We bought The Swan at Southrop in 2005, a beautiful 17th century Cotswold stone inn, originally a bakehouse, with ivy vines almost completely obscuring its front façade. There was also a real sense of history, community and local pride radiating from the village.

We are very proud of it and the accolades that came with ten years of hard graft. It is part of Thyme which also has a cookery school and hotel on the country estate.

Excitingly, the planned opening of a second restaurant later this year at Thyme in the magnificent 19th century Ox Barn presented an opportunity to evolve both the space and food at The Swan as well.

We decided to rearrange the space, opening up the centre of the building and joining the previously split restaurant and bar into one. The new space now features a central bar, leading on to soft seating areas and continuing into the main dining area, and the garden room, that looks out through large French doors onto the courtyard gardens.

We also wanted to introduce a less formal style of hospitality and a simpler, more rustic style of cooking, using the ever expanding vegetable gardens and farm at Thyme.

We have introduced a blackboard bar menu for easy bites (the goats cheese and wild garlic croquettes are hard to resist), as well as a table menu for those wanting a full lunch or dinner. The latter has kept many of the old favourites, together with some newer additions, including a chicken pie for two that has been very well received.

We only had eight weeks to get The Swan turned around, and the journey wasn’t without its moments: we threw a ‘sneak peek’ party for locals, which we were working on until five minutes before the curtains went up.

We had the whole team armed with mops, paint brushes, dusters, screwdrivers and hammers but they weren’t allowed to stand on the wet floor as it was too cold to dry properly. It’s a hard job to paint and clean a pub if you’re not allowed to stand on the floor.

We’re also considering a new job role for our GM, Dom, who proved himself to be a closet-draftsman – quite literally – by redesigning the loos. It was also great fun unearthing old black and white photographs of Southrop to hang on the walls, to remind us of village life over the centuries from the Swan’s start as the village bakehouse to the present day.

Of course, rather overwhelmingly (now, more so than ever) we have a reputation to maintain and need to ensure it really is all about the food.

It’s important to celebrate the land and ensure nothing is wasted too. Working with Head Chef Matt Wardman has been a pleasure, with his commitment to ‘local’ so we have a great relationship with producers and suppliers, helping to take us back to the heritage of the village and its simple, honest food.