When pubs were invented, it could easily have been with Christmas in mind. As the cold draws in, the days dwindle and the streets are crammed with shoppers working wearily through lists of presents that lengthen every year, a good pub is more of a sanctuary than ever.
For the common complaint that Christmas has become starkly commercial and lacking in human heart, those moments spent in good pubs are the best cure. Cosy, welcoming and warmly lit, the pub is a little lantern of fellow feeling and communal cheer, where the commercial element is kept to what's necessary, and the focus is instead on human company and relishing the moment.
And some pubs are so ideally Christmassy it's hard not to think they've been built specially, just for the season. Take the delightful Bull by the Thames at Sonning in Berkshire. A rambling 16th-century inn with open fires and splendid Fuller's beers, it's a perfect place in which to get the genuinely festive feeling. A walk along the misty river with a loved one or two, a couple of pints at the Bull, and an even mistier walk back - I'm not sure Christmas can get much better. Besides all the food and presents, that is.