Socially distanced dining out in the new normal
We had heard so much about The Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne that it was one of the pubs to check out for 2020 before 2020 went topsy turvy. With lockdown firmly in place mid-March, dreams of a lazy Sunday breakfast or a dinner with a difference on a Friday night became a thing of the past. Even with the easing of lockdown in early June and pubs and restaurants reopening mid-July, we were a little cautious about rushing out to eat.
It wasn’t until the Bank Holiday weekend in August we finally took the plunge and made a booking at The Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne for breakfast on a Saturday morning. From booking for a table online to changing our dining time, getting a table was smooth sailing. And we needn’t have worried about socially distanced dining as we found out when we got there.
The Betsey Wynne is one of the 27 Oakman Inns dotted around the country. As a fan of The Navigation Inn in Cosgrove, this was for me an immediate sign of quality. Situated in sleepy Swanbourne, about 15 miles out of Milton Keynes, like the other Oakman Inns, The Betsey Wynne is a characterful venue serving great food.
Upon going through the door marked ‘entrance only’ – a sign of our socially distanced and two-way system times – we realised we were in no danger of being in close proximity to other diners. The Betsy Wynn has far more room than you’ll ever need to swing a cat – should you wish to! – even in its dog-friendly bar area which accommodates a good eight to ten tables sitting up to six people.
We sat at the far end opening up to another area which is dog-free, which in turn, opens on to a courtyard for dining al fresco. The Betsey Wynne has adapted to the current rules really well as the Perspex screens needed few and far between, as there is often more than a two metre distance between tables were non-intrusive, and cleverly used as more branding opportunity, with Oakman Inns branding.
Within minutes of us sitting down, a waiting staff came along with a bowl of fresh water for Doodles – this, in my book, is the first sign of a truly dog-friendly pub: whether they serve the doggie before the humans. A big win, as any fellow dog owner would agree!
Having been deprived of our go to breakfast of choice for five months, both Mr O and I opted for the Full English. But before we move on to that, it is worth saying The Betsey Wynne serves amazing coffee. The number of cyclists taking outside on the patio should have been a sign!
The Full English arrived piping hot within perhaps ten minutes of ordering. Having seriously reduced our portions over the last couple of years, both Mr O. and I were pleased about the portions – sizeable enough to make you feel satiated rather than stuffed and see you through the day.
By 10:30 am, there are more diners, mostly with dogs in tow, arriving for breakfast, then at 11:00 – a good hour and a bit since our arrival, the brunch crowd starts arriving; but we are not rushed along at all. In fact, the ambiance is so friendly, we order another round of coffee and chat to the manager who tells us about the other pubs in the chain around the country and makes sight-seeing recommendations for our upcoming staycation in Norfolk.
We felt so welcome that we continued with a whole photo shoot before we were finally to pay the bill and get on with the rest of our day, vowing to be back to sample more of The Betsey Wynne’s delicious food for lunch or dinner.
While the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme ended at the end of August, The Betsey Wynne is offering discounts on meals from Monday to Wednesday until the end of September. Head over to their website to download a voucher and book your table. Who knows, you may see me there one of these evenings!