Edinburgh's Valvona & Crolla gave me a little taste of Italy and helped me feel normal again – Hayley Matthews
Whilst the weekly shop is the most exciting thing I do at the moment, having the small choice of the big five supermarkets doesn't really give me a sense of localness.
Yes it's convenient but the coldness and lack of chat in the supermarkets leaves me feeling a bit "Handmaid's Tale” about it all.
It depresses me greatly and feels like a total chore, so I was delighted when I passed an old favourite local and saw it was open.
Valvona & Crolla always gives me a nice cosy feeling and when I decided to treat myself to some fresh coffee and bucatini recently, I didn't want to leave.
The staff were so welcoming and I could tell they were smiling behind their masks. As I waited for my coffee to be ground by the lovely wee lass behind the counter, a young man asked if he could make me coffee to take away whilst I waited to pay.
"Absolutely!" I said. I felt very special – doesn't take much these days to be fair but it was such a lovely touch.
He chatted about looking forward to booking a holiday one day soon.
I told him we've cancelled our trip to Italy twice now due to Covid and would love to get away with the kids.
For those ten minutes, I felt like life was normal again. Just speaking to someone who was happy at his work and having the personal touch makes such a difference and especially in these times.
We might not get away this year, but I'll be popping in to V&C for fresh coffee, a bit of normality and a little taste of Italy when I can.