ONE of the pleasures of a weekend is being able to tootle off out of the traffic to a pub in the countryside.

And so I arrived at The Cock Inn in Halstead, where horses wander past, language is agricultural and grammar forgotten (so I should fit in fine).

It was impossible not to notice the blitzed couple effing and jeffing at each other.

The woman, in low rise trackies and an even lower-rise top, slurred obscenities as she thrust her boobs in his face and engaged in ‘playfights’ whereby she punched and headbutted him.

I’d bet good money that it didn’t hurt him – both of them were slurring to the extent that the only words I could decipher were the ones beginning with an ‘f’.

That, and the belated “shh...there’s kids in ‘ere”, which was admirable if entirely pointless and inaccurate.

At one stage, the bloke tumbled off his chair and had to be gathered up by his (deceptively strong) mates. No harm done, all he lost was a Reebok Classic.

The Cock is a pretty country pub with rustic brickwork, a nice split-level layout, restaurant round the back and giant fireplace.

Generally, the punters were a normal, happy bunch, with groups of men and women chatting and laughing happily.

The menus are fetching, though pedants may want to steer clear.

A cursory browse revealed ‘fresh fish day’s’, ‘chefs own pasta bake’ and ‘goats cheese’.

The range of drinks was above average, with a couple of ales on tap and a proper scrumpy cider – Westons’ Rosie’s Pig. Good booze don’t come cheap, though, as it set me back £4.20 for the pint.

The Cock Inn, Shoreham Lane, Halstead

How it rated:

Atmosphere*** Friendly enough, even with the odd couple

Decor*** Rustic charm

Drink**** Decent range

Staff*** Well-liked by the locals.

Price* Felt like I'd been shafted by The Cock