Ludlow is at its best when the pubs throng with customer and the tables in its cafes and restaurants are full. When there is a crowd on King Street and a crush on the market. Being close to strangers has long been part of our national experience.  Shambling along the streets. Jostling at the bar in the pubs. Crowding into the markets. At pop concerts. Less pleasantly, on trains and queuing for toilets.

From today, we can go to cafes and pubs. From Wednesday, Ludlow Market is expected to have more stalls. Being closer that one metre has been banned. Along with shaking hands and hugging friends. It won’t be Ludlow as normal. It will be close encounters and a strange kind. But life will begin to come back to our town centre.

People should, of course, take care. Media headlines have concentrated abuse of lockdown rules. But most people in Ludlow have shown common sense during lockdown and I am sure they will continue to do so.  We should stay local and shop local.

The quiet of lockdown

The weather forecast is not great for a July weekend but only light rain is expected.

Ludlow is opening in phases. You’ll need to book for many pubs and restaurants. Let’s Go Ludlow has up to date information. The public toilets on the Castle Square and Smithfield car park are open, as they have been throughout lockdown (thanks Ludlow Town Council!).

Some pubs and cafes open today. Some tomorrow (Sunday). Some over the next week. All will observe one metre social distancing. Owners and managers have no experience of this. But I know that many have worked hard over the last few weeks and days to ensure they are ready for opening. If you are not booked in, you can expect to be asked for contact details as part of track and trace.

It will be different. Our pubs will be more continental in style. Many will have a table service. A lot of people will be eating outside.

The friendly chatter of people leaning against the bar will be banished. I’ll miss those casual encounters. There is a particular pleasure in talking about nothing of importance with someone you have never met before. That’s all part of the fun of pubs. But our pubs will be more like restaurants for months to come.

Ludlow wouldn’t be Ludlow without a fine range of places to eat and drink. Ludlow can’t be Ludlow without a busy market.

Let’s enjoy our town coming back into life. Stay local and shop local. Enjoy the fresh air.

Take a mask in case you need it. Many people wear masks all the time. Some like me always have one in their pocket. Remember one metre is the minimum social distanced separation.

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