ON A bitterly cold and wet day last November, I called into The Harcourt Arms cuddling an eight-week-old, fluff ball of a border collie puppy.

We had travelled from Old Sodbury in the Cotswolds, where my new canine companion Barnaby was born, and because floods had caused us a 40-mile diversion, the poor little fellow was in need of a comfort break.

The pub staff were wonderful. Everyone wanted to cuddle him and they did so while Uncle John and I chomped away on their delicious bacon butties and warmed ourselves next to the roaring log fire in the main bar.

We were all made so welcome that I promised we would call again when my puppy had grown up, little realising just how large he was going to be nine months later.

However, Amanda Hailes, the landlady, recognised him immediately when myself and my friend Liz dropped in despite his increased size. He appeared to recognise her too.

Many cuddles ensued and everyone in the bar seemed to be laughing — Barnaby appears to have that effect on people. Never before have I owned a dog who creates laughter wherever he goes.

The Harcourt Arms is a delightful pub, with its beams, flagstone floors and rustic finish, and is frequented by locals who have made it their own.

It is so hospitable it really is worth visiting if only to enjoy the warm friendly smile you will receive the moment you walk through the main door.

The food is all cooked on the premises from locally-sourced produce. The Sunday roast with all the trimmings, including crunchy crackling, is well worth the £9.50 for one course or £12.50 for the two.

Wednesday is fish-and-chip night, with the offer of buying one at £10.50 and getting another half-price, Thursday night is steak night, from £8.95, and senior citizens can get a two-course lunch for £7.50.

When Liz and I called this time, I chose roast chicken wrapped in bacon with melted cheese and a barbecue sauce (£9.75). The chicken was lush, juicy and flavoursome.

Liz enjoyed a big bowl of mussels served with chips that had been cooked in a delicious wine sauce. This was a special of the day at just £6, which proved a remarkably reasonable price for such a glorious meal.

Barnaby had a big bowl of iced water as it was far too hot for his normal ‘nice cup of tea’!

The Harcourt Arms, Main Road, Stanton Harcourt. Call 01865 881931.