WHILE The Nelson in Marford Road, Wheathampstead, is a lively enough pub with plenty of appeal to locals, it would not be my choice for an evening out.

Situated some way from the centre of the village, it is hardly well placed to pose as a trendy night spot, and makes no attempt to do so.

I was encouraged by the sign outside promising real ales, but soon disillusioned there was only one available, the solid but uninspiring Greene King IPA.

Non-bitter drinkers, however, are spoilt for choice Carlsberg, Carlberg Export, Holsten, Castlemaine, Strongbow, Guinness and Guinness Extra Cold line up along the bar.

The stools that make up the bulk of the seating look neither comfortable nor new, and I didn't find the interior's combination of red brick and wood panelling very appealing.

Music fills the bar, thankfully not at too intrusive a volume I hope the stack of CDs contains more than the rather gruesome sub-Kylie I had to put up with.

But plenty of people feel otherwise about The Nelson, which, during my visit positively hummed with lively conversation.

Customers crowded the bar to chat with the staff, and several card games were in progress at the tables. The decoration includes some nice paintings and drawings of the pub's heroic namesake, and a framed reprint of a contemporary poster detailing the ships that fought at Trafalgar in 1805.

The building looks a great deal newer than that, but framed legal documents on the wall going back to the 18th Century suggest it has been rebuilt.

The management clearly does its best to organise attractions posters advertise discos, karaoke, quizzes and a Sunday afternoon meat raffle.