Situated in the picturesque Windrush Valley, the Fox is a delightful, vibrant village pub. Run by Paul Porter, 42, for the last 11 years, the pub, a Donningtons' tenancy, is in the heart of the village. The pub has two car parks and one and a half acres of beer garden with a riverside terrace with patio heaters. Inside the building, which dates back to 1643, there is a lively atmosphere, even during a midweek lunchtime when I popped in unannounced!
The Fox offers a full menu and one can eat both in the bar or the non-smoking restaurant, converted from a skittle alley. This room is also ideal as a function room and caters for Christmas parties, weddings and celebrations of any nature. Paul's brother Andrew is the chef, and his father, a butcher for 42 years, supplies meat from his shop in Mickleton.
Andrew trained at the Lygon Arms and has gained a fine local reputation for the quality and versatility of his cooking. He uses local game, especially hare, rabbit, venison and pheasant, and throughout November creates the traditional British Food Festival, where typical dishes would include lamb stew and dumplings, lamb's liver, bacon and gravy, steak and kidney pudding and the recipe for Gloucestershire Pie which he found in a very old recipe book. Add this to jam roly-poly, queen of puddings and spotted dick, and you could be forgiven for thinking you had turned the clock back 50 years or more.
The beers served are Donningtons' Best Bitter, a 3.5% session beer, and the somewhat stronger SBA. Add an interesting and versatile wine list, and you have the perfect recipe for a long stay. The pace of life moves slowly in these parts, and my outstanding impression when I left at 2.30 in the afternoon was that, were I to pop back in the evening, the same characters would still be at the bar chewing the cud.
So it didn't surprise me to hear that the Fox is home to the Windrush Valley Cricket Club who wield the willow just across the winding
country road opposite. Nor was I surprised to hear the pub puts up a crib, darts and Aunt Sally team in the local leagues. This is clearly a living, breathing local in the true tradition of English pubs.
A few things I should perhaps mention: the pub has accommodation, with four ensuite rooms, the converted skittle alley boasts a 35 foot mural along one wall, and stone from the Windrush Valley was used to build many of the Oxford Colleges and the Houses of Parliament - I don't think the Government ministers would understand or appreciate the country element embracing the Fox!
Finally, the Fox can be found less than a mile off the A40 on the Cheltenham side of Burford. It is well signed and easy to find, and certainly worth a visit.
Telephone: 01451 844385