Big Beef Pie Down at the Bird and Baby
During a family visit to Oxford, UK last week my son took me on a pub crawl – well, a pub lunch crawl actually. We dropped in to sample the wares of The Trout, the Punter, the Isis, the Rickety Press and the Eagle and Child. Local beers and good home cooking at each. But it was the Eagle and Child, aka Bird and Baby that really captured my interest. Not only for its splendid beef pie with golden brown flaky pastry and amber pint of St George and the Dragon, but for its history as a meeting place for a group of writers who called themselves the Inklings. It was in the back room of this gorgeously warm and inviting pub that the Inklings, who included JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, met and read out their latest scribblings to their fellow writers. It was so heartening to know that even such great authors as Tolkien and Lewis valued the support of a writer’s group. I went down to the back room and imagined the Inklings doing their readings, getting advice and sipping their ales. The pub staff couldn’t tell me where JRR Tolkien used to sit so I sat down in each available chair in the fond hope that some of his magic would rub off on me!
I’m also a member of an International Writers Group (mainly UK members) which ‘meet’ monthly by email. So while I was in Oxford we met for a three hour luncheon at the house of one of the members. It was marvellous to put faces to names, chat about our individual publishing hopes, swap ideas and get supportive comment on our latest efforts. The meeting was so valuable that we hope to make it an annual event.
Oh by the way, the Bird and Baby building was used as a ‘playhouse’ for the Royalist soldiers during the English Civil War. No doubt they also enjoyed big beef pies and amber ale as well!
author of the Cadet Willie McBride series and Brilliant Mr Badger.