Apologies to Doug Robb, recently retired licensee of The Grapes, Histon Road for rechristening him Dave in the last issue.

New licensed premises have opened in Over, on the Norman Way Industrial Estate. "Xscape Cambridge" is however a swingers' club which has upset the local vicar and others. We suspect that the adult entertainment on offer doesn't include real ale but if it did then perhaps Potton Village Bike and Daleside Old Legover would be appropriate choices.

Handpumps were ripped out of All Bar One on St Andrews Street some years ago but have now reappeared, to serve Tim Taylors Landlord and Adnams Bitter.

The Slug and Lettuce, Green Street, reopened in June after a refit and, surprisingly, real ale has been installed. On our visit a single unmarked handpump was dispensing Charles Wells Bombardier at £3.20 a pint (there was a pumpclub on a subsequent visit which should help sales).

[exterior of the Elm Tree] [interior of the Elm Tree]
With price increases rampant, it's a pleasure to report that the new regime at the Elm Tree Orchard Street have actually reduced the prices of Bombardier and Young's Bitter by 10 and 20 pence a pint respectively since taking over. There's also real cider, dispensed from a polypin behind the bar.

The Trinity Foot on the A14 at the Swavesey turn has been closed for a little while and owners Enterprise Inns have now put the freehold up for sale. Whether it will survive as a pub must be doubtful given its isolated position; the recent attempt to run it as an upmarket Thai-restaurant-cum-pub failed fairly quickly.

[exterior of the Rose]
At the Rose Stapleford, Paul and Karen Beer, who also run the George and Dragon Elsworth, are now in charge. No significant physical alterations to the layout (so the cosy bar area thankfully remains) but there's new furniture and decor. The real ale offering is Greene King IPA, Black Sheep Bitter and Wychwood Hobgoblin. Main courses mostly come in at between £10 and £15 though you can get two courses for £11 and three for £13 on weekday lunchtimes. Fish and chips to take away cost £5.95.

Toft is one of those unlucky villages to have lost its last pub but its Social Club works hard to fill the gap. Their fourth Beer Festival takes place from 5th to 7th September. Details of opening times and the beer/cider selection can be found at www.toft.org.uk/beer08.

We've got great hopes for the Geldart, Sleaford Street/Ainsworth Street, Cambridge which has been taken over by Elvis Joncevski, formerly manager of the nearby Kingston Arms. At the time of writing the builders were in. [It reopened on 9-Aug.]

The Box Tree in Napier Street Cambridge is closed for refurbishment at the time of writing and we gather it will reopen as a Chinese restaurant [and it now has]. It was opened in 1984 by Charles Wells as the Ancient Druids, replacing a much-loved pub of the same name, demolished to make way for the Grafton Centre. For its first 10 years or so it brewed its own ale on the premises but has had a chequered career in recent times, going through several increasingly food-oriented incarnations. Its tucked-away position and frankly boring open plan layout didn't help its cause but its still a great shame to see it go.

Another goner is the Rose and Crown, Newmarket Road, presently boarded up. We understand that the whole area is to be redeveloped which would also spell the end for the nearby and long-closed Five Bells.

The Greyhound, Coldhams Lane, Cambridge was shut last time we passed - hopefully this isn't a permanent situation.

The Mitre on now offers a greatly improved selection of real ales. Seven or eight are available with Taylors Landlord and Caledonian Deuchars as regulars and the rest a rotating choice from regional breweries such as Brains, Thwaites, Everards, Robinsons and Batemans. Most beers are reasonably priced (for central Cambridge) at £2.60 a pint.

And so to our regular, and ever-lengthening, list of pubs currently on the market looking for new tenants or leaseholders. Greene King have no less than 12 of their local pubs up for grabs:

Punch Taverns have three Cambridge pubs on offer: The Enterprise Inns "to let" list comprises: Charles Wells are still looking for someone to take on the Golden Ball Boxworth, Everards ditto the Rose and Crown Histon and Admiral the Hopbine Cambridge. There may well be others on offer from other pub companies, not to mention several managed pubs looking for new guvnors. These figures show that more than 10% of pubs in the Branch area are currently on the market which tells its own tale about the state of the trade. Your pubs need you!

The owner of the freehold of the Black Horse Rampton has again applied for planning permission to build a house on one of the pub's car parks and part of the garden. We reported in the last ALE on the excellent job which the current licensees have done in building up trade here. Loss of these facilities would undo much of their good work and harm the pub's long-term viability so CAMRA has slammed in an objection to the planning application.

Following an application by the Police to the licensing authority, the Locomotive, Mill Road, Cambridge closed on 22 July. This came about after a police raid on the premises had recovered cocaine with a street value in excess of £31,000. The closure order lasts for 28 days whilst a further review of the premises is completed. A police spokesman said "if the pub is reopened it will be under conditions that prevent any association with the use and supply of drugs, serious violence and anti-social behaviour."