“We can’t keep a buzz in London, because we’re constantly frozen to sobriety.” – Kenia
A 30-minute ride dumps us out to a seemingly abandoned Berkhamsted train platform. We turn around surveying the scene of this desolate and dark place. It’s pure silence after leaving the bustle of London’s Picadilly Circus area and crowded train stations. Amit picks us up and we cruise around for a while. While it was our mistake to not come out in the daytime, it’s nice seeing the small lit towns at night. He took us to some of his local spots for a drink.
The second spot, “The Gatsby” is a famous old cinema in Hertfordshire, where clientel could eat and drink while enjoying a movie. It feels like we’re walking back in time to the Roaring 20’s. This glamorous restaurant is full of cherry wood, white linens, and mirrors with two curving staircases leading up to a balcony. The high ceiling is complete with a giant, gorgeous chandelier. After relaxing here for a while, we head into the real countryside. Amit is flying through the dark, wooded area… occasionally flicking his lights to check for deer eyes. It seems like it would be a beautiful area (in the daylight)… and this is confirmed when we learn many wealthy people have large acreages out here. We continue the winding drive, whipping around corners down dark roads and suddenly arrive at a majestic castle.
Ashridge Castle hosted Elizabeth I for 8 years until she was imprisoned in the Tower of London by her sister Queen Mary. This piece of Tudor history the castle plays a role in makes me excited to be here. I learned this was one of the first castles considered for Hogwarts Castle in “Harry Potter.” Even though the castle wasn’t used, there are many parts of Hertfordshire that were used in the movies. Ron Weasley… or the actor that plays him, I mean, was born here too. Fun facts. 🙂
With only an hour or so until the last train back to London leaves, we pull into Amit’s favorite local pub. It looks like an old A-frame house, grab a drink from a very cute bartender, and snag a spot by the fireplace. Being a small village, Amit knows everyone, and soon we’re chatting with his friend Jane where we learn about the “Shed People.”
“The Shed People” sounds like a horror flick, but instead are Amit’s friends that live in a house in Dagnall. These local guys have a house that came with 7 large sheds around it. Who knows what the original purposes of these sheds were, but they now house entertaining theme rooms. One can apparently find one complete with a jukebox, dance floor, and “cheesy” music. Despite the constant Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, and Journey music filling the walls, it is the most popular shed. There is also a Game Room shed and a Trampoline shed. Yes, a trampoline shed, which true to its name simply houses a giant trampoline. I don’t know what is found in all the other sheds, but this is a go-to after party site. Amit tells us, “If there isn’t a party already happening… they’ll throw one when you show up.”
I love small towns.
Soon, we’re back at the tiny train stop. While lingering around, someone suddenly sprints past us. It’s generally a safe idea, at a train station with one train, to assume a person sprinting knows the train is here. We glance at each other, share the same thought, and bolt after the running man, guessing he knows something we don’t.
Standing on the platform, in the still silence, we chat with him and learn he has no clue. Well, why in the world was he taking off like a bat out of hell?
Back in London, bad directions lead us on a never-ending walk through the city and the deserted Camden Markets. Exhausted after a long day, we crash, with the plan to wake up early and catch the elusive Hampton Court.