There are fewer than 30 houses in Thrupp and, since two of these are public, this pretty village – a mile north of distinctly unpretty Kidlington – must be judged exceptionally ‘well-pubulated’.

The pair of hostelries – whose popularity owes everything to their position by the Oxford Canal – are in the charge of the same licensees. It is advisable therefore for locals – and indeed for visitors – to stay on the right side of John and Jane Honey.

“Banned from one, you’re banned from both,” jokes John, not that this eventuality arises often, if indeed at all.

In order to appeal to a broad range of customers, the Honeys offer subtly different fare. At The Jolly Boatman, on the main road towards Banbury, the food is rather more fancy than the traditional scoff at The Boat Inn, down in the village.

It was to the latter that the ale-swilling traditionalist Endeavour Morse was attracted, both on the printed page in Colin Dexter’s novels and later in the television series starring John Thaw.

His patronage began in book six of the series, The Riddle of the Third Mile, in which the shocking sight of a limbless corpse pulled from the canal propels him Boatwards for a restorative whisky.

Dexter’s light touch with his prose can be judged in a page extracted from his oeuvre which is framed in what is now called the Morse Room.

He writes: “It was later that same afternoon that Morse, Lewis and the police surgeon presented themselves at The Boat Inn, where the landlord, sensibly circumspect, informed the trio that it would of course be wholly improper for him to serve any alcoholic beverages at the bar; on the other hand the provision of three chairs in a back room and a bottle of personally purchased Glenfiddich might not perhaps be deemed to contradict the nation’s liquor laws.”

One senses that Colin himself was no stranger to such stratagems.

It was in those long-ago times of legally enforced dry afternoons that I first met my friend Charlotte, who on the recent Bank Holiday Monday was passing through Thrupp, with partner Tony and pet pooch Percy, on their narrowboat.

Lunch was proposed at The Boat, to which another very old friend, Nicky, proceeded by bike, while Rosemarie and I bussed to Kidlingon and enjoyed a half-mile stroll along the canal’s green corridor to the pub.

Tanqueray gin and tonic (me) and Brakspear’s bitter (Rosemarie) were sipped amid the jollity of the bar, before (pals assembled) we moved for food in the first of the series of nicely done rooms the pub now boasts.

Orders given, the Honeys’ pretty granddaughter Sophina was soon delivering. To me was borne a plate of ‘spicy Thai fish bites’ (with sweet chilli sauce and salad), supplying what was said on the packet from which, perhaps, they had been extracted. Tasty enough, though.

Rosemarie thoroughly enjoyed her prawn cocktail, Charlotte her chicken liver and whisky paté with red onion chutney (once a sufficient quantity of Melba toast had been procured) and Tony his whitebait, though these were bigger than I like. (I said food was traditional!)

Having passed on a starter, Nicky caned into perfect fish and chips, the thick chunk of white glistening cod in a crisp light batter. Chunky chips delighted too, having been fried to a golden brown as specified.

The specifier, in fact, had been Charlotte, worried that there were no skinny fries to go with her scampi. Happily, the chunkies passed muster – likewise the crunchy scampi pieces, with their juicy interior, and tartare sauce.

Tony’s sirloin steak arrived to warm approval, topped with onion rings. Rosemarie’s steak and ale pie was praised for the tasty gravy, crumbly shortcrust pastry and creamy mash, though it was not exactly bursting with meat.

There was no problem on this score with my delicious beef stroganoff – a nostalgic taste for us adventurous eaters of the 1970s. But why was the advertised “wild white rice” a brighter shade of yellow?

Classic tastes continued with Tony’s sticky toffee pudding and everyone else’s chocolate fudge cake with ice cream. But isn’t it the case, so often, that familiarity breeds contentment?