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We haven’t really been anywhere since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, not since the first lockdown, which began at the end of March 2020. I’ve been to the supermarket, and we’ve been to Ely once recently. We have completely avoided public transport. But that changed at the weekend.
At the weekend, we went to London to join friends at a beer festival. I was apprehensive about travelling on the train, especially since so-called Freedom Day on 19 July 2021, when most restrictions were lifted. I was glad to hear that masks would still be required on London transport.
The train to London wasn’t busy. We put our masks on after second breakfast on the train and kept them on till we got to the cafe where we were meeting our friends. The Tube was busy – I’ve seen it busier – but most people were wearing masks. Social distancing, which isn’t mandated any more, was not possible. It was hot underground; even more so because of the masks. I insisted we use hand sanitiser after touching every surface. It seems I’m still anxious about catching Covid.
Sitting down with friends
When we got to the cafe, we took off our masks and sat down with other people for the first time since it all started, protected only by our vaccines. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed something as simple as sitting down with friends.
The beer festival, Brew//Ldn 21, was held indoors – another thing I’d been worried about – at Printworks, London, but they wouldn’t let you in if you didn’t have an NHS Covid Pass. That made me feel safer about being so close to all those people.
It seemed well organised apart from a couple of moments of officiousness at the end. A lot of small breweries were represented – far too many to try in one day, so it was difficult to choose which one to get. The first one I had was Lion’s Mane made from mushrooms by Fungtn, which apparently contains substances that counter the effects of alcohol; it seemed like a good one to start with. My favourite one was Sour Puss, the first batch of the first blackberry sour brewed by Crafty Cats. It was tasty and juicy. There was one I really didn’t like. Luckily, I’d only tasted it. The bloke described the flavours, and he mentioned banana. That was it. That was what I didn’t like. He said the banana flavour came from a particular hop. He recommended another beer instead with a long name that I can’t remember; something to do with ‘wise conversation’. That was quite nice.
Post beer festival
Those of us who didn’t have to rush off gathered for a last drink or two at a nearby pub. Then it was time to say a reluctant goodbye.
The Tube back to the train station was a lot quieter, which was nice. We arrived in time to catch what must have turned into the last train home: the next two had been cancelled according to the lass sitting across from us. As it was, our train kept stopping because of congestion up ahead. The lass said it had been happening all week.
As we got closer to our station, we started getting hungry. We’d decided to get takeaway pizza when we got back, but because of staying for an extra drink and the train delays, it was getting on for closing time at the takeaway. We ordered from the train and hoped we’d beat the pizza to our house.
We made it in plenty of time to console a forlorn Mr Perkins, who was not happy about having been abandoned all day, before the pizza arrived.