'It's been six months too long' — Newark on the day pubs and non-essential retail re-opened
It has been six months too long to finally be able to have a pint at a pub, albeit outside.
This was the view of a group of friends having a swift few at The Barge in Newark, on the day pubs and non-essential retail re-opened once again.
"It's been a bit of a struggle," said Arron Jarman, of Newark.
"We've had to settle for a few tin-os from the One Stop but it's great to be back out — we've got good weather too."
Friends Sarah Evans, Jake Archer and Lewis Aldridge, all of Newark, couldn't have agreed more.
"It's just about having a life again, it makes such a difference. There are far more people about, all smiling and doing more," said Sarah.
Jake Archer added: "Tension builds up within any person and you need to release it. You can do that now, just as long as people aren't silly."
Eager of the re-opening for very different reasons, Bailey Westerman of Wizard Toys said: "I'm just as excited as the kids are to be honest with you.
"We have been doing a lot of prep over the last few months putting everything where it should be.
"We have been pretty busy today, with plenty of people about the town with smiley faces. Sales are where they should be.
"We've also had a lot of compliments from people saying it looks a lot better."
For James and Michelle Brown it was just nice to be able to sit outside a cafe and drink a coffee.
"It makes a big difference that the weather is good too," said Michelle.
"Nice too to see people out enjoying themselves. There's a vibrant atmosphere about the place too.
"Our daughter has taken advantage too and is in York sending us pictures of the coffee and cake that she's enjoying."
James said: "It's the day that everyone has been waiting for really, just to be able to get out of the house and experience something of life again."
Some barbers and hairdressers reported queues stretching around the corner, so keen were people to get their first trim in months.
Garry Balchin was in the chair at Fab Hair on Middlegate, honouring a booking made as far back as November.
"It's great really just to see the hair coming off," said Garry. "It got so bad I'd grown a ponytail."
Owner Isla Price said: "It's been very busy. Four weeks we're booked up for.
"We've waited for this day for months and now it's here it's a case of 'whoa' we're flat out but there's a real buzz. All the girls are delighted to be back cutting."
Paul Pettener had also chosen haircut over pint and was in the queue at the Bald Barber on Chain Lane.
"It's the first time I've had a haircut in months," he said: "I do mind queuing, but then I don't at the same time because it'll be worth it and I'll be better for it."
Owner of Village Chic Lucretia Henry-Brown said: "It's like Christmas day for us today.
"We have had such a lovely response, people have been coming in to say how happy they are we are back open and we've made some sales too.
"The thing is with Newark is we are a town and a lot if people will want to spend money in the bigger cities. But here, it is such a community.
"We didn't expect queues but we did have quite a few people in this morning."
Tony Mills, owner of Vinyl Attraction, moved his business from Stodman Street to a much larger unit on Cartergate — all because he ran out of space.
"We've had nearly four months of closure and we really needed to get open again," said Tony.
"The take-off has gone really well and this morning it was absolutely manic, we have a lot of great customers."
Tony's partner Jo Ferguson has also put her stamp on the new shop. Not wanting any vinyl to go to waste, she repurposes the materials to make music memorabilia.
One of her most popular items is the vinyl wall clock, which she makes to order if requested.
One shop that seemed to be very popular was the White Rose Pop-Up Market on Stodman Street, which opened in December but was forced to close shortly after.
Manager of both White Rose stores in Newark Selina Camsari said: "It's been very busy today, we've had to help each other on the tills to get through everybody.
"Everyone is just so excited about retail shopping again. I just think White Rose is great because the clothes would just go to landfill."
Assistant manager Ruth Woolgar said: "Many people didn't realise we were here as well as having the other shop on Bridge Street.
"We're lucky because a lot of people have had clear-outs during the lockdown. Some people are coming in to buy some things and asking if they can come in the next week to drop off their donations.
"We've had very positive feedback."
White Rose is looking for volunteers. To apply, visit one of the two Newark shops or go to www.whiteroseshop.co.uk/volunteer