TODAY I savoured my first pint of cider from a pub since lockdown began in mid-March.

To be honest, it was quite nice to be sat outside with a pint in hand watching the world go by.

It seemed that many pubs that re-opened on Super Saturday following the easing of lockdown restrictions experienced a slow start.

That may be due to today’s weather, with showers forecast for the rest of the afternoon.

I ventured over to the Tollgate Inn at Holt, where landlords Mark and Laura Hodges attract a loyal following from villagers.

They also have a beer garden outside and hotel accommodation for guests visiting the area for business or tourism purposes.

The pub re-opened at 12 noon, with two customers, Don Gray, 72, and John Robertson, 62, to be found waiting patiently outside.

Mr Robertson said: “We usually come down on a Saturday with Colin Dunford, who is 90, but he’s too frightened to come out at the moment.

“We normally drink Guinness but they haven’t got any in, so we’re drinking Thatcher’s cider.

“We normally come down to the pub and have a couple of drinks and sit and chat with Colin.”

Mr Gray said: “It’s nice to come out and have a drink and see more people instead of sitting in the garden with a can. It has been nice to see the girls at the bar and have a chat.”

Mr Hodges said the Tollgate has been forced to introduce strict new regulations before allowing customers to come inside the pub.

“They are only allowed in if they have reserved a table and will have to sanitise their hands.

“Normally, we have 19 tables but we are down to about 10, but we have about 20 tables outside in the beer garden.

“No-one is allowed in unless they’ve booked a table, and unless there is a table available for them.

“We’re having to take their details, name, address and telephone number, and to keep them for up to 21 days.

“We’re also having to make sure that customers comply with the social distancing rules.”

Only six people maximum are allowed to sit down at the tables, and they can only be from two households.

Outside, there is a maximum of six people at each table but they can be from different households as long as they adhere to the social distancing rules.

Mr Hodges added: “It’s just nice to be open again. We haven’t been able to trade for three and a half months, except for takeaways.

“There is no way that trade is going to come back to the way it was before. Most of our customers are retired.

“However, we have put everything in place so that everybody will be as safe as they possibly can be.

“If the sun were out, the beer garden would be rammed with drinkers but trade is not going to be what it was.

“The village has been very supportive of us and they will come down for a drink when they’re ready to.

“Most of our tables for this evening are reserved, so we’re almost fully booked.”

Some customers came out early to have a pint at the Wetherspoons pub, The Bear in Melksham, which opened at 8am.

Elsewhere, many pubs across north and west Wiltshire are also due to re-open today, while others will wait until Monday.

Some breweries and pub operators are planning to stagger re-openings over the next two weeks, while some pubs may not re-open until next month.

Many publicans are waiting to see how other pubs – and their customers – cope with the new social distancing rules.

For some, the layouts of their interiors are likely to prohibit re-opening until the new rules are completely relaxed.

Please tell us whether you went to your local pub today. Email details and a contact phone number to