They have been mucking around with the road system at Minster Lovell, making it impossible to reach the Old Swan & Minster Mill in the way I had been in the habit of reaching it over four decades.

You now need to turn off the main road significantly before reaching the village, if you’re coming from the Witney direction. I missed the turning and tried to take the old route. Indeed, I did take the old route, failing to notice the No Through Road signs at the beginning (to be fair to myself, they do point in a very odd direction). My apologies to the irate lady driver I met coming the other way.

At the Old Swan & Minster Mill there have been changes, too, since Rosemarie and I visited for a Mothering Sunday lunch last year. This was not very long after the entrepreneur Peter de Savary took over the property — actually two properties run as one business.

He is a hands-on boss with a passion for getting things right. His two daughters both work there and the man himself had been in earlier on the day of our visit, in between making arrangements for his mother’s 100th birthday party a day or so later at his Gloucestershire home.

The latest development at the hotel has been a splendid new restaurant extension- cum-function-room at the 14th-century Old Swan, the venue (for those keen on trivia) of the Labour prime minister Harold Wilson’s honeymoon with wife Mary. Elegant landscaping has continued there, too, as well as the creation of a delightful outdoor dining area, next to the pond where ducks Betty and Eddie have their home (not paid for through parliamentary expenses). This is an animal friendly place, by the way, with dogs not only welcome but able to enjoy their own dinner for a fiver, if the free snacks at the bar don’t suffice. Arriving (eventually!) for our Friday night visit, we found ourselves transported back —courtesy of the vehicles around us in the car park — to a more elegant era of motoring. Among the cars lined up were a gleaming Morse-style Jaguar, a convertible Morris Minor, a Triumph Stag, a Volkswagen Beetle and a Jensen Interceptor, that last a very valuable collector’s item. Was this some sort of enthusiasts’ rally? I asked food and beverage manager Paul Berryman as he showed us over the grounds before dinner, with particular attention to the well-tended kitchen garden which had produced some of what we were about to eat.

It turned out the cars had been supplied by a specialist company for the use of a group of German tourists. Rosemarie and I exchanged smiles on hearing these last words. After the carry-on a couple of weeks ago with Faulty Towers The Dining Experience, was this to be another occasion for us emphatically not to mention the war? Not tonight, for as Paul explained, the German guests were dining out, returning for bed and a barbecue on the morrow.

Even without them, the Old Swan’s candlelit restaurant was pretty full. Other diners were eating in the front bar, where we were surprised to find, even on this balmy night, a log fire in the grate. Our evening began in front of it with gin and tonics. Since the gin was the excellent Hendrick’s brand, the garnish was the recommended slice of cucumber rather than lemon or lime. Here was the chance for study of the menu, or rather menus, since this was ‘fish Friday’ with a range of chef David Mwiti’s specials, majoring heavily on dishes piscatorial. These included a lobster salad that also featured crayfish from the River Windrush which runs beside the hotel, fried fillet of sea-bass (the menu said ‘pan-fried’ but I don’t suppose anyone would suppose it had been fried in anything but a pan), poached salmon and fried gilthead bream.

The choices made, our order was given to our friendly young waitress Sophie who with colleague Charlotte went on to supply courteous and efficient service to us in the next-door dining room, with its antiques and candle lighting, as the meal proceeded.

My starter choice (from the regular menu, though its ingredients might suggest otherwise) was a crab and crayfish cocktail, an example of which can be seen in the picture above. This tasted delightfully fresh — hardly surprising, since the crab had arrived hot-claw from Devon and the crayfish had been pulled from the Windrush. These days they are the American signal variety, these brutes having all but wiped out the native species that I so much enjoyed fishing for by torchlight, back in the 1970s, a little upstream at Swinbrook.

Rosemarie began with a quartet of seared king scallops, which were served with the orange coral intact, accompanied by shaved fennel and red sorrel leaves, both sourced from the hotel garden, and sauce vierge. She continued with a magnificent Oxfordshire beef steak and Hobgoblin pie. This arrived still in its dish, affording an opportunity for us to see it at its best before it was sent back to the kitchen, at Rosemarie’s request, to be decanted. That the hotel employs a pastry cook (the admirable Jake Merchant) was evident in the quality of the flaky topping, and the meat in a rich gravy was reported melt-in-the-mouth, a verdict in which I concurred when I was allowed to finish it.

By then, I had thoroughly enjoyed my main course dish of a juicy baked fillet of skin-on pollack — a once disregarded white fish now widely favoured, thanks in large part to the championing of Rick Stein. It came with a mustard sauce, green beans, tenderstem broccoli, carrots and sautéed new potatoes in their skins, which same variety of vegetables was also supplied to my companion. To finish, she enjoyed (again with praise for the pastry chef), a Williams pear and almond tart, with vanilla ice cream and summer fruits (for me).

This was a gorgeous dinner all round, with a chilled bottle of subtly flavoured French viognier to make our pleasure complete. The Old Swan & Minster Mill is a fine place I would happily return to again and again.