Hot days were made to be spent in beer gardens, this much is self-evident. And the best for miles around is almost certainly at The Fighting Cocks.

Proving that is has more going for it than just a humorous name, TFC’s garden easily justifies the long drive off the beaten track.

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Describing itself on the sign as ‘riverside pub and dining’, this is not one of those country pubs where they still use candles while the locals and their sheep flip their heads round should a stranger stray in.

Perhaps owing to its outdoor space – not to mention a handsome conservatory that serves as a pleasant restaurant area – The Fighting Cocks is a destination pub with the parking to match.

The inside is pristine and fetching yet comfortable with a calming décor in muted browns and the odd bit of signed football memorabilia while the bar boasts around 10 beers and ciders on tap, including the pub’s own Cock a Doodle ale.

With first impressions like these, it is easy to see why this place has won quite so many awards.

The menu for the restaurant has some zingers on it, including a bizarre fixation on the TV show Breaking Bad – a Heisenburger anyone?

On a hot day I could not wait to get out in the garden with a big, cold drink. No one wants to be waiting in a hot bar including, presumably, the bar staff who were pleasant but moved, ironically, at a glacial pace.

Having sweated out by the bar, I finally made it outside and all was briefly right with the world again.

What a terrific spot. This garden has it all. There are chickens and rabbits in pens on one side, kids’ swings and a slide on the other, a stream at the bottom and even an altar should you wish to get hitched at the boozer.

As weird as that sounds on paper, I imagine it to be quite idyllic – and arranging the reception ought to be simple enough.

The bulk of the garden is a mildly undulating lawn which, if we’re being critical (and when aren’t we?) is a tad inelegantly laid out with regimented lines of tables packed in like sunbeds on the stretch of ‘private beach’ outside a budget hotel.

The small bar/garden menu had plenty that took my fancy and while my food was a minor disappointment (not bad by any means), the pub and is gardens were not by any means. Terrific.

The Fighting Cocks, The Street, Horton Kirby

How it rated:

Décor ***** Strikes the right tone

Atmosphere **** Family friendly

Food *** A tad underwhelming

Drink **** They’ve got their own beer!

Price *** Competitive

GARDEN****** Impeccable

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