"Our new venture brings warm glow" says general manager of Crown & Thistle in Abingdon, Cian McMonagle

As I write, it’s getting colder and – if it’s possible – even wetter than the last seven weeks but at least we’re warm and cosy here at The Crown & Thistle with all our log fires burning.

Time has sped by since our opening night in November when we had a large crowd of dignitaries, friends, locals, suppliers, family and investors who also helped us raise over £1,500 for Helen & Douglas House.

The builders, designers and my team did a fabulous job to get the place ready on time, but we are still working our way through a list of jobs that need doing. One of these tasks was to start replacing the “modern” cobbles and some of the fake concrete paving slabs that had appeared over the previous 20 years.

By the end of next week, I’m hoping ladies wearing high heels will find it a lot smoother walking across our courtyard. After the opening we went straight into Christmas – traditionally, our busiest time of the year.

I realised that I wouldn’t see my family unless they came and had Christmas lunch with me – and some 90 other guests. Although I say it myself everyone had a rare old time, full of good food, drinks, presents and laughter. Families who had been apart for much of the year all opening presents; guests with relatives visiting from exotic foreign parts all making merry – and with none of the hassle.... my wife said we should do it every year.

Our first New Year’s Eve was a really cracking party. About 100 guests sat down for dinner and dancing in our beautiful Barn with London’s countdown and spectacular fireworks shown on the big screen. The Barn is so versatile and it’s rapidly becoming popular for family celebrations and private events. Since we opened, we’ve organised two golden weddings and four Christening parties and already have 10 weddings booked this summer. We’ve just applied for our wedding licence, so watch this space. Now we crack on to St Valentine’s Day: places are beginning to fill for our ‘overnight romantic getaway’ with a four-course candlelit dinner, champagne, a beautiful room for the night, hand-made chocolates, roses...

In fact the star-crossed lover won’t have to think about anything else – except their partner. As Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday, we’re still running our evening menu in one part of the restaurant for our regulars who might want a wider choice.

For those who want to party with friends (and possibly blind daters?) without having to look at Romeo and Juliet, we’re holding an event in The Barn with cocktails and as many canapés as you can eat for £20.

The Crown & Thistle
18 Bridge Street, Abingdon.
crownandthistleabingdon.co.uk 01235 522556