The day was finally here. April 12th 2021.

Restaurant doors opened with a flourish, white store lights switched on to welcome in shoppers, and the once-empty streets filled out with swarms of eager citizens.

We’ve all waited patiently for this day to arrive, ever since it was first announced in the Prime Minister’s road map to normality. I for one have been ticking off each passing day on my calendar, dreaming of ice-cold pints and the gentle hum of strangers talking in the distance. I’ve even visualised that emotive experience of standing in a long shop queue, slightly sticky from the heat and arms aching from carrying matching home-ware products and Primark underwear.

So, I took the day in my stride. Booked a table at a local pub in Hereford and together with three friends, spent the evening ordering rounds and huddling together on outdoor wooden seating.

And here’s what I learnt, from my first widely anticipated, post-lockdown outing:

1. It feels surreal

After months of seeing the same few faces and trekking through the usual daily routine, trying something different felt weird. Kind of expected, right?

Conversation was slow to begin as we were welcomed into the venue and signed into track and trace. Making friendly conversation felt difficult, I’ll admit. I’m so used to nattering away at the laptop screen with half my body hidden that I nearly forgot how to communicate properly in-person (remind me what positive body language is, again?).

Being surrounded by groups of people, both young and old and all buzzing with a reborn zest for life, was strange. Wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but strange. It felt like a backwards dream; the exact activity we’d been advised against and made to fear was now unravelling right in front of my eyes.

Change can be daunting but we’re all adaptable as human beings. Take it easy if you must and return to normality at your own pace.

2. At the same time, it feels normal

There’s something about a good pub beer garden in Britain. As a nation, we’d do pretty much anything for a chance to sit out in the sun with a cider and handful of friends. A sleepy Sunday afternoon, a 17:30 after-work quickie, the 2018 World Cup. You name it, we’ll be at a beer garden for it.

This familiar, warming feeling helped the post-lockdown outing experience considerably. For the slightest second (and I mean slightest) it made you forget that there was ever a pandemic going on in the first place. Watching customers shrieking with laughter and swigging back gin, whilst being encompassed by an apparent waft of freshly baked pizzas and cigarette smoke, was exactly what I needed to make me feel at home again.

3. It’s busy but a good busy!

It’s certainly difficult to guess just how busy places are going to be from now on. We all feel differently about immersing back into society, whether this is on the High Street, at a fitness class, or in your favourite restaurant.

My personal experience is that it was busy, but a controlled busy. There’s still enhanced social distancing measures in place and venues are restricted to the amount of people that they can have in at any one time.

For me, a filled pub garden was refreshing but I can appreciate the anxieties some people may have. If you do go out, try to stick to quieter hours in the day, avoiding lunchtimes and any evening sessions.

4. Stay put and stay local

Don’t be that person that mixes in between tables when at a restaurant or outdoor pub. As tempting as it may be to chat rubbish to the local boozy grandpa who you haven’t seen since 2019, it’s not worth it for the risk of getting thrown out of your venue.

Most hospitality staff have been without work for a good 12 months, so let’s try and make their return to work experience as stress-free as possible. (It’s even better if you can support the local pubs, restaurants and other businesses, too!)

5. I can’t drink anymore

Two cloudy cider apples later and I’m struck with a banging headache and a spell of nausea. My 18-year old self was quivering with embarrassment as I popped two paracetamols and got my head down for the night.

Lockdown for me meant no trips to the village pub or drinking prosecco with my girlfriends, so my pathetic 23-year old body was shocked to its core after a couple of pints. Let’s just blame it on the excitement…

And there you have it: however and whenever you intend to make the most out of your new post-lockdown life, take it easy, be respectful and enjoy yourself! We’re finally on the way to a restriction-free world so embrace it and remember, there’s no rush if you’re not feeling it right now. Have fun!

Please note, all images used were taken pre-lockdown.

You can view more of Harriett’s blog pieces by visiting – HOME | Mysite (