THERE are times when even dogmatically positive reviewers like me are hard pushed to come up with something good to say about a pub.

After all, a pub by its very definition is something intrinsically good.

You go in a bit morose or under the weather and nine times out of ten you come out feeling cheered, or in my case, sloshed.

But visiting the Saracens Head in Redbourn's High Street last Thursday afternoon left me searching for some upbeat adjectives.

And, unhappily, I couldn't find many.

From the outside it looks pleasant enough, quaint even, with its whitewashed walls and hanging baskets, and it sits evenly in Redbourn's tranquil environs.

This sedate village is not short of a pub or two though and I suspect the Saracen's Head, despite having the best name, is not the most popular.

Inside the word which sprang to mind was tired it is as though the pub's undoubted elegance is fading.

To my untrained eye, the decor appeared somewhat haphazard dreadful brown panelling juxtaposed with glorious old beams.

I imagine the pub is popular and successful enough with its local clientele to not have to worry about decorative flourishes or repairing battered upholstery but to newcomers it's certainly unappealing. But for all that, a certain jollity prevailed with the women sat at the table next to us and the friendly bar manager who was only filling in for a day or two for the regular landlord.

My colleague and I were certainly not made to feel unwelcome, which is often the case with village pubs, and we both enjoyed our pints, John Smith's and Guinness respectively. But much like village life itself, the Saracens Head seemed to be clinging on to the vestiges of a more glorious past. And you certainly can't blame it for that.