’t forget to look up and take a moment to appreciate the way the late evening sun is now reflecting on the buildings and the trees that have come into blossom. Check out our guide to capturing urban life through the lens of your smartphone to help savour these moments.

About the author

Nick Levine is a culture and lifestyle writer from south London who regularly contributes to NME, Refinery29, the i paper, VICE and the BBC.