The Dugdale Centre, Enfield

Photo of the interior of the Dugdale Centre, Enfield
The Dugdale Centre cafe and foyer

The Dugdale Centre is the Enfield Council run theatre and arts centre in a windswept location, just to the south of the town centre. A river of one-way traffic swirls past its door. Plans to improve the immediate environment have been put on hold for the time being. Much of the local populace is too wedded to their cars to allow things to be put right.

That said, although very austere on the outside, and rather industrial inside, it is the most peaceful place in Enfield Town to meet and relax. The café serves soups, sandwiches and cakes; its bread comes from a local artisanal bakery, its cakes from the Forty Hall café, Its ice cream comes from an artisanal producer in nearby Edmonton. The coffee is from Union (right down at the mouth of the Lee), and priced well below the coffee-like-substance from the chain suppliers. The athmosphere is very relaxed and informal. It also gives the lie to the idea that the outer boroughs of London are cultrually homogeneous.

The council’s archive and historial library is upstairs and there is a small toy museum.

Sometimes the place is thronged with parents and children, sometimes with groups of old age pensioners.  Sometimes it is very quiet. A surprising gem!

The latest innovation is a weekly Philosophy morning.

There is a little gift shop that has a small stock of local history books. Although it seems to  be unstaffed, you can pay at the theatre box-office.

Opening hours seem to vary. When there is a performance, the bar stays open. The website claims 8am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, but sometimes I have found it closed in the morning, and it rarely closes anything like as early as 4. I will try to find out more.



The Victoria Pub, Beeston

The Victoria Pub, 85 Dovecote Lane, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 1JG
I don’t normally do pubs, for a great many sensory reasons, and a couple of moral ones, but this has been a regular haunt of my wife and me for many years. They do experiment with music, both piped and live, so you might want to ring before going, but it has been muzak free many more times than not.
The starters and mains are all cooked on the premises: one sees the chef in local shops / supermarkets stocking up. The afters, however, do appear a bit ‘plastic’ and are less impressive. The menu changes every day, there’s a selection of boards on hooks over the fireplace which get swapped around. This is ‘slow’-ish food, so take good company or reading material. It’s also very popular, so get in quickly once the food bit opens. Parking is a nightmare, so you might have to hunt for a space, and yes, it is right down the end of the road: when you think “How much further ?”, then you will find it.
My wife and I walk 30 minutes there and back to justify large helpings ! For those into alcohol, there appears to be a continual supply of different real ales.
Heartily recommended. Biggest noise issues: other people’s voices, and in the summer – trains ! The main line to London runs right past the pub, so if an HST at 90mph or 2,000 tons (yes, really) of coal train isn’t your thing, don’t go outside in the summer.

Crown, Willington, Beds – where staff listen to what customers want

Wonderful prompt, friendly service with friendly staff. Food and drink of excellent quality, and especially appreciated was the absence of piped music. The landlady has listened to her customers and taken notice when they said they didn’t like it.

They have specific themed musical events and discos where people come because they have chosen listen to music, but it is not forced upon them at all times.

Bright Star, Peter’s Green – a lovely quiet village pub

We have known this pub for years, and it is now the best it has ever been. Relaxed, friendly atmosphere and always a warm welcome from Nick, Kate and the staff. Lovely surroundings and walks nearby. Good beer and excellent food.

Also appreciated is the lack of loud background music. Sometimes there is a very, very faint sound as if someone has a radio on in the kitchen, but it is so soft it does not impinge and most of the time we don’t hear it at all.

You can actually relax and have a conversation – the atmosphere is always positive. We are regulars.

The Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland

This wonderful hotel had its beginnings as a 12th Century Abbot’s Priory. Every area – lounge, bar, dining rooms – is muzac free, with the one exception of the large upstairs dining room. There’s a beautiful garden to sit in and a kitchen garden producing vegetables for the original and appetizing menu. Surprisingly affordable food.

Wetherspoons – Cross Keys Hotel, Peebles

Seventeenth century coaching inn now run by Wetherspoons. Fitted out to standard Wetherspoons design and with their standard menus and coffee.

The Royal Hotel, Comrie

An eighteenth century hotel in the middle of the small town of Comrie. Delightfully furnished with quiet lounge bar, dining room, library/sitting room. No muzac by design though they do have it in the public bar at the back. (No spillage though).

The Waterhouse

This Wetherspoons Pub in the heart of Manchester is divided into a number of cosy rooms, some with armchairs, it is like entertaining friends in your own home! A truly relaxing experience.

The Lamb

On the very pleasant Lamb’s Conduit St, about a 5 minute walk from Holborn Underground. A stylish old pub serving a good range of food and drink.

The Shakespeare’s Head

A Wetherspoons pub on Kingsway (a minute’s walk from Holborn Underground Station). A huge pub with the usual range of Wetherspoons food and drinks.