Praying to the Great Tree for the best stick

Emma has a thing for sticks. She finds the perfect stick in the garden (or out walking) and she brings it in for someone (anyone?) to throw for her. She then chews up the stick between retrievals. The stick gets smaller and smaller until it’s but a splinter. At this point, Mirinda refuses to throw it.

Before starting the whole chase and chew thing, Emma spends a little time praying to the Great Tree with the Chosen Stick before her. Sphinx-like she sits and gives thanks for her woody sacrifice.

It’s all a very serious part of her day.

The most important part of our day today was going out to dinner.

This week Bel and the Dragon, Churt reopened and I was quick to book for our new regular Thursday Night Dinner Out.

Bel and the Dragon has been a favourite since it opened in the old Pride of the Valley Hotel and we’ve missed it. Interestingly, while the car park was pretty busy, there wasn’t that many diners in the restaurant. According to the woman who showed us to our seat, they were all outside, either on the terrace or in the garden.

We were given the outside option but we decided to sit in the completely empty inside. Not that it stayed that way for long.

As well as a couple of couples, there was also an older man and woman who seemed to do nothing but argue for the whole meal. Apart from when he went to the loo.

Possibly the oddest group was the one closest to us. A table of mum, daughter and son. The son hardly drew breath as he continued to talk at his mum and sister. The daughter was clearly bored as she concentrated on her meal more than strictly necessary. The mother decided her phone was more interesting.

But while the people watching was as fascinating as it always is, it was the food that we were there for and it was delicious. Mind you, the menu was much reduced but what there was was excellent.

Mirinda had crab and avocado followed by steak then sticky toffee pudding while I had mushroom tortellini followed by hake then Eton mess. Mirinda washed hers down with a rioja while I settled for beer. Oddly, we weren’t given a wine list so the usual bottle of wine was not consumed. So I had a second beer instead.

All in all, it was an excellent night out and was made complete by the perfect finishing touch: an espresso martini.

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