WHEN my elderly mother was sent home from the Churchill Hospital the first time, she was in no condition to be left alone, indeed her local GP arranged for her to be sent back immediately.

This time, the NHS have not only got it right, they really have pushed the boat out by sending her to Middleton Grange Care Home, Hailey, which is best likened to a Hilton Hotel. Apparently several beds at this luxurious place are set aside for NHS patients who need time to convalesce after hospital treatment - my mother was lucky enough to be given one of them. Now she is being fed cooked breakfasts, with all the trimmings and the most scrumptious lunches and teas, with snacks in between if she needs them to help build up her strength.

We felt hungry just listening to her speak of the meals she was being offered, but thank goodness, we'd made a lunch booking at a nearby pub, which we were confident could feed us just as well after our visit - and it did.

Having left the nursing home, which is situated on the main road running through Hailey (B4022), we carried on through this attractive village for about a mile-and-a-half, until we came to The Bird in Hand, which stands on the right-hand side, after a reasonably sharp corner.

This lovely pub stands alone, and is surrounded by countryside.

As there's ample parking and several tables outside, it's a great place to eat al fresco on a warm spring day.

Well, the sun was out the day we called, and the sky as blue as anything you would see during the summer, but there was still a nip in the air, so we headed inside, where the most glorious roaring log fire greeted us.

This pub had been shut for a few weeks at the end of January, so that alterations to function rooms and kitchens could take place. We called just after it had reopened.

Beams and exposed Cotswold stone walls dominate throughout the series of small eating areas that make up this pub. It's all extremely atmospheric, thanks in part to the friendly staff, who go out of their way to ensure you have everything you need. I was even provided with a taste of a beer I did not know to help me decide which to choose.

It was Butcombe Bitter, which on first tasting proved really bitter, but on second sip, I soon realised it also had a distinctive dry and refreshing taste which made it a perfect lunch time tipple. Other ales on tap were Hook Norton Bitter and a Courage Bitter.

Because we called on a Sunday, we were offered the special Sunday lunch menu, which provides a choice of four individually priced starters, four main courses, and four puddings.

We ignored the starters, priced from £4.95 for soup and warm ciabatta bread to £6 for crab and chive tart spiced with tomato jam, and went for roast rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding and red wine sauce (£9.95) and roast loin of pork, cracking, apple sauce and Madeira cream, pictured, also priced at £9.95. Other main dishes were whole grilled plaice (£11) and butternut squash risotto at £8.95.

Our pork and beef roasts were beautifully displayed on the plate, and tasted just as good as they looked. One bonus about eating here is the fact that much of the meat they use comes from the award-winning Foxbury Farm, near Brize Norton.

Their eggs are organic and supplied by Lyalls, and some of their cheese is sourced from the newly-established Windrush Dairy, which produces some really succulent soft fresh goats cheese from their pedigree British Saanan goats.

My sister in law, Maggie, chose a vanilla pannacotta with poached rhubarb (£5.50) for pudding, which was attractively served and tasted delicious.

My brother, John, and I settled for espresso coffee (£1.60).

We left feeling that, like mother, we had been thoroughly spoiled.