Midnight Belle

On Sunday 11 April, at around 11.57pm, I joined 17 other customers and several press and TV reporters in the freezing cold to prepare for the imminent relaxation of lockdown restrictions. Three minutes later we were all sitting outside a pub enthusiastically supping pints of cask beer – the first time anybody in England had been allowed to do so since before Christmas.

The Kentish Belle micropub in Bexleyheath had secured a special licence permitting it to open from midnight to 3am so that this small group of us could be among the very first to enjoy a proper pint in a pub (Well, technically outside a pub). I’d been waiting so long for this that I was hardly likely to turn down such an opportunity! Socially-distanced pints were laid out in advance by landlord Nick Hair so that nobody had to wait to get stuck in as soon as the clock struck 12.

Cask beers available on the night included Dorking Brewery’s Surrey XPA, Loxhill Biscuit from the Crafty Brewing Company in Dunsfold, the ever-popular Fyne Ales Jarl and Ghost Horse milk porter from Ascot. All were excellent, as the beer usually is at the Belle. And given that we were drinking outdoors well into the middle of the night, with TV cameras filming us and reporters asking us our opinions, it all felt surprisingly normal!

Benjamin Nunn

@BenViveur

The full address is 8 Pickford Lane, Bexleyheath, DA7 4QW.

See https://www.thekentishbelle.com/ for opening hours.