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Waiting and Anticipating....

There has been a growing and almost palpable sense of anticipation as the days wind down to the re-opening of pubs for outdoor sales. Many places have adapted existing outside space, some have hired marquees, some have extended beer gardens. The scene is almost set - can this really be the beginning of the end of the lockdown? Here's a few thoughts....

Beer deliveries returning this week to the Grayston Unity, Halifax

I have to admit, I am getting quite excited. Giddy, almost, at the prospect of the first pubs finally opening for service next week for the first time in these parts since last Autumn. Yes, it will only be a few of them, and it will be outside only for a few weeks, but it is a return of sorts. And I can't wait. 

And I think this time around, compared to last summer, the general mood is more determined, less hesitant, more assured. Yes, there is bound to be some hesitation, some fears, but the efforts of many places in updating or expanding beer gardens, creating some outdoor space, or ordering the now government-sanctioned marquee (presumably one of Matt Hancock's mates has a marquee business) has been impressive. Elsewhere, building work has taken place, scruffy yards reclaimed, premises re-painted and generally given a good fettle, plans put in place for the coming months. Images of beer deliveries to local pubs have been shared on Twitter and Facebook, which have added to the anticipation. Even after the beautiful spring-like weather last week the inevitable follow-up this week of plummeting temperatures accompanied by snow and hail seems to have done nothing to quell this sense of anticipation and optimism.

For those who make it their life's work to visit as many pubs in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide as they possibly can, the crack group of bloggers dubbed The Completists by Roger Protz (protzonbeer.co.uk) will have been busily planning their trips over the next few weeks to get those elusive ticks. For this select group, featuring Martin Taylor (retiredmartin.com), Duncan Mackay (pubmeister.wordpress.com), and Simon 'BRAPA' Everitt, it is serious business; a lot of work goes into planning the most efficient routes, working round the vagaries of pub opening times, and much more. In a recent blog, Simon gave us an excellent insight into the planning and organisation involved - read it here at  brapa-4500.blogspot.com and you realise that going to the pub for some people involves a lot of hard work!

The Sun Hotel, Coniston: one place I am looking forward to re-visiting soon

I think we are all fed up of the enforced constrictions on our regular life. Whether you are a 24-hour party person or a once-a-fortnight visitor to the local for a quick pint, those of us who love our pubs have found it hard. Alongside the restrictions on seeing our family, our friends, the disruptions to our usual routines. And set over the harsh and dreary winter months, this lockdown has been longer and harder than the previous ones.

My last pint in a pub was at the beginning of November 2020, which makes it 5 long months. For most of us it will be similar, dependent on the prevailing tier allocated to each locality. It is a ridiculously long time! As I have said before, I have drunk some excellent beer over the past few months, but sat at home almost always on my own it has been a mere shadow of the pub experience.

Even good beer like this is best enjoyed in the pub

2020 was a terrible year, with death and disruption on a scale previously not experienced by so many. It was a year of raised hopes, false dawns, constant backtracking, and the fracturing of so many of the normal routines and connections in our lives that it is highly unlikely that everything will return to how it was. But with cases of Covid falling, vaccinations continuing to steam ahead, there are grounds for optimism that this time it may finally be the beginning of the end.

And yet the latest government requirements for the re-opening of pubs take you back several months in the story of the pandemic. Requirements that now involve pubs having to record every visitor's details rather than just that of one member of a group is an additional step that is going to mean more work for staff. Remember that last year it was well into the pandemic before mask-wearing became a requirement! I can understand the government wanting to take a cautious approach after previous errors but you could argue that whilst the horse hasn't quite bolted yet, the stable door isn't quite open either. 

Enjoying the beer garden experience at the Marble Arch, Manchester

But hey, I am not really bothered. Well, not with two days to go. I am just looking forward to enjoying a beer. The weather may be cold, it may be wet, but I am not really bothered. I am just looking forward to enjoying a beer. In a different place. With people sat around. The chance of a conversation, the chance to share a joke, the chance to put the world to rights, so many stories and opinions we have missed hearing and recounting. We have a lot of catching up to do. It has been 5 long months.

I am looking forward to enjoying a beer. But I am also looking forward to a lot more besides....


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Comments

  1. Love the positivity, Chris, with you all the way. May join you for a pint if I bother to research the Halifax openings. Does the Grayston have a 20 acre garden, by any chance ?!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Martin. The Grayston has a covered yard at the back, and is open from Friday 16th April. In warmer weather there are also tables in front of the Town Hall opposite, which can be quite a sun trap. Let me know if you are planning a visit and I will try to make sure I am around!

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  2. Love the picture for this post....something about kegs of beer waiting to go...!

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