A TASTE OF FREEDOM!
Daily Express|April 13, 2021
It’s like being reunited with an old friend says our man down the pub
Giles Sheldrick

IT WAS the unmistakable taste of freedom.

Months of lockdown restrictions had created a nation of home drinkers and amateur cooks.

Opening a bottle or two before the sun was over the yardarm was one guilty pleasure for stressed-out home workers. While, for others, there was only so much banana bread one could stomach.

So, after 158 thirsty days of exile, along with thousands of others in England, I returned to the great British institution – the humble boozer – for some honest grub and a bellyful of beer. I joined hundreds at The Griffin Inn in Fletching, East Sussex – where the temperature was a teeth-chattering 2C.

Still, it did little to deter al-fresco punters. The pub was fully booked as 150 customers toasted postlockdown liberty in the beer garden.

Having donned a woolly hat and scarf, I tucked into a hearty plate of fish and chips and many pints of Harvey’s Sussex Best. It was like being reunited with a long-lost friend. The first gulp was as comforting as I had remembered.

Truly a moment to savour. Hours later, as I paid up and stumbled into the night, my memory was less clear.

While punters like me raised a glass and rejoiced at rediscovered freedom, yesterday was bittersweet for landlords across England. Of the 37,500 pubs that could have opened, only 40 per cent – roughly 15,000 – had a big enough outdoor space to do so.

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