July 9 – A day out around Hemel Hampstead

A Hair Cut

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

I have been needing a haircut for a while and it is now long overdue. I googled Celly’s Haircuts where I can get a haircut for £11 and found that there was a salon in Hemel Hampstead. I like Celly’s as their prices are good plus you do not have to make an appointment but just sit and wait. The downside to this one was that you have to go through the Plough roundabout (Magic roundabout) to get there. This is a very scary roundabout which you go around in the wrong direction. Actually, it is a series of six roundabouts so if you go around it the normal way you have to do four or five roundabouts in quick succession. Otherwise, the right way is to turn to the right. It is OK if you are able to follow someone else but otherwise feels completely wrong. Plough roundabout was constructed in 1973 and was voted the UK’s second-worst roundabout in a 2005 poll held by an insurance company, the winner being its Swindon counterpart. We try to avoid the place like the plague but from St Albans, I could not figure out how to get to the hair salon without going through it.

We got to the roundabout and got in the wrong lane, as you do, and then went all the way around to the left around 4 circles until finally finding the right exit to the mall. There was excellent and reasonably priced parking on the other side of the river Gade and we proceeded over one of the many footbridges to the mall. The lady at the salon told us that there would be a 35-minute wait so we joined the list and went to have a walk around before getting an excellent haircut. After the haircut, we had lunch in the mall before heading off to get some geocaches. This part of Hemel Hampstead is very nice with the open-air mall with the river running through and on the other side of the river were lovely gardens which were beautifully tended. In the mall is a water fountain named the “Waterplay”, a bronze sculpture by Michael Rizzello made in 1993. As it is yet another hot summer’s day there are lots of children running around enjoying the cooling water.

At St Mary’s in Hemel Hampstead, we collected all the coordinates and walked to the GZ before we realised that it had been archived. To add insult to injury the church was also closed.

We drove over the Dunstable Downs where we had great views to the glider airfield below housing the London Glider Club. During the afternoon we saw an extremely unusual sight, a convoy of five helicopters possibly Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. We joked that maybe it was President Trump but later we found out that it was indeed part of his security detail. They travelled very closely together.

On our way home we called in at Markyate as this was where Christina of Markyate was an anchoress and Prioress in the early 1100s. She was also an important person in St Albans Abbey history as the St Albans Psalter may have been written for her. We did a geocache in Markyate which we made very hard work of. The GPS pointed in the middle of the road and there were three different possibilities of places it could be. We finally found the cache in the spot we had looked in at least three times.

St Leonards church was our last visit of the day. St Leonard’s church is believed to be named after Christina of Markyate, born 6th November 1096, who spent much of her life in Markyate Cell, where she was confined. Christina was revered for her ability to foretell events from her dreams. She was honoured locally, but never canonised and as such, it was impossible to name the church after her. Instead, the church was dedicated to her birthday saint, St Leonard.

It was a lovely church with seven funerary hatchments and two tombs. One of the tombs was for Thomas Frisby and his wife. He was a lawyer in the service of the Earl of Warwick in the early 14th-century. The other tomb was the Saunders Monument dated 1690. There are also some fantastic 14th-century wall paintings uncovered in the 1930’s. They are said to be Hertfordshire’s most important paintings after those in St Albans Abbey. We collected the numbers we needed for the multi which took us to an excellent spot. We searched and searched but found nothing and finally, we had to give up.

So after a whole day out we only found one geocache, not a very good record. However, I got a haircut and we saw some particularly lovely churches.