Normally when I take my wife out for a meal on our Wedding Anniversary I do my homework to find somewhere nice, I will book a table and I will have a good idea about the sort of food on offer. So when we set off along the A44 from Chipping Norton without all of this planning, I was taking a risk compared to what we would usually do.
We chanced upon the Duke of Marlborough, noting that by 7.30 the car park was already quite full: unless they hgad a wedding reception on, this was probably a good sign. Fortunately, there was still room to park, and inside, a choice of tables and so we could be accommodated. Service was quite quick and we both chose the slow cooked lamb shank. What a good choice that was! Succulent meat, beautifully cooked vegetables and plenteous portions. The creamed potatos with cheese and leaks was particularly good.
Just as we were about to leave, a man arrived with a guitar and took a seat in the bar area just behind us. As he generally messed around tuning his instrument, it was obvious that he had talent, so we asked the proprieter: yes he was regular part of the Friday evening entertainment. We decided to stick around a little longer to see what transpired. And we were glad that we did. The atmosphere that he and his partner (she always sung with her eyes closed!) created in that bar was unique. There were about 30 of us all singing along to sea shanties/folk songs (the words of which I somehow dragged up from the distant past somewhere), and there was a spirit of 'bonhomie' that I have not experienced outside of a Church (we belong to a fairly non-traditional Church family) for as long as I can remember.
So we had set out to have a nice meal. The Duke of Marlborough ticked that box, and without breaking the bank. We had set out to celebrate something. The Duke of Marlborough ticked that box, too, though not in any planned way. We left haveing had a real treat, and one of the most enjoyable wedding-anniversary meal evenings for a long time. We loved this place and would definitely go there again (on a Friday night especially) if we were in the area.
Maybe I should be a little more spontanious in the future?
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