I ADMIT to feeling ashamed that I've driven straight past The Strickland Arms, which stands tucked away from the Witney Road, Ducklington, many times without ever calling in.

It's a real gem of a pub.

It was a reader who kindly alerted me to this glorious little 17th-century pub. She insisted that this is where the best home-cooked Sunday lunch is served. She was right. I say that without actually tasting their Sunday roast (£7.99), as I'd called on a Wednesday, but as licensee Andrew Laizen provided me with the best Wednesday lunch I have ever had, I assume that weekend meals are just as good. You certainly have to book for a meal on Sunday, and that must say a lot.

I was greeted with the sound of Andrew singing along happily to the taped music, which immediately suggested this was going to be a jolly sort of visit.

My colleagues often comment that it's not good to eat alone, but when you are in the hands of a professional publican, who knows how to put his customers at ease, eating alone is fine. Had I known that dogs are allowed in the bar area, or in the little garden at the back, perhaps I would have picked up my border collie on the way to Ducklington and used him as the companion dog he's become.

There are some great walks in Ducklington if you take the little lane at the back of the church, and head towards the meadow where the rare fritillary flower blooms in late April - he would have loved it.

As Ducklington is well known for its Morris team, it didn't surprise me to learn that Morris dancer Andy Cheyne has devised a dance especially for The Strickland Arms, which is performed often during holidays and festivals.

Inside the pub, with its exposed limestone walls, you will find the main bar area, where people can eat or enjoy a game of darts. There's a small dining area besides the bar too.

What can I say about the interior? Perhaps the best way to describe it is to suggest it is just the sort of pub you would like to find in a rural area, such as Ducklington. It has a warm and cosy air. There's a large fireplace, which, I presume, adds even more character when it's lit during winter. It's a pub which exudes an air of friendliness. Staff certainly do all they can to make customers welcome - even women who arrive for a lone lunch. The choice of beers included Wadworth 6X and Wadworth Henry. As the later is only 3.6 per cent ABV, it proved a perfect and very refreshing lunchtime drink, with a delightful dry hoppy finish.

I chose the 'special' for lunch, because it sounded really nice - pork forerib cooked in an orange and cinnamon sauce (£8.95), served with new potatoes or home-made chips and four different fresh seasonal vegetables, pictured. It proved a perfect choice, and was so nicely cooked and served I'd have been happy to have paid even more for it. The orange sauce was delicious.

I could have ordered a filled ciabatta, baguette, or sandwich from £3.95, there are five different fillings to choose from. Or a filled jacket potato, priced from £4.95. Main lunchtime meals include: home-made steak, Guinness and mushroom pie (£8.95), locally-cooked ham, egg and chips (£7.95), home-made chicken curry, rice and chips (£6.95), or grilled goat cheese on a honeylaced crouton, with bacon lardons, chips and salad, at £7.95. On Tuesday evenings, the regular menu changes, and customers can have a special offer set meal at £6.95 for a main course, £7.95 for two courses, and three courses for £8.95.

I left vowing I would visit The Strictland Arms often, especially when the Ducklington Morris are performing there.