Crisis exposes evidence for existence of sock monster – More Tales from Lockdown SE3

I’m not a big shopper but COVID-19 caught me in the middle of a wardrobe refresh bought on by too many cakes (I am a food blogger on the side) and early spring days. You know the sort of thing, along the lines of, ‘this is a good top that still fits but the trousers are too small’ and ‘hmm.. what it’s the ultimate colour for a neutral work skirt in a capsule wardrobe.’? 

Then there is the quandary of weighing up ‘keeping people in jobs’ versus, ‘are their employers really enabling social distancing;’ and ‘what about if they’re just plain scared to come into work?’ My asthmatic retail based husband has been furloughed, and we’re kind of well, is this good or bad? Will there even be a job even to go back to?

As with the rest of the world, it quickly struck me that outfits are utterly useless if I can only wear them shopping. Not that I plan living in my pyjamas, I assure you. And then it double struck me, that while it might be nice to save some money by reigning in the spending on clothes, how much will that little hit of joy on the arrival of a purely trivial parcel help with my mental health as we venture less and less outdoors?

Well, I’ve found the reason to keep that hit of joy coming… it’s because of my recent sock monster discovery. I’ll admit, there has been much debate about the existence of a sock monster, but my conversion over the social distancing period to trouser only outfits has proved beyond doubt that there is sock monster. There is no other way that I can have run out of matching socks in just two days. 

I have not actually achieved photographic evidence of the sock monster as yet, nothing as revealing as those lochness monster photos at any rate. However it’s available hiding places are diminishing with the conversion of the house into an isolation survival unit – in other words, almost all boxes have been opened and checked for their present usefulness (300 sachets of clipper hot chocolate anyone? Long story). Currently there might still be a couple of untouched saucepans in the back of one of the cupboards and I can only assume that the sock monster is slinking between them. I’d call pest control, but y’know, #socialdistancing.

Is that the sock monster’s tale by the pipe at the back there?

Have you pre-ordered my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” yet?

 Don’t wait for publication date… there might be a run on books by then!

Helen and the Grandbees by Alex Morrall

How to share the kitchen, I mean the office… more Tales from Lockdown SE3

There’s one sort of house layout needed for everyday life; there’s another sort of layout needed for world domination (google ‘piranhas’… see!) and there’s a special sort of layout for lockdown. I know I’m not the only one, as I sit here professionally at a full excel screen, with a dining table full of condiments, seedlings and last night’s beer bottles behind me.

  1. Very important.. the decontamination corner, including gloves on daily rotation and delivery items for a couple of days. Made a little larger by my husband’s decision to spend his free time fixing things on the car that I had no idea were broken and hence containing engine parts (he insists they are not engine parts, but what else is a car made of, other than the doors?)
  2. Stretches space. Until recently, some were limited to one, that’s just one outside visit for exercise. In fact, even though I enjoy my exercise and have been stressing about how long we will keep this right, it is hard to pretend that “You are only allowed to exercise once a day,” will upset too many people (reverse psychology perhaps?). In reality I think adding afternoon stretches will probably pay off. As most Londoners will know a space enough for a single Pilates map is an unlikely investment. We shoved the dining table to one side, know that we’d be having no dinner guests for some while. 
  3. Webcam central. The sofa now sits in front of the desk to allow socialising on the sofa as opposed other work chair. Yes. I know. This desk-sofa invention is unprecedented outside the fantasy world of fancy furniture ads. 
  4. The evidence that we are failing to abide by the ‘can we please try and all use one mug each a day’ request corner. 

Helen and the Grandbees by Alex Morrall

Have you pre-ordered my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” yet?

 Don’t wait for publication date… there might be a run on books by then!

Helen and the Grandbees

Just to let you know, you can watch me discussing my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” with fellow author Awais Khan, here:

Helen and the Grandbees by Alex Morrall

The Kindle edition of “Helen and the Grandbees” is currently only £4.16 and you can pre-order “Helen and the Grandbees” here:

Afternoon naps and showers – further tales from lockdown

I’m still cycling to work. And then coming straight back home afterwards, which I appreciate some might find bizarre. Surely the only positive to come out of this is the freedom from the commute, I hear you say. Well.. you try having the imagination to find an alternative route of comparable emptiness.

And most significantly, this stubborn habit ensures, umm, general hygiene.

Bear with me…. Normally I cycle to work and shower when I get in. In fact, there is a bit of an over-watered scenario going on here, because then I also shower or bath when I get back home and this latter part features quite a bit of lounging, as I find that the muscles (worked harder on the final 17th mile for being uphill) are waaaay happier if they get warmed up in the bath the same time. There might be Ally McBeal playing on the ipad, but I’m kind of embarrassed by that -so don’t tell anyone (I fast forward the daft songs).

But now that I don’t have to leave the house to shower… how do I remember to shower? There is ‘when i get dressed’ which I’m sure most people would consider normal, but without my bike ride, I think of getting dressed about half way after I have decided it is a really good idea to clean the kitchen and audit the contents of every cupboard, before realising I only have about five minutes left to log into work.

And onto that topic of work. I have a lunch hour. A whole hour. Does it really take an hour to have lunch? No it does not. That’s why a sensible worker will take a stroll around the block – at a minimum. Not really an option anymore. So, here’s a thought, how about a speedy snack… followed by a 2pm 40min snooze? I have often been heard in the office complaining that hammocks have not been provided as I believe they are in Google (well, sleep pods). Of course I will not be indulging this idea, largely because I believe my colleagues are reading this. But maybe YOU should…


Have you pre-ordered my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” yet?

Helen and the Grandbees by Alex Morrall

 Don’t wait for publication date… there might be a run on books by then!

Monday’s a rubbish day for a takeaway – A review of Sisimi Taste of Goodness SE3/SE13

Monday’s a rubbish day for a takeaway. Everyone’s closed. Monday worked against me in the olden (actually visit the restaurant) days too. Because no on wants to eat well on a Monday. (Although neither do they always want to cook) Copper and Ink, I’’m talking to you. 

We had reasons for this particular Monday needing to be special. So browsing through the three main delivery options revealed fewer than normal options – but at least made us look outside the usual one mile circle. Peckham seemed too far to trust delivery would arrive hot, so that knocked off a couple of appealing options. 

What jumped out was Nigerian food at Sisimi Taste of Goodness

The listings of food definitions, also intrigued, as did an incomplete but very well photographed and written up website. Then we saw the location. Boone Street on the. Lewisham/Blackheath border , and that really left us scratching our heads, as we’d never seen an open shop in Boone Street. In fact, they say themselves, that they are not a restaurant. 

Ordering is simple in that most of the meals appear to be one pots, you don’t have to add sides. As an upside this was also a downside… we kept looking sadly at the two line order as the Uber Driver wended his way towards us, thinking, have I really sampled enough of such an interesting menu in just two items, and… the menu said I would get yam or plantain… what if the worst happens and there’s no plantain when it arrives?

(Coleslaw was actually home made and by myself

There was no need for concern. Our two line order spread over two days, and featured both plantain and much, “I really have to stop eating now”ness. I had chicken Wale, and my husband had pork belly Morolake – both arrived with copious amounts of jollof rice, and he shared his plantain and hot sauce. Along with two beers from Partizan, this was one of those, mutter all evening ‘hm I really enjoyed that meal’ sort of places. 

So, wherever on Boone Street this particular magic is emanating from, I like to think it’s the emergence of a new Michelin Triangle

Have you pre-ordered my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” yet?

 Don’t wait for publication date… there might be a run on books by then!

Helen and the Grandbees by Alex Morrall

Grocery Swapping Tales #socialdistancing in #SE3

Groceries are the new entertainment around here (health conditions in this household are making us extra cautious) So hard to come by, they really highlight the month when they do arrive leading to an afternoon of hard-scrubbing of packaging. And what a fest of unanticipated items. Firstly, what on earth is this, offered in lieu of chicken soup?

I have never seen it before, and I really do hesitate to open it. Those lumps. What if they are actually Coronavirus eggs? Is that a thing? It sounds like you might see in a BBC listing, stamped with ‘No Evidence’ which without the presumption of innocence, also does not mean, ‘No Evidence to the Contrary’.

If you know this item to be delicious, please tell me and that may get me over my resistance, or at least persuade my husband to open it when I’m not looking and mash it into a lasagne or something. (That’s how parents sneak veg at their children right?)

For the first time ever I have had delivery swaps on alcohol free wine and beer. Now, I know what’s going on here. Everyone’s realised we can’t drink our way out of lockdown. Social freedom is not at the bottom of the bottle etc, etc and so they are trying to trick themselves out of alcohol by buying the alcohol fee. They’re being ripped off, I’ll have you know. You’re paying no alcohol duty. Shall i tell you who does large deliveries of alchool free. Shall I..? Or shall I keep them to myself (and people who may medically need them. )?.. wouldn’t want to accidentally facilitate hundreds of people to fall of the wagon due to a lack of good alternatives… oh okay…

Failing that, get someone in the house to mash up the wine and disguise it as water.

Have you pre-ordered my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” yet? I wonder what Amazon might swap that with. A beehive, perhaps? Or a whole Helen – sporting a beehive?

Helen and the Grandbees by Alex Morrall

“Empanada for Breakfast Anyone?” A review of L’Oculto’s takeaway

On my third date with my husband, we went for tapas. We both read the menu and then put them aside both with an expression of uncertainty. It was my then new boyfriend who was going to broach it first. “We could just order everything except the croquettes.”

I agreed immediately. And apparently that’s when he decided we were going to get along. 

(These little, ‘I like you because…’ asides did go a little awry on rock climbing (date2). He said he would only want to date a girl who would be happy going rock climbing. I only went cos I fancied him and then had to be rescued from the top of a fake rock. But hey, we still seemed to end up married. )

And tapas was what we thought we were ordering from L’Oculto for takeaway. We were wrong. There was too much. These dishes, empanadas and pies were enormous. It has to be said every dish was brilliant. The rabbit meat balls were phenomenal. 

Their cheesecake is famous. I have to say, I suspect that the cheesecake is marmite (as in not literally yeast extract flavoured… yeah, anyway.. you get me). It actually tastes of strong cheese. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know my feelings on overly-sweet cheesecake (here at Copper and Ink, and here at Champagne & Fromage  however, I think I may be undone because this was considerably less sweet then the starter of tosta celina. What I did think was perfectly flavoured was the chocolate cake, another delicacy that I am particularly picky about and hardly ever order. Here I trusted them.

Cheesecake more cheesy than Gorgonzola

A note on the hygiene – what was visible was impeccable, separate plastic gloves for each transaction, and alcohol rub on the side. 

However, I appear to have aged. Back in the olden days, that romantic evening in MK when the waitress laughed at us… i did finish everything on my place. Tonight, nope. I have a waist line to consider. Empanada for breakfast anyone? (That’s rhetorical, food is scarce these days.)

L’Oculto has moved to Brockley which threw me a little after ordering. Probably been there a while, but I have a lot of eating to get through on your behalf. So, depending which side of Blackheath you live, you might decide it’s a little too far to justify during social distancing. When all this is over, I’ll be moving in with them. 

Click on the “Date night” blog for a link for takeaway and wine menus to L’Oculto.

Have you pre-ordered my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” yet? Don’t wait for publication date… there might be a run on books by then!

Helen and the Grandbees by Alex Morrall

Keeping Sane

Personally I am desperate to get tips on how to keep off news websites. I know that this is not helping prevent anxiety, but I still wake up thinking, “ooo a good eight hours since I last checked in – maybe I should just check  the BBC (you know like, to see various addictive and largely pointless headlines) and then the Guardian, both of which come with anxiety inducing pulsing update buttons.” I had no idea I had a ‘habit’. It turns out I have a ‘habit’.

On top of that, I’ve grown up on Radio Four, but every show has been derailed by COVID19, with interviewer’s asking earnestly, “well what exactly do the statistics mean?’ and receiving replies in gloom-leaden tones. In fact, there’s a problem with continuity because one day the interviewees will say, this is the critical figure and then the news will never ever ever repeat that figure again. One actually had  a really cheerful tone as he recounted predictions of impending agonies. That was admittedly worse.

And why is it soooo much easier to click on that Safari app, rather than that Kindle app, which i know is currently well stocked with good reading material. Should I hide my internet app? What if there’s an emergency and I need to Google ‘how to make gluten free granola’ at speed?!

Pre-Order “Helen and the Grandbees,” my Deptford based debut novel here is currently only 3.99 on Kindle. It is inspired by people I have met in the deprived parts south east London whose tragic pasts are woven into their life perspective but do not define them. Told in Helen’s quirky voice with brief chapters from other characters, it addresses matters of identity, race and mental illness.

alex morrell, alex morel, alex morrel
Helen and The Grandbees

Myths about Coronavirus and Social Distancing*

*this is not one of those myth-busting articles. I have no medical expertise whatsoever. The thought of the circulatory system makes me faint. I am however, good at baking and generally being a bit bossy. (thwarted celeb chef).

This story starts when a good friend told me her son had been sent home from school and the family was going into self-isolation. Naturally I offered to shop. She she needed nothing, no really she’s fine… well… okay maybe just 4 things… But for a handful of items, I knew immediately this list would be mostly impossible. 

The only source we managed to find for anything was the very crowded corner shop. It felt like I was stock-piling to be honest as I also wanted to pick up a couple of things that I were missing from my grocery delivery…. and gin (no explanation necessary). So I talked loudly to my husband about how many tins the household of three would need, so that everyone knew I wasn’t running away with the shop’s stock but then i felt like I was virtue signalling. (sad state of affairs when going to a shop for a mate makes you virtuous, right? I hold doors open for elderly people too. SuperheroesRus should give me a cape.)

But here’s the catch…. amongst those narrow aisles, lurked a cough. I mean… that was probably just asthma right?

However as soon as we were home, we could be found indulging one coronavirus rumour that the more legitimate parts of the internet appears to debunk, so I will not describe in detail, (and in fact just removed the joke about it in case anyone thought I was serious)

And that grocery delivery? I was resolved to practise safe home delivery. The non-perishables are sitting in a quarantine corner, and the perishables… well seriously, what would you have done…?

Have you pre-ordered my novel “Helen and the Grandbees” yet? Don’t wait for publication date… there might be a run on books by then!

Described as “beautiful,” “engaging and moving” with  “echoes of Nathan Filer’s The Shock of the Fall and the warmth and poignancy of Sarah Winman.” Giving characters on the margins “a dignified voice despite their messy lives.”

Date Night

Thursday is ‘date night’ in our house, a chance for the two of us to spend time together when we might not have seen so much of eachother lately, and to go out for a drink – if not a meal, soak in the vibe…

(I think you may see where I am going here) 

It’s just that social distancing makes both of those scenarios, umm…. less  relevant. But keeping routines and having something in the diary to look forward to is more relevant. 

I used to have a rule of only drinking when I was out to stop me getting grumpy in the evenings. Well, that’s gone out of the window. (Someone catch that rule right now, bring it back and explain the meaning of social distancing to it – nothing should be going out, through windows or any other exits!)

And then i thought… delivery! (I’m not normally a take out kind of girl) And candles! And classical music on the Alexa!

Yes, as you probably guessed, we were washing hands between servings from takeaway boxes on a delicious Turkish delivery.

As evidenced by this blog, there are some pretty special local restaurants for eating, most of whom are staggered by the sudden loss of business, with no money to keep their staff in jobs. However some of these business are switching to delivery in order to save jobs (I checked with one if I should list them, or if they were overwhelmed, and they begged me to publicise).

Here are the links to places that will make for a really great meal who are delivering:

Little Sparrow Teas Speciality Teas! Now I have yet to order, but these are proper speciality teas, refreshing oolong – none of this ‘I soaked a bunch of cheap tea leaves in vanilla flavouring nonsense’ Darjeeling options. Tea has got many people through many bad times.

Sisimi Taste of Goodness. Thrilled to discover this Nigerian delivery service on the edge of Blackheath. Delicious meal sampled and reviewed here. Find them via Uber Eats

Miss Flits Bakes Vegan treat boxes with cakes and biscuits etc. They’ve proved so popular, Flit’s doing another run this week coming!

Tzigano’s Mediterranean tapas

Original Review:

More Beer at Partizan Beer These are good beers, and both cheerfully packaged and delivered. We had our first delivery.

Occulto (Lewisham) Original review here: (and frankly I am already excited about this one!)

FYI the ordering details are at the end of the wine menu

Takeaway menu:

Wine (offered at retail price):

Buenos Ares Cafe (Blackheath Village):


EatTurkish (East Greenwich) source of last night’s wonder meal.

And if you have children and love beads, don’t forget Beadoir  who are delivering. And fun.

Paul Rhodes Bakery



Avocado Garden:

Great for breakfasts and healthy grains

Lea Valley Foods email for a price lists

Delivery Or pick up of commercially sized essentials including rice, pasta eggs to most of SE London


Coffee delivery, recommended by

The Blackheath Panty (but website ordering still due to be updated. Follow them on twitter for updates)

Brockleybrewery (self explanatory, although I misread free delivery as free beer and thought this had to be a April 1st for a minute!)

Plumsteadshire http://Common rioters More beer delivery

Theatre of Wine phone 8858 6363

Have you pre-ordered my Deptford-based novel “Helen and the Grandbees” yet? Don’t wait for publication date… there might be a run on books by then!

Described as “beautiful,” “engaging and moving” with  “echoes of Nathan Filer’s The Shock of the Fall and the warmth and poignancy of Sarah Winman.” Giving characters on the margins “a dignified voice despite their messy lives.”

Helen and the Grandbees by Alex Morrall