Monthly Archives: January 2010

Bedford Arms, Chenies and its environs (including potholes)

For this week’s Sunday lunch jaunt we headed off to Chenies, another picturesque rural village in the Buckinghamshire countryside, all but equidistant between Rickmansworth, Amersham and Chesham if the signpost in town is to believed. The Bedford Arms is a little way off the A404, so easily reached, which is more than can be said for some of the currently seriously pot-holed back roads we later discovered when exploring more of the area.

But first to the food. The Bedford Arms had received a good write up and certainly lived up to expectations. We had a seat reserved in the bar as the restaurant was already fully booked. It has nice period features with some modern stylings too. Service was fine although the food took a while, which was, to be fair, peak Sunday lunch time. Fortunately the food was more than worth the wait. The Roast Beef was absolutely delicious; every bite a pleasure. Tara’s black sea bream was the same. The dessert – we both opted for the marble cheesecake – also hit that spot. That makes it two weekends in a row where we’ve come across top notch country pubs for food.

We had a quick walk around Chenies village and like many of the villages in the area it’s a beautifully picturesque corner of the world. Period buildings, a village green, winding country lanes; just what you’d hope for. Unlike Chalfont St Giles last week, Chenies is much too small for a high street, but for the quiet country life it’s all you might hope for. However both villages are located near cross-Chiltern walking trails and the Bedford Arms seemed to have something of a regular clientele, if the partially overheard conversations are anything to go by. We were though, it has to be said, some of the youngest in the pub by a considerable number of decades. Chenies isn’t for those after a racey life; it’s a place to relax, chill and take life at a slower pace. For a Sunday it’s just what you want.

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High Wycombe shopping

Inside the Eden Shopping Centre, High Wycombe
Inside the Eden Shopping Centre, High Wycombe

This weekend’s foray into the surrounding area was to High Wycombe, which along with Watford are the largest towns hereabouts. As with Watford our motivation for visiting High Wycombe was the shopping.

Getting to High Wycombe from Rickmansworth is straight-forward by a number of routes. We opted for what Google Maps promised was the fastest – if not the shortest – route, via Uxbridge Road, the M25 and the M40; an estimated 30 min journey. Alternatively, going via the A404 is around 5 miles shorter, if estimated to take a few minutes longer. However given the current 50 mph restriction on much of the M25 south of Ricky I suspect it’d be a much finer run thing.

The M40 is a none-too-busy and partially 4-lane affair with no complications. The only areas of trouble were the huge and complex roundabout from junction 4 of the M40 heading into Wycombe and the usual navigation around the town. It seems to be that towns of the size of Watford and Wycombe demand complicated and ill-sign-posted routes. Nevertheless the sat-nav saw us alright. Junction 4 could also be avoided by heading East out of Wycombe to junction 3.

Wycombe’s answer to the Harlequin is Eden, and it’s not a bad shopping centre. It’s not as enclosed as the Harlequin – much of it is under cover but still outside, meaning at this time of year you can stay dry but cold. It has large House of Fraser and M&S Stores, although I’m told the fine – and from this winter now famous John Lewis store – is location in an out-of-town location, to the West of the centre. Eden did provide all the shops we’d hoped for, though, and we returned home absolutely laden down with shopping – all of it clothing. Continue reading

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Chalfont St Giles

This week’s destination for Sunday lunch was the Buckinghamshire village of Chalfont St Giles. One of the string of villages comprising the ‘Chalfonts’, its main street is everything you might ask for in a country village: historic buildings, a selection of shops including a bookshop, a clutch of decent pubs and even a village pond.

Chalfont St Giles - village sign
Chalfont St Giles - village sign

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iPhone apps – new year round-up

I’ve had my iPhone for over a year now and over that time I’ve fairly packed it full of apps. The start of a New Year is as good a time as any to take stock what I’ve got and – with a bit of effort – thin out the chaff from the wheat. Here than is a look at some of the apps I’ve been using recently, and in some cases apps which seemed like a good idea at the time but which have forever languished, unused and forgotten.

Twitter & social media

Tweetie 2 – although I’ve a number of Twitter apps installed, I always automatically use Tweetie 2. It’s slick, quick and intuitive. The only negatives are its use of the new retweet system and that it can lose tweets when closed down which have to be reloaded. However the sheer pleasure of use and its support of lists for follower management makes this a winner.

Twitterlator Pro – I do keep trying to use this app for Twitter as it does offer good functionality, however I simply find it slower and clunkier than Tweetie 2. TP seldom loses tweets in the timeline and offers nice characters to use in Tweets, however the usability just doesn’t make me want to instinctively use it.

Tweetdeck – Undoubtedly the king of desktop Twitter clients, however as an iPhone app it’s never really worked for me. I found it slow, crashed too often and when it lost messages in the timeline(s) it seemed incapable of detecting those missing and reloading them. Overall this unfortunately made it a pain to use. No other app makes it as easy to view tweets from multiple accounts and groups, however the speed of Tweetie 2 makes it a closely run thing.

Facebook – Although I’m not sure a heavy Facebook users these days, the app offers a decent interface for keeping in touch with friends, viewing their latest photos and managing chat & messages.

Foursquare – The new social media site that allows users to tag the cafe/pub/restaurant where they are. This is one of a number of promising geo-location social media services, although it’s too early to tell if this will reach critical user mass to reach the big time or whether it will keep a more niche following. Continue reading

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Because we need regular checkpoints for reflection…

Yesterday afternoon, Dan had one of his internet global news channel things on to watch the fireworks in other parts of the world and we noted that the Chinese display was pretty pathetic. Of course, why should they be particularly impressive? It’s not their new year, is it? The Chinese NY this year is actually on Valentine’s Day. Do the Chinese make new year’s resolutions? Whenever one celebrates the dawning of the new year, however, one is expected to reflect on the year (or decade) just gone and plan for self-improvement. We like to feel chivvied into collective self-evaluation by a date. If you work in education, it would make more sense to use 1st September, rather than 1st January.

Education these days is all about getting children to evaluate their own progress and to set themselves targets. They must know what their minimum target grades are according to the assessment data and what they should be doing to achieve them all the time, not just once a year. Checking this is part of the school inspection process. Continuous reflection is considered an essential part of making children effective learners.

So, what use are annual targets? When writing your little list of resolutions, do you decide what the success criteria are going to be? Do you focus on what’s achievable based on your abilities and the limits of the possible? Do you have someone comment on them and suggest others? Probably not, because we’d feel like we were being examined. Vagueness and idealism are much less stressful.

So, I shall resolve in 2010 to get married, cook lots of lovely things and see friends more often. Which, ironically, are quite specific and achievable.

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