The Crown Inn, Amersham

The Crown is located in the picturesque old town of Amersham which is a very quaint market town. It’s an open air museum of British architecture through the ages. You can meander up and down the high street of the old town taking in the shops and many pubs. Further afield it’s perfectly located for a country walk. In fact there are some walks all planned out for you to explore the surrounding area and villages.

With Amersham on the periphery of London, and still on the tube line this is the perfect place to escape the city for a night or two. Arriving on Friday night, a little later than expected due to a ticket kerfuffle ( all my fault), we were checked in by a very friendly member of staff and we went off to find our room. Watching our heads on the low ceilings and beams ( love an Elizabethan beam!!) we got to our room which was very spacious.

The large radiator was a godsend as it was freezing outside, once that was turned all the way up we had a toasty room with a big bed and perfectly sized room for a couple of nights. Our room was located in the main building but there are a selection of rooms that are located in the converted out buildings. The only negative with our room was the noise. As we were located above the kitchen we could hear the staff going in and out at the end of the night to what I presume were the bins, but also when waking up, you could hear them below in the kitchen. Now it wasn’t noisy enough to warrant moving as we are both pretty heavy sleepers and I wear ear plugs but if you are a light sleeper you may want to think about one of the rooms away from the main building.

In need of food we headed down to the bar which advertised as selling bar snacks, but the bar itself was tiny and most of the tables were set up like those in the restaurant. The 2 or 3 small tables left were already occupied. Disappointed we headed out onto the high street and had a very nice meal in a Cote Brasserie, always somewhere I overlook but I never have a bad meal there.

The next day we set out to explore the countryside after a delicious breakfast, of course this was the only day of the whole week that it was going to rain!

A great breakfast to start the day with

After exploring the high street in the day light we headed for the walk we had found online. Across a cricket ground, past a stately home, a field of many horses and we ended up in the lovely little village of Little Missenden . Cold and wet we popped into a very cute looking pub also called the Crown Inn. Filled with locals we couldn’t help but feel like we were being watched as we walked in. Very local! A cup of tea later (this may have been the reasons for the stares) we headed back out and carried on through the village. With time ticking on it was time to head back to Amersham for lunch and then to the Spa!

We had a quick lunch at a very delightful place called The Grocer offering a selection of gluten-free sweet and savory options. I highly recommend the cakes.

One of the reasons for booking the Crown was that it had a Spa attached. The Red House Spa. It was a warm and welcoming place, where I had a very delightful massage.

The second reason for booking the Crown was the restaurant. The Hawkyns restaurant is owned by Atul Kochhar, the proprietor of Benares, a restaurant we like very much. Intrigued by what the restaurant could offer we of course had to dine here on Saturday night.

Overall it was an enjoyable evening and the food delicious but the restaurant definitely needed to make a few improvements, mostly with its staff. All evening there was  a sense of slight chaos brewing. We had about 3 or 4 different waiters serving us throughout the night, they obviously hadn’t worked out the whole sections thing. With the multiple waiters we had to explain to three different people that we both had a gluten intolerance –  still not sure they really took it in. Luckily we are pretty good at working out a menu on our own. After telling two waiters ( they tried to bring us bread and amouse bouche twice) we finally got the gluten-free options. The food that we got was lovely, with its Indian influence and spice. It was simple, perfectly portioned and presented with care.

I enjoy watching a restaurant in action, watching the staff, the customers, you see a lot, and I saw the staff running far too much. Yes the restaurant was busy, but its a small restaurant. The air of chaos carried on through the night, with the odd table being apologised to for the wait or wrong plate coming out. It’s a shame because if they can work this out, get the staff trained up, timings in place for taking orders this could be a lovely restaurant to make Amersham proud.  Unfortunately the chaos carried over to breakfast on Sunday which was a shame as Saturday’s breakfast was relaxed and lovely.

Coming down with a good 45 minutes to spare on breakfast service we found one lonely waitress trying to cope with a lot of tables. We obviously started a trend as after we arrived in the breakfast room, so did several other couples. However we found the breakfast selection depleted. In the breakfast rush, no one had restocked the cereal, fruit or pastries. It was a poor show. After flagging down the lone waitress we managed to get our breakfast order in, but it came out a lesser version of the previous days, with one rasher of bacon rather than 2, half a mushroom rather than a full one… all a bit strange. They were obviously running out of supplies, so why not stop the full English and encourage people on the other options if you do not have enough. I ordered the eggs Benedict and it was rather nice.

This was a lovely stay in a hotel I would recommend if you are looking for an easy weekend away from London with country walks and good food. It’s a shame that the staff let things down a bit but a little bit of work will improve that quite quickly. If you are ever in the area I would suggest a meal at Hawkyns as the food was very yummy, and if you cannot get yourself to Benares you can experience a little bit of Atol Kochers divine Indian cooking here. We booked the stay through Mr and Mrs Smith which I would do again as they always have little special extras attached to bookings which is a nice touch!

 

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Good Cyclists, Bad Cyclists

Now I have only been cycling to work for a couple of months, but already I am finding myself more and more frustrated with other cyclists rather than cars. Yes you get the annoying drivers that decide to drive right up your behind to try to make you move or those that do not indicate and then shouting occurs, but as long as you play by the road rules it’s not actually that scary. What really scares me are other cyclists…. the attitude of some of them, and then today a girl cycling on the wrong side of the road and just huffed at me when I said something!

I know I should stick with ‘my people’ but when you are surrounded by middle-aged men in lycra who think the riverside path is the Tour de France its pretty scary. Only the other day I saw two cyclists on the floor in a heap after they clearly had a collision going around a corner.

Since when did people also stop using their bells! Blind corners people!!

There are many out there that think cyclists can do no wrong and its the cars that are dangerous.. However, who is to blame when some cyclists think its ok to go through a red light and nearly hit pedestrians as they cross? I am not the only person who has conflicted thoughts on the cycling world.

There are increasingly more and more cyclists out there on the roads but unfortunately the roads themselves haven’t changed. They are still narrow and few have cycle lanes, but more and more people are jostling for space on them.  The other problem is there is very little repercussion for a dangerous or stupid cyclist unlike drivers so they just do not care.

Now I do not drive but I do know the rules of the road and so should other cyclists. It’s great that people cycle, and I am not trying to discourage that but for those of us who just want to get to work quickly and safely we should be able to without having to put up with cyclists who think the road is just for them. There are plenty of guides online about how to cycle, the good old highway code or the British Cycling website, plus many local councils run courses, some for free. I believe that cycle magazines and British cycling should be doing more than they currently are to encourage safe cycling. Yes there will always be that idiot of a driver out there but if you are cycling safely then you are going to minimise the damage. Trying to overtake or running red lights gives all cyclists a bad name!

I do not want to seem negative towards my fellow cyclists but I need to speak my mind on this one. There are so many cyclists out there now from commuters to fair weather cyclists and everyone needs to be using the same rule book otherwise it leads to crashes, injuries and if you are not wearing a helmet much worse, especially if that dangerous cycling is happening around cars on a road. It also discourages other people taking to their bikes as they are put off by bad attitudes of some cyclists.

For now I will keep my wits about me and stay safe on those roads, trying to avoid both the dangerous drivers and cyclists! I really should only have to worry about cars!