Archive for the ‘Hemel Hempstead’ Tag
Having stayed over to pick up a few ancillary items from the trainer at the instrument manufacturer’s site where I spent the working week, I found a deep desire for a decent breakfast before starting the journey home. The Full House, a Wetherspoons in Hemel, would do nicely.
Inside I found a multitude of locals working on drinks subsequent to their first round, maybe even after their first several rounds. Perfect. I got a breakfast wrap and a Brewster’s Aromatic Porter (which was only £1.69 per pint). I found nothing about the house’s past listed anywhere in the premises and the clients all seemed lost in solitude, especially those sitting with someone. I’ll just assume, for now, that it was a gymnasium or cinema in the past.
[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 50th entry for the 2013 Challenge]
Okay…I have hit 28 pubs in the last week (work out-of-town means fresh hunting grounds). I point this out for comparison since it took 46 weeks to minimally complete the 50
Burger Kebab Challenge. This was a stupid and frightfully unhealthy event to participate in and there are still 6 weeks in my greater quest to hit at least one every week this year. Madness.
The fare from Kebab Point was fine but I wouldn’t seek it out again. The meat was dry but the elephant leg it came from had all the appearance of a lard column so drained dry was probably a blessing. The meat was also spiced well and tasted vaguely of lamb so was probably made up less from connective tissue and more from some sort of mammalian meat.
The chilli sauce was brilliant but there could have been more. Veg, as is standard for the great British kebab stand, was amazing and could easily have been a healthy option on its own for a less adventurous diner.
Still, I wish I was finished with the project. But, there is a saying: “always do, after sobering up, what you said you would do while you were drunk.” I could escape this rule on some obvious technicalities, but I believe in the spirit, not letter, of the law. Speaking of spirits, a spot of Turkey might cut through the film this ‘bab has left on my teeth.
For this post, I shot one of the photos of the Rose and Crown while sitting in the White Hart my first evening in Hemel. The sign shot came as I left the Olde King’s Arms, where I was staying, on my way to a Thai dinner. Each night I saw that the house was heaving with customers so it was surprising that the night of my visit I only found the landlady.
“Do you do food?”
“No, sorry, we shut the kitchen except for the weekends…no trade.”
“Mind if I grab a kebab and bring it back in?”
“No problems, love.”
The White Hart had karaoke on but wasn’t packed. The Old Bell and the Hart had the UEFA Cup match on but so did the R&C. Eventually, a couple of guys that had been playing football came through the car park doors and another came off the High Street, but it was still deathly quiet.
Too bad, too. It is a great two-bar house with a spectacular collection of malts and the feel of a good, 19th centruy ale house (albeit dating back to the 16th Century and missing the ale, from what I could tell–but, lager suited the kebab better, anyway). Their website does a good job with the history of the place, as well, so I won’t reprint that here.
On the trail back from the Red Lion I split off on a side road that I hoped would short cut to the High Street, where I was staying, via Piccott’s End, an ancient neighbourhood that promised — and delivered — quiet streets and interesting architecture. It did, in fact, connect to the High Street but not before putting the Marchmont Arms in my sights. Needs must, it can be said….
Inside, everyone was dressed like they were going to a semi-formal party for the birthday of a petty criminal or a footballer (at the risk of repeating myself). Well, not everyone. The blokes with wives tended to be in various levels of yob-casual outfits: bright and very clean trainers, Superdry tee-shirts, mom jeans…you know the outfit. Their significant others, on the other hand, tottered along on fetishisticly high pumps or boots that made their exposed bosoms ripple hypnotically.
The staff members were great. The bar seems a bit cocktail-intense as befits the faux-posh/nouvelle-posh atmosphere. I paid with exact change and the non-plastic transaction seemed to throw the tender who put two 10 p coins back in my hand and retrieved a 20 p. When I protested that “it is the same except I’m mid-run with crappy sweats-pockets,” he re-exchanged the coinage and asked, “do you always stop mid-run for a beer?”
“Oh, this is actually the end of the run; mid-run was between my stops at the Martin’s Pond and the Red Lion.”
“What is this? Some sort of running pub crawl?”
“Funny you should ask.”
Watching people here, I got the distinct impression most of the middle-aged couples were looking for some sort of swingers’ hook up. I’m usually not wrong about this, so, to those of you (we all know who you are) with such an interest remember to thank me for the tip-off.
Update 11 Feb 2014: Scott7_Gibbons, that silver tongued devil, appears to be looking for a new friend…sorry, man, in this case looks are deceiving (I’m assuming that was your white van parked out front of the pub):
Original post continues:
“I’d like a pint of Guinness please.” Noting the two taps, one marked Extra Cold — an abomination — I added, “NOT Extra Cold.” The Gade and Goose looked as local as you could get on this bleak estate near the top of the ridge, and I enunciated with great care to a) make myself understood and b) avoid offence.
The little feller behind the bar frowned and spat back, “WHAT did you say to me?”
“A pint of Guinness please.” Then, pointing at the non-offensive tap, “this one, not that one.”
“WHAT?” he croaked, again.
“Guinness. Please. At a drinkable temperature.”
He put a half pint glass under the tap and had half filled it while I stood there wondering if it looks as huge to him as it does to someone watching him. Snapping out of my reverie on relative size and appearances, I added, “I’m sorry, I actually wanted a pint.”
Snatching a pint glass he could use as a swimming pool and affecting a look of absolute disgust he responded, “Look mate, I know what I’m doing. I have a bit of experience behind the bar. You let me handle this side of the bar and you handle that side.”
“I’ve got a modicum of experience on both sides of the bar myself. When the only glass I see is the wrong size it might mean you misinterpreted my accent. Not trying to interfere, just being helpful.”
For my trouble, he charged me a price that must have included the nearly full half on top of my pint. I don’t know where he keeps the stepladder, but he sure climbed up on SOMETHING to give me such a proper rogering.
I stayed at the Olde King’s Arms for a lot of reasons but amongst those was that it has WIFI available in the rooms; however, the signal is so weak it can’t be depended upon unless you go down to the bar. With a backlog of pub reviews to dump on the blog, I made the sacrifice and headed down to the lovely, old rooms. I had a Spanish lager which was very good but a bit pricy and started to systematically dump the notes and photos here.
A tall Irishman with a Mohawk (they say, “Mohican,” here) staggered in holding up another fellow who was in quite desperately bad shape. They ordered up some food and had a very loud, drunken conversation — all swaying and slurring and absolute comic gold in a Punch and Judy sort of way. Soon after, another fellow came in and sat near them; not nearly so hammered he was fairly indulgent.
It turned out the new guy knew the non-Irish guy and said, “oh, yeah, we used to play on the team together! We were the shit, back then.”
“Yeah,” answered the sot. “What was your name?”
The new guy told him, “Mark Jones.” [I’ve changed it, here.]
“Yeah, you know I used to play on the team,” drunken guy answered.
“I know, I was just looking at some old team photos and rosters this weekend.”
“Grand. What was your name?”
“It’s Mark Jones.”
“You know what…” pause, pause, then look up again and “…I used to play on the team.”
“Yeah, I remember that. We were the bollocks, then.”
“That’s right. What is your name?”
This was the cycle for 2 minutes and poor Mark patiently stated his name at least 8 more times. In the meantime, I drew the attention of Dave the Mohican who wanted to talk about music. After about 5 minutes he asked where I was from but had no clue where Atlanta is. We compared notes on Army experiences as two 51-year-old veterans (he was safe in the Falklands but on the night Bobby Sands died he got shot in the leg in Belfast). We compared notes on physical therapy for a broken shoulder (his happened falling into the street “right there…sponsored by Strongbow”) and clumsily showed how far his arm extensions were coming along.
Mark’s mate was sleeping heavily and he came over and we had a nice talk about the pubs in the area and the building trade. He’d been down the Old Bell most of the evening watching Arsenal beat Borussia Dortmund in a Champion’s League match that I caught the first half of during dinner; so, he’d already had a few by now, too, but the scale of devastation was nothing compared to Dave and his mate (who used to play on the team).
Awesome pub. Say “hi” for me when you visit.
I got home from the mini-pub-run and washed up, called the woman, then walked off to slake the Great Hunger with a second Thai meal of the week (this one had a lot to live up to after Chiangmai House on Monday…the best Thai I’ve had in ten years). My target, the Midland Hotel, did not disappoint but was still only a faint shadow of the Chiangmai House.
I had some lamb stir fried with beans and wide rice noodles along with a couple of Carlings. During the meal, I enjoyed a very tight match between Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal (big crowd in the bar area doing much the same), and snarfed down some of the best dining I should expect for the price. Keep this in mind if you are in town and on a budget (and the crowd is fairly copacetic, too).