...or bars, or whatever you call boozers in your neck of the woods: recommend them here. Firstly, the Thatcher's Arms, great Warley, near Brentwood, Essex: a good real-ale pub, where the Pipe Club of London meets on the third Saturday of every month. It has a large smoking shelter out front, with two standard pub-garden-style table-and-bench combinations in it, and heating available for inclement weather, and more tables outside, in the open air, for clement weather. It serves up to four real ales, including a guest from a newly-added fourth pump, and does good food too. The guest on Saturday (which was a fourth Saturday, but it's usually the third) was Adnam's 'Broadside', and jolly good it was too. The Crabree, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. This is my local, a mere two-minute walk from my house. It's an Ember Inn. Usually three or four real ales (though I think they can do up to seven) - I've just had a pint of Bateman's 'Yella Belly' there, and excellent it was too. Also good food. Smoking facilities: large garden out front, lots of tables, and a substantial smoker's shelter for bad weather - but it contains no seating, and the cross-shaped table is about four feet high, and clearly intended to be stood at. This is inconvenient and stupid. Maybe it's the standard Ember Inns design, but it's still stupid. Good pub in other respects, though not the cheapest. The Full House, Hemel Hempstead. My local Wetherspoons, and it has both the virtues and the faults common to all 'spoons, plus one extra fault all its own - hideous decor (to my eyes, anyway). Virtues: cheap (by modern standards), well-served, ever-changing selection of real ales, and a good selection of real cider as well, and good food - the standard 'spoons menu. Faults - barn-like interior (it used to be the local cinema: I prefer something a bit more intimate), and inadequate lighting, as well as the aforementioned horrible decor - sort of goth-meets-sci-fi. Nevertheless, I go there about once a week. Smoking facilities: limited, but not their fault: they do what they can with what they've got. Small patio out front, with wooden tables with limited weather-protection. The Rising Sun, Berkhamsted. I've never actually been to this one, despite it being only a few miles from me - an omission I must rectify soon, as it is last year's CAMRA national pub of the year, and is particularly noted as a cider pub - an enthusiasm of mine. It is known locally as 'The Riser', and, according to last year's CAMRA 'Good Beer Guide' (available in all reputable bookshops, as well as most disreputable ones) , one of its regular beers is 'Riser', from Tring Brewery, just down the road from them, and which I assume is brewed especially for them. I've read somewhere that it also sells quality cigars at the bar, so it is reasonable to assume that it's as smoker-friendly as the outrageous law of the land allows it to be. I will go there next Saturday, and report back.