FROM outside, I wondered if The Black Boy was actually open though it was 7.15 on a Tuesday evening.

Situated on the Old Watford Road at Bricket Wood, now virtually a service road behind trees running alongside the A405, just before the M1 bridge, a blackboard blocking the front door advertised forthcoming football matches..

What's more, I could discern no sign of life within. But closer inspection showed a sign on the disused main door directing me around the side.

Here I found a newish-looking terraced garden, leading to a terrace with seating, and beyond up the steep bank (speaking of conspicuous effort and investment). Above it two new houses were reaching completion in an area where infilling in the large gardens has helped feather householders' bank accounts.

Inside, I found a modest local very local. Drinkers all seemed known to each other and, for most of them, this is the only pub in walking distance.

"Hello, I'm on my way now darling," said a man seated on a bar stool when his mobile phone rang, as he showed no sign of moving. While I was downing my half of Marlow's Rebellion Mutiny, no other woman entered the pub.

The interior is split into three, dimly lit by mock oil lamps no wonder I saw no lights from outside with a crescent-shaped bar in the stone-flagged main central room.

The outer areas are carpeted, at the far end there's a television for sport and two brick-built fireplaces suggest the Forties though outside you can see that parts of the building itself are much older, possibly turn of the century.

In the happy hour, from 4pm to 7pm, the IPA, Stella and guest beer are £1.80 a pint and Guinness is £2. I found my half of Mutiny rather flat, while my husband and son were disappointed with the condition of their pints of IPA and left them unfinished on the bar.

I have heard that The Black Boy offers good home cooking at lunchtimes which reminded us that we were hungry and off we went.