Life in a Crap Town

Hi, I'm LizzyVee, and I live in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Hemel is nowadays best known as the site of the Buncefield disaster - Europe's worst fire outside of wartime. But, before that, it was best known as one of Britain's Crap Towns.

In 2004, writers Sam Jordison and Dan Kieran included it in their list of 40 crap towns in Britain. This has to be taken with a pinch of salt, when you consider that Hackney (the London area which was my home before I moved to Hemel) and Bath both topped Hemel in this list.

Hemel IS a crap town in many senses - a new town with acre after acre of unattractive housing and dull architecture in the Marlowes (the new shopping area). It also has an exceedingly poor library, a paucity of interesting places to go at night, and is designed with the car user in mind.

But the town is changing, with lots of cool "urban" flats being built in the town centre and in the regenerated Apsley area, formerly the site of Hemel's paper mill. I've also found it a good place to bring up children, with decent schools and a strong local community.

One of the hidden jewels of Hemel Hempstead is the Boxmoor Trust, 460 acres of protected green space that lies on the edge of Hemel, in the Boxmoor area. Check out my entry about Boxmoor to find out more. Or take look at my blog, Boho Boxmoor.

I'm a freelance journalist working part-time at places like Sky Television, the BBC (and in the past that's included time on h2g2!) and Qunitessence Books, which produce the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die titles.


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