1.Why do you think our readers should support local business?

The Somerset Arms plays a key role within the community as a village pub, a village without its local pub is barely a village, just a collection of houses. The pub was a focal point throughout lockdown, delivering take away meals to villagers who could not get out, selling take out beers and essentials to save a trip to the shops – playing a little music to compliment the Thursday clap and providing tables socially distanced down the street for households to enjoy VE Day. This support is a two-way thing and it is great to be able to welcome villagers and the wider community back, albeit in a slightly different manner. The support from the community though lockdown was fantastic, and long may it continue – it really means a lot. Thankyou Semington and beyond.

2. What are enjoying most about being open?

There has always been an excellent vibe within the pub and even without people in the bar this vibe has been present in the garden. It has been fantastic to watch people enjoying a socially distanced drink with friends and family. Most of all it has been great to hear compliments around how safe the pub is and about the measures we have in place to ensure a pleasant yet safe dining/drinking experience.

3. What has been the toughest challenge for your business over the past 4-5 months?

I don’t think lockdown has been easy for anyone and I think if you ask any business owner especially in hospitality that question, the immediate answer would be finance, however that said with the assistance that has been put forward we managed to make it through the other side. As you know we had a great spell of weather through the lockdown period and instead of being empty the pub garden should have been full to the brim with everyone enjoying the sunshine and listening to the many bands we have on throughout the summer. This trade makes up for the slow times and the dark nights of winter. With our location, close to the canal and the crematorium, both generate a significant trade which was missed. Although at a reduced rate it’s great to be open and with the right support we stand a chance of making the best of the rest of summer and hopefully through the winter - one day at a time.

4. What can our readers expect when returning to the Somerset Arms?

As always, a warm welcome, good food and a great selection of ales, lagers and ciders await. Things are a little different as we have a one-way system in place around the pub to ensure our customers can maintain social distancing – this works well and after a few reminders most get the hang of it. You may have to wait a fraction longer to approach the bar, your table will appear bare and not laid up as usual to welcome you, we have extended the garden into the car park to allow more people to be seated at any time so parking is street based, sharing of menus and distanced table service. All of these may seem odd, but it keeps people safe and everyone understands the reasons why. I hope as we all do that we are over the worst and things will eventually return to a new normal. The main thing for me is that everyone feels safe and has a great experience at the same time - I think we have achieved that and look forward to the future as hopefully in time we can ease things a little more. We have just opened up some of the inside which was a big step (forced a little by the weather) but again we have a good balance. Big learning curve but we are learning every day and are confident that by taking it one step at a time we have it right.

John – Landlord at The Somerset Arms