It’s now 18 months since Sue and Gordon took over the Hare and Hounds Harlton, a delightful thatched free house which dates back to the 18th century. Both had got bored with their previous occupations and “on a whim” decided to buy a pub. They love the life despite it being very hard work.

This is one of the area’s smaller pubs with just a single cosy and traditional room – though it does have a huge garden which has views out to open countryside. On the real ale front Wells and Youngs Eagle and Bombardier are joined by a guest beer (St Austell Tribute on our visit) though a fourth pump is soon likely to be installed, probably to serve Woodforde’s Wherry. The home made food includes lots of pub favourites like casseroles, fish cakes and steak/kidney pie – you can access the menu on their website at www.thehareandhoundspub.net. There’s a fish supper (and meat raffle) on Friday night whilst the Sunday lunch is developing a strong following. Themed food evenings (Spanish, Caribbean, Italian etc) are also proving popular. Food is served every session except Sunday evening and all day Monday (when the pub is closed lunchtimes).

Harlton is one of those out-of-the-way villages which deserves to be better known and the same applies to its pub.

Meanwhile, over in Milton, Lawrence and Sally Champion have been installed at the Lion and Lamb for even longer – some two and a half years. They previously had the renowned Pink Geranium restaurant at Melbourn and Lawrence has also worked at Midsummer House. However, they sensed that what the folk of Milton wanted was less haute cuisine and more simple pub food freshly made with quality ingredients. Lawrence says that the Sunday Lunch in particular is “to die for, though I say it myself”. The pub also serves breakfast from 8am – 11.30am, having spotted an opportunity when the local Tesco switched from its own restaurant to a Costa Coffee outlet; again the ingredients are all a cut above such as Grasmere Farm sausages.

But what of the beer I hear you cry? Well, the four pumps offer Adnams Bitter, Adnams East Green (their excellent carbon neutral beer, though this may give way to the equally superb Explorer), Fullers London Pride and a guest, currently Tim Taylor Landlord. The Lion and Lamb is an Enterprise Inns pub and the list of cask beers available to their licensees is pretty impressive nowadays. Lawrence is hoping to hold a Beer Festival later in the year, probably September.

Since moving in, the Champions have trebled the turnover, helped by Sally’s background in marketing and design. This certainly isn’t a pub where they just open the doors and expect people to flock in. There’s a weekly quiz, barbecues Friday and Saturday, Steak Night Monday and Thursday, regular live music and karaoke, Sky Sports, special events and so on. It’s good to see all this hard work paying off.

If there are other licensees out there whose arrival hasn’t been recognised in ALE, please get in touch with the Editor and he’ll be happy to come and find out what you’re up to.