Tales of Travel: Wheathampstead

Wheathampstead is a “village” of about 7,000 people, in the lovely county of  Hertfordshire. It’s rumoured to have been first settled in 50 BC, and various archeological excavations have found some pretty cool relics that are displayed in the Verulamium Museum in St Albans, the nearest city.

The main street of the village is beautiful, and all of the old buildings (like the old mill, and the old bakery) are now home to new stores. There’s a funky little jewellery design studio which I used to detour past at any opportunity, so I could stare longingly at the beautiful earrings and pendants in the window.

Wheathampstead is home to around 20 pubs, which is quite impressive when compared to its population. Our favourites were The Bull (delicious steak served with kitsch wedges of iceberg lettuce drizzled in blue cheese dressing) and The Wicked Lady (named for an infamous highwaywoman who roamed those parts; they serve an awesome 1/2 chicken, and make the tastiest Pimms cocktails), both of which we frequented often. It also has a couple of really good restaurants: Dildar II, serving modern Indian cuisine, and The Golden Elephant, serving delicious Thai.

There’s a lot to do around the village, too. You can ramble to your heart’s content – across the cricket pitch at the almost-200-year-old cricket club, across the pay-and-play golf course, through Stocking Springs Wood (best seen in early spring when the ground is covered in bluebells and daffodils), around the river, or down to Devil’s Dyke (the remains of a defensive ditch dated around 75-50 BC).

Our first flat in the UK was in Wheathampstead, on the 5th floor of an apartment building called ‘The Barn’. We moved in with a suitcase and a pack full of clothes, about £100 in our bank account, and a handful of cookbooks. We borrowed a little TV from a woman I worked with, and took turns sitting on a rickety old chair we found in the loft. For the first two months, we slept on an airbed and ate a lot of cheap pasta-based meals, until we’d both been paid and could afford to buy some furniture.

We lived in that flat for six months, and learned some valuable lessons:

1. that neither of us could stand hand-held shower nozzles. Have you ever tried washing your hair while sitting in the bottom of a bath, in the middle of winter, in a bathroom with no heating and no shower curtain? Let me tell you, it ain’t much fun!;

2. that you can kit out an entire flat by shopping – online – at one of four stores: IKEA, Wilkinson, Argos or Tesco Direct. We knew we were only going to be in the UK for a limited time, so didn’t want to spend heaps of money of expensive furniture and appliances etc. The bed we bought from Argos was super-comfortable, and our dinner set from Wilkinson was pretty tough;

3. that living away from our friends in London was much harder than we expected, and that having a gas-guzzling car (our beloved Gordy – a big old Ford with seat warmers) didn’t make it easier to go visiting;

4. that we could spend less than £50 at the supermarket, but still eat well; and

5. that we were happier than we’d ever been, experiencing a new country, meeting new people and planning our first trip to Europe. And that we were doing it together.


7 thoughts on “Tales of Travel: Wheathampstead

  1. This is a great read! I’ve just checked out your ‘travels’ page and looks like you’ve covered a lot 🙂 How lovely to take trips down memory lane and document it like this. I really should escape from the daily chores and take a trip back in time to some of my old ‘BC’ days with a few ‘blasts from the past’ (good therapy I reckon!). Love your photos too. Thanks for your comment on my blog today too. Sarah

    • Thanks Sarah! Travelling was a huge part of our lives BC – it’s definitely good therapy to relive the great times we had (not that I’d change anything about my life now – no siree!), to remember that we were once more than parents 🙂

  2. Loving these flashbacks – so many memories of my youth in London living on a budget too. You’re making my pine for my 2nd homeland with all these wonderful photos and memories!

    I NEVER got to grips with those hand held shower nozzle jobbies – so impractical and you NEVER got warm! There’s so much to be said for new adventures done ‘together’, you can pretty much tackle anything I reckon when you are doing it with your love xxx

    • Thanks Meghan! Sorry to make you miss England though 🙂 The first thing we checked in subsequent flats was the bathroom, and if it had one of those nozzles, we were out! We had so many exciting adventures, but it was tough at times too, and I’m glad I had Tall by my side xx

  3. Pingback: Tales of Travel: Living in London | Tall, Short & Tiny

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