And life was a little different afterwards…

4 years ago, it all began to get very serious. we closed our shop and re-opened to online orders and phone orders only, and Barnard Castle emptied of cars, with only a handful of businesses able to still operate.

Only one walk a day


Terms like social distancing, home-schooling furlough and working from home became part of everyday language, and we queued for toilet paper and pasta supplies, clapped on a Thursday and wished everyone well in emails. Zoom became the way to socialise for those who could use it. We got to know our neighbours and helped make sure that our emergency services and key workers were appreciated with donations of food and kindness.

Keep calm and stay at home

Sadly there was also loneliness, fear, stress, people struggling, lives lost, lives changed forever, final goodbyes said from many miles away, and new members of families not able to meet relatives and relatives for many months after they arrived into the world. 

It was a time of great unknowns. But we thought a few weeks and we’d be back to normal!

Covid web orders

From our perspective at Chocolate Fayre, all of our staff were furloughed and our family worked hard to keep the business operating behind the scenes, as things like packaging supplies dried up as our suppliers were also running on skeleton staff, or had closed altogether. We carried on, waiting for the promised government support, which didn’t come for 2 months – too late for many businesses and livelihoods.

For those of us here, Barnard Castle, the government support came in the unlikely form of an unexpected and highly controversial visit from a government advisor! Overnight, we went from England’s best kept secret to the town that everyone wanted to visit!

And why were we doing this? Because you wonderful people supported us, supported the small and local businesses who could operate in a big, big way! And for this we are still eternally grateful. We tried to pay your generosity forwards through giving away hundreds of boxes of chocolates to those wonderful people and teams all over the country who you nominated for a Random Act of Kindness in recognition to their contributions to their communities or service. And we continue to try to support local community groups, charities and worthy causes, through donations and sponsorship throughout the year, as our communities are a vital part of why Barney and the wider Teesdale work and why it such a wonderful place to live and work.

Random Acts of Kindness

While life changed and everyone was affected in some way, Change is inevitable in life. Sometimes it’s our choice, often it’s out of our control. However I’m always optimistic, and seeing the positives, the things that bring moments of joy, the little wins in life have always helped regroup, refocus and carry on again when times have been tough. So allow the vivid yellow explosions of roadside daffodils to bring a smile to your face as you drive to work; inhale deeply as you walk past the bakers, or coffee shop; smile at strangers, say hello to the person serving you behind the shop counter, ask the coffee barista how they are, make that phone call to a friend who you’ve just not had time to speak to; appreciate all of the positive moments, and be grateful that you can leave your front door guilt free these days.

Be happy. Be well. Be safe. Be at peace.