• Written by Liv Auckland
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It’s Wednesday 25th. The pubs have been closed for 4 days and counting, and the country has been lockdown for less than 48 hours. Spring sunshine is warming my legs, my youngest [cat] is snoozing on the floor beside me, the daffodils have bloomed, and there’s too much tea in my belly.

Life feels both surreal and completely normal.

I’m at an old writing desk that we found in a Castle Rock pub, left behind by the previous owners. At the time of discovery, it was almost hidden among dust sheets and cups of builder’s tea. Within a few hours, the desk had found a new home and was being lovingly spruced. It’s a happy and familiar spot, despite being slightly too low and cramped.

I’ve already had a video chat with my frolleagues this morning. Was I wearing pyjama bottoms still? Sure. Do I really need to put jeans on to feel like I’m seizing the day? I’m not convinced. It occurs to me now that they could have been starkers from the waist down, for all I know. I miss crying with laughter with them.

There’s a racket going on nearby. At the moment, my background noise is the screeches and squeals of the neighbour’s kids, instead of the clanking and clinking of the brewery. Usually, at least once a day, there is an almighty bang and the floor shakes beneath my feet. The kids, at least, don’t seem to be causing such quakes.

Each day, I have dropped my partner at the Canalhouse – the pub we met in and the pub he now manages. Normal. Yet, of course, the pub isn’t open. He’s been there to clean lines, sort stock, make sure the pub is in tip top shape for whenever we get to re-open. It’s strange to think of him there, on his own, doing the most thorough “clean down” of his career. Now though, after the lockdown, we’re both at home. I don’t think he knows what to do.

Castle Rock is in the 365-day 24-hour business. As the doors to the pubs are locked up tight, the brewery team is waking up ready for a new day. As the gates to the brewery close, bar staff arrive at their respective pubs for the late shift. Somewhere in between, the rest of us come and go. But collectively, we don’t stop.

The thing is, having a proper break could do us all some good. As individuals, some of us haven’t had a chance to decompress for years. Heck, many have been leading this lifestyle for decades. Maybe we can view this as the opportunity we’ve never had before; a chance to really rest and recuperate. (I, for one, have grand ideas of yoga and meditation in the garden each morning.) However hard it is, painful it is, for some of us to not work, maybe this is how we create the future we want. Not just as individuals, but as a business, too.

The last few weeks have brought the Castle Rock family together in a way I’ve never seen before. It could just be the isolation starting to kick in, but I’m hopeful about what’s on the horizon for us.

Be brave.


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