Having nipped off early on Friday afternoon and taken the appropriate exit off the M4 (indeed, we had to Turn After Reading*), we headed for the picturesque Goring-on-Thames in which nestles The Miller Of Mansfield, as recommended on Mr & Mrs Smith. Really nice little 'boutique' pub hotel with a fantastic restaurant (do try the shin of beef, it was as melty as it gets) as well as a snug bar with a log fire and a decent selection of gins. We realised when we arrived that we had somehow forgotten how to relax; indeed, it took a while for us to stop wondering where on earth the kids were. But unwind we did and with some walks along the (thin end of the) Thames and a trip up to Bicester on the Saturday, it was a properly brilliant break from the Smoke.
Due to good planning, we also squeezed in an extra treat on the way back, in the form of a visit to Heston Blumenthal's pub in Bray, the Hind's Head (in fact, as we were a bit early, we went looking for the Fat Duck, but somehow never found it!) and what a treat it was. We were tempted by the Sunday roast, but both decided on pies, having been advised by a few people that they were worth the journey. We did start with a Scotch (quail's) egg each, though, and these were splendid - by turns crispy, meaty and perfectly soft:
For our mains we had Shepherds Pie (with lamb leg, breast and sweetbreads topped with mustard mash) and Spinach & Mushroom Pie (served with a Jerusalem artichoke sauce). They were both outstanding and tasted as good as they look:
After a full weekend of indulgence, we simply couldn't face dessert, so we'll just have to go back and try the rest of the menu at some point. Right, dear?
Anyway, what a brilliant weekend - almost enough to make me forget that next year is THAT ONE :)
* I'm truly sorry, I really am