Gaz­ing out like Meryl Streep – at the ducks

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

WHEN you read sur­veys telling you the ideal place to buy your next house, or where to find the best schools or the health­i­est piz­zas, do you find they rarely con­nect with your own ex­pe­ri­ence?

Like many oth­ers, Mr F and I en­joy liv­ing in Hilling­don bor­ough, so were miffed to hear it was way down the lad­der in a re­cent hap­pi­ness sur­vey, although – a hol­low vic­tory maybe – we did ‘beat’ neigh­bour­ing Brent, Har­row and Houn­slow.

So, last week I was thrilled for once to see places I have ac­tu­ally eaten in or stayed at highly praised, such as the Café in the Park, Rick­mansworth, which came sec­ond in The Times 20 Best Sum­mer Cafes.

Set in the aquadrome, I like it be­cause there are plenty of swans and ducks to stare at, places to walk, and benches to sit when you’re ex­hausted from tack­ling a melt­ing ice cream.

The café it­self has an in­door area and a decked ter­race where you can read or peo­ple-watch while en­joy­ing yummy food. They de­serve spe­cial praise for get­ting milk lo­cally from White­heath Farm in Hare­field, and for bak­ing their own bread and us­ing free range prod­ucts.

Then – oh joy – a Daily Mail sur­vey put The Alexan­dra Ho­tel and Res­tau­rant in Lyme Regis in its top 20 of Bri­tain’s most ro­man­tic ho­tels and b&bs.

The Dorset ho­tel is a place we loved im­me­di­ately when we first vis­ited the re­sort, mainly be­cause it was full of ac­tors film­ing the The French Lieu­tenant’s Woman. (We were ac­tu­ally slum­ming it in a self-cater­ing flat on the ho­tel site but used the bar for the oc­ca­sional drink or meal.)

The whole town had been con­verted into a Vic­to­rian set, with thatched-roofed bus shel­ters and straw lined roads. Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons were lodg­ing else­where, well away from au­to­graph hun­ters and stalk­ers (like me), but we spot­ted some fa­mil­iar Bri­tish ac­tors chew­ing over the day’s film­ing, like Liz Smith, bet­ter known now for roles in the Vicar of Di­b­ley and the Royle Fam­ily.

I SAID ear­lier that I en­joyed be­ing a Hilling­don res­i­dent so was amused when a re­cent cor­re­spon­dent de­scribed me as an ‘in­comer’ although I have lived in the bor­ough for around 40 years. I think even in Cornwall your ap­pren­tice­ship as an emmet ends af­ter about ten years! How much longer be­fore I’m an of­fi­cial citizen, I won­der?

Ev­ery week BAR­BARA FISHER looks at is­sues that af­fect us all – the is­sues that get you talk­ing. You can join in by email­ing bmail­bar­


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