Gazing out like Meryl Streep – at the ducks
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 firstname.lastname@example.org