I’m always on the lookout for a real good pub. Come Summer or Winter, sun or snow, there’s just something so comforting and relaxing about them, and lucky for me pretty pubs are a way of life in the Cotswolds. A top notch pub should feel like a second home, not due to all the time you spend there but because it provides a respite from everyday life. It should be somewhere welcoming and friendly, where you can meet with and be amongst people to eat, drink and relax. Is there anything more fundamentally satisfying than that? Any consumption of alcohol is an added bonus of course.
I was first introduced to the Fleet at Twyning a couple of years ago when my other half who has lived locally all his life wanted to take me. Tucked away at the far end of the sleepy village of Twyning, it’s a gem I would never have come across by accident. Inside, the Fleet has that winning combination of warm, homely features with a fresh modern air. But the best thing about this pub is its impressive outdoor space; step outside the back door and you immediately have views over the 3 levels of seating, the River Avon at the bottom of the garden and the fields beyond. With such an extensive outside area, the Fleet caters for far more than the average beer garden.
The patio on the top level boasts the best views and the comfortable seating complete with parasols is ideal for outdoor dining. For drinkers there’s a good stretch of grass strewn with picnic benches at the bottom of the garden, a great place to get a close-up view of the river, the resident swans and passing river boats. And if, like me, you’re always on the hunt for a small play area to keep your restless little people busy for 10 minutes, one saving grace is the contained play area which is just enough to keep them happy until your food arrives.
Aside from the main pub building, the rather charming boathouse kitchen and bar caters for busier days and events, so it couldn’t be easier to order food and drinks from the garden. Though I’ve only ever been here for lunch, there is a superb selection of food available throughout the day, offering sandwiches and baguettes through to gourmet meals and a specials board. The menu is well thought out and doesn’t limit itself to the normal pub favourites. On arrival, the quality and presentation of the food live up to the pub’s reputation and the standard of produce is apparent through its appearance and taste. If you’re bringing the family, cooked meals are also available for children.
Finding a family-friendly pub that isn’t overrun with children can be a rarity these days. It’s often the case that nicer places don’t really put the facilities in place or even adopt the open-minded attitude to cater for children, while those that over-compensate in this area are the kind that make me wish I’d stayed at home after all. The Fleet finds a sweet spot here, selling itself as somewhere that your toddler and your great grandma will enjoy in equal measure. Whether it’s for riverside drinks or a special occasion, put a date in the diary and find out for yourself.
My Top Tip: If you’re visiting Tewkesbury during the Summer months, ferries departing from the Back of Avon will give you a scenic trip up-river and drop you off directly at the Fleet. See http://www.visittewkesbury.info/things-to-do/leisure/ferry-boat-service/ for more details.