IT was another glorious summer weekend, and our base for the Saturday night was in the middle of a triangle of history and heritage.

In one corner was the grand and imposing Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill and with sprawling grounds that you could spend hours wandering.

In another corner is the equally splendid Waddesdon Manor, a huge country estate that was bequeathed to the National Trust by James de Rothschild in 1957.

And in the top corner is Broughton Castle, a romantic moated manor that has featured in many films and TV series.

And so where did we end up going? We went to a shopping centre.

To be fair, we only had one night at The Lion, a delightful 18th century pub in the village of Wendlebury, in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside, and with the sun beating down in this shimmering heatwave, we didn’t feel like wandering too far.

Bicester Village isn’t far away at all – just two miles up the road – and is one of the biggest outlet shopping centres in the country. My wife said she’d quite like to pay a visit, so we did – and lasted about an hour. It was hot and heaving with people and was hardly a relaxing experience. I did get a nice shirt though.

What was a relaxing experience was our stay at The Lion, which has recently been refurbished and relaunched by new owners Brakspear, the Oxfordshire brewers, and is well worth a visit.

The place is a bit like the Tardis from Doctor Who – from the outside it looks like a modestly sized village pub; inside there is plenty of space to wine, dine and socialise, with all sorts of nooks and crannies in the bar area, a spacious conservatory dining room, a sun-trap courtyard, and the new block of bedrooms.

So while Blenheim Palace would have been a lovely place to visit on an English summer’s afternoon, days like this are perfect for just kicking back, sipping a pint and reading a newspaper.

On the way to Wendlebury we did stop for lunch at Woodstock, the quaint little town to which Blenheim is attached (or is that the other way round?).

Woodstock is well worth a mooch. There is charming architecture, lots of quirky little shops, pubs galore and a little museum that’s worth a visit. There is currently an exhibition running there called Peter Rabbit – Mischief and Mayhem, which my wife fancied having a look at. The museum, appropriately enough, is like a warren, with all sorts of galleries dotted about the place and finding Beatrix Potter’s big-eared hero was quite a challenge. Mischief indeed.

A short drive took us to Wendlebury, a small and attractive if unremarkable little village. The parish church of St Giles is an interesting landmark, and the village would normally have a stream running through it – but in this heatwave it was parched.

And so were we – and like a mirage, The Lion appeared before us, as rustic and honey-coloured and welcoming a sight as you could hope for. It was still mid-afternoon and we did consider exploring the countryside and taking in some nearby heritage, but The Lion is a slice of history itself, built in the 18th century and continually operating as a village inn since 1732, and even with its recent spruce up, it looks and feels old.

The courtyard is a little piece of heaven and we had a relaxing couple of hours reading, chatting - and competing: we squeezed in a couple of games of Bananagrams (from which I’m pleased to say I emerged victorious). It was about as strenuous activity we could manage in this balmy weather.

And after that I was in the mood to celebrate. We were booked in for dinner, and boy it was special. My pan fried king scallops starter was followed by roasted guinea fowl with sauté potatoes, chorizo, spinach and saffron aioli, and it was quite sensational.

My wife was similarly gushing about her sautéed tiger prawns with chorizo, chilli and garlic butter starter followed by fresh egg fettuccine with cherry tomatoes, asparagus, olives, lemon, mint and Ticklemore goats cheese.

Come on, something had to let the side down – we’d better try a dessert.We both had rhubarb, rosehip and pistachio pavlova – surely that couldn’t be as delicious as it sounds. It was – a sticky, creamy, sugary delight. Please don’t tell my dentist.

The people who work at The Lion seem to do so with pride, and great attention to detail. The fabulously prepared meal was just an example of that. General manager Claire Lenkowiec and her staff make customer satisfaction a priority, and they go about accomplishing that with smiles on their faces.

The food that we enjoyed, prepared under the supervision of head chef Conal Boyle, was from a menu that gave a slight twist to classic British, with fresh ingredients sourced locally.

Our bedroom was spotlessly clean, and very comfortable. Pleasantly decorated and well appointed, my night’s sleep was like floating on a big ball of cotton wool. That may have been because the bed and pillows were by Feather & Black, which my wife assures me is “very posh”. But it’s details like that that matter when you want customers to return.

And after that good night’s sleep – and surprisingly, after the previous night’s meal – I awoke next morning ready for breakfast. I just had to sample the full English, and it didn’t disappoint with an inviting plate of Cumberland sausage, smoked bacon, roasted flat cap mushroom, grilled plum tomato, black pudding, fried bread, baked beans and two poached eggs set before me. Yeah, I’m a greedy guts, but duty calls. And it was oh so delicious. And now I really know why it’s called “full” English – at the end of it, and with a bit of mushroom remaining on the plate, I was full, and not looking forward to a visit to Bicester Village.

My wife went for something a bit more dainty – eggs royale – and loved every morsel.

We’d been at The Lion for less than 24 hours, but we left with heavy hearts.

We'd love to go back, and at £130 a night, including breakfast, we reckon it's a bargain.

The thing is, while we enjoyed a fabulous summer's afternoon and evening, we reckon The Lion is a great place to visit any time of year. Tell you what, I told my wife, let's have a day's Christmas shopping in Oxford in December, then head up the A34 to Wendlebury, where no doubt we will be welcomed by a log fire, a foaming pint of Brakspear's best, and another delicious dinner. "I can't wait," she said.