'Absolutely fantastic' - Mid-Norfolk pubs enjoy first Saturday back

Landlord Mark Fryer at The Millwrights Arms in Toftwood, which is a maksshift polling station for th

Landlord Mark Fryer said the atmosphere at the Millwright's Arms in Toftwood was "absolutely fantastic" - Credit: Archant

Mid-Norfolk pubs enjoyed a healthy return to Saturday night trading in the first weekend since lockdown was eased, with some operating at full outdoor capacity throughout the evening.

In Toftwood, the Millwright’s Arms was among the fully-booked pubs on Saturday night, having reopened on Friday.

Landlord Mark Fryer said the atmosphere was “absolutely fantastic”. 

“Both Friday and Saturday nights were really good - everyone stuck to the rules and knew what they should do. 

“We were having to turn people away as we were so full,” said Mr Fryer, who has even resorted to bringing some of the indoor furniture outside to fill additional space.

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Mr Fryer had originally been planning to only open at the weekend, but following demand from customers has decided to open during this week to “see how it goes”. 

The pub has set up a marquee with heaters in its outdoor space to protect customers against the elements, though he admitted that heaters can only do so much. 

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“You’re heating fresh air at the end of the day aren’t you? But most of my older customers had even brought blankets with them, because they were determined to stay out for the night,” said Mr Fryer.

“I think everyone enjoyed themselves, and in 16 years I’ve never had a cross word, let alone a fight,” he added.

Mr Sandford pictured in the marquee outside the pub

Mr Sandford pictured in the marquee outside the pub. - Credit: Noah Vickers

At the nearby Railway Tavern, landlord Paul Sandford said: “It went really well, nice and smooth, and everyone’s accepted the changes we’ve put in place. We’ve got a booking system and we were completely booked.

“It wasn’t the usual atmosphere, but it was still a good atmosphere, with Norwich on the telly,” said Mr Sandford.

The pub closed at the earlier than usual time of 10pm, which Mr Sandford said was to “keep things sensible.”

Outdoor space at the Rampant Horse Inn in Fakenham

Outdoor space at the Rampant Horse Inn in Fakenham - Credit: Rampant Horse Inn

At the Rampant Horse Inn in Fakenham, landlady Catherine Baker said there was a "brilliant" mood in their outdoor space but she'd decided that 8pm was “late enough at the moment” with the evenings still being so cold.

“It was good fun and it was good to be back, but it wasn’t really a Saturday night as we know it,” she added.

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