As the lights switch on in our beloved Cirencester and the festive spirit begins to fill the air, the anticipation of a few days to celebrate with friends and family building, we turn our thoughts to celebrations. We love the pre-Christmas parties, hunting for stocking fillers, planning menus and putting up the decorations around the house.
When it comes to the big day, as much as we like to get cosy and spend the day with the family, we always build in a little break, to pop out and toast Christmas with friends. It breaks the day and it gets us out of the house for some fresh air. After unwrapping the presents, breakfast and some food prep, we dress up in our festive gear and hit the road to a jolly country pub to meet friends for the customary Christmas day aperitif. Mine is usually a Bloody Mary with all the trimmings, Worcester sauce, celery salt, pepper, lemon, horseradish and a drop of sherry. Yes, you heard right – sherry: it may sound naff but it really lifts the whole thing, a proper pick-me-up!
When it comes to the choice of pub, it has to be a traditional Cotswold pub, cosy and friendly, with a big open fire and local community. We used to visit the Seven Tuns in Chedworth in its heyday, when it was the beating heart of the surrounding countryside. On Christmas day it would be brimming with the locals coming in for a tipple, sporting wellies, dogs and collecitvely, enough tweed to reupholster all the furniture in the place. Talk about festive, the friendly hubbub was the spirit of Christmas itself, and we’d sit around the crackling fire and listen to the chatter, stroke the dogs and delight in the beauty of the countryside from the windows set within the thick stone walls. Over the years we have tried a few other places, all – happily – equally charming and heart-warming in their way. This year we’ve yet to make up our mind, but we have a few strong candidates lined up, that we’d like to share with all our Cotswold readers. And if you’ve any recommendations, we’d just love to hear them! The current shortlist reads thus:
|1. The Golden Heart. A lovely, cosy, traditional – it dates back to the 16th Century, no less – pub that sits in a dip on the A419 between Cirencester and Birdlip, with a log fire and lots of personality. You can perch on a stool or sit at a table in one of the quaint nooks and crannies. Real ales and hearty pub food on offer too. And a-mazing banoffee pie. http://www.thegoldenheart.co.uk/|
2. The Bathurst Arms, North Cerney. A chalky pink farmhouse that stands out as you drive along the old Cheltenham road, this delightful pub is set within beautiful countryside and by a gentle stream. Genteel and beautifully refurbished, it has lots of character and that almost essential open fire. It is always lively and jolly and the food is always very good. It has good WiFi too, which is useful for any teenagers that you may have reluctantly agreed to be dragged away from the television. http://www.bathurstarms.co.uk/contact.htm
|3. The New Inn at Coln St Aldwyns. We are big fans of this little jewel of a pub. It has atmosphere, great food, friendly service and it is set in the heart of a charming Cotswold village. And we know it is frequented by one of the best chefs up and down the country. Bob from Made by Bob. Need you say more? http://www.thenewinncoln.co.uk/|
|4. The Inn at Fossebridge. Charm itself, this is an idyllic place, a cosy, warm place set within a gorgeous garden and by a stream – with dreamy walks accessible from the back. I’ll let you into a little secret. We call it ‘the Dibley pub’. If you are familiar with that awesome series, ‘The vicar of Dibley’, you’ll probably get the feeling of what we mean. It is your classic village pub, where people meet to chat and gossip – a million miles away from the frantic pace of life in the fast lane. Talk about therapeutic! http://www.thenewinncoln.co.uk/|
5. The Twelve Bells, Cirencester. We are, after all, Cirencestrians, so no list would be complete without a local. A historical pub right in the heart of Cirencester, with a tradition of serving real ales, the Twelve Bells is an unfussy, yet cosy, kind of pub with that has maintained an old-fashioned charm which is, where possible, what’s required on Christmas day. It is popular and friendly and it serves tasty pub food. http://www.twelvebellscirencester.com