Well then... you know that feeling, that one when life seems to be conspiring against you, when that list of things that you wanted to do, just gets longer, yes? Well in all honesty, this post is one of those. There was every good intention back in the summer that I'd get back into the blog and would be posting again, but life unfortunately decided for me it wasn't going to be, and I'm only just getting to my July 'Things to Do' list... oh the shame!
So, it's that time when the clocks go back, when leaving the office in the evening feels more like the middle of the night, you nod in agreement when your friend announces that it's a 'two blanket' evening, and you know it's the right time to finally sit down with a hot chocolate, warm up, and think back to one of the most gorgeous days of the summer. Get your hot chocolate, because here we go...
There it is... The Maytime Inn. Beautiful, isn't it?
As we pulled up on what was one of the hottest days of the year, and at the beginning of a rare week off from the office, there might have been audible gasps of 'it's so pretty' from the two 30-somethings not particularly relishing the thought of getting out of the air-conditioned car into the blazing hot sun. Madame in the back, tucked up in her car seat, might have had a word or two to say as well... I'm not sure what she said, but I like to think she has impeccable taste even at 5 months! Sod the air-con, let's get out of here.
Any talk of 'if there's a garden, we are definitely eating outside' was soon forgotten, as we walked through the gateway into one of the most stunning pub gardens in the Cotswolds. There was no question of where we were eating, just one stipulation was shade for the munchkin, and a little for us; we had no intention of slopping off early... despite the fact that Burford Garden Centre was calling.
Man-handling a buggy and bags across a perfectly raked gravel pathway is a sight not too unfamiliar, I'm sure. But the reception from the staff at the Maytime were happy to help, get us in the right spot, make sure we had everything us and the small person needed and then said the magic words.... "Would you like a drink?"
"Oh yes.... a G&T would be perfect!" With gin making a bit of a 'comeback statement' at the moment (it never went away for me), being asked if there is an particular gin you would prefer is nothing new. What I wasn't expecting was the 'Gin Menu'. Yes, there is such a thing; and not just a paper menu but a full on proper menu, the history of over 40 different types of gin, which mixer or tonic to pair with it, and how best it is served. The Maytime knows their gin, and I was in my element. The hardest part was knowing I could only have one, but which one to choose. Half Hitch... with Fevertree and a hint of lemon. And drivers or those who aren't partial to an alcoholic beverage, the Maytime were able to recommend different soft drinks that were perfect for the afternoon and our food.
It was small shame we both were driving at some point and the little person was with us, but such is life. However, I feel that there's a taxi-evening coming on, especially for one of pub's fabulous burger nights. Burgers and gin go together, right? Of course they do!
If you thought I had a problem choosing a gin, then I had as equally difficult task in choosing what I was going to eat. The locally sourced menu was filled with fresh and varied dishes, from a traditional 'pub fayre' to a little more refined. However, each and every dish sounded amazing and we make a decision that we wouldn't have the same thing.
With the heat and being outside, feeling the sun and relaxed, I went for a fresh pea, mint, pea shoots and feta cheese bruschetta. It was wonderfully fresh, creamy and light, and if I hadn't had been so hungry I could have just sat and had that as a nice lunchtime snack enjoying the view. Lucy went for the crayfish and avocado cocktail. Crammed full of crayfish, a beautiful Marie Rose, avocado and sticky with tradition, crispy Iceberg. If it hadn't been for the avocado, I'd have been sticking my fork in her starter as well. Whilst
being nosey, enjoying the view, we spied a couple sampling the fish platter sharing boards. It looked fantastic and perfect for a post Cotswolds summer stroll.
Main course decision were as equally difficult, and I definitely, definitely wanted the Roast Lamb, but so did Lucy, so I went for the squeaky cheese instead, and actually the pan-roasted chicken, with halloumi cheese and stuffed pepper, went really well with my bruschetta starter and meant I wasn't feeling too full for dessert. The dish was nice and summery, but I'll happily admit I was completely eyeing up Lucy's beautiful lamb.
Now you know about me and my sweet tooth, that's what this blog is mainly about; so you'll know that desserts are high on my priority list for any meal, and after 2 beautiful courses, dessert did't fail us either. There was more gin! Actually it was a delicate lemon tart with perfectly thin pastry with a gin sorbet. Heaven; it certainly packed a kick. The only draw back was that on that gloriously warm day, it melted before I could shovel it onto my spoon, and asking for a straw to 'drink' your dessert with is properly frowned upon, hehe!
Lucy's dessert, Eton Mess, the Maytime's interpretation of the classic, on the other hand was not making a bid for freedom and came presented in a parfait jar with gorgeous meringue to dunk/crumble/nibble/eat all in one go* (take your pick). There was nothing 'messy' in the slightest, only if you're like me and occasionally miss your mouth, and it was a shame to break it all up.
Anyway, full and happy, and enjoying the sun, we decided actually we should really make a move to stroll around Burford Garden Centre; it was a wrench leaving that glorious sunny/shady spot in The Maytime's garden. But there were other beautiful wonders to look at...
So, would we go again... of course! Burger night, music night, summer nights, even autumn and winter curled up on one of their chairs by a roaring fire, tucked up in a peaceful Cotswold village. I really can't describe how lovely it was much more... the only way is, I suggest you try it for yourself. Trust us, it's worth the journey, and if you feel like sampling that Gin Menu, you can always stay over in one of the equally beautiful rooms available at The Maytime...
All that's left is to say, when you do go, enjoy! Although I know you will...
The Maytime Inn, Asthall, Burford, Oxfordshire, OX18 4HW
Telephone: 01993 822 068
Images are copyright of The Maytime Inn, and used with kind permission.
I was invited to visit The Maytime Inn for lunch. Thoughts and feelings are my own.