Opinion: Janet Christie Say cheers to beers, blankets and hot water bottles

Drinking outdoors is the best.

Wrap up warm for after dinner drinks

I’m happy to go along with Covid rules if it keeps everyone safe and while I’m still not sure why you can’t have alcohol with your meal indoors, eating out was never this much fun.

I’m with my pals enjoying an aperitif outside in what must be one of the most beautiful car parks, sorry ’garden bars’ in Scotland.

It’s late evening but shafts of light still split the clouds scudding along Loch Fyne, wind whipping up waves and bending trees into comb-overs, the branches shedding blossom like snow. Oh wait, it is snow. Anyway, it’s beautiful, and there’s a fire pit kippering us nicely. We are lucky.

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One drink down and the cold is starting to bite, teeth are chattering, but our table indoors is ready, yay. It’s clear we don’t need much alcohol anyway as our restaurant entry displays.

Hitting the warm fug, glasses atop masks steam up and there’s much smashing into the massive perspex screens separating diners as we feel our way. No-one is injured due to the multiple layers of our Teletubbies on the razz look (puffer coats, multiple fleeces) and we get to chat to fellow diners en route, ‘oops, sorry, is that your lap I’m sitting on?’

Once seated, people watching is more fun nowadays. “Do ALL of those bikers live in just two households?’ and ‘that man with multiple female companions - mormons?” Our motley crew fits right in.

I wouldn’t say we bolt our food, which was excellent and more importantly hot, but diners I’ve never known miss dessert don’t even mention it before we’re back outside waiting for a post-dinner pint.

Through floor-to-ceiling windows I watch the waiter weave with a tiny tray, balancing our round. He breaches heavy fire doors, braces against the ‘stiff breeze’ and embarks on the long teetering walk across the gravel, through the pot plant chicane, the long-stemmed wine glasses trembling like a terrier’s back legs.

It may be the cold, hospitality re-entry anxiety or my interfering tendencies, but my buttocks are clenched on the wee tinny seat. Should I help? Nah, he’s a professional, he’s not going to spill… oh.

As we wait again, the cavalry arrives with blankets and the best thing to come out of covid - hot water bottles at the pub. We coorie doon in hangover pose. It’s like the morning after, only without the night before.

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