WHEN it's holiday time and I discover a pub that allows the dog to come too, everything falls into place perfectly, especially when it's close to some fantastic dog-walking territory.

I'm talking about The Fleece, built alongside Witney's attractive Church Green. It stands only a five-minute walk from Witney's Lake and Meadow Country Park, which provides the dog with 75 acres of meadow land, in which to run and a meandering river in which to swim. And a lake too!

The Fleece was a great favourite with the poet Dylan Thomas during the year he lived in South Leigh. It's said that he would cycle across country to Witney, stopping for a pint (or three!) at the Fleece, before heading home. That was in the late 1940s, when the Fleece was just a local pub. Now it's known as a very stylish contemporary pub, which serves excellent food.

As dogs are allowed in the bar area at the front, we were able to sit by the fire, and still enjoy the view of Church Green. At the rear, there's a buzzing little restaurant area, decorated with Victorian-style mirrors and dark wood.

I was there to taste the fish, as the Peach Pubs Company, which owns both The Fleece and The Fishes, Hinksey, have recently signed up to the Scottish Skippers Scheme. This scheme enables the chefs in both establishments to order sustainable fish from the last catch, which is transported to Oxfordshire the moment it's landed, so it's about as fresh as you can get. This means the fish special of the day varies considerably, and often proves a real surprise.

Catfish was the special when I called with my friend Liz and Pythius-Peacocke, my border collie. I'd never tasted catfish, which comes in all shapes and sizes, has no scales, and is distinguished by its cat-like whiskers . . . so I had to order that.

My catfish (£12.50), pictured, had been pan-fried in butter and flavoured perfectly with fresh lemon. It came served on a bed of wilted spinach and peas and warm Jersey Royals. As the first Jersey Royals of the season are always a real treat, they added that extra flourish I've come to expect from this pub.

Liz was equally thrilled with her meal. She'd chosen the lamb, potato, coconut, and cumin stew (£12), which came served in a little pot, and look rather like a very thick soup. Its rich flavour proved difficult to define. The recipe could have originated from the Far East or Middle East, or simply been a special concoction, created by head chef, Alistair Barlow.

I washed my fish down with half of Old Speckled Hen, and Liz ordered the house white. Dog had fresh water, which was brought to our table in a special bowl marked DOG. He appeared to consider that a treat too.

We could have begun our meal with a shared deli board, filled with nibbles of our choice, priced at £1.60 each, or a selection put together by the chef, at £8 a board. Soup of the day is £4, and starters, such as shell-baked scallops in soy and ginger, with lemongrass butter sauce, are £6.50.

Main courses include sustainable roast cod (£14), honey and sesame glazed free-range chicken (£13.50), roast vegetable and goats cheese Dauphinoise (£10.50), and seafood linguine, at £12.50.

Puddings, at £5 each, include treacle tart with Devonshire clotted cream and chocolate brownie. The special of the day was a chocolate and cherry trifle, which Liz ate with great enthusiasm.

I like this pub for several reasons. Its location is perfect, and parking around the Church Green is usually easy to find. I like the attitude of the staff too, as they are friendly and courteous without being servile. They are jolly efficient too, which may be why it's advisable to book a table beforehand, as this pub is usually very busy.