Boys night out in Berko

Trevor and Stuart murder James Blunt's You're BeautifulHad a great night out on the town last night with Mat, Trevor, Stuart and Iain, visiting a few local pubs that we hadn’t been to before. We started off with a couple of beers at my place before wandering down to the High Street and into the Rose & Crown, a small and friendly ‘locals’ pub. Everyone was busy watching the football so we amused ourselves with a few games of ‘killer’ on the pool table – for money – where Stuart and Mat cleaned up and were very happy to take their winnings. After a couple of pints it was time to go – Trevor decided to take a last-minute trip to the loo and we took the opportunity to leg it and hide from him. Very amusing. We then progressed on to The Lamb which was a bit more lively – they had some good beer on tap and a comfy place for us to sit and talk rubbish for a bit. Once again Trevor thought it would be great to take a trip to loo land when we were about to move on and once again we did a runner. I don’t think I could get tired of that.

Next on the agenda was a pit-stop at the Curry Garden – a place that I seem to be visiting all the time these days – for a lovely meal and a couple of Cobras. Unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to leave Trevor this time.

On the way to Mat’s place, where we planned to continue our evening, we wandered past The Bull. Mat was paying more attention than the rest of us and shouted “It’s karaoke!” which is a temptation that I just couldn’t miss. We had a fantastic time, singing, dancing and laughing with the regulars and Stuart and Trevor entertained us all with a murderous rendition of You’re Beautiful at which point the organisers donned their ear protectors. Magic. Unfortunately it felt as though it was all over too soon but we consoled ourselves by heading back to Mat’s for some late-night Mighty Boosh (“I’m Old Greg”) and Halo 2.

Iain and I finally made it back to my place at a quarter to five so consequently I’m feeling pretty knackered today. Great night out though – thanks guys!

Gorgeous winter walk

Steam as the frost melts at AshridgeWhat wonderful weather we’re having at the moment. The weekend was gorgeous from start to finish – very very cold, but sunny and crisp at the same time. As my wife’s parents were staying with us we decided to take them on a short walk around the Bridgewater Monument at Ashridge. Katie has captured the day with some wonderful shots. I hope it stays like this and doesn’t get too snowy, windy or rainy!


Ridgeback MX4 2005Last weekend my wife and I treated ourselves to a couple of new mountain bikes from Evans Cycles in Milton Keynes. Since we moved to Berkhamsted, I’ve been keen to get out and explore the countryside a bit more and these are perfect for us. On the first day we got them we went out for what turned out to be a big ride in the countryside, up through Ashridge to Ringshall followed by a trip through Little Gaddesden and back to Berkhamsted. In only our first ride we saw deer, squirrels, the Bridgewater Monument and some gorgeous golden fields with big bales of hay scattered all over them.

I went out this morning for a ride with Jules which was a much more off-road affair. Jules had an OS Explorer Map which made it easy for us to see where all the bridle paths were through the wooded areas – thoroughly recommended if you are planning going off-road. The views of the Chilterns and the Ridgeway we saw this morning were just stunning and I’m sorry that I didn’t take my camera!

My next plan is to cycle to Ivinghoe Beacon. Hopefully I’ll take my camera and will be able to put some photos up.

The Magic Roundabout (Hemel Hempstead)

I’ve recently been looking at a variety of blog search engines and have found a couple that provide RSS feeds of your search results – this lets you subscribe to the search using an RSS reader and see extra results as they turn up. For example, this feed is for all blog postings that mention Berkhamsted – as new postings are made that mention Berkhamsted, I’ll pick them up from the feed.

Trawling through the results, I came across this little gem that made me chuckle, all about Hemel Hempstead. Of particular note are the details on the Magic Roundabout, which my wife and I gawked at when we first encountered it during an innocent shopping trip to Homebase. It’s quite an amazing construction – unlike any other roundabout I’ve seen – and quite daunting at first, but once you get used to it and realise that you can be quite aggressive in pushing out onto any of the mini roundabouts, you tend to be able to scoot around it quite quickly.

Snail carnage

When my wife and I stepped out of the theatre in London on Tuesday night it was a bit of a shock to see that the world had been drenched while we were enjoying ourselves. Thunder and lightning were still flashing and rumbling in the distance and this was the same all the way back to Berkhamsted, which when we got there looked as though it had experienced a minor flash flood. Walking back along Bridgewater Road I felt and heard to my dismay the hideous sound of a snail’s shell cracking under my boot.

As much as I love living in the country, sometimes the spiders, snails, slugs and bugs can get a bit too much and this was one of those evenings. What the hell is it about rain that makes snails come out and party in such numbers? I couldn’t believe how many there were on the way home – as soon as Katie and I realised that a major snail excursion was in progress we moved to single file mode and tried avoiding them by taking sure-footed steps. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough – the final shell-count was approximately five dead with a number of others sent flying and rattling into the undergrowth, primarily due to big-ass tree shadows where nothing except night-vision goggles could have saved them. I hate killing things in such a horrible way like this, but what can you do?

The day I once stepped on a frog on the way home still haunts me.

Berkhamsted webcam

Now that we’ve finished decorating our first room – the study – I’ve managed to get my webcam up and running, overlooking Berkhamsted. I’ll integrate it with the look and feel of the site soon, but feel free to check it out! Should be running whenever I log on at home.

The pubs of Berkhamsted

Thought I’d add a quick entry about the pubs of Berkhamsted. We’re yet to explore all of them but already we’ve found a favourite in The Boat, a lovely Fuller’s-owned pub (which means it sells the delicious London Pride, my favourite) situated by the Grand Union Canal with lovely decking and what seems to be a good clientele. Mat and Steph have just put an offer in on a house very close to there, so if it all goes through (and we’ve got our fingers crossed) we could be seeing quite a lot of this pub over the next few years!

Duck on the rooooof!

Duck on the rooooof!This seems to be the cleverest duck of them all – perched up on a roof on Bridgewater Road! He didn’t like having his picture taken…we got a beaky glare when we aimed the lens at him, but he settled down and posed for this one.

The ducks of Bridgewater Road

Ducks!Since moving to sunny Berkhamsted I’ve now got a very pleasant walk to work, taking in pretty much the entire length of Bridgewater Road. As well as the lovely houses, gardens, trees and birds I keep coming across three ducks that seem to just be lazing around – somtimes in peoples’ front gardens, sometimes by the side of the road. With the canal just a few metres away, the birds must be one or more of (a) stupidly lost, (b) pets or (c) afraid of water. Hopefully they’ll be around for some time to come and don’t waddle out into the road!

The Rex Cinema

Soon after moving to Berkhamsted my wife and I were quick to find out about the Rex Cinema, a beautiful art-deco cinema built in 1938. The cinema had actually closed in 1988 but reopened in 2004 after three years of restoration from its derelict state.

The cinema is an absolute feast for all the senses. The films that are shown are fantastic – they tend to only be on for one or two days but vary between modern blockbusters, excellent foreign-language movies and classics that may not have been seen for some time. We’ve already been twice in the four weeks since we have lived here – the first was to see 5×2, a recent French film, and the second was to see five short silent Buster Keaton movies accompanied by live piano! We thoroughly enjoyed both of them, but the Buster Keaton night was particularly special for the sheer fun and novelty of the evening.

The cinema is absolutely beautiful inside. All of the seats are made of a lovely red velvet-like material and are gorgeous to sit on. The best thing for us, though, has to be the fact that in the lower half of the cinema you get a rotating red chair seated round a small table with easy access to the fab bar behind – just for a couple of pounds extra from what you pay for a normal seat in the top half of the cinema. A glass of wine with your film? The movies will never be the same again!