It’s that time of year when we all start to meet up with old friends.
We share the events of the year (or the last few months), enjoy a drink or, even better, have a good old chinwag over a decent meal.
And so it was that we two old pals found ourselves meeting up at the White Lion pub at Wrightington.
The venue itself has become something of an old friend as it is the place we gather every festive season and despite the passage of time, it never disappoints.
The menu is varied, with an a la carte option, a special Wednesday stir fry section and an early bird menu, which is available on Monday to Friday from lunchtime until 6.30pm.
There are also vegetarian and vegan versions, so everyone is kept happy.
We early birds opted for two courses for £12.45, believing (rightly) that the three courses at £16.45 would have defeated even two greedy gossipers...and anyway we needed more time to chat!
There were plenty of great-sounding options, including chilli, linguine and gammon.
But in the end, I went for the homemade plate steak and ale pie, served with chips peas and gravy, while across the table my chum opted for the ‘petit’ fish and chips, with mushy peas and a little jar of tartar sauce on the side.
The pie was a challenging portion - a huge slice containing large chunks of beef surrounded by a tasty shortcrust pastry and smothered in gravy - but I’m not one to shirk such a challenge and it helps that it went down easily too.
Someone here knows how to cook a good pie - hearty and delicious.
I noticed later there was a cheese and onion pie option on the early bird menu, so I may have already chosen next year’s festive get-together meal....
The petit fish was smaller than the usual whale you find on pub menus as you would expect from the moniker, but the chunky flakes of cod were just as goodas anything you’ll see in a bistro and there was no skimping on the chips or mushy peas.
Suffice it to say that the entire plateful was dispatched while the pie was still being tackled.
Definitely the sign of an enjoyable meal.
Having chosen to do without a starter, we weren’t prepared to do the same with pudding.
Across the table, a small shriek of delight greeted the knowledge that crumble was on the menu - apple and raspberry to be specific, with that comforting favourite, custard.
A large bowl of crumble appeared with a pot of vanilla custard on the side . A small hole was made in the centre of the crumble and the custard disappeared within, melding into the fruit and topping.
For me it was the chocolate and walnut brownie with salted caramel ice cream.
Salted caramel is, my husband tells me, an acquired taste.Clearly I’ve acquired it.
Both puddings were absolutely delicious.
In fact, if it had been appropriate, we may have licked the plates.
Fortunately for those on the surrounding tables, we behaved with some decorum, probably because we were both driving and therefore had drunk a pint of coke and a lime and soda respectively.
On another day, this would be a good place to try out the real ale on offer.
There are eight of them to choose from and six of them change every week, so if you can persuade someone to drive, there is the possibility of a beer festival without even leaving the pub.
And if you want to try three at a time, third glasses are available - just ask at the bar.
There is also a decent wine list and a growing collection of gins and whiskies.
The large gathering nearby - at least a dozen of them - had clearly come with designated drivers and were having a great time.
That’s the beauty of the White Lion.
It can accommodate a couple of pals having a get-together or a huge party of folk with the same friendly efficiency.
They serve honest pub grub with no pretence, just decent portions and goodflavours. Plus, the whole bill came to less than £30 and we were stuffed.
As we said goodbye in the car park afterwards, we made a date for the following year.
So, will these old friends be back at the White Lion next year?
It would be rude not to...