Hemel was in the news again recently, reprising a role with which it has become depressingly type-cast: Britain’s ugliest town. Yes, Crap Towns, that bible of all that’s pants in town planning, has been at it again. Hemel beat the likes of Luton and Hatfield in a poll of unidentified voters. But what’s this? A letter to The Times, no less, defending its charms. Step forward Piccotts End resident Joyce Lear, who decided to hit back. In case you missed it, here’s what Joyce wrote: Sir, Ouch! Where did they look (“A pretty poor show for town voted the ugliest in Britain”; Aug 14)? The Old High Street (mentioned in the Domesday Book) is one of the prettiest in England. And nobody noticed the water gardens, alive with ducks and beautiful shrubs? Plus we have the finest selection of , trees, planted by an inspired arborist to prettify the seven hillside settlements (like Rome) to house the influx of East Enders after the war. Yes, the new shopping precinct isn’t wonderful but we have great plans for a university.’ Well done Joyce for such fighting talk. It’s time someone beat the crap out of Crap Towns (entertaining though it is)!
The glut of apples this year has inspired me to make toffee apples. I haven’t eaten one of these since the early 1960s when my mother used to make them for our annual Bonfire Night parties. I decided to revive the tradition for our village fireworks party. The recipe was pretty straightforward, boil sugar and syrup, add apples and that’s about it. The tricky bit was finding the sticks. Having left it until 7 o’clock of the evening before, it was a bit of long shot that I would find such an unusual item in Redbourn Village stores, one of the few places around here still open. But then I spotted a pack of wooden clothes pegs. Putting aside the fact they were only £1 for about 50 and how could anyone possibly make any money out of that, they looked just the job. A few minutes of disassembling soon produced a dozen sticks and making toffee apples was as easy as, well, toffee. In case you’ve counted, yes there are only 11 in the photo because I couldn’t wait and ate one. Delicious it was too!