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Romance at every turn

It’s strange how commissions covering apparently diverse subjects can suddenly throw-up some common themes. Whether it’s the steady bombardment of St Valentine’s Day messages in our high streets or the nagging reminders arriving in our mail to remember the ones we love, I’ve certainly been looking at the world through rose tinted specs lately.

A visit to Lymington’s St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery revealed a cavalcade of romantic local ‘celebrities’ over the centuries. From naval hero Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale who foiled an infamous mutiny to the once small-time boat builder Thomas Inman, who designed a world-beating craft for the inaugural America’s Cup race; from amateur footballer Gilbert Oswald Smith who went on to become the David Beckham of his generation to Barbara Marchioness of Hastings, the trowel blazing fossil hunter whose prized discoveries are now held by London’s Natural History Museum. January’s issue of Hampshire Life lifted the lid on this rich local heritage.

And while a recce of the recent restoration work at Fleet Pond revealed an altogether different landscape, what a labour of love this has been. Watching volunteers from the Fleet Pond Society turn out in force on a wintry weekend to assist their local countryside ranger, I could only applaud their dedication. A front page feature in February’s issue shows the transformation achieved and in the stunning photography, the wonderful sights that can now be enjoyed at this north Hampshire gem.

But it’s little surprise that what’s really got me in the mood is sniffing out 50 Ways to Treat Your Loved One for this month’s issue of Surrey Life. Despite having lived in the county for over three decades, there’s clearly so much more going on than I’d ever realised before. St Valentine’s Day or not, I’m sure I deserve to treat myself to a supersonic ‘flight’ at Brooklands Museum, try a llama trek in the Surrey Hills and maybe sample a night in a shepherd’s hut. Okay, so this last suggestion definitely sounds one to share – perhaps if I leave a copy of the magazine out my other half could ‘surprise’ me yet!


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