Published: 06:10, 19 March 2021
| Updated: 07:16, 19 March 2021
Had my jab half an hour ago, I had no idea which one I was getting or whether you get a choice where they put the needle?
As it happens you do get to say where it goes, but I really wouldn’t have cared – just wanted the stuff pumped into me as fast as possible so we can all get back to enjoying ourselves again.
It seems like an eternity since I was last able to sup a pint in one of our wonderful county’s gorgeous pubs. In fact, it was just hours before lockdown was enforced on Bonfire Night last year and I found myself at the George & Dragon in Lamberhurst.
A lovely lady by the name of Sandra and her two daughters took the pub on in January 2020 but can you believe that in 15 months they’ve only had six weeks of proper trading?
All being well they plan to reopen on Monday, April 12 and use both their terrace and patio sections. There is a grass area too but they’ve reseeded it and say it will definitely be subject to the great British weather.
Of course it will only be just over a month from outdoor opening until we can get inside the pubs in May - but it won’t be an easy few weeks to manage.
I wish them luck and if they can get the staffing numbers right and arm everyone with walkie-talkies, this fledgling business will hopefully enjoy ‘another’ smooth take off.
Like all other pubs, they will only be able to serve punters outside from April 12 and it isn’t until a provisional date of May 17 that we’ll be let back indoors to drink.
This has led to much speculation as to what will be allowed and what won’t. Does a car park count as a garden? Will tables and chairs on a roof terrace be okay? Can punters spill out of a pub lucky enough to have a village green on its doorstep?
On a positive note the hated 10pm curfew goes and drinkers will no longer need to order food in order to be able to enjoy a pint. As Boris joked: ‘The Scotch egg debate is over’.
But, with the BBC spreading ridiculous scare stories about the high level of reservations and scammers making fake pub bookings, I decided it was best to do some research of my own.
Last summer I published a list of my top pub gardens in Kent, so this group of landladies and landlords seemed a good place to start.
The Red Lion in Badlesmere, near Faversham, will open on the glorious 12th and plans to serve food from noon ‘until it gets too cold’. There is plenty of room for 80 punters to spread out in the garden so booking will not be required.
Lisa says she and her fella Paul have also been hard at work on the vegetable plot so you can look forward to plenty of fresh, very local, produce.
Likewise, The Anchor at Wingham, near Canterbury, plans an April 12 opening and fingers are firmly crossed for the weather.
Mind you, they will also have two marquees erected, with the permitted 60% of side panels in place, and heaters in situ. Once again, Michelle is confident that because she employs local folk the kitchen will manage admirably and booking will not be needed.
However, the Black Horse at Thurnham, near Maidstone, which boasts a fantastic garden area and is the perfect place to finish a dog walk, has decided to wait until May 17 to reopen.
From this date we’ll be allowed to sit outside with a group of anything up to 29 other people – though even if I rounded up all my mates countrywide I don’t think I’d mange to hit this number.
Many pubs have used lockdown to boost their outdoor capacity and have come up with some ingenious ways to fit folks in.
Wetherspoons has already announced 19 of its 32 Kent pubs have the necessary outside areas, whether that is a beer garden, patio or rooftop space, to open on April 12 and you will not need a reservation. But, you may need to book when the remaining 13 pubs reopen on May 17.
I’m sure we are all delighted there are pubs reopening next month, but it is important to remember almost half of Kent pubs do not have the required outdoor space and we need to continue doing all we can to support these pubs until May 17.
Let’s not go crazy pub-loving fans, we all need to continue playing by the rules so we don’t put anyone at risk, but I look forward to joining you for an outdoor pint in a great pub garden very soon.
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Pub gardens come in all shapes and sizes - here's five I thoroughly recommend
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