Monday, 6 July 2015

The Rising Sun - A personal portrait of my favourite place in Berkhamsted

The Riser is the guardian of the canal: its beer garden - the towpath; its children's playground and the best seats in the house - the lock-gates, the huge beams with which the passing tourist captains grapple, dislocating the locals in the process. 
All life is welcome here. Professional escapists brush shoulders with those looking for a temporary escape from the strain of their professions. It is equally a favourite port of call for the boat people who move home at fortnightly intervals up and down The Grand Union, as it is for the regulars on the 1751 from Euston. At weekends these worlds combine in a festival atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion. Designer clothes are abandoned in preference to a wardrobe drawn from outdated days of cool. This is a place without pretense or pretension, a place where no one puts up a facade, a place to be oneself. Here the finest things are savoured for what they are rather than for what they symbolise: Ales (real, of course), scrumpy, house wines, and even cigars and snuff. 
Entertainment is provided in the form of a passing peloton, side-tracked from their exertions by the prospect of quality refreshment. Their bikes stacked precariously next the murky lock waters, they argue about whose round it is and, over the second pint, swap excuses that are unlikely to convince their long-suffering wives. 
Do people make places? Or do places make people? Either way, some places are special because they bring the best out of people - oh that we could all live life like we do at The Rising Sun on a sunny Summer's afternoon.

Thanks to Alastair Harrison, @AlastairHarriso - an inspirational English Teacher at Berkhamsted School - who encouraged me to write this piece - over a pint at The Kings Arms!

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