I VISITED The Woodman Inn, in New Yatt Road, North Leigh, twice.

The first time was during the Easter weekend, when I joined the crowds participating in the pub's popular Spring Beer Festival. That was great fun, despite the icy weather, though unfortunately I didn't have time to stay long. The second visit took place on a balmy spring evening a couple of weeks ago, after taking the dog for a walk round North Leigh Common, which is just a few minutes drive away.

North Leigh Common is a splendid place to walk the dog, as there are loads of footpaths adjoining it, which lead to East End and Abel Wood. It's a great place for nature lovers too.

The dog loves it.

The beer festival took place in a marquee erected over the patio at the rear, in front of the garden. There were more than 20 real ales from the West Country to taste, though some proved so good they had already run out by the time my brother and I called in. There was a range of traditional perries and ciders, also fruit and country wines.

I tried the Exmoor Hound Dog, which proved a light and thirst-quenching dark gold beer, with a perfect balance of fruity hoppiness and malt. If I hadn't been driving, I'd have tasted the Wooden Hand Cornish Buccaneer too, which is said to have great hop character.

The Woodman Inn holds two major beer festivals every year, and throws in a few mini festivals just for fun. The next mini festival takes place this weekend, when eight real British ales and a cider will be on tap to celebrate St George's week.

I like this pub, which has not changed its decor since my first visit more than 20 years ago. It's a typical village pub, homely, comfortable, and friendly. Chunky wooden tables and chairs fill the wood-trimmed bar, with its wood flooring and blackboard menu. It displays very few pieces of bric-a-brac, they are not needed. A vase of fresh carnations on the window sills and a large potted tree in one corner add the necessary touches to bring it to life.

Adnams bitter, Wadworth 6X, and Brakspear Bitter were on tap the day we called. Both my friend and I had half-a-pint of Adnams, my dog had a bowl of chilled water and a Bonio with the compliments of the licensee. Apparently Bonios are always kept behind the bar for visiting dogs, who are allowed in both the bar and the patio and garden, where Aunt Sally is played regularly.

The menu is an honest pub menu with no frills, with dishes such as Oxfordshire ham, served with a brace of eggs, chips, and peas (£6.95), Woodman sausages, mashed potatoes and red onion gravy (£6.95), breaded place, chips, and peas (£7.25), and lamb shank, mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables and gravy, at £8.25, pictured. Puddings, which include apple crumble and steamed chocolate pudding and chocolate sauce, are £3.75.

There's a bar menu too, which offers pie, chips, and peas (£5.50), scampi and chips (£5.50), Welsh rarebit (£3.95), and even a chip butty, at £1.75. Doorstep sandwiches, priced from £3.95, and filled jacket potatoes, at £3.75, are available too.

I chose the shank of lamb, which simply fell off the bone on to a bed of delicious mashed potatoes and freshly-cooked cabbage and carrots.

My friend Liz chose the Woodman sausages, and heightened their flavour with a touch of Shaken Oak Mustard, which is made just a mile away as the crow flies.

We finished our meal with couple of cups of filtered coffee, and decided this pub would make a perfect stopping off point when we walked this area again.