BACK in the pre coronavirus days lunch in a coffee shop, a Friday night family meal out and Sunday lunch in a pub were all part of normal life.

But for the past three months or more we all have had to forgo these pleasures and make do with cooking our own or an occasional take-away.

We were all set to continue the stay at home trend and let Super Saturday pass us by but Tuesday was my husband’s birthday and the highlight was to have been having his haircut.

But when I visited Philip O’Shea last week to write about his newly opened Peppermill Hotel in Devizes and spoke to him about the Covid-19 measures he was putting in place in his existing Peppermill bistro I decided on the spur of the moment to book a table.

One good thing that has come out of the coronavirus emergency is that my husband, who suffers from type 2 diabetes suddenly decided to take his health seriously. He has lost a stone in weight and got his sugar levels under control.

Phil assured me his new dietary requirements, which he has become evangelical about, could be met by him swapping ingredients from one dish to another.

So we arrived on Tuesday to be greeted by a hand sanitiser machine standing to attention just inside the door and took our place at a tucked away table in the corner by the window.

The main difference was that instead of a pre-dinner drink at the bar it was all table service but it was very relaxed with no masks or tape. The numbers of tables have been reduced to comply with social distancing and you can’t just wander up to people at other tables for a chat, which is usual in Devizes as normally several groups all know each other.

But as the drinks arrived and my son had his first proper pint for months we started to have a good time.

The food is always of a high standard in the The Peppermill but this time we really appreciated our dishes which included confit duck and calamari as starters, hake, chicken and steak for mains and cheese cake, sticky toffee pudding and a cheese board for puds.

We had arrived before 7pm and by 10pm we were still there. I had thought we might be nervous and be keen to get away but no it was just like old times.