Lockdown Diaries #1: How London’s tastemakers are spending self-isolation

14 May 2020 | Updated on: 27 Sep 2022 |By Luxury London

Jessica McCormack, Olivia Von Halle, Tessa Packard and Melissa Hemsley share their favourite feel-good books, streaming recommendations, recipes and home comforts for staying positive during lockdown

Jessica McCormack

Jessica McCormack is a New Zealand-born jeweller with a flagship boutique in Mayfair. Her distinct designs meld modern flair with centuries-old techniques.

Work is definitely helping to keep me sane and positive. We’ve been able to produce small amounts of beautifully crafted jewellery from the workshop, which I have been personally cleaning, packaging, and hand-delivering (responsibly of course) around London or arranging couriers for further afield. I’ve also been jogging a lot since I haven’t been able to get to the gym. It’s amazing what a 10k run does for your mental health!

We live in North West London and a pub called The Parlour has repurposed itself into the most amazing market where I buy pre-prepared fresh fish to whack in a frying pan, delicious samphire to steam and raw cookie dough to roll into balls and throw in the oven. I’m not much of a cook but this makes me feel like one.

The Parlour, Kensal Rise

I’m loving Conviction, a thriller by Glaswegian author Denise Mina. Reading is an absolute essential for me – it’s escapism and an insomnia cure all in one.

I’m always in an oversized shirt with jeans or denim shorts (depending on the Jekyll and Hyde weather) and diamonds – even if stuck at home I love throwing them on in any size or combination. They just make me feel better!

Read more: Jessica McCormack, Mayfair’s Queen of Diamonds

Olivia Von Halle, fashion designer

Olivia Von Halle creates luxurious silk sleepwear, inspired by the glamourous sets worn in the 1920s.

I have two boys: Hiero, aged four, and Chaos, aged one. Whilst I love my business, I have never really been able to take any sort of maternity leave and look after them fulltime, so I am really enjoying being a mum. It’s exhausting, and sometimes my patience is severely tested but it’s incredible to be able to spend this time with them.

I can’t cook a single thing but I love the social aspect of mealtimes and I am happiest when we have a house full of friends or family for dinner. At the moment, I am isolating in Kent with my two young sons and 11 members of my family on the family farm. Mealtimes are chaotic, but in the best possible way, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to spend this time with everyone.

I have been watching Normal People, adapted from the novel by Sally Rooney. It’s shot so beautifully and feels so incredibly nostalgic, I can’t get enough!

I have just finished reading The Angelic Origins of the Soul: Discovering Your Divine Purpose by the clairvoyant Tricia McCannon. It weaves together ancient wisdom from all spiritual traditions and it is very whacky but totally intriguing. I’m now starting my husband’s favourite book, How to Change Your Mind, The New Science of Psychedelics by Michael Pollan.

I don’t really do podcasts but I love music. My brother is a DJ and he’s been treating us to Friday night sessions to lift our spirits.

My Gia tracksuit is my go-to for days when I have down-time but still want to feel pulled together. The beautiful cut and butter-soft finish make it feel really elevated and grown.

Melissa Hemsley

Melissa Hemsley is a chef and bestselling cookbook author, with a passion for waste-free recipes.

One of the ways that I find I keep positive is by being as useful as possible to other people, and assisting local community projects. I have been supporting Olio, which connects neighbours so that surplus food can be shared. It is running several campaigns, including #Cook4Kids and #Cook4Carers. You cook food and upload it onto the app and people in the area can then collect it from you at a safe distance. It’s really easy to do and a brilliant cause.

I have been trying to spread my spending to support as many local businesses as possible. I always get a weekly Riverford Organic veg box and I have done for about 12 years now. I also like Black Bee Honey, Isle of Wight Tomatoes, Borough Olives and Secret Smoke House. I also post a recipe every day on Instagram and try to respond to what people have in their cupboards.

I live near Epping Forest and several parks in East London, so I’ve been enjoying walking my dog in the green spaces near my house. I resist calling anybody when I am out and instead really pay attention to what is around me. I have also been doing Sarah Malcolm yoga sessions. She has incredible playlists and often reads a poem at the end.

Like the rest of the world, I’ve been watching Normal People. I recently watched 1917, which felt especially touching after VE Day. My granny was in the Women’s Land Army and my father was in the forces, so it’s something that is close to my heart. I also think it’s important to cry and release emotions, and watch sad things as well as feed-good programmes right now.

Tessa Packard

Tessa Packard’s namesake jewellery line is renowned for its unique use of unusual materials and playful sense of humour.

I am self-isolating at my parent’s house in Scotland, which is in the middle of nowhere surrounded by sheep. It’s extremely peaceful here, if not a touch cold (we are expecting a second snow shower later today).

I think the key to remaining positive in any difficult circumstance is maintaining perspective. You have to think of the big picture, otherwise it’s easy to become fixated with small fry problems. Being healthy and well is what really matters to me, so if I am blessed with good health, and my loved ones are too, then that’s all I need to feel lucky.

I’m completely obsessed with Malcolm Gladwell at the moment. I’ve just finished Talking to Strangers and now devouring Blink. Online, I’m watching a Gemflix episode every day. Heidi and her team at Gem X have produced some amazing speakers in the last couple of weeks, which is testament to their network and passion for jewellery. And then there’s the crap stuff: Tiger King, old episodes of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and The Dog Whisperer on loop. Please don’t judge!

My boyfriend and I take it in turns to cook. I’m infinitely worse than him, so my repertoire is restricted to spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce and a prawn Thai curry – the only two things that so far pass the taste test.

Read more: Tessa Packard’s guide to throwing a fabulous party