Category Archives: Metro-land

Heronsgate

I was entertaining my parents this weekend and having given them a book of local walks they opted for a circular walk of the countryside from Heronsgate. This was a good choice as we’d not been to Heronsgate before and I was keen to see what was there. Google maps seem to indicate many large houses with swimming pools, whereas Beerintheevening highlights a CAMRA pub.

We parked on the road near the two pubs and headed on a walk, which due to some slightly off navigation took us past a farm with some attractive old buildings.

Historic farm house

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Wendover & Gerrards Cross

Today we had something of a two centre day trip. The morning consisted of an antiques hunt in Wendover. Well, less of a hunt and more of a browse, really. Wendover seems to have carved out something of a local niche as a antiques centre, boasting a couple of large rambling buildings stuffed full of antiques in every corner. There’s also a military art gallery we visited on our last trip – paintings of WWII fighters and bombers – you know the kind of thing.

We visited the two main antique shops and from the second emerged with a bugle; a trapping that is becoming an almost inevitable purchase on one of our days out. Tara is now amassing something of a collection of the things.

A third stop in Wendover was that of the chocolaterie we’d eyed up on our visit last year. Although Wendover is a pleasant town, the weather was biting and damp, making a stop off for hot drinks and food and welcome and, we felt, a rather necessary requirement, although deterring further exploration of the area.

Putting off a more extensive wander around Wendover for a warmer month, we set off on a largely diagonal route across the area to Gerrards Cross on the A413. Gerrards Cross (GX) is a town we know very little about, other than we’d identified it having a cinema, which struck us as unusual, given it’s rather modest size (a population of some 7,000, according to Wikipedia).

Again we had a curtailed wander around the shopping streets of GX due to the weather, which offered a few nice looking cafes and a Cafe Rouge, although not a huge amount of great interest otherwise. There was a great amount of work going on over the railway line, where the ill-fated attempt in 2005 to build a Tesco over a tunnel has seemingly been restarted. There’s apparently a common, but again, it will have to wait for the summer months.

We spent the afternoon in the warmth of the town’s rather diddy Odeon cinema. Although there was a large half-term audience, they were all impressively well behaved, which perhaps reflects well on the purportedly well-heeled inhabitants of this area; one of the priciest outside of London, no less.

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Rickmansworth Victorian Evening & Christmas lights switch on 2009

As it’s our first Christmas in Rickmansworth we decided to make the most of the local seasonal events. This involves the customary Christmas lights switch on which is combined with a Victorian Evening. This is a nice community event with stalls from local organisations, businesses and rides for the kids. Here’s a selection of snaps from the evening:

Mulled wine available in exchange for a donation to charity
Mulled wine available in exchange for a donation to charity
Entertainment and crowds
Entertainment and crowds

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Another stop in Metro-land: Great Missenden

The Mule is gradually visiting the varied places that comprise Metro-land, as the area along the Metropolitan Railway (now Metropolitan Line on the tube) was marketed in the 1920s.

Our latest trip is to Great Missenden. A large village located in the Chilterns, it is best known for being home to Roald Dahl and there’s now a museum to the man and the characters of his books, making it a popular family destination. The village is full of picturesque, historic buildings, which also makes it worth a wander around with a camera, which is precisely what we did. Take a look at our photos of Great Missenden on Flickr. There’s also a good selection of cafes, pubs and interesting shops.

Great Missenden

Here are photos of other stops in Metro-land we’ve visited, on our Flickr channel:

Aylesbury
Wendover
Chorleywood
Rickmansworth

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In search of Sunday Lunch

Over the few weeks we’ve lived in Rickmansworth I’ve been in search of a decent Sunday Lunch. So far I’ve tried two of the swankier, but nevertheless reasonably priced pubs in the area in my search.

The Feathers, Church Street, Rickmansworth

Open just four months in its current incarnation, the Feathers is probably my favourite hostelry in central Ricky. The pub is a part of oldest Rickmansworth and has the fine stone and wooden beam clad interior you’d hope for. The Feathers has been given a modern refurbishment, giving a comfortable mix of dining, drinking and outdoor areas in very pleasing surrounds. The service is good, with the staff clearly having been training to ensure guests enjoy the new venture. The Feathers, price-wise and in terms of appearance, places itself at the classier end of the pub food spectrum while not straying into Gastropub territory.

The Sunday Roast is £9, which to my mind is mid-to-high for a non-Gastropub. Unfortunately the Sunday Roast I had last weekend was distinctly mediocre. The beef was not at all generous in quality and was clearly of the ‘been sitting there for sometime and overdone’ variety. The trimmings were fine but of a similar unremarkable quality and quantity. It’s the quality you might expect at Wetherspoons but which you’d only expect to pay similarly £5 for.

This is, I feel, where The Feathers may have trouble in terms of retaining food custom, as I love my Sunday Roasts but I certainly wouldn’t rush back for this one. When you have a new venture and you’re pricing and presenting yourselves as being reasonably well presented and classy, the whole product needs to delivery to estabish a customer base and here it simply didn’t. Others around us were also unhappy with their food; a table who ordered burgers and had requested how well it was cooked along with expecting the cheddar topping and potato wedges promised in the menu instead received standard well-done burger with a processed cheese slice and what can only be called a stingey number of standard chips. Again, if you’re promising quality in the menu the product has to deliver.

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An introduction to Rickmansworth

The blog has been unusually quiet in recent weeks, however with good reason, as the Mule has been on the move. While remaining in the heart of Metro-land, we’ve ventured further up the Metropolitan line, beyond the bounds of Greater London and into the Hertfordshire countryside. In a search of that elusive combination of rural idyll and urban convenience at a price that’s affordable we’ve ended up in Rickmansworth. A smallish town of some 14,000 or so, it’s nevertheless home to the district council, has a decent selection of shops and eateries, good connections to London while being just 3 miles from the megastore shopping of Watford. Being beyond the London sprawl the countryside is on the doorstep, in the form of lakes, rivers and the Grand Union canal.

We’re hoping it will suit us nicely. It’s true that while Rickmansworth lacks something of the charm and fancy restaurants of Pinner, there’s a strong population of young professionals and we’ll not object to decent, reasonably priced meals out plus a couple of fine old pubs given a modern twist.

Regular visitors to the blog will know that the Mule is fond of snickets; those often little know alleys and paths linking streets. Metro-land is prime territory for snickets, perhaps owing to the preponderance of inter-war housing. Rickmansworth is no exception and we quickly discovered a handy snicket for accessing Waitrose:

Rickmansworth snicket to Waitrose
Rickmansworth snicket to Waitrose

We’re still very much in the early stages of exploring the area, however, and we’d much appreciate any local recommendations of eateries, hostelries, shops, services, walks, entertainment etc.

More from Dara Towers and Rickmansworth to follow!

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Final post from Dara Cottage…

Well, it’s moving day tomorrow and we’re off to Dara Towers in Rickmansworth. At 8am tomorrow the Aussie Man with a Van team will be round to pack everything up and cart it up two or three flights of stairs at the other end. Full packing is the best thing since sliced cheese. photo4

We’ve had a tough week painting the new flat ready for occupation. I had a crazy fool idea to paint three of the walls in the living room with stripes in the manner of the decor at Delisserie in Hatch End (one finds inspiration in the strangest of places). While Dan and his parents attended to the rest of the flat (three shades of coffee in the bedroom, green hall and bathroom), masking tape and careful edges were my territory for three days. Provided you use decent masking tape (the blue stuff from Homebase is good) and have a reasonably steady hand for the touching-up, it’s not too difficult.

It’s a bit sad to be leaving Pinner with its snickets and strange assortment of people, but semi-rural Ricky awaits with the promise of lakes and a lovely Waitrose!

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The snickets of Pinner (Pt 2)

On to numbers 8 and 9, which are both marked on maps, so should be easy to find. Number 10 is a bit special, and will feature in a future post.

8. Church Lane to Moss Lane

I’ve found this one to be the most used snicket of the selection I’ve shown you. It can get a bit muddy in the winter as a result of the through-traffic.

As you walk past the lovely Pinner House (built in the 17-18th centuries, now a nursing home) on Church Lane, which leads off the top of the High Street, you’ll see to your left a small road called Ingle Close. The footpath is signposted clearly and is made even more obvious by the pavement vanishing after this point. There are often conkers to collect around the entrance in the Autumn.

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Aylesbury

Aylesbury Market Square
Aylesbury Market Square

The Mule has travelling up the line to Aylesbury, county town of Buckinghamshire. Although not so many miles away neither of us had visited what is the most sizable stop on the line outside of London. At one time served by the Metropolitan and Great Central railways, Aylesbury is now the end of the line and a pleasant hour’s journey out of London Marylebone on the Chiltern Turbo. The countryside is very much interwar Metro-land suburbia until past Northwood when the urban sprawl turns into countryside and stops become distinct towns in the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire countryside. Passing through the modest Chiltern hills we pass the Boer War memorial atop Coombe Hill upon leaving Wendover. Before we realised it we were pulling into Aylesbury.

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The snickets of Pinner (Pt 1)

According to the Urban Dictionary, a snicket is defined as a “partially vegetated alleyway or cut-through in the north of England, usually with bollards at both ends and is poorly lit”. I suppose, in the leafy suburb of Pinner, we just call them alleys – and our mothers usually forbid us to go down them alone at night.

With that warning vaguely in mind, I consider the snickets of Pinner are by far the best way to walk around quickly and they’re absolutely all over the place. Quite a few are on the map, or at least identified by a footbridge over Woodridings Brooks or the Pinn, but there are several that aren’t marked at all. My plan is to take you on a tour of the top ten or so, so that no longer will you stare down a fence-lined path and wonder where it leads. All paths are paved and lit unless stated otherwise.

Today’s route:

snicket1

1. The Dell to Elm Park Road

If I’d known about this earlier, this would have been a very useful little cut-through. The Dell itself proclaims loudly that it’s a private road and do be aware that there are three deliberately tucked-away little cottages at the beginning of the snicket. As you proceed, you’ll find the dainty path becoming more genuinely snickety as you go along. You reach a t-junction a few minutes in where a fenced and formerly gated path takes you left into Little Common, which is a smallish park with a children’s playground. If you wanted, you could continue through the park on to Elm Park Road, which connects Bridge Street with the Uxbridge Road.

More interestingly, however, if you continue along the snicket proper, you eventually come out right by Haywood Close (off Elm Park Road), which would have, for us, made getting to Tesco and the vet’s a whole lot easier.  You live and learn.

Snicket 1: Entrance to The Dell
Snicket 1: Entrance to The Dell

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