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Although I had briefly visited London for a day during a 1974 return trip to Canada from Zambia, it was not until my 1979 visit to Horley that I actually had a chance to finally savour what it was like in England outside the 'big city'. This colour-challenged photo (it has travelled to too many hot climates itself) shows me admiring a typical scene in Horley during that first trip, on Hevers Avenue, not too far from where we were staying with Sue's parents.
I really enjoyed the pretty little flower gardens in front of each of the row houses - everything seemed much more orderly than in Canada. It was also strange to me to see how the houses butted up against each other as opposed to the more widely-spaced conditions that I was familiar with. The variety of English architecture, and the beautiful countryside, never fails to impress me as we take our various driving routes through this amazing country.
The first documentation of Horley was in 1371 as a result of an iron works. However, it blossomed into a town in 1841 when the railroad arrived - we used to take the train into London from here on our earlier visits. The original town centre was based on the ancient St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church, which happens to be located beside our favourite pub - Ye Olde Six Bells (see my 'Restaurant' tips for details on that!).
Updated Jan 3, 2006
Address: Hevers Avenue, Horley, Surrey
This building is not only a good example of brutalist architecture but you get to marvel at the small mindedness of a company that charges 1p for a cup of tea. ( It costs more to take the mountain of pennies to the bank than it would if the tea was free ) , but they have a nice model of a ship in the lobby.
Written Apr 17, 2004
Address: Station Road
When we ate our previous meal at The Olde Six Bells, in 1979, we were amazed to learn that this pub was reported as being established in the year 827 - yes, over 1000 years ago! However, in truth, the pub is built on pilings dating from that time but most of the present day structure dates from the mid-1500s. Even so, that is not something to be sniffed at! When I compared it's appearance to the photo I took the last time I was here, there was very little change. Being located close to the very old Anglican St. Bartholomew's Church, with it's steeple sticking up, it is not difficult to see where the pub's name originated!
The inside of the restaurant is quite cosy too, with low ceilings and a fireplace as well as various smaller rooms with tables providing a warm atmosphere instead of having a single large room. It is a bit of a precarious climb on an old and creaky spiral staircase to the washrooms on the second floor, but there was a fun-looking Christmas party going on in one of the rooms with a low-beamed ceiling. This being our first England meal on the trip, we forgot that it is usually the custom in pubs to order both your drinks and food from the bartender. After we had been sitting there for a while just enjoying the surroundings, the people at the adjoining table clued us in!!
Updated Jan 4, 2006
Address: Church Road, Horley, Surrey RH6 8AD
Phone: 1293 789911
I was looking forward to this pub meal, and it did not disappoint. While Sue ordered their Salmon & Broccoli Fishcakes (5 pounds sterling) served in bread crumbs with a wedge of lemon, mayonnaise and a dressed mixed salad I decided to try a taste of Thailand. The Spicy Chargrilled Chicken Satay with peanut sauce, toasted seseme seeds, a half lime and pita bread was very reasonably priced (4 pounds). These delicious meals were washed down with a pint of Moreland's Old Speckled Hen and a small glass of the house white wine.
Sitting close to the fireplace and enjoying both the English and Christmas atmosphere, we were in no hurry to rush our meal. It was with smiles on our faces that we left the Six Bells to seek out the former house of Sue's parents, which turned out to be not very far away. The total cost of the meal, including a tip, was 17.55 pounds (US$30).
Updated Jan 3, 2006
It worked quite well on the last trip, so I arranged for my transportation needs by pre-booking with Hertz for a pickup at Heathrow Airport. I once again rented a standard transmission Ford Mondeo - a nice working vehicle, but maybe just a trifle too big for our needs on the many back roads we travelled. There is not much margin to play with on English roads, or in parking lots, so you are better off with a Focus or some other similarly sized car if you can get your luggage into it (cheaper too).
This time around, Hertz charged me 103 pounds/week and 14.71 pounds/day plus the usual smaller add-ons such as Location Service Charge (22 pounds), Vehicle Licence Fee (11.77 pounds) and Taxes (45 pounds). I did not take out any extra insurance and at the end of 13 days useage, the total bill came to 300 pounds or C$619 (US$540). Of course, don't forget that you will pay dearly for gas (petrol) as well. With the cheapest unleaded pump price of about 88 pence/litre it was approximately double the cost in Canada of 98 cents/litre (it also works out to US$5.80/US gallon). In other words, the recent world-wide increase in fuel costs did not change the relative country costs as compared to my 2004 trip. Altogether, I pumped about 90 pounds (US$160) into the car for the 810 miles we clocked during the trip.
I was happy with the car and the costs were what I had expected as the price of 'freedom'.
Updated Jan 3, 2006
Favorite thing: The pointer on the map shows Horley's location, on the southern outskirts of London and so close to Gatwick Airport that you could walk to it if you had to. In our case, we had an overnight flight from Canada into Heathrow Airport on the western outskirts of London. By the time we had gone through all the formalities and picked up our rental car, it was 11:30 AM. Since we had an afternoon to put in, we made the decision to use the M25 motorway circling the city to quickly head south for a quick peek at Horley. It was no problem at all and we found ourselves parked and walking around the centre of the town in less than an hour.
Fondest memory: After buying ourselves a phone card for use in England, our first priority of business was to find Ye Olde Six Bells pub, where we had last eaten in 1979 - afterall, it was well past noon by now. With that taken care of, we drove the short distance to the site of Sue's parents former home and got out to have a closer look at it - not much had really changed in all those years. Having satisfied ourselves with Horley, and with darkness arriving early in Winter, we took the scenic cross-country route to Farnham (shown in 'Blue' on the map, as opposed to the 'Black' route we took around southern England in February, 2004). In making our way to Cornwall this time, we drove down along the north coast of Devon and Cornwall before shooting back to London mostly along the same 'black' route as before.
Updated Jan 3, 2006
Favorite thing: Since we were going to be in England for two weeks, driving around and staying in various B&Bs, we knew that we would no doubt be making a few phone calls to the relations in various parts of the country. After asking one of the locals where we should go to obtain a phone card, he directed us to the Post Office. The line-up for service was not too long, and we soon had ourselves the smallest denomination of card they sell, 5 pounds sterling.
It was very easy to use, even though it was not the type that slips into a card reader. That was a good thing, because many of the phone boxes we used in the outlying areas of England were of the older pushbutton-only types. On the reverse side, the card had a number that you punched in to access the phone system and also a PIN printed on it to activate the card. The cost of calls seemed quite cheap to me - we still had 1.80 pound sterling unused at the end of our trip.
Updated Jan 3, 2006