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Cross Keys, 48 High Street, WALLINGFORD, OX10 0DB [Map]
At last, I plug the computer in, switch it on and type up a review for the Cross Keys in Wallingford. Who knows where the time goes, but here it is. The Cross Keys is perched at the northern end of Wallingford High Street overlooking not just a couple of those annoying little mini-roundabouts, but overlooks the sizeable Kinecroft, a large area of parkland with its 9th Century earthworks built by King Alfred the Greatís men to keep out the Danes. The ĎKeysí has been a hostelry since the late 1700ís and you can still expect a warm welcome from Bob, Roni and their staff. Itís a lovely old pub with a warm, welcoming atmosphere and plenty of space to relax and a warm fire to keep you warm in the winter. Bob and Roni are well known locally and have deservedly won several awards from the brewery.
The Keys still very much retain the feel of a traditional pub with not just a single large cavernous room, but several small intimate rooms; a traditional public bar, a lounge to the right and a back room to the rear. Unlike many pubs in the area, the atmosphere is distinctly chatting with the familiar sound of tasty pints of Oxfordshire brewed Brakspear. Although no longer brewed in Henley, Refresh, have ensured that the Brakspear Bitter, Special and seasonal brews are once again brewed in Oxfordshire, these days at Witney. Food is simple but tasty with baguettes and Steak and Kidney pudding at lunchtime and a proper roast on Sundays.
Locals abound and the pub has several strong teams including a darts, crib and football team and during the warmer summer months Aunt Sally is played out the back and is usually followed with a few burgers off the barbecue. Folk sessions are also held regularly but youíll have to call the pub for more details.
It was in this pub that the Bunkfest was conceived, a festival with a somewhat unusual name, which combines music, with real ale, steam trains and entertainment for the whole family. Iíve been fortunate enough to have helped out at since the first festival in 2002, and each year the hard work of the organisers ensures that it grows and becomes more popular each year. The festival is held the weekend after the August Bank Holiday, if you can make it why not come along and say hiÖ The pub has its own website at http://www.crosskeysthepub.co.uk/.