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What’s been happening in September?

Who’d have thought it? We got the Indian summer that’s on our annual wish list. One man who’s really appreciated the warm weather is Hampshire’s very own Beaulieu Beadle aka artist Stephen  Turner holed-up in the Exbury Egg and its environs for another 9 months. Skyping Stephen for the first time it was great to share in some of his ‘experiences’, including watching moths swimming and making his first pot of Exbury conserve from hedgerow pickings. I’m looking forward to the next instalment in a couple of months from now, meanwhile the live web cam and Stephen’s blog are well worth tuning into.

Also enjoying some mellow fruitfullness is the team at Dorking’s Community Orchard. My piece on their first harvest made the front page story of The Surrey Hills Magazine.

Staying on the theme of reviving a bygone era, this year’s Heritage Open Days were a great chance to discover some of the hidden gems in our neighbourhoods. The revitalisation of The Farnham Pottery was a revelation, with both established artists and beginners taking advantage of the courses and facilities on offer. My paltry attempt at fashioning a clay house number won’t win any awards But I enjoyed making it.

Taking a heritage walk with a Godalming Town Guide gave even the locals something to talk about. Who’d have thought this sleepy Surrey conurbation harboured so many hostelries on the once busy London to Portsmouth stagecoach route? Or, that it could have genuinely been called an industrial town in former times?

Having enjoyed a couple of events at last year’s Guildford Book Festival the dust covers are off for 2013’s celebration of all things literary. Judging by the ticket sales so far, I can see I’m going to have to get my skates on if I want to bag some front row seats for the likes of Jennifer Saunders, Matt Dawson, Joanna Trollope et al. Thanks be that sun bathing is no longer a distraction from more meritable pursuits.

What’s been happening in July?

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.

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