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Beer gardens: Revellers in Tayside and Fife descend on pubs as Covid restrictions are eased

It is a case of cheers to the beers as pub gardens across Tayside and Fife finally reopen after months of stringent lockdown restrictions.

Punters filled up the outside areas of boozers to get their first taste of draught lager or a cocktail since December.

The weather may not have been kind to revellers, but it didn’t put them off getting their first taste of amber nectar from their favourite hostelry.

In Dundee, beer gardens were awash with thirsty customers looking to raise a glass as they met up with friends.

Despite the slightly cooler conditions and the odd threat of rain many were jubilant and hopeful a return to normal was now on the horizon, as they sipped away on draft lager.

‘The first pint didn’t even touch the sides’

“I was coming if it was snowing today,” a defiant Bill Sharp said outside the Ship Inn in the Ferry.

“I’ve been coming to this pub for years, the last time we were in must have been just before the last lockdown.

Manageress at the Ship Inn, Kerri Laxy, pulls a pint.

“The first pint never even touched the sides. It’s not just about the alcohol, it’s a great place to meet friends. I’m just delighted to be back out and let’s hope this will be it now.”

Gavin Lee, 48 from Broughty Ferry admitted his days off couldn’t have come at a better time as the pubs reopened.

He added: “Fortunately this is one of my scheduled days off and the first pint has gone down fantastic.

“We are regular customers to the Ship and we wanted to support our local pub, we’ve missed just hearing the buzz of the pub.

“We had a walk around the Ferry and people just seem a bit happier being out and about.”

‘We aren’t drinkers but have enjoyed a cup of tea’

Elsewhere at the Bank Bar on Union Street, sisters, Sandra Phillip, Helen Burns and Veronica Thomson were able to meet up for their first “official reunion” since last November.

Sisters Veronica Thomson, Sandra Phillip and Helen Burns get together at the Bank Bar. Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

The ladies admitted it had been sad seeing Dundee like a “ghost town” in recent times.

Sandra added: “We aren’t drinkers but we have been enjoying a cup of tea with our pub lunch.

“We used to do this every Monday but we haven’t met up since November of last year, it’s great to be back out.”

‘It’s an exciting but anxious day for business owners’

The watering holes in St Andrews, meanwhile, had pulled out all the stops to make sure as many people as possible could enjoy a drink with their friends.

Thanks to Fife Council allowing many restaurants to site marquees and covered eating and drinking areas on pavements, the town took on a European café culture vibe, despite the disappointing weather.

Julie Dalton, managing director of The Adamson and newly opened sister restaurant Hatch, said they had been preparing for their opening for some time now.

Julie said: “This is a really exciting but also very anxious day for us. We have got everything in place and are delighted to be welcoming back our customers.

Julie Dalton at the entrance to her latest restaurant, Hatch, South Street, St Andrews.

“We have done everything we can to make things as safe as possible on our outdoor terrace and cocktail bar.”

The Adamson was booked out for the first day back for several weeks in advance, Julie said.

She added: “There’s a lot of emotion around today. Not only is it the first day back but our first ever opening day for Hatch so we are really hoping everything goes well.

“I just hope that is us back for good now – the one worrying thing at the back of my mind is that we end up having to close down. If that had to happen it would be devastating.”

The first customers to have the champagne corks popping on the outside seating at  Hatch were Steve Davis and Glenn Malloy.

The hairdressers, who live in the Fife town, were delighted that the opening day had coincided with their day off.

Steve said: “It’s great to get back to enjoying a drink outside with friends. I’ve really missed being able to do this.

“Hopefully this is just the start and everyone can begin to enjoy getting back to normal.”

Lynn Reid, a retired nurse from Wormit was also enjoying an outdoor drink at the Hatch.

Lynn said: “I have really, really missed being able to do this. It’s going to be great to be able to get back to meeting up with friends and enjoying a meal and a drink.”

The re-opening couldn’t have come on a better day for St Andrews university student Nathalie Noury.

Nathalie, who is studying economics, said: “Today is my 22nd birthday so it’s brilliant to come out for a drink with friends to celebrate.

“The weather won’t bother us at all and I really like the continental style of street bars and cafes. I think it would be great if this could continue into the future.

“St Andrews is buzzing today. There’s a really good feel walking about with lots of people out and about enjoying meeting up with friends for a drink and a laugh.”

‘It’s great to be back’

At The Saint, further along South Street, manager Laura Smith said she had taken bookings from 250 people for the nine hours from noon until 9pm yesterday.

She revealed: “We are offering people hour and a half time slots in our beer garden and it’s really busy. It’s great to be back for the first time since Christmas.”

Student Sophia Turner was enjoying drinks with three of her close friends.

She said: “We all come from England and that’s us all back at uni now. This is the first time we have seen each other in five months and it’s great to get back and be able to go out and have a drink and catch up.

“We’ve been able to do this in England for a couple of weeks now so it’s lovely that we can now do it in Scotland too.”

More on beer gardens

In Perth, Craig Fraser, who has run That Bar Lounge in the city for 25 years, was relieved to finally welcome his punters back.

Craig Fraser who owns That Bar Lounge.

He said: “We’ve been wanting to entertain our customers and obviously restrictions are making that hard but anything is better than nothing.

“So far the response has been really good, we’re three quarters booked and we’ve had plenty of walk ups as well.

“Customers are delighted to see us too, a lot of regulars have been coming in.”

At the Pickled Peacock in Errol, customer Aileen Morrice had travelled to the bar and restaurant for lunch – and confirmed it was great to eat out again.

She said: “We’re not locals to this area but it’s been great to be here.

Almondbank couple Aileen Morrice and David Morrice after visiting The Pickled Peacock.

“It’s been really good not having to cook at home and having someone else do it for me.

“We’ll definitely be going out more frequently and we’re looking forward to that as well.”

Her husband David added: “We’ve really enjoyed ourselves and it’s been a wonderful meal.”

Use our map to find the beer gardens in Tayside and Fife

Pickled Peacock was started during lockdown by sisters Lindsay and Holly Duncan, initially as a take-away only.

But they welcomed customers to sit in for the first time and were delighted to take the latest step in their “adventure”.

Lindsay said: “Opening today is a huge thing for Holly and I as sisters because we’ve never worked together or done anything like this.

“It’s a really exciting thing.”

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