Previously unreported in these pages are the changes, very much for the better, at The Old Spring in Ferry Path, just off Chesterton Road. It has always been an attractive pub but was run in a lacklustre manner under the previous managed regime. The conversion to tenancy in October last year has seen a quantum leap in the quality of every aspect of the pub, but especially the beer. Greene King IPA, Abbot and Old Speckled Hen are the regulars with a changing guest ale every week; cellar manager Ralph Holland is a real ale enthusiast and it shows.

The extensive menu of freshly-made dishes is a further attraction, ranging from soups and sandwiches to full meals and daily specials (served 12 to 2.30 and 6.30 to 9 each day). The vegetarian choices look especially strong. The L-shaped interior now sports a fresh, contemporary look (anyone remember its "olde worlde" phase of some years back with spray-on cobwebs and sawdust on the floor?). The no-smoking conservatory extension and large decked patio are both nice places to be on a sunny day (and it's another pub to add to the list of those offering daily newspapers).

A very welcome conversion to real ale is The Royal Standard down Mill Road. Back in the 1980s, when it was a Tolly pub run by the redoubtable Arthur Cooper, this was a Good Beer Guide regular but it's been many years since it sold the good stuff. The arrival of new tenants John and Wendy Cross (formerly at The Mill) has changed all that. They started off with a couple of cask beers (Greene King IPA and Shepherd Neame Spitfire) but intend to increase the choice to four. The two-bar interior has been given a much-needed redecoration. Home-cooked food should be available by the time you read this.

Another of our dwindling band of non-real ale pubs seems certain to be sprouting handpumps shortly. The Blackamoors Head on Victoria Road has been taken over by Peter Fagg who also runs The Backstreet Bistro - something similar to the latter can be expected when it reopens (along, no doubt, with a new and more politically-correct name). As we went to press, we heard that Peter is leaving The Bun Shop and a new landlord has been lined up.

This, incidentally, will leave just six pubs (as against cafe-bars) in the Branch area not offering their customers real ale - The British Queen, The (Red) Cow, The Devonshire Arms, The Duke of Argyle, The Graduate and The Jubilee, all in Cambridge.

Roundup of Other News
Reports have reached us that The Coach & Horses in Trumpington is now a Chinese restaurant; that The Fountain in Regent Street is for sale (via a Manchester Estate Agent, Jenics Ltd) and that there's a new licensee at The Alma, Russell Court.