The clamour for posts about Hemel Hempstead has grown ever louder since Retired Martin went to the considerable expense of hiring a helicopter to get the money shot.
This roundabout is a wonder of urban planning, only exceeded perhaps by the magnificence of the Piazza del Hemel.
But the town does have a Bulgarian good shop.
Next to a Romanian one.
Hemel’s growth arose after being designated a new town following the Second World War, to accommodate overspill from London. In a triumph of integrated planning the town’s railway station was closed to passengers in 1947, just as the new town was being officially designated. The current station is in nearby Boxmoor.
The water gardens were designed by Geoffrey Jellicoe, whose vision was of a “city in a park”.
Hemel’s skyline is dominated by the former Kodak building.
Despite its manifest charms (come on, don’t be like that) Hemel hasn’t troubled the Good Beer Guide much in recent years. In fact, apart from the Wetherspoons making a couple of appearances, and the Olde King’s Arms last year, you have to go back thirty years to find the Old Bell listed. It’s a large town of almost 100,000 people but not well pubbed – Whatpub lists only eleven.
The Monks Inn is, therefore a very welcome addition. It’s a micropub that’s open all day every day with as much focus on cider as cask beer.
Most of the beers were all on the stronger side, so I stuck with Brentwood Brewery Quiet Times, which was a solid 4.3%. The available chairs were of a height that made for discomfort, but it was a friendly enough place.
A few others saw Hertfordshire completed including a chance to relax in Tring.
The best beer I had in the county was at the Chequers, a lovely old roadside pub in the evocatively named village of Barley. It was Hadham Gold, a delicate 3.7% beer. The Hadham Brewery draws water from a borehole located within the Icknield Series, a huge belt of soil that runs from Dorset to Norfolk that is famed for its superior malting barley.
The Chequers also celebrates the village and its past.
It would be nice to think the village of Barley is named after the quality of its barley but actually it means lea or meadow. But the first thought is more romantic so let’s stick with that.