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Great pub grub is coming back!

Botley Hill Farmhouse

We’re all looking forward to our local gastropubs opening up again next week, provided the British weather plays its part in allowing us to enjoy outside eating once again. What you may not realise is that beyond the food there are considerable health benefits from al fresco dining, even if you need a blanket to stay warm.

There is a plethora of research on mindfulness and how eating food outdoors helps how we feel. Sitting in the open air can make you feel less stressed, more mentally present, and more attentive to what you’re eating.

Spending time outdoors has also been shown to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, while lowering stress hormones and easing muscle tension. It can even boost your mood. Improvements in attention, creativity, memory and concentration have also been seen.

Henry VIII - Hever

As long as the sun is out, your body’s production of vitamin D will kick in too. Sunlight hitting your skin is key to getting the process going. As very few foods have significant amounts of vitamin D, the outdoors is an exceptional friend on this front.

Of course while the school Easter holidays are on, restaurants and pubs with outdoor dining are likely to be booked up, at least initially. But if you want to try to get a reservation, here are some of my favourites where you can expect good food and a comfortable al fresco dining experience:

The Carpenters Arms, Limpsfield – the large open garden makes socially distanced dining easy

King Henry VIII, Hever – there’s a covered outside area should the sun give way to rain.

The Royal Oak, Crockham Hill – a quaint old English pub serving local beers

The Bull, Limpsfield – revamped and now a true gastropub, with a new pub garden too

Botley Farmhouse – beautiful views from one of the highest points in Surrey

The Kentish Hare – love their pub garden and great if you’re finishing a local dog walk!

The Little Brown Jug – a huge local favourite, so much so we always see someone we know there!

Lockdown has forced many hospitality establishments to be especially creative with their planning, with outdoor pods and marquees a common feature. But there’s one restaurant experience I am particularly eager to try. The Tiny Table offers an intimate, seasonal dining experience that has been created by Chef Julie Friend in her lovely garden.

You may have met Julie at one of our Alive With Flavour supper clubs and I would urge you to try out her Tiny Table concept. She is open from mid May. For more information, visit

Of course some pubs are also being more cautious and not opening yet, particularly if they lack significant outdoor dinning space. But come May they should be open too. After all, it’s not just Boris who is looking forward to a pub beer.

So get set to enjoy the outdoor dining experience once more, and help our local dining venues who need our support now more than ever!

The Bull Inn, Limpsfield

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