Just as Thursdays are becoming the new Fridays for the nation’s workforce, so Mondays – till lunchtime at least – can likewise prove a pleasing extension to the weekend for a lucky few.

True, the day does not loom large among favourite times for eating out; indeed, some restaurants still hold to the old tradition of closing, which began on account of there being no fresh fish (no longer the case, of course).

Pubs, though, are a different matter, and it has long been a guilty pleasure of mine to get to the trough as the wage-slaves of the world toil at their tasks.

Thus it was last week when Rosemarie and I joined a quartet of chums (and loveable Labrador Bella) for a cheery lunch in our favourite country town, Witney.

A week rarely passes in which we have not boarded Stagecoach’s S1 bus for a few hours in a place that has become, over the last couple of decades, a mecca for foodies.

Our choice on this occasion – as has often been the case – fell on The Horseshoes, more formally (and still on its sign) The Three Horseshoes, in Corn Street.

This classic 17th-century hostelry, with its welcoming open fire and labyrinth of inter-connecting rooms, has been run in admirable style over the past decade by John and Pinky Champion.

They once ruled the roost, too at The Hollybush, another gem of a gastro pub on the opposite side of the street, which is favoured on the whole by a younger clientele.

These days, the boss is John’s son Luke, who in a few weeks will be taking over The Horseshoes as well.

John and Pinky, seasoned travellers, plan to spend more time abroad, they told us when our paths crossed during a pre-lunch snifter (crisp Dry River Pinot Grigio, from South Eastern Australia) at the Hollybush.

This was a necessarily brief stopover, since we had a table booked for 1pm up the road. With Bella in tow, we had asked to be in the bar at the round table in the window.

Following cheery greetings from general manager Dan Woolaston, we were soon seated and ready to sample the best of what the pub’s fixed price menu can supply.

At £15.50 for three courses (£11.50 for one and £13.50 for two) this represents excellent value, though some will no doubt prefer the greater range offered by the à la carte menu or the deli and tapas selection.

The former includes things like chicken and smoked garlic terrine, cider-braised pork belly, spiced roast cauliflower and a variety of steaks; the latter offers a snacky assortment of olives, fries, whitebait, fried chicken and the like.

From the choice of three starters, all but two of us went for the Scottish smoked salmon, which was of good quality and in decent quantity.

It came with crunchy celeriac remoulade and brown bread and butter.

The dissenters were Rosemarie, who greatly enjoyed the soup of the day (leek and puy lentil), and Martin whose roasted chorizo on ciabatta, which he generously passed around, proved a hit with all.

Rosemarie again went out on a limb with a main course of pork, chorizo and cider pie.

Owing to some disjunction between our attentive young water Benny and the kitchen, this turned out on arrival to be the pie from the day’s list of specials.

Since this was steak and ale, a favourite with our companion, there was no complaint, the opposite, in fact, once the brown crust parted to reveal the rich delights beneath.

There were no takers for the veggie main – sweet potato, butternut squash, pine nut and spinach parcel – but two of us went for the haddock and chips – tip-top – and three for the fish pie.

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Attractively presented with browned peaks of mashed potato, it contained salmon, hake and king prawns – or, in my case, prawn. Martin was again generous, giving me two from his more lavish supply.

We drank a pleasing South African blend of pinot grigio and chenin blanc (Meerestein) which teamed happily with the food, including the closing trio of cheeses: Montgomery cheddar, Cropwell Bishop Stilton and an outstanding Oxford Isis.