The Three Hills at Bartlow, near Linton, has reopened under new ownership after a period of closure; it's in the hands of the good folk who run The John Barleycorn Duxford and The Ickleton Lion. There had been fears that the pub would be converted into a house. Five real ales are on sale - Adnams Broadside, Greene King IPA and Abbot, Theakston XB and Wadworths 6X.

Nice to see The Queen's Head Newton getting a mention in Simon Hoggart's column in . The article began with the words "What makes a great pub?" and went on to praise the beer, the staff and the soup. "The whole place exuded a quintessence of pubbiness ....... no wonder people come from miles outside the village."

The freehold of the block which contains The Red Cow (or "The Cow" as it is currently and regrettably titled) in Cambridge is up for sale. Whether this will eventually see the present characterless, keg-only incarnation returning to being a proper pub remains to be seen.

The British Queen on Histon Road Cambridge has installed a handpump (dispensing Young's Bitter on a recent visit). This means that only 6 of the 257 pubs in the Branch area do not sell real ale. The British Queen is a lively community local with a single L-shaped bar and a good selection of pub games.

The Grapes, also on Histon Road Cambridge now offers a very impressive range of traditional pub games. Bar billiards, skittles, shuv'hapenny, shut-the- box, devil-among-the-tailors, darts, crib, dominoes and several others can all be played here, accompanied by well kept real ales - Greene King IPA and Abbot plus two changing guests (Ridleys Prospect (now brewed by Greene King) and Smiles Heritage on a recent visit).

"B" Bar, Market Passage, Cambridge has added a second handpump to dispense the McMullens seasonal ale (currently Maypole Bitter). Full sized pump clips have also been introduced which make the real ales more visible. McMullen Country Bitter remains on the other pump.

The Bird in Hand on Cambridge's Newmarket Road has changed hands and is no longer a gay pub. The interior has been spruced up, sporting a fetching red and yellow colour scheme (railway buffs of a certain vintage will think "blood and custard"). On the real ale front, only Greene King IPA is presently available but the other pump will return to use if demand for cask grows. The pub is open all day and has a decent range of reasonably priced food, including student specials.

In ALE 321 we bemoaned the conversion of Great Eversden's only pub, The Hoops, into the Golden Elephant thai restaurant. Well, that didn't last long and the place is now closed and up for sale. Will someone reopen it as a pub?

The Rose and Crown Teversham reopened in April after a short time closed. Four real ales are on offer - Greene King IPA, a strong Greene King beer and two changing guests. It's now open all day and the food looks interesting.

Since The Spreadeagle on Lensfield Road Cambridge transmogrified into The Snug, only one real ale has been on sale but it does tend to be something non-mainstream. Milton beers have been spotted there recently.

The Osborne Arms, Hills Road, Cambridge has reopened but remains one of the handful of pubs in the Branch area not to sell real ale. The Hat and Feathers, Barton Road is also open again.

All Bar One, St Andrews Street, Cambridge has expanded its real ales from one to three - Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen plus Wells Bombardier. They are served from tall fonts which are presumably powered by electricity rather than gas as the beers taste entirely kosher.

The Navigator at Little Shelford has been much improved by the addition of an outdoor seating area. Much of the space was created by removal of a tatty garage which has also enabled the car park to be enlarged. Most of the seating is in the dappled shade of a huge tree and occupies an area which is part paved and part grass. Licensees Neil and Michelle also run The Queens Head Harston and have just taken a third pub under their wing - the renowned Plough and Fleece, Horningsea. More on this next time.

Our pub profile next issue will be of The Green Man Thriplow but worth mentioning in advance that it goes no smoking on 1 August. The White Horse at Foxton has also banned the weed - and a nice drop of Caledonian Deuchars IPA was enjoyed here recently.