Editor's Blog
The grisly story Jane would rather she didn’t know!

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Every house has a story, some happy, some sad, some mythical, some notorious. Here at Marchmont Cottage it was said to be inhabited by a ghost which caused passers-by to hurry along in case they encountered it! At a recent …

Life just won’t be the same without Alberto’s!

Ever since we moved to Piccotts End in 2004, enjoying a meal with friends at Alberto’s in the Old Town has been a regular part of our lives. Making the short walk from our house in winter, spring or summer …

Meeting the unlikely pop star with a No1 hit he’d prefer to forget!

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You meet some interesting people on holiday. A couple of years ago I got chatting to a man who’d spent the latter years of his life in banking. But then it turned out he’d run away from home aged 15 …

That was the apricot summer that was!

English apricots Everyone over the age of 50 can remember the Summer of 76. To that we can now add the Summer of 2018. Not quite the same ring but hot it was! It would be nice to think we’ll get more …

How Piccotts End’s Voice of Calm soothed the radio waves

Penny GoreGood to see one of our residents reaching out to bring peace and calm to some ruffled radio airwaves! Reading the pages of The Spectator magazine this month I chanced across a review of the week’s radio programmes. The reviewer …

I can’t see Cliff getting a state funeral like this one for rocker Johnny!

Johnny-Hallydaycliff-richardOh dear! My blogs have fallen way behind. Again. Lives are so busy there is seldom time to write down what you’re doing or thinking. One topic that occupied a day for me in the last few weeks was the …

School’s out for summer & the drive’s a breeze!

Weedy roundaboutPiccotts End in bloomI’m savouring these last few weeks of the school holidays on our rural roads. August is a month when you don’t have to stop every few minutes, squeeze up to the hedgerow and let a fellow traveller pass.  My pick …

St Swithin strikes again but the Garden Party is already home and dry!

St SwithinSo here we are, another summer washout! Sounds familiar? Looking back at my July blog of a couple of years back I noted that the day the schools broke up the sun stopped shining. Same story this year. The first …

Why I’ve cancelled The Daily Mail – and stopped listening to The Archers!

Daily MailEnough is enough! After more than 40 years as a Daily Mail reader, 11 of them working at the paper, I have finally cancelled it. It has been some years in the planning but the Mail’s appallingly biased Brexit campaign …

Welcome to Black Goo – if you can get a table

Cakes & croissants at Black GooIt’s all change at the Attic cafe, one of our favourite haunts in Berkhamsted. It’s had a few incarnations in its time, once briefly under the ownership of James Hannaway, of The Rex. James was a regular face at the …

Damp and dark November, time for some gardening!

Piccotts End daffodilsSunday afternoons in late November are often damp, and dark by 4. Today is no exception, with a light drizzle to add to the general gloom. Gardening jobs need to be done in the morning, so I’ve been out planting …

House prices? No, today’s hot topic is broadband speeds!

BT Infinity box at Fletcher Way

Dinner party talk used to be all about house prices. Not any more. If the chatter at the village garden party is anything to go by today we are more exercised by broadband speeds. At my end of the village …

Piccotts End makes the headlines but where have I read this before?

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Spring is here and estate agents are extolling the virtues of village life. The Herts Advertiser (head and shoulders above the dismal Gazette) even devoted a whole page to our very own Piccotts End. Reading the paean of praise I …

Daffodils in December, June in January

Samuel PepysThe last few months have raced by, leaving my blog far behind. So what’s been hot and what’s been not in Piccotts End this autumn and winter? The weather for a start. I’ve never seen daffodils in December so perhaps …

Mary calls time on 43 years in her historic farmhouse

Historic Piccotts End Farm

Alongside the medieval cottages Piccotts End Farm is the oldest habitation in the village, dating back to the 16th century. With its hand-painted warning ‘Caution. Ducks crossing’ at the entrance, it has a touch of the quaint to go with …

Stone me! Apricots in Piccotts End!

Apricots in Piccotts EndAn article in the papers last week said it was a bumper year for English apricots – and the proof is here in Hertfordshire – in Piccotts End! I planted my apricot tree (bought from Ayletts in St Albans) 5 …

Discovering a Blue Gate in the Med & the Waterloo horses here in Hemel

Blue Gate - Med styleOne of the most distinctive sights in Piccotts End is Blue Gate, the rather quaint and attractive entrance to the home of Keith & Jayne Barber. While on holiday in Sicily recently we took a trip to the island of …

Winter? What winter!

Pretty in pink - Rhododendron PraecoxBack in the winter of 1963 I remember it being so cold for so long that the headmaster of Berkhamsted School made a dramatic announcement. We could all wear an extra layer of clothes to keep warm! My choice was …

Last Christmas I gave you my Shard, but the very next day you gave it way!

Last Christmas I gave my son and his wife a voucher for lunch and a trip to the top of the Shard. There is always a sense of anticipation when opening a present and their faces lit up with delight …

Move the posts and give the developers an open goal

Marchmont FieldsHot topic in the village this month is the now looming prospect of 350 homes and a traveller site parked on our back lawn. We are lucky in having someone with the eagle eye of a lawyer in Michael Nidd …

Tea’s off and on at the Attic!

atticHorror of horrors! Going into Home & Colonial in Berkhamsted recently we were told that our favourite Sunday lunch haunt, the Attic Cafe, had closed. Apparently the owner, James Hannaway of Rex fame, had come in a few days earlier …

Have a brake, have a Malteser!

MaltesersDriving back from Kent recently I stopped at a garage to buy a sandwich and a packet of Maltesers for my lunch. Now I know it’s very bad form to eat at the wheel but many of us do it. …

Behind the wheel of the electric revolution

The Tesla dashboardPetrol is passé, electric is classé. That’s my slogan after driving the car I predict will change our lives. The American engineer behind the new Tesla electric car is Elon Musk, a man they say will soon be as well …

Watch out for Kiera, footballer, athlete, livewire!

 

Kiera Ward

Sporting a Liverpool shirt young Kiera Ward certainly knows her football. When I chatted to the 8-year-old at this month’s summer garden party I asked if she was disappointed that Luis Suarez had left the club. No, said Kiera, …

Caught red, white & blue handed – the light fingered flower duet!

Pick your ownThe colourful wild flowers on the Piccotts End roundabout have drawn some favourable comments in the Gazette, including one by veteran village resident Mrs Mary Wiedman. But not long later, while I was out planting up the Piccotts End village …

The Empire strikes back

Empire Arts - a new rival to the Rex?Have you seen an Empire Arts film yet? You should! With the Rex at Berkhamsted the local cinema of choice for many film fans my own visits to Hemel’s Jarman Park have been limited only to a few must-see-now movies. …

The 19th century NIMBY who put Hemel’s trains on another track

Sir Astley Paston CooperOver at Hatfield House the other day I couldn’t help but notice the amount of noise from the nearby railway. With such a grand and historic residence, home of a line of Lord Salisburys and the young Elizabeth I, you’d …

The questions I’d ask Julius Caesar

Elizabeth Taylor as CleopatraIn between reading the Book Club choice Longbourn, which is an imaginative take on life below stairs in a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, I have been revisiting Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. I remember the drudge of having to translate …

Tiny tots with candles make it a memorable Christmas carol concert

Four candles at the carol concertIt’s Christmas Day and for the first time in many years there has been no snow this month. Remember about 4 years ago when Hemel came to a halt in mid-December and the snow stayed until January? Today has been …

Joyce comes out fighting on behalf of Hemel!

Hemel Old Town: What's not to like?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 …

How my old mower was put out to grass in Lithuania!

Lithuania-bound: My old Westwood mowerSomewhere in Lithuania right now there is an old red lawnmower newly arrived all the way from Piccotts End! For nearly 20 years our Westwood ride-on had been keeping the grass down. We inherited it with the house when we …

The ghost of Piccotts End and a trip down memory lane

It’s always fascinating to hear about the comings and goings of your home’s former owners. A chance meeting in a Devon car park has put us in touch with someone who lived in our house back in the1950s. In our …

Phew! What a scorcher

party-pictureMingling with guests at the Piccotts End summer garden party on another scorching hot day  I was amazed to learn just how many boffins inhabit the village. We have professors, doctors, scientists and IT experts, not to mention a clutch …

Is it the White Lion or the Red Lion?

photo-3My journey to work through the leafy lanes of Gaddesden always provides some points of interest. Last month I spotted two men planting hundreds of saplings in the hedgerows. John and Nathan of JHP Services told me they had been …

Why I have grave concerns about the Piccotts End roundabout!

Hmmm, what's going on at the Piccotts End roundabout?What’s happened to the roundabout at the entrance to Piccotts End? Since it was last cut by the council in April the grass has turned a deathly yellow. Is this in preparation for a makeover by the funeral directors J. …

Never mind king of the mountains The Hub is king of the cafes!

The Hub at RedbournContinuing my tour of the cafes and tea shops of Hertfordshire my latest destination was The Hub in Redbourn. This has previously been a newsagents, a pet shop and a ski shop. Today it’s a cafe with a clever and …

A burnt-out case at the Attic!

No, this is not about Greene week at the Book Club, just the good old Attic Cafe in Berkhamsted high street. We usually go there for Sunday lunch but last week we tried something daringly different: Saturday tea! Fancying a …

The view from the Shard but alas no sign of Piccotts End!

The view north from The Shard but alas no view of Piccotts End Here we are at the end of Feb and it’s been such a drab month I have little to report. On the few occasions when the weather did relent, we managed a trip up the Shard and a visit to …

The cricket pavilion that should have been given out first ball

Happy New Year! Apart from resolving to eat less bread and more rice, this year I plan to go about and about in the Dacorum area, picking out examples of the good, the bad and the ugly. One building that …

The Piccotts End Blog Years 2007-2010

December 2010

Winter sunset over Gadebridge ParkUp to now I can’t remember two successive white Christmases. But we’ve just had them – even if it didn’t snow on the day they were certainly white. Snow stories, which didn’t really exist throughout most of the …