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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