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Attractions in Hemel Hempstead

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      20.03.2009 02:31
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      Water Gardens and the Magic Roundabout

      I was born in Hemel Hempstead, and I return every so often to catch up with family and the like, so I can tell you about two of my favourite attractions. One is what we always called the Waterhouse Gardens, though I gather the name may have now been shortened to Water Gardens. The other is the 'Magic Roundabout'!! First, the Water Gardens. This is an almost untouched area of Hemel (rare!) which retains much of the beauty I remember as a child. The Water Gardens were designed by Jellicoe, basically consisting of a canal, with a path running along either side, joined by small arched foot bridges at intervals, and a narrow woodland along one side. In the lake at the southern end of the Water Gardens stands a landmark sculpture by French artist Hubert Yencesse called 'Rock 'n' Roll' depicting a man and a woman dancing in the water, it is really fantastic, it's been there since 1962, and I am so pleased to see that it is still there when so many of the sculptures in Hemel Hempstead seem to be disappearing. You can see more of the garden here: http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/the_water_garden And the statue here: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/187270 Then there is the mind-blowing 'Magic Roundabout'!! Yes indeed, a roundabout, only you can go both ways around it! It is quite true, however in reality what you've got is one very large roundabout surrounded by SIX mini roundabouts. It was the first of its kind to be built in the UK. I remember when I'd first passed my driving test, I thought I'd just take the bull by the horns and get right down to tackling the dreaded (even by experienced motorists) 'Magic Roundabout'. 'What happened?' I hear you ask 'How did you fare?'. Well I'll tell you, I set off from the first mini roundabout by turning left, as I decided this would be the simplest course of action, and most like what you might do with a normal roundabout, I figured the best way to get around it was to simply stay to the left until I reached my exit. However, I reached the second mini roundabout and promptly stalled the car. One thing I remember clearly from that experience, and in fact every time I have been around it since (which I do quite fearlesslely, now I've sussed that the best way to handle it is to simply think of it in small chunks, break it down - one roundabout, then another, then another and so on. It's when you consider the whole bigger picture it gets scary) - and that is the expressions of all the other drivers! Absolute terror! They don't know what they're doing either! And you can bet your life they're all panicking and wanting to get as far away from the place as quickly as possible, just as much as you do!! I don't know who invented the 'Magic Roundabout' (which I gather is now known as the Plough or Moor End roundabout), but I half admire them, and half dislike them intensely. But you can bet that anyone who knows Hemel well will take great delight (as I do!) in talking about this famous attraction. More information on this can be found here: http://www.virtualportmeirion.com/roundabout/index.htm Thanks for reading, and I hope that if you do go to Hemel Hempstead, you might have the chance to enjoy BOTH of these attractions! :-)

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