Technology Intervention #5 – The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead and a burger at The Three Horseshoes
I found myself out of London and cat sitting for the first Friday in February. Whilst I could have come back into London, it kind of made sense to do something nearby. And after 4 weeks of looking at stuff, I’d promised myself that this week, I’d find something that involved me ‘doing’. With the ‘The Snow Centre‘ in Hemel Hempstead being a short drive away, the decision was a simple one.
Many, many moons ago when I was at university I learned to snowboard (badly) on a dry slope. Shortly after graduating I boarded for the first time on snow and thoroughly enjoyed myself – if an only if because it was about a gazillion times easier. Then… nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. I went a few times on dry slopes, found it a lot harder than I remembered, hurt myself and left it at that.
That is until the end of last year, when I was asked if I wanted to spent a week on the snow in March. I accepted, of course, and immediately started to panic. Then a few weeks back some of the guys going in March took a trip up to the SnoZone in Milton Keynes. I tagged along. And continued to panic. But to cut a long story short, it was a great afternoon and I was nowhere near as bad as I thought I would be. Plus being on the snow was *fun*!
So I was pretty excited to head to Hemel last Friday. Not only is it closer to town than Milton Keynes, but I could have another ‘on snow’ practice before getting, well, on the snow. Better still, my cousin Greg had taken a last minute afternoon off work and said he’d join me – how lovely, right?!
The SnowCentre at Hemel Hempstead opened it’s doors midway through 2009. At 160m it’s 10m shorter than the slope at Milton Keynes and 40m shorter than the slope in Braehead in Glasgow (which at 200m is currently the longest in the UK). Interestingly (conveniently and rather excitingly) the Hemel slope is just over half the length of a development planned for East London…
It costs just under £32 for 2 hours of slope time if you book online. This includes the cost of board (or skis) and boots. You’ll need your own clothing, but for a small fee you can pay to rent some if you have nothing. Going early afternoon was a win, there were only a few people there – although it got very busy as we were leaving (just before 5). Brilliantly, if you want to see how busy it is, you can watch their webcam.
We were both on the snow, but compared to Milton Keynes, it’s definitely nicer if you’re coming with friends or family who intend to watch. Big windows look right up the slope and the cafe has an ‘outside’ balcony at the base. Another bonus was the free tea and coffee by the lifts – a caffeinated pick-me-up halfway through was more than welcome.
I’m pleased to confirm we both survived relatively unscathed. Greg spent a couple of days moaning to me about a bruise on his tail-bone, and a face-first fall left me with a sore patella, but that’s what Ibuprofen is for, right?! That said, I slept like a baby that night. Goodness knows how I’m going to cope with a full week on the snow… I suspect a combination of alcohol and Red Bull (one at night, one in the morning…). What a first world problem(!).
We decided to grab some dinner after our snowy excursion. As both of us enjoy a burger, it seemed obvious to try the following in Google – “best burger hemel hempstead”. A little worryingly, most of the results were for ‘Burger King’. However, buried amongst them was the suggestion a close-ish pub, The Three Horseshoes, offered a pretty great burger. So we got in the car and headed off.
The Three Horseshoes is a pretty pub. I can imagine it’d be lovely in the summer if you were close enough to walk and spend the day sitting by the river (or is it a canal?!). It had an open fire inside and seemed pretty cosy. We both ordered their classic burger. Being brutally honest, it was nothing to write home about. But I’ve definitely had worse and after an active afternoon, it was more than welcome. Plus the fries came with a pot of mustard mayo. All fries should come with mustard mayo…
All in all a pretty great way to spend my Friday-not-in-front-of-the-screen. See you next week.