Take a certain route on the back roads between Rickmansworth to the Chalfonts and you’ll pass a curious old pub called the Dumb Bell. We’ve spotted it a few times and have long intended to pop in to see what this somewhat remote hostelry has to offer.
At the weekend we finally did just that. Inclement weather drove us to escape the house but not venture too far, so recalling this pub we drove the three miles or so for Sunday Lunch. It’s a somewhat rambling establishment with a sizable beer garden and a front dining room capturing all the charm of an eccentric’s living room.
A particular attraction of the Dumb Bell was its Ploughman’s Lunch. Tara is already a fan of the Ploughman’s in the Old Orchard pub in Harefield, and we were keen to see how this alternative offering compared.
The Dumb Bell Special Ploughman’s Lunch: £6.95
Menu description: “A hearty platter of freshly prepared salad and coleslaw with mature cheddar cheese and honey glazed ham, spicy pickled onions and homemade chutney all served with the bread of the day”
Tara’s view: Plentiful portion, nice salad, tasty homemade bread
The Old Orchard Ploughman’s: £8.95
Menu description: “Mrs Appleby’s White Cheshire and Colston Bassett stilton with bread, ham, pickled onion, apple, celery and chutney”
Tara’s view: Good cheese variety, nice thick ham
So two rather different culinary interpretations of a classic, each with their strengths. Which would you prefer?
The Dumb Bell is also worth mentioning for its generous Sunday carvery. £7.95 for slices of as many as 4 meats, if you like, and all the trimmings. Great value.
The humble high street has seen a resurgence of support and activity of late, spearheaded by the likes of Mary Portas on television and now in the form of a new Twitter campaign by businesses here in Rickmansworth. Called #ShopLocal, it encourages people to support their high street by buying an extra item there instead of the supermarket.
Coincidentally, we’ve been doing precisely this for the past few months, buying a good number of items from local businesses on the high street that we’d previously got as part of our weekly supermarket shop. So far, it’s proven a very positive experience.
This move began through the arrival of a new fishmongers in Rickmansworth, whose stall offers a fantastic array of fish and seafood three days a week. The level of service – personalised, offering cooking recommendations and preparing the food – suddenly revolutionised our relationship with food retailers. No longer did we struggle over what fish we should buy without knowing much about what to do with it. Now we’re given inspiration each week based on the seasonal catch, and it’s enlivened our fish and seafood dishes immensely.
This represented something of a ‘eureka’ moment for us. Perhaps the supermarkets weren’t the convenient be all and end all of food shopping. Perhaps the high street can offer us something more and something better than the dominant supermarkets. Continue reading
South Lakeland was the destination for a few days away over Easter and we made the most of the opportunity to try some of the area’s delicious food and produce.
Our visit took in towns and villages in the south of the county of Cumbria, which is dominated by the Lake District and bordered by the Yorkshire to the east. It’s a largely rural area and famed for the quality of its livestock, the farming of which remains an essential element of the local economy, along with tourism.
The exploration began in Cartmel, a small village punching far above its weight owing to its racecourse, Michelin starred L’Enclume restaurant and some nationally renowned foods. There’s also the curious priory, where the tower sits at 45 degrees to the rest of the building in a piece of either architectural genius or madness.
We enjoyed perusing the village’s picturesque streets and attractive shops, universally built in the unmistakable Lakeland limestone. On a recommendation we began in Cartmel Cheeses, an emporium that would delight the most highbrow cheese aficionado. Rounds of cheese are piled high and following some tasting we emerged with some sheep cheese, creamy Lancashire, soft French cheese and Stinking Bishop. The car carried a certain aroma after that!
The Easter weekend kicks off a season of events across the Chilterns. The list below attempts to capture some of the largest events in our area, with a focus on those celebrating locally produce food and goods. Leave a comment if you know of an event not listed below.
Calendar of events
Chilterns Easter Festival of Food & Drink, Great Missenden – Fri 6 – Mon 9 April
Cheese Makers’ Market, Old Beaconsfield – Sat 14 April
Artists and Makers’ Fair, Waddesdon Manor – Sat 5th and Sun 6th May
Rickmansworth Canal Festival - Sat 19 & Sun 20 May
Marlow May Fayre - Sat 26th May
Hertfordshire County Show - Sat 2nd & Sun 3rd June
Chenies & Latimer Diamond Jubilee Celebration - Mon 4th June
Marlow Town Regetta & Festival - 9 & 10 June
Tringe Comedy Festival, Tring, 1 – 21 July
Penn Street Beer Festival – Fri 13 – Sun 15 July
Chalfont St Giles Show - Sat 8 September
Berkofest, Berkhamsted, Sat 15 September
Kop Hill Climb, Princes Risborough – Sat 22 & Sun 23 September
Thame Food Festival - Sat 29 September
Other listings for events around the Chilterns
The following websites offer a more comprehensive listing of events, including museum activities and local events:
Visit Buckinghamshire Events
Herts Direct Events
Enjoy Hertfordshire Events
Amersham What’s on noticeboard
Aylesbury Vale Events
Watford Observer Events