Living in the Chilterns in November is a bit like living through a Cold War thriller, writes GORDON PRENTICE
Handguns are illegal in Britain, but you feel you may need to carry one walking through the dense fog. In the market towns of Chesham and Amersham, you would be better armed with a sense of humour and a knowledge of the ingredients of a home-made soup.
Chesham and Amersham are towns in the “heart” of the Chiltern Hills, rustic relaxations just an hour north west of London on the Underground. Life does not stop here. Life rests to take in the beauty of cows grazing, to take in the admiration of ancient churches and – at times – the sight of knackered fridges, washing machines and cookers on the front lawns of people’s homes…
Yet, for all the afore-mentioned splendour, the valleys of the Chilterns are beautiful.
The autumnal colours of leaves falling from the trees, the early sunsets and late sunrises makes life even more romantic – more especially with a home-made soup, wood fire, chestnuts and Birdy on the stereo.
The Chilterns are best for a day visit, it’s not the hotels or B&Bs are sub-standard – they are just packed with travelling salesmen, keen for a swift pint after arrival. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just that their sales patter becomes monotonous.
You are far better off jumping on the Metropolitan Line from Baker Street and hopping off at either Amersham-on-the-Hill or Chesham. Speaking of Amersham-on-the-Hill, there are plenty of shops.
Many of which sell items second-hand items for good causes. So, if second-hand shoes are your thing, knock yourself out. The same goes for the multitude of charity shops in Chesham, although you are guaranteed to find a bargain on a John Grisham thriller or a book on home medicine. Or, for that matter, a blouse for yourself or daughter.
Amersham and Chesham are known for their peace and quiet. Lowdnes Park is a great place to take your children but its pond can bring peace and tranquillity as ducks, swans and Canadian geese make their way about.
Yet for true peace and tranquillity, the best hour you can possibly spend is in the woods of Chesham Bois, a village between Chesham and Amersham. There is no better place to ease a troubled mind as the branches crunch under your feet. Or pretend you are Alan Frew, Jim Kerr or Bob Dylan.
Talking of pretending, the home of Roald Dahl is just up the road in Great Missenden, many of the cult detective series The Professionals were filmed around these parts as well as Midsomer Murders.
Mystery, intrigue and peace and quiet are just a train ride away. Is it worth it? You don’t need Bodie and Doyle to tell you that. Just ask George Cowley.