I hope you are all enjoying the wonderful weather and are enjoying lots of picnics, barbecues and icecreams! If you need one or two more ideas to entertain you or the family, there is plenty to do in the local area.
We love to go to Hawkswick Lodge Farm every year to pick our own raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries. It is halfway along the Harpenden Road between St Albans and Harpenden. You can reach it easily if you cycle or drive and there is a bus stop opposite too. It is open every day except Monday, until the fruit runs out some time at the end of August. You can also pick redcurrants, blackberries and blackcurrants; everything you need for a perfect summer pudding. For the first time this year there is a small minimum charge of £2 for each adult and 50p per child which is covered if you fill a punnet or two; I guess due to the large numbers of fruits that get surreptitiously eaten during picking… Sadly, the strawberry crop has been destroyed this year due to a tiny fly that causes thrips, making the fruit unsightly and tasteless. It is such a shame as British strawberries, grown in the sun taste completely different to those you usually pick up in a supermarket. Why not make this the year you try something different?
When we went the raspberries were the best I’ve ever seen, and there were hundreds, so very easy to pick. Raspberries cost £3.60 for 1/2 kg – this is far cheaper than the punnets you buy in most supermarkets for £2, which contain around 25 raspberries. Red gooseberries are delicious and it is very unusual to find them in supermarkets; they are much sweeter than green varieties and you can eat them straight from the punnet (after paying of course). They also make delicious pies and jams. Gooseberries cost just £2 per 1/2 kg at the moment which is incredible value.The blackberries near the back of the farm are amazing this year too; huge and juicy. You can eat them now with a spoon of sugar, or freeze for autumn pies. Don’t forget to take gloves as some of the bushes are very prickly, and the best fruits are always just hidden below a prickly branch! Hats too, as there is hardly any shade. Call on 01727 831224 to check the fruit availability before setting off if you like. Open 9-6 on weekends, and 10-6 Tues-Fri.
THEATRE IN THE PARK
Inn on the Park in Verulamium Park is good to head to at any time of the year as they do very good home-made food at reasonable prices. Their summer theatre season is very popular and it looks as if we will have the weather this year to enjoy it all. The Shakespeare production last weekend was very successful. For children aged 2 to 6 Skewbald Theatre group will be performing Goldilocks and the 3 Bears on Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th August at 11.30am, 2pm & 3.30pm. The show will run for 50 minutes, which is a good length of time for small people, and tickets cost £7. Tickets are available direct from the theatre company rather than the cafe so call Skewbald on 020 8367 5257 or visit http://www.skewbaldtheatre.com.
If you fancy something a little more interesting than a Mr Whippy (and with more identifiable ingredients), I recommend the icecream van parked near The Fighting Cocks in Verulamium Park, which is selling a good selection of Kelly’s icecream. Made in Cornwall, these ices are creamy and delicious. Bourngiorno Italia on Lattimore Road sells terrific Italian gelato at very reasonable prices and the small seating area at the front is a great spot to sit and people watch, as the local Italians pop in for authentic Italian treats. My favourite is the pistachio and the girls like the lemon sorbet. The slices of watermelon are the ripest I have found locally and very reasonably priced too.
FISH AND CHIPS
I have eaten terrific fish and chips by the coast this year, but I can honestly say that Godfrey’s in Harpenden (41 High Street) does as good as you will find anywhere. If you are not getting away for a while, or are pining for a reminder of your trip to the coast, a visit to Godfrey’s can give you a taste of this Brit classic. The restaurant space upstairs has opened now, and is very reasonable, so well worth heading to, particularly if we have a rare rainy day. Pulled pork and battered halloumi are also now on the menu if you are not a fish-eater.