The Waggon and Horses Linton is one of those pubs which has never really been on CAMRA’s “map”. It was one of the last local Greene King pubs to convert to real ale and never seemed to embrace it with much enthusiasm. Pity, because it’s a smashing little “proper” drinking pub with lots of potential. The arrival of Jim Borland some six months ago seems likely to realise that potential. Jim had been at the Red Lion Biggleswade for eight years but fancied moving nearer to family (his brother John runs the Fountain, Ely). At present, Jim is building up the real ale sales with Greene King IPA and a changing guest on handpull, with another likely to follow. From 6-8 August he is holding a beer festival with ten real ales. When we visited, a redecoration of the L-shaped main bar was a couple of weeks away whilst the Cask Marque seal of real ale quality had recently been secured. The pub has petanque, darts and an over-40s touch rugby team. It’s great to see one of our few “wet-led” village pubs in good hands.

Apologies to the Kingston Arms, Cambridge. In the last issue we had it as a “regular” Mild outlet, but licensees Paul and Jane assure us that it’s a permanent feature – since opening in March 2000 they have never been without a Mild on pump. Champion Beer of Britain Rudgate Ruby Mild is the current regular and guest Milds also often appear. The Kingston also always has real cider and perry whilst a locale from Buntingford is regularly served. Again following on from the last issue, and Jerry Brown’s article on pub games, Paul and Jane mention their wholehearted support for these. Whilst they don’t have the space to accommodate darts and the like, they have introduced a range of board games which have proven a great success.

The Green Man Trumpington is having a beer festival on 23-24 July, with 15 beers on sale. Daniel from the pub tells us that Adnams Bitter, Tim Taylor Landlord, Shepherd Neame Spitfire and Sharps Doom Bar currently adorn the pumps.

Oh dear – another pub loss seems likely. Greene King put the Blue Lion Fen Ditton on the market quite a while ago but there have been no takers. A planning application has now gone in to demolish it and build a residential care home on the site. Obviously CAMRA hates to see any pub go though, in the scheme of things, the Blue Lion is a less grievous loss than most. It’s an unlovely modern building, more suited to an estate than a village, and Fen Ditton does have three other pubs, including the excellent Ancient Shepherds across the way.

But now some good news. When the Black Bull Sawston became an oriental restaurant a couple of years back, it seemed lost for ever. However Dean Bond has dropped us a note to say he is one of the partners who will soon be reopening it as a pub. More news as we get it.

Well done to Matt Knight, owner of the Fountain Regent Street Cambridge, who has made it into the under-35 section of the Who’s Who of Britain’s Business Elite. Given that this is primarily a young person’s pub, your editor is always impressed with the choice and quality of real ale when delivering ALE there. Having turned round the Fountain, it looks like Matt will also be taking on the Rupert Brooke Grantchester.

Nice to see that the Flying Pig, Hills Road, Cambridge has replaced two of its four permanent real ales with ever-changing guests – Mordue Radgie Gadgie and Batemans’s Spring Goddess when last we called.

The Five Bells Cherry Hinton was closed in early May; hopefully a temporary state of affairs.

Sorry to Steve Davies of the Alma and now also the Clarendon Arms Cambridge for rechristening him Mike in the last issue. Steve has given the Clarendon a wash and brush up plus a kitchen refit. He intends increasing the number of handpumps from four to six and the Greene King XX Mild will stay.

Extreme differential pricing, Cambridge-style – At Wetherspoon’s Regal in St Andrews Street, a pint of Greene King Ruddles Bitter will set you back £1.65. Next door at the Castle, a HALF of the same beer costs £1.95!

The Q-Ton Centre on Cambridge Science Park has installed a handpump to dispense Milton Pegasus.

The British Queen Meldreth, which has under-performed for many years, has been sold by Punch. At the time of writing we don’t know who was successful so let’s hope it’s not yet another restaurant operation. A local person did make a concerted effort to buy it with the intention of turning it back to a proper village local but sadly she was outbid.

The Poacher Elsworth reopened on 28 May under the stewardship of Neil and Caroline Humphreys. This is their first pub though they knew the place well from living in the next village. They’ve spruced up the interior, sanding and varnishing the floorboards, exposing beams, painting the walls and installing attractively chunky new furniture; there’s now a much more unified feel to the décor. Real ales are currently Woodforde’s Wherry and Shepherd Neame Spitfire though more are likely to follow as trade builds. Food is unashamedly pub grub such as Shepherd’s Pie and Bangers and Mash. The Poacher has suffered in recent times from arms-length management so it’s great to see it in the hands of a couple really focused on making it a true village local again.

The Star Melbourn has reopened after many months of closure and we gather it may have changed its name; more news as we get it.

The Longbow at Stapleford is also open for business again, we’re pleased to say.

Dave Utting, licensee of our Pub of the Year, the Empress Cambridge, has also taken on the Globe in Hills Road. At the time of writing it’s closed for refurbishment and is scheduled to reopen at the end of August. Expect the real ale offer to be significantly improved.

Good news on the planning front. The application to demolish the Fleur in Humberstone Road and build student accommodation on the site has been withdrawn.

The Tram Depot, Dover Street, Cambridge has installed a bar billiards table. It continues to offer unusual guest ales alongside the Everards range.

Our usual review of pubs looking for new tenants produces a shorter list than usual – is this a good sign? Punch have the Bun Shop Cambridge, Queen Edith Cambridge and Chequers Cottenham on their list whilst Enterprise have just the Greyhound Sawston and Brewery Tap Waterbeach. Greene King will lease you the Bakers Arms Fulbourn, Bell Balsham, Five Bells Burwell, Hop Bine Cottenham or Queens Head Harston. Everards need someone to run the Plough Duxford. On the pubs for sale side, Christie’s still seek buyers for the King William IV Heydon and Plough Shepreth.

Wetherspoons are spending £1m on the Graduate, formerly the Fresher and Firkin, in Chesterton Road Cambridge. The pub reopens on 16 July as the Tivoli, the name of the cinema which first occupied the building.

The Pickerel, Magdalene Street, Cambridge has joined the SIBA Direct Delivery scheme which, as the name suggests, allows them to get beers delivered direct by selected micro-breweries. Excellent ales from Halfpenny and Potbelly have already been spotted.

Of the 243 pubs in the Cambridge CAMRA Branch area, just five don’t sell real ale. Except now it’s only four as the Grove on Arbury Road Cambridge has installed a handpump. It sells a changing guest from the Greene King range – Tolly Phoenix when we called.

Finally, some local brewery news. Lord Conrad’s brewery was set up in Bar Hill in 2007 but has only just come to our attention; its beers have been seen at the Ely Beer festival. They have apparently brewed eight different ales so far but intend settling on a core range of three plus one seasonal. We’ll try to find out more for the next issue.