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Muddy eats: The Old Swan, The Lee

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Yes people, this is my incredibly glamorous car parked outside The Old Swan near The Lee (Great Missenden way). Muddy model/actor squeeze Jamie Dornan is inside ordering a drink for me (because I have lost all ability to think apart from X-rated thoughts and Mr Muddy has had to go to the moon for an extended business trip). My children are on holiday with, um, some extended relative or other, and – hey, can  you believe it? – I’ve just won the lottery. Sometimes life just goes your way!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzp. OK *sigh*, let’s scratch that. No car, lottery win or Jamie Dornan. Ankle biters still very much attached to legs. But looky! A glimmer of joy! The bit about the pub is real at least – this place is a corker you’ll definitely want to know about.

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The Old Swan is the pub you’ll be wanting to take your kids to on a sunny day when you want to sit in peace in the frankly enormous  garden while they play football ….on the pub pitch!!

Look, I’m not kidding. There are even two balls sitting there waiting for your children to boot them over the trees.

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You can see the football pitch in the background here, but there's a whole other area of greenery you can't see in this photo

See the football pitch in the background?

For me, this makes it a winner already, because how often do you take your kids into a pub garden or terrace only to find that they’re either a bit pokey, or filled with diners who giving your children the evils as they play tag around their tables and scream in their ears. (I mean, what’s wrong with these people?).

Here, as soon as you see the outdoor space it’s like you’re being given permission to utterly chill out. It helps massively of course, that The Old Swan is in a glorious bit of the Buckinghamshire Chilterns, a few miles from Great Missenden, and next to the Lee, so prime walking and biking country in which to work up an appetite or thirst before you crash and burn into the outdoor seating.

Also, the food, though mostly ‘pubby’ and unpretentious, is actually very good. It was so incredibly hot on the day I visited that even I, sun-hound extraordinaire, had to move indoors, to better appreciate my caesar salad (my photo doesn’t quite do it justice, it was really delicious)…

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while my lovely friend Claire had this gorgeously presented smoked salmon number

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Dessert was a very naughty sweet medley of English strawberries with vanilla shortbread.

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It was inexpensive, tasty, good pub food – perfect for a relaxed lunch.

‘But what of the pub interior, Hero?’ I hear you cry (ahem, go on then). Well, thanks for asking. The inside of The Old Swan is as you’d expect from a sixteenth century building with modest alterations over the centuries – basic, charming, and fairly typical wood settle/tiled floor affair. It’s the kind of interior that will come into its own over winter, with a log fires blazing and a low-beamed buzz to the place.

There’s a more drinky side next to the fire…

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Then on the opposite side of the bar, larger tables and wooden floors in the eaty bit. A bit on the plain side, truth be told, but perfectly serviceable and, with mains hovering around a delicious £11-12, I think Kelly Hoppen-style grand designs can stay in the box!

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THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: Families in all shapes and sizes. Walkers, bikers, wanderers wanting a welcome drink or a great value pub meal in beautiful surroundings. Anyone wanting to dip into a relaxed local vibe.

Not for: Die-hard foodies – there are flasher gastropubs if the food is your motivation. The Old Swan does the basics well and invites you to enjoy its natural pleasures. I’d be more inclined to use it for lunch than dinner, but that’s more of a distance issue for me.

££: Good value pub classics – mostly under a tenner! For dinner it’s more expensive: £6-8 for starters, dinner £16-19. There are steak nights on Tuesdays, Fish and Fizz nights on Thursdays (£12.50, or there are set menu options too) so plenty of options for a visit.

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 The Old Swan, Swan Lane, The Lee, Great Missenden, Bucks. HP16 9NU. Tel: 01494 837239. theoldswanpub.co.uk

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Bucks & Oxon