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.
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.
This week’s Sunday lunch sent us back onto the local narrow, winding and pot-holed roads that criss-cross the Herts and Bucks countryside. Our destination has been well written up, most recently by Giles Coren in the Times. Yes, we were bound for the Bricklayers Arms, located in the wonderfully named hamlet of Hogpits Bottom in the village of Flaunden. Distress at the lack of necessary punctuation aside, it’s a fine hostelry in a pleasant part of the countryside.
These country pubs are notoriously popular so we were booked in for 12:15, when the pub was largely empty. It didn’t stay empty long, however, and as 1pm approached the tables filled and the pub was suddenly bustling with activity and custom; not bad for a village that from any direction is down some narrow, and in places, rather potholed roads. The clientele had clearly come specifically for the pub; the muddy boots by the front door identifying the walker fraternity; while the pub also seemed quite popular with families, although as the table opposite discovered it didn’t offer any child specific meals, just half-portions of the main menu.
Continuing our exploration of the local towns and villages we today headed out for a short visit to Berkhamsted. Conveniently located around a half-hour’s drive away on the A41, I noticed good write-ups of the town while browsing reviews of areas on theChannel 4’s Relocation Relocation mapof the best and worst places to live in the country. Berkhamsted repeatedly appeared in comments of Dacorum district as a bustling market town with an art deco cinema and as with Rickmansworth is located by the Grand Union canal.
In comparison to towns I’m familiar with, Berkhamsted reminded me a good deal of Kendal, from my own neck of the woods in South Lakeland. Both are historic market towns, abuzz on market day and full of family owned and boutique shops, with a ruined castle on the outskirts. It’s seems relatively uncommon to find a town these days that doesn’t have an homogenous high street of the same chain shops. Smaller towns can escape this curse. Rickmansworth does to a good extent and although only marginally larger in size, Berkhamsted has a far larger high street but retains a commendable proportion of independent shops.
A particular highlight for me was Berkhamsted’s art deco cinema, the Rex. The exterior is rather low-key; the majority of it advertising the Gatsby restaurant. The side of the building provides a discrete entrance to the cinema, and inside a stylish bar and box office awaits. Interestingly, the evening showings at the cinema appeared to largely booked up for some weeks in advance; a good sign of local support of their local independent cinema.