Retreating from the pandemic misery

FOR SEVERAL MONTHS following March 2020, movement was restricted to within a short distance of home because of rules that were supposed to limit the spread of covid19 infections. Almost everything except food stores was closed. Socialising was frowned upon. And travel for leisure was not possible. Around about June 2020, things eased up just a little bit, and travelling became possible once more, albeit subject to various rules and precautionary measures. It was then we decided to buy a car to travel around without risking infection by using public transport.

After collecting our (pre-loved) car from a garage on the Edgware Road, we decided to drive up to see my wife’s cousin in Baldock (Hertfordshire). We asked him to recommend a nice country pub where we might be able to get something for lunch. He suggested that we tried Ashwell, which is about 4 miles northwest of Baldock. This pretty village has three pubs. Two of these were closed, and the remaining one did not serve food. We asked the rather melancholic barman to suggest somewhere else in the area. He pointed at the pub’s only customer, a gentleman seated at a table, and said:
“You could try his place at Abington Piggotts – it’s only just up the road.”
The man, Mick, told us that his pub was open and serving food. So, we drove a few miles to tiny Abington Piggotts, which is 3 ½ miles northeast of Royston. With about 80 households, the village has one pub, a free house called The Pig and Abbot. Housed in a century’s old building, this hostelry is a lovely example of an unspoilt country pub. We were given a warm welcome. We enjoyed a small snack and a drink and decided to return at a later date for a proper meal.

We returned and enjoyed excellently cooked food prepared by Mick’s wife Pat. It was so good that we began returning at regular intervals to enjoy Pat’s cooking. The Pig and Abbot, like all other pubs and restaurants, was subject to compulsory closures during the various ‘lockdowns’ that were imposed by the government, yet it has remained in business despite these interruptions. I am not sure how many times we have visited the Pig and Abbot, but each time has been as least as enjoyable as the others. It was not long before we began regarding Mick and Pat as good friends. Whenever we visit the pub, Pat gives us all a great hug when she sees us. Especially during the periods when lockdown restrictions were only partly eased, a visit to the Pig and Abbot provided a welcome respite from the gloomy atmosphere during the height of the pandemic. Whenever we drive along the country lanes leading to Abington Piggott, I have a warm feeling of gratitude because it was this countryside that lightened our lives during two years of covid-related misery.

Recently, we booked for Sunday lunch at the pub. Several days before we were due to eat at the pub, Pat rang. At first, we thought she was going to cancel us for some reason, but it was worse than that. She rang to tell us that Mick had died suddenly and completely unexpectedly. We felt devastated by this news. When we asked her whether she wanted us to cancel, she said ‘definitely not’. She had decided she must continue, and she wanted to see us. When we arrived for our lunch, the pub was full, Pat greeted us warmly, and her food was as excellent as usual. We will greatly miss Mick, and we wish Pat all the very best for the future.

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