London sky without aeroplanes

Postcards from the home workspace: west London

Jake Woodward - 09 April 2020

First in an occasional series of posts looking at some of the small upsides we are seeing during this difficult and extraordinary time.

As we approach the peak of this unprecedented public health crisis, I’m relieved to report that the streets appear very quiet – at least from this window in west London. The skies, too, as per the image above.

Quite rightly, everyone who is not a key worker is staying indoors.

That said, one of the attractions of living in a big city is also a disadvantage in a situation like this – specifically, the amount of people.

Shopping locally

Big supply chains are currently struggling to cater for the huge amount of users ordering a large volume of things. 

It’s a reminder that technology can model solutions for any number of situations except, for now, the unpredictable behaviour of human beings.

In London, getting to the shops or having food items delivered is never normally an issue but the volume of orders via supermarket delivery services has understandably increased, meaning slots are scarce to non-existent.

Happily, one effect of this is a return to sourcing produce more locally. 

Around this part of town, local shops are quickly adapting – as smaller businesses can – to meet a boom in demand for home delivery.

Utilising an ingenious mix of marketing tools (MailChimp, HubSpot) plus social (Instagram) and more traditional channels (phone), fruit, veg, meat, deli items and even wine and beer are all catered for. 

Of course, many of us mean to shop locally all the time – but sometimes the ease of a supermarket delivery wins. Here’s hoping that the surge in local shopping continues well into the future and strengthens independent businesses.

These neighbourhood shops are currently putting food on the table where the bigger suppliers can’t. 

Clearer skies

Another surprising aspect of the current situation is how much quieter a city can sound when nearly everyone is indoors.

It does mean the blue light sirens of emergency vehicles are more easily heard – an ever-present and upsetting reminder of what people are going through – but the streets are largely clear of other traffic, and the skies overhead are silent.

Very little urban noise comes through an open window.

Living adjacent to Heathrow’s main flight path, it is extraordinary to look up and see no planes or vapour trails across the sky – normally there would be around seven in the middle of the afternoon. 

As the image at the top of this page shows, it’s like we have stepped back temporarily to a time before air travel – the environment will undoubtedly benefit in the short term from this combination of reduced air and road emissions. 

No one knows at the moment how long this crisis will continue nor how things will look when it starts to alleviate.

Hopefully we will continue to celebrate our smaller businesses and key workers who are doing so much to look after us at this time.