The couple who "saved" The Black Horse moved on after a year or so and since last November it has been in the hands of Helen Woodgate. This is Helen's first pub though she has been in the trade on and off for 10 years, including a spell with her sister at the Blue Lion, Hardwick.
Trade is healthy, proving to Greene King that you shouldn't ever write off a pub. Food in particular has taken off, served every evening except Sunday, and Sunday lunchtime. Real ales are IPA, Abbot and the G.K. seasonal beer.
There will be news of the White Horse in the next issue.
A check in the south-east corner of the Branch area revealed new tenants at the Red Lion, Cheveley. Tony Halford and Susan Burrows moved in on Burns night. The redec. is completed; peat blocks on the open fire; the garden's next.
Down the road in Ashley, Nikki and Chris Tyler have just completed four years at the Crown. The Greene King seasonal ale - Sorceror - joins IPA on the bar for the summer. A 14-course Greek feast features on the itinerary in May.
The County boundary runs through the Bell at Kennett, but with Geoff Smith keeping his guest beers like London Pride at £1.60 a pint, Cambs claims the pub.
For many years The Fountain was an unassuming two-bar local - one of the ex-Watney pubs which fell into the hands of Brent Walker/Pubmaster. Now it is a Free House, the new owners being John and Judith Borland who have given the place a complete overhaul.
Outside the yellow brickwork has been cleaned and an attractive new sign hung. Inside the transformation has been remarkable. Alterations and extensions have resulted in an L-shaped layout, the bar now facing you as you enter. Colour-washed walls, tiled and wooden floors, sturdy furniture, tasteful local prints and photos - the effect is admirably unfussy. Though on a much smaller scale, the style is similar to The Castle in Cambridge.
Another similarity is the regular featuring of Adnams beers. Adnams Bitter and Broadside are served alongside a guest beer. Lunchtime food is for the time being restricted to simple traditional fare like beef sandwiches and ploughmans. John and Judith are keen to ensure this is a pub that serves food, not a food bar seving drinks.
The Fountain is currently open 12 til 2.30 and 5 til 11, but the hours will lengthen with the days in order to capitalise on the pubs proximity to the Cathedral. This is the only pub in Ely with a Children's Certificate, though families might choose to sit in the sun-trap patio.
A lot of care and attention has clearly gone into this venture and the Borlands are to be congratulated on taking an incremental approach rather than diving in with wide ranges of beer and food. We wish them well.
The food display cabinet is soon to be replaced by an extended bar counter with stillaging beneath so that southern beers can be served straight from the cask, rather than being dragged through the swan-necks now in use.