The Plough, Fen Ditton has had a makeover. It's been redecorated in warmer, more natural colours and a comfy seating area has been created near the door. Walls are liberally hung with prints,mirrors and painted boards while the chunky tables of varying sizes are also an improvement. On the patio, an open log fire is another new feature. Greene King Old Speckled Hen is the permanent real ale with two guests from the likes of Sharps, Purity, Adnams and Youngs. There's a new winter menu as well full details at www.theploughfenditton.co.uk
Greene King have displayed a regrettable tendency in recent years to shorten the names of their local pubs the Brook(field Tavern), the Fort St George (in England), the Robin Hood (and Little John) and now the Bird (in Hand). Watch out the Baron of Beef and the Champion of the Thames
The Mill, Mill Lane, Cambridge closed when the Passionate Pub Company, which leased it from Punch, went bust, but has now reopened. The beer range in early December was unchanged from Passionate times Caledonian Deuchars, Adnams Broadside, Elgoods Cambridge and Wychwood Hobgoblin plus Weston's Old Rosie cider.
Welcome to Jason, the new Manager at the Tivoli, Chesterton Road, Cambridge; he was previously at another Wetherspoons pub, the College Arms in Peterbrough.
Welcome also to Kevin and Liz Elstub and their family who have taken on the White Swan, Conington. Kevin had been in construction for the past 24 years but as that industry is in a state more parlous even than the licensed trade, and as he'd always fancied runnuing a pub, now was the time. The White Swan is an imposing Victorian brick-built building which retains much period character, including tiled floors, a splendid fireplace and unusual windows. The Elstubs have redecorated, with the public bar now sporting a bold red colour scheme. Work by local artists adorns the walls, along with framed photos of old Conington. Darts and bar billiards continue, supplemented by a range of other traditional games like Ring The Bull, Shut The Box and Nine Men's Morris. All four handpulls are in action and will take advantage of Greene King's recently extended guest beer range. The food offering has headed a bit more upmarket and the Dining Room menu looks especially enticing all home cooked, no Brakes Brothers here. It's great to see this current Good Beer Guide entry in such capable hands.
Everards have done an excellent job of refurbishing the Rose & Crown in Histon. The T-shaped interior now sports new oak floors, bench seating rescued from old churches, handmade chunky tables, an inglenook fireplace with wood-burning stove and framed photos of old Histon. Licensees Darryl and Irene have moved from another local Everards pub, the Plough, Duxford, and are determined to put the place back on the map - home cooked food and good ales in a relaxed setting sums up their aims. The middle of these will be helped by what is now the most modern cellar in the Everards estate. Real ales are Beacon, Tiger and Original plus a monthly guest (Burton Bridge Damson Porter on our visit). A new wine list will be in place by now while Prosecca by the glass is proving popular. Food is served 12 3, 6 9 Monday to Saturday and 12 5 Sunday.
Speaking of the Plough, Duxford, the new incumbent there is Stuart Burn; this is his first pub but he says he's always loved them and having reached a certain age decided to go for it. Stuart also plays Touch Rugby for the England Over 40s team and is in the squad for the next World Championships though his new responsibilities to the drinkers of Duxford may interfere with that. His regular real ales are Everards Beacon and Adnams Bitter while the three guests when we popped in were Titanic Deck the Halls, Castle Rock Lords and Ladies and Everards Dark Angel. The menu features five permanent main dishes at between £7.95 and £9.95 plus around five daily specials.
George Giller has kindly written to tell us what's been happening at the Little Rose, Haslingfield. As he says, this doesn't occupy the most prepossessing of buildings and isn't helped by being set back 50 yards from the main road. These are conceivably contributing factors to its having been in danger of closure a year or so back. Up until nine months ago, the pub had had as many as eight managers in two years trying and failing to make a go of it. The along came Ricky and Nicky Turner, previous award winning licensees from the Anchor, Burwell to take on the tenancy and save the pub. First they refurbished the kitchen where Nicky produces excellent home-cooked food; this includes fish and chips to eat in or take away (Tue Sat inclusive), pensioners' lunches on Wednesday and a good wholesome Sunday roast (for which advance booking is a must). Ricky, who knows what a good beer should taste like, firstly redecorated the main bar and now serves the perfect pint, including the occasional guest beer. The pub also has a large car park, extensive grass area with tables and a Petanque piste. George assures that you'll get a warm welcome.
Most ALE readers will have heard the very sad news of the fire at the Carlton Arms Cambridge just before Christmas. The extent of the damage to the Good Beer Guide-listed pub means that it's unlikely to reopen for several months. The freehold is owned by Enterprise Inns and we wait to hear what they plan to do. In the meantime, licensees Michael and Rosemary Bull have our heartfelt sympathy this obviously couldn't have happened at a worse time of year for them.
So to our round-up of pubs currently advertised as being on the market. A positive sign is that there are so few neither Punch Taverns nor Enterprise Inns have anything available locally. Greene King seek new tenants for the Cricketers Cambridge, the Crown and Five Bells Burwell, the Plough Great Shelford and the Waggon & Horses Linton. Christies still have for sale the King William IV Heydon (£925k) and the Plough Shepreth (£590k) plus the Pheasant Great Chishill (£699.5k). Fleurets have a free of tie lease for the Greyhound, Coldhams Lane, Cambridge on offer (£12k) along with the freehold of the Slap Up on the A10 at Landbeach this has operated as an Indian restaurant for some years but no reason why it shouldn't revert to a pub.