Although the pub we chose has been recently refurbished and given a very modern interior, we sat outside in the garden and admired the horses in a nearby paddock grazing lazily on lush spring grass.

We were at the Seven Stars pub, Marsh Baldon, which changed ownership a few months ago.

My colleague Chris and I ventured there a couple of months ago, which was far too soon. As Chris Gray, The Oxford Times restaurant reviewer, always says - new owners must always be given time to settle in. He makes a point of waiting for the right moment before booking.

Our first visit definitely wasn't the right moment, but I'm pleased to say our second visit was.

A new and enthusiastic young manager who previously worked in the Cotswolds is at the helm now and things appear to be running far more smoothly.

Unfortunately, this is a pub that doesn't allow dogs inside, so I won't be able to return during a weekend with my beloved border collie unless I sit outside, which, given the vicissitudes of the English weather, is not always possible. This is a shame, for there are some great dog walks in this area that includes a little brook which crosses several nearby fields.

Walking into this pub used to be akin to walking into someone's sitting room and making yourself comfortable in chairs which were difficult to escape from once you had wedged yourself in. Now it has been given a far more stylish look, with fashionable chunky tables and chairs - all the bric-a-brac has gone.

Greene King IPA appeared to be the only beer on offer, but there was quite a good selection of wines.

My colleague chose the seafood and cucumber salad special of the day, served with garlic bread (£7.45). I chose the pie of the day, lamb and apricot (£8.25), and an extra portion of garlic bread.

I'm not sure about the garlic bread. It was OK, but not special. However, the meals we chose were fine.

Chris was surprised at how delightfully chewy the octopus in his seafood mix was - indeed he was so delighted, he kept prompting me to try a piece.

I resisted and chomped on my pie, which, to my surprise, was topped with potato slices rather than pastry.

Because of its sliced potato topping, I would have described it as a hot pot if I'd been writing the menu. The three different dictionaries on my desk define a pie by its pastry topping. Perhaps things have moved on since they were printed?

However, it tasted fine; the flavour of the apricot was not overwhelming and the meat was very tender. Besides, our friendly discussion about what constituted a pie kept us amused for some time. I think Chris may have won the argument in the end by pointing out that cottage pie is topped with potatoes.

We could have chosen any one of six different sandwiches, priced from £5.50 to £5.95, or sausage and mash with onion gravy, at £8.50. Beer-battered cod and chips with mushy peas was £9.50.

Puddings included sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce (£4.50), traditional bread and butter pudding with custard (£4.50), and traditional cheese and biscuits (£5.95).

Wheelchair users would have to navigate a step if visiting the pub. However, the new manager assured me the toilet was large enough for a wheelchair.

Although Marsh Baldon is but half-a-mile from the A4074, we found the cries from the birds the only sound that disturbed us. Visiting this delightful little village is like visiting the very heart of the English countryside.

If you, like me, visited this pub on the wrong day earlier in the year, be assured that while the current chef and young manager remain, it's well worth a second visit.