AS a college student, the Duke of Marlborough was a regular lunchtime watering hole for many of us, so I thought I knew what to expect. Since then, though, things have clearly changed.

The frosted windows are now see-through, the tinny radio of old has given way to an easy-listening CD player, and the dart board has gone, with only the spotlights remaining as a reminder of double tops past.

The public bar is traditionally furnished with dark wooden tables and chairs, and wood panelling on the walls. A splash of colour is added by a small television and a fruit machine. Those who wish to escape these distractions can retreat to the lounge bar.

Historic photographs of the city also adorn the walls, providing a few points of interest. As does the pub name, of course, cavalierly removed by earlier owners some years ago, and restored after vociferous local protest.

The selection of ales was interesting I chose a pint of Ansells Mild, at a very reasonable £2, but could equally have tried Jennings Cumberland Ale, had I wished. I couldn't help noticing that the selection of wines was also good for a pub of this size. The menu, served noon till two, has certainly had some tweaks. The blackboard, which I remember as displaying the likes of ham, egg and chips, now boasts "goat's cheese, avocado and cherry tomato ciabatta" instead. I couldn't decide whether, in the new Duke of Marlborough, St Albans has gained something or lost something. I suppose the answer is both.

I wouldn't like to say if it is better or worse than it was it is just different.