Hucknall folk all enjoy feeling a bit more normal again
Having a pint in the pub sat in your usual seat, enjoying a coffee looking at walls that aren’t your own and just being able to visit a friend or family again, this week has been a big moment for people across the UK.
The latest round of lockdown easing came into force on Monday and meant indoor hospitality could re-open, as could businesses like hotels and play centres, and people could mix in each other’s houses again – albeit still in reduced numbers.
For the people of Hucknall, the sun coming out seemed wholly appropriate as it felt like life was finally waking up from a long hibernation that started last March.
Now, with the vaccine programme in full swing, people can at last begin to see light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel.
And while social distancing and mask wearing remain with us for the time being, this week at last felt more like normal life again for Hucknall residents.
Ellen Spencer said: “We’ve decided to leave going to back to the pub for now, but we’ve been to see family members again.
"I’ve been to see my sister and it was wonderful to be able to do that."
Adam Smith was another who was enjoying the new eased restrictions.
He said: “We’ve been for a coffee in one of the town cafes and it was nice to be able to sit inside again because it’s not been much fun sitting outside in the last week with all the rain we’ve had.
“We’ve not had family round to visit yet but we definitely will be soon.”
In the Sweet Cafe on High Street, friends Laura Richardson and Stacey Potts said they were ‘enjoying looking at a different four walls’ for a change now they could sit inside again.
Laura added: “It almost feels a bit like a treat again to be able to sit inside.
"I’m really looking forward to being able to visit my family again, especially my granddad who is 92, as I haven’t seen him for months.”
Judith Jackson was also looking forward to seeing family members again but also urged people not to get carried away.
She said: “I think it’s lovely that we can see people again and be inside people’s houses but I just hope people are still sensible and continue to get their jabs when they are offered them because that’s so important for the future.”
In the Red Lion pub, manager Clair Whiffin said the first day of having customers inside had ‘been great’ even though she had worried it might not have happened.
She said: “We were worried with this Indian variant going around that we might be opening only to close again but thankfully that hasn’t been the case.
"We opened, we had a really good day, all our regulars came back and they are enjoying being back inside because although we’ve got a big covered area at the back, it’s still not much fun when it’s cold.
Bryn Watkinson, one the regulars in the pub, said: “It’s fantastic to be back inside, I did come and sit outside when that was allowed but it’s definitely nicer being back inside again.
"It still doesn’t feel quite like being back to normal yet for me but it’s getting there.”
Another regular, Ken Willett, has been coming the pub for many years, ever since his days working at Hucknall colliery.
He said: “I love the fact that we’re back inside, I’m a bit old to be sat outside all the time, so I like being back in my old seat in here.”
While businesses like the Red Lion have been able to open since April 12, others like The Hucknall Cafe on Watnall Road were finally re-opening for the first time having not been able to until now because it didn’t have an outdoor seating area.
And owner Deborah Wilson-Challans said she was looking forward to seeing people in the flesh again.
She said: “It’s been good to be open again, it’s been fairly steady but people are slowly trickling back.
“We’ve missed our customers because we’ve got no outside area so we’ve had to wait to open.
"I’ve been doing delivery and takeaway but it’s not the same thing, I’ve been getting to know my customers by address rather than by face.
"So it’s nice to be back and hopefully this is the last time we have to close like this because I think if it happens again, it will kill a lot of businesses.
"I know there is at least one cafe I’ve heard of that isn’t re-opening which is really sad because people like us, we’re independent and part of the town.
"Businesses like Costas, KFC or McDonald’s, they’ll be alright but for us it’s different.
"I’ve been here five years and worked it up from scratch and it’s taken hard work and to watch it just gradually going down and down has been quite hard, so we need people to come back now and support us and all the other local businesses in the town.”
Support was certainly something Squiggles Playden in the town received as it too re-opened for the first time on Monday.
On it’s Facebook page for Monday, it posted: “Wow. Today is completely sold out, thank you so much for your support, it means so much to us.”