However, things are looking up. We report elsewhere on the great strides being taken at the Unicorn and a visit to the Green Man to meet manager Marion Shaw also yielded lots of positive news. The Green Man reopened in November 2006 after an extensive refit with owners Mitchell and Butlers moving it away from being a branded outlet to somewhere more original and distinctive. Clearly no money was spared ensuring the quality of the fittings and furniture; plenty of natural materials are on show, including tiled and stripped wood flooring, an attractive new bar counter and non-identikit tables and chairs. The front part of the building has a genuinely pubby feel and though essentially open plan there are nooks and crannies to lend interest. The area between here and the back becomes more foody but not overly so. The restaurant itself is in an impressively high-ceilinged extension (and replete with greenery - I've never seen so many mother-in-law's-tongues in one place!).

Marian, who has been at the pub since April, is especially keen to increase the amount of wet trade. More people popping in just for a few drinks will, she believes, give the place a buzzier atmosphere. At present only the one real ale is served, albeit one of the very best in the form of Timothy Taylor's Landlord. This will increase shortly by at least one and perhaps two.

Food is of course still the major draw. The lunchtime menu has a selection of sandwiches, starters and lighter dishes such as fishcakes, rare beef salad and a daily fish special - plus full meals as well. The evening and weekend menu offers a bigger choice of main meals, including twice-roasted half duck and slow roasted Welsh lamb shoulder. Roast beef with all the trimmings for Sunday lunch is £9.

Some CAMRA members turn their noses up at large, food oriented pubs like this but you can't argue with their popularity and the days when identically tedious Brewers Fayre, Toby and Beefeater outlets could be found on the edge of every town seen to have gone (see the report elsewhere on the Bridge at Clayhythe, another such pub where thought and attention has gone into the design). It's particularly satisfying to see these pubs taking their real ale offer more seriously and welcoming folk who just want a pint in pleasant surroundings.