Welcome to the May edition of The Caterham and District Independent.
Hands up if you've been to the pub yet? Were you lucky enough to book your table for one of the sunny days, or were you like me, sat wrapped in blankets with your hot water bottle on your lap? Either way, I bet you enjoyed the luxury of being able to speak to friends face-to-face, over a glass of wine or a plate of chips! It's been great to see our local establishments welcoming people again, albeit outside, and even lovelier to see all the smiling faces – customers and staff alike – as we take another tentative step towards a new normal life.
It's also been good to see sports recommencing, which brings me to one of our stories this month. There's been an exciting development at Whyteleafe Football Club, with the news that ex-Liverpool player Steven Gerrard will be opening his award-winning football academy there in September. I recently met with the academy team and it sounds as though it will be a fantastic collaboration for Whyteleafe. We'll be interviewing key academy staff over the coming months, so do keep an eye out for those.
Lockdown easing has been greatly helped by the efficient NHS roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine. As I write this, 34.5 million people in the UK have had their first dose, with an astonishing 15.3 million now fully vaccinated. We've said this before, but I feel we can never say it enough: thank you to every single person, whether they be NHS staff or a volunteer, who has made this happen. I can feel a real sense of hope in everybody I talk to now, although obviously we still have to remain sensible to keep things moving in the right direction.
To celebrate being able to spend more time with our loved ones, this month we're talking about outdoor entertainment. I recently held a mini-party of six of us in my back garden, and invited several brilliant local businesses round to help create the fun! There was music from Ridge Radio (our local community radio station who specialise in events and can be booked for the summer months), drinks from south Croydon's Single or Double Cocktails, and The Hip Hooray Company provided a glamorous setting for us. Oh, and it was all captured by the fabulous Rachel Thornhill Photography. Find out more about the evening inside.
The next significant step in the lifting of restrictions is due this month and if all continues to plan, we will be allowed outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people, and indoor meetings of either six people or two households. Pubs, cafes and restaurants can open their doors for inside dining again, meaning we'll no longer have to check the weather report before booking Sunday lunch at our local pub or restaurant.
Indoor entertainment venues will also be able to reopen, including cinemas, children's play areas, exercises classes and museums, which leads us nicely on to Local and Community History Month, a month-long event hosted every May by the Historical Society.
To commemorate this, our reporter Rosalind Brookman recently met with Peter Connolly, curator of the East Surrey Museum, in Caterham. He told her a little of what his job entails, how the last year has impacted on the museum and what they are planning for their reopening on Wednesday 19th May. The full interview is now available on our social media, website and on our YouTube channel (search 'The Caterham and District Independent), and Peter has also provided the paper with the first in a series of fascinating glimpses into local history, look out for the May Day hats!
At the end of April, some of The Caterham and District Independent team and I attended the launch of the new family-run Spaghetti Tree restaurant in Warlingham. We had a fantastic evening gathering stories for our podcast recording and paper review, and Sarah Olivia Photography captured an array of stunning photographs for us, some of which you can see on our front page this month.
May is a busy month, with two bank holidays and half-term coming round again. Bookings of holidays across the country are booming as we all try to get away for a break. Are you heading off anywhere? Remember to pack a copy of the paper if you are: take a picture of yourself reading it somewhere scenic and you could win a Caterham Independent mug! Send your pictures to: email@example.com and we'll also post you on our social channels.
What else have we got for you? Our regular columnist, Christelle Page, from Keep Calm Nutrition, answers four important questions she is frequently asked, while The Girl Who Gardens, Renée Canter, tells us about growing your own food. We've also had the honour of meeting one of Tandridge's most colourful residents, Lingfield's Maria Fernanda Latif, who showed us some of her lockdown creations and even presented us with a new team hat! You can see it on our Instagram account:@CaterhamIndependent.
My quote this month comes from the countryside author, Nigel 'Fennel' Hudson, and although he is not talking about our current situation, it fits in nicely with the optimism we're beginning to feel after our long spell of hibernation.
"May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel most alive."
Have a great month!