Don’t be alarmed! That weird thing in the sky is not your imagination its just something which appears from time to time. Received wisdom is that it is safe to unzip your parka and venture outdoors; but don’t so much as mention the possibility of a picnic or we’ll all be back under Arctic conditions before 5 O’clock and we’ll know who to blame. Britain was out out in force over the weekend and determined to make the absolute most of it. Through experience though we were restrained, we showed common sense, no-one said beach, the word “barbecue” was only whispered in hushed tones and as a result we have been rewarded with a glorious half term.
Of course, there are none more welcoming of the glorious weather than the slowly re-opening hospitality industry who must have offered up some silent “thank you” to the sun gods as their expanded outdoor spaces were all packed with customers over the 3-day bank holiday weekend.
We’ve proved we are a hardy bunch when it comes to outdoor dining, gamely eating Sunday lunch as our Yorkshire puddings blow down the sea front. We’ve had canapes under canopies and gazpacho in gazebos whilst passive-aggressively shuffling closer to the space heater and smiling at the ridiculousness of it all.
In the middle of last year when we had that brief “eat out to help out” window, to their very great credit Councils were quick to move to make sure the cafes, bars and restaurants in our town centres had a fighting chance by fast tracking planning for outdoor tables, widening pavements and restricting traffic. If truth be told, many of our town centre managers and planners had been wanting to do this for years and had long talked of encouraging more of a “café Society” but had never quite succeeded. Most have welcomed the more social feel and reductions in traffic although as with all change, there will be a need to find a balance.
This pandemic will change many things including, for many, the way we live travel and work. The way we eat, drink, and socialise will also be one with so many businesses having invested heavily in outdoor facilities, those hard-won changes born of necessity will not be relinquished so easily.
I for one am all for it, especially if this weather holds. But please if you are arranging an al-fresco brunch – do it under your breath.