Booming bank holiday weekend as businesses plea for continued support

Ellen Donaldson, Kit Mussen and Sam Wheel having fun on the new track at Easton Farm Park. Picture:

Ellen Donaldson, Kit Mussen and Sam Wheel having fun on the new track at Easton Farm Park. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Farm parks, pubs and local attractions have been jam-packed with families over the bank holiday weekend despite the cooler temperatures — but businesses say they need the support to continue.

It may not have been the warm weekend we were all hoping for, but that hasn't stopped people heading out in force to show their support for local businesses and finally meeting up with friends and family. 

Claire feeding the goats at Hollow Tree Farm. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Claire feeding the goats at Hollow Trees Farm. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Sally Bendall, managing director of Hollow Trees Farm in Semer, near Ipswich, said it is nice to see people out and about once again. 

Ludo, Eti, Bodhi and Finn celebrating Bodhi's birthday at Hollow Tree Farm. Picture: Sarah Lucy Br

Ludo, Eti, Bodhi and Finn celebrating Bodhi's birthday at Hollow Trees Farm. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"It's been a great bank holiday weekend so far and thankfully the weather has held out," she said. 

"We have been at capacity all weekend, taking bookings for around 600 to 800 people each day, which is amazing. 

"I think people are very thankful just to get out, but our message to visitors would be to bear with us as we remember how things used to be and also to support us. 

Adults enjoying some welly wanging at Hollow Tree Farm. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Adults enjoying some welly wanging at Hollow Trees Farm. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"People are going to be at home in the UK a lot more than usual this year, and it's vital people support their local farm attractions and businesses to help give us confidence as we get going. 

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"We are hopeful of a good summer, but we must all be mindful of the situation as it would be really sad to see it go the other way now."

Erica having fun on the mini - tractors at Hollow Tree Farm. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Erica having fun on the mini - tractors at Hollow Trees Farm. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Despite the weather staying dry, Clacton Pier said it was not as busy as the first weekend after the lockdown was lifted on April 12. 

Nigel Brown, the pier's communications manager, said Sunday was much busier than Saturday, as the pre-weekend weather forecast was not fantastic, affecting those who travel from afar.

Easton Farm Park has welcomed back it's visitors. L-R James Duncan,Richard Callaby, Elliott Duncan,

Easton Farm Park has welcomed back it's visitors. L-R James Duncan,Richard Callaby, Elliott Duncan, Marilyn Callaby and Suzanne Callaby. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"It is very difficult as we are still restricted to outdoor only, so just our rides and outdoor food and drink is open," he said. 

Mr Brown said the key date is now May 17, when the pier can open everything back up and "things will feel more back to normal".

"At the moment just operating outside is like trading with one hand behind your back," he said.

Lucy, Chris and Harry Figes at Hollow Tree Farm. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Lucy, Chris and Harry Figes at Hollow Tree Farm. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"We hope and pray that people get behind local businesses and turn out in force, so we can start to pick up some of our lost revenue.

"Without the furlough scheme and the VAT reduction from the Government we would have struggled to stay open."

The pier is preparing to celebrate its 150th birthday this summer, and has plenty to look forward to with the opening of the new Looping Star ride. 

Looping Star is set to be the new main attraction at Clacton Pier, taking up the mantle from Stella'

Looping Star is set to be the new main attraction at Clacton Pier, taking up the mantle from Stella's Revenge Picture: NIGEL BROWN - Credit: Archant

"We would just ask that our locals and those from afar continue to support us," added Mr Brown. 

Paul Stewart, general manager at The Masons Arms pub in Bury St Edmunds, said they have been getting booked up every single day since restrictions eased.

The Masons Arms pub in Bury St Edmunds are getting their beer gaden ready for re-opening PIcture: C

Staff at the Masons Arms pub in Bury St Edmunds are getting their beer garden ready for re-opening PIcture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

"People have to book two weeks in advance for a Friday or Saturday," he explained.

He said it is extremely important that people continue to support the hospitality industry, adding: "A pub is a home as well as a business, as it's somewhere for people to come and it's really important for people's mental health."

Cara Edwards, assistant manager at Easton Farm Park, said it was vital people showed their support for animal attractions and zoos, where work has still been going on behind closed doors.

Elliott Duncan having fun on the mini-tractor at Easton Farm Park. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Elliott Duncan having fun on the mini-tractor at Easton Farm Park. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"We have had all our livestock to look after, they need feeding and we still have the lambing which can be costly," she explained.

"We missed the Easter holidays which are usually our busiest time of the year too, so we definitely need people to keep supporting us."

Eddison saying hello to the goats at Easton Farm Park. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Eddison saying hello to the goats at Easton Farm Park. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Cara said the farm park has been full over the bank holiday weekend, despite it working at a reduced capacity at around 50%.

"The weather has definitely been in our favour and the outdoor dining on the green has been a success," she said. 

"We are feeling really positive about the summer and we have had some amazing feedback so far."

Jessica feeding a pony at Easton Farm Park. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Jessica feeding a pony at Easton Farm Park. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Despite many pubs seeing lots of trade over the weekend, some places have decided to close their doors on Bank Holiday Monday due to the forecast wet and windy weather.

The Six Bells at Preston St Mary told guests: "We have decided to close on Bank Holiday Monday due to bad weather. Sorry for any inconvenience."

Elliott, Evelyn and Laurie having fun on the tractor on the Hollow Tree Farm Trail. Picture: Sara

Elliott, Evelyn and Laurie having fun on the tractor on the Hollow Trees Farm Trail. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown


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