Video report by ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney
The spring sunshine arrived just in time for today's major easing of lockdown restrictions.
Friends and family have reunited in parks and gardens, and outdoor sports have resumed, as the 'stay at home' message has been replaced with 'stay local'.
Groups of up to six people, or two households can now socialise outside for the first time in months. And there was a heightened sense of optimism across the Meridian region today (29 March).
The sun came out to greet families getting together after months forced apart. Families who'd not seen each other since December, like sisters Daisy and Lily Screen, who met up in Reading's Forbury Gardens.
Lily said: " We haven't seen each other and because the rules have eased and we can come and have a picnic and it meant that we could have time together which is nice."
Daisy added "You don't realise how much you need to see your family until you can't see them so it's nice".
Daisy and Lily on being reunited
Grandparents too, could see young ones for the first time this year, now that groups of six - or two households - can meet outdoors. The Murray family much has been missed in this lockdown.
Jill Murray says: "It's lovely, it's like being released. We've missed all his babyhood this last year so it's lovely to see them."
Jill Murray on what it means to be reunited with her family
As well as being able to meet up in our beautiful public parks and countryside, the new rules mean those lucky enough to have a garden also spend time together there too.
This has been the focal point of a new government campaign which is urging everyone to follow the rules and keep gatherings outside.
In Winchester today, most were just pleased to relax, together, within the rules.
And for students, it's meant at last being able to see others on their course , for some face to face discussions of material, or just a good chat.
Students happy to be reunited once again
One students says: "It's just so nice because we've just been on online lessons so to actually be with each other is lovely, especially in the lovely weather. Really nice."
A first, tentative step to freedom. But one that will see old friends, and new families, reunited once again.
Report from ITV News Meridian's Rachel Hepworth