HOUSES in the village of Northmoor are so randomly scattered along a country road, separated from each other by fields and large gardens, that only the pub and the church suggest that you are travelling through a small village.

The pub is The Red Lion, which dates back to the 17th century. It is a really hospitable country pub with a warm homely atmosphere, and serves fine ale and home-cooked food. It also welcomes canine visitors.

It was an overcast day when myself and Auntie Liz called, so Barnaby was thrilled to enjoy a nice bowl of tea while we sipped our Morland Original cask-conditioned bitter.

Maureen, the kindly landlady, has made him tea before so she didn’t need reminding that he likes a few ice cubes too. She normally charges £1.75 for tea, but said it was so nice to have Barnaby visiting again she was not going to charge him this time.

On the day we called, the carpet in the second bar area had just been pulled up in preparation to replace it with wooden boards — not perhaps the best day to call, but the job had to be done.

Perhaps we would have remained in the bar, but Barnaby was in one of his naughty moods, attempting to jump up on to the chairs and the table too, so we moved into the beer garden for our meal.

I ordered a duck breast salad (£11.95) from the chef’s special list, which proved a perfect choice. I loved the ginger and plum salad dressing and the crunchy duck slices attractively arranged on top which tasted really good.

As I ate, Barnaby watched enviously, dribbling as I chewed each mouthful. But, no, he was not given any - that’s a rule he has to live by. He now gets his main meal at 5pm.

Auntie Liz chose sea bass served with prawn risotto (£12.95) and declared halfway through the meal that she wished she had ordered the sausages and mash (£8.95), but would not tell me why. She hinted that her dish tasted dull, but that was all I could get out of her.

Other dishes available include chicken pasta bake (£7.50), filled jacket potatoes (from £5.45 to £6.95), omelettes (£5.95) and ploughman’s (from £7.95).

This is a real country pub, catering mostly for the nearby farming community, which is why it has such a friendly atmosphere.

The Red Lion, Standlake Road, Northmoor. Call 01865 881931 or see