Published: 16:47, 14 May 2021
| Updated: 19:41, 14 May 2021
The owner of a pub-cum-zoo has described the latest lockdown easing as "tinged with sadness" due to his flood damaged pub still being unable to reopen.
Andy Cowell watched on in horror as floods devastated the Fenn Bell Inn and Conservation Project at Hoo earlier this year.
Fenn Bill Inn unable to reopen pub on Monday
None of the animals were affected but the pub – which became the first in the country to be granted a zoo licence a few years back – was submerged under water.
And while the pub-cum-zoo was safely able to reopen outside to crowds and pour pints last month the inside remains out of bounds.
Frustratingly for the Fenn Bell's owners, work to renovate the interior will only start when other pubs are able to welcome punters back indoors from Monday.
"It is an exciting day with a tinge of sadness because we can't physically open the indoors for about another three weeks as most of our floors were damaged in the flood," Mr Cowell said.
"Our builders start Monday so we're hoping three weeks and we'll have all the carpets and floors back down and hopefully open the indoors early June.
Drainage issues have had a devastating impact on the zoo which saw visitor numbers to its outdoor attractions slashed due to poor weather yesterday.
"It makes a massive difference because obviously yesterday it rained hard all day so the place was completely empty," said Andy Cowell.
"We would have had people who would have turned up come indoors and eat.
"But obviously because there are no indoor areas you just don't see anybody so we had a full day with nine staff here and a complete write off. It was a loss."
It's been somewhat a rocky road for the business which faced a race against time to raise the £24,000 needed to keep the project afloat during the third lockdown.
Then just weeks later it found itself fighting back waves of water amid the devastating impact of bad flooding.
Speaking in January, Andy said: "It's very soul destroying. Everything you've made and worked for you could start to see floating around and damaged in front of your eyes."