I can confidently say that exploring caves is unlikely to ever appear on my bucket list. So it was with slight trepidation that I signed up to a tour of the newly restored Crystal Grotto at Painshill Park, earlier this month.The lure of seeing one of Europe’s finest examples of 18th c. landscaping indulgence, however proved irresistible and boy, was I glad I did. It’s a marvel! With 100s of 1000s of shimmering stalactites placed painstakingly by hand, any thoughts of confined spaces were quickly banished. And judging by the oohs and aahs of my fellow pilgrims, I was not the only one totally entranced.
History was also highlighted on beating a trail to Guildford Museum. Researching the last of four features for Round & About magazine, thanks go to exhibitions and audience development officer Lynn Szygenda, who enthusiastically revealed the borough’s treasures. Although, discovering archaeological finds from Wanborough’s Romano-Celtic temple rubbing shoulders Lewis Carroll’s nursery toys, perhaps, shouldn’t be a complete surprise. As previous inventories of Haslemere, Farnham and Godalming Museums proved, expect the unexpected when entering the portals of Surrey’s local heritage hubs.
Talk of grottoes, I guess, should have got me in the mood for a snow story. But funnily enough, attempting to write about taking children sledging whilst struggling to bring my office temperature to below 30 degrees, has been somewhat taxing. So keeping tabs on Stephen Turner’s window on the world from the Exbury Egg, his (now fully hatched) studio, is a refreshing antidote. Tune in to Egg Cam for live streaming from the Beaulieu Estuary.
Another artist riding the crest of the wave, is sculptor Amy Goodman. Since I first came across her Quarley studio last year, she’s produced an incredible body of work: from prancing Pegasus statues for a Nottingham shopping mall to a winged angel for a Hampshire university. And now announced as the chosen artist for a major WW1 commemorative centrepiece, Amy’s life-size bronze war horse and rider will surely forge her standing as a major talent to watch.
Completing this round-up of my patch, the incomparable Goodwood Estate in West Sussex deserves a mention. A first encounter with the Festival of Speed, was breath-taking and I can vouch for the fact that you don’t need to be a petrol-head to have a great day out. This weekend it’s the thundering hooves of Glorious Goodwood and with the nostalgia of the Revival revving up in September, it looks like summer’s all sewn up.