Christmas things to do in Surrey

Round & About

Surrey

All sorts of events are taking place across Surrey and beyond this festive season. We highlight some below.

You’ll find lots more local events in your copy of Round & About Magazine this month – check out our Ramblings listings in the magazine to see what’s on near you coming up to Christmas.

Woking Street Angels

Round & About

Surrey

Do your children or grandchildren go out in Woking during weekend nights? If so, they will probably have met, or perhaps been helped by, Woking Street Angels.

These are the trained volunteers who, for the past seven years, have walked the streets of Woking town centre every Friday and Saturday night, from 10pm till 4am, offering help, or a listening ear, wherever it is needed.

Typically Street Angels look after people who have had too much to drink and are ill, vulnerable or just need help getting home.

They also chat to the homeless and other lonely or needy people on the streets, and generally help make our town centre more pleasant for the hundreds of night-time visitors.

This vital work by Woking Street Angels has been noted by Surrey Police, who reported that in 2014/15 violent crime in the town centre reduced by 64% during the hours that the street angels were active, and that this reduction has further reduced year-on-year.

Woking Street Angels now urgently need more team members and are asking anyone over the age of 18, and particularly those whose friends or families benefit from their help, to consider volunteering. Full training is given, and once trained they commit to just one shift a month. Street angels always walk around in teams, never alone, and may be of any faith or none.

If you would more information about Woking Street Angels please visit www.wokingstreetangels.org.uk or contact the co-ordinator on 07827 914714.

Cracking highlight: The Nutcracker in Farnham

Round & About

Surrey

Story Pocket Theatre bring their entertaining family-friendly version of The Nutcracker to Farnham Maltings later this month.

Christmas Eve is here and Clara has just been given a wooden nutcracker in the shape of a handsome Prince. Little does she know she and her brother Fritz are about to be drawn into the adventure of a lifetime.

The Mouse Queen has stolen the magic of the Christmas Tree star and the whole Land of Make Believe itself is in danger. The children, a host of toys and the Nutcracker Prince himself, must battle the rotten royal rodent to save the magic of Christmas and restore the Prince to the throne. But first, Clara and Fritz must learn how to believe…

The Story Pocket Theatre team are back at Farnham Maltings with a colourful and high-energy new version of The Nutcracker. A sparkling new adaptation of Christmas story that has thrilled and delighted children for generations promises seasonal magic and wonder. The colourful, spectacular and fun-filled show has been produced by the award-winning team behind the success of Arabian Nights, A Pocketful of Grimms, Storyteller, Storyteller, Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur and, most recently, David Baddiel’s ANiMALCOLM.

Will Clara and Fritz learn how to believe, and save Christmas and the Land of Make Believe? Well to find out catch The Nutcracker from Thursday, 20th December, 2.30pm & 4.30pm, Friday 21st & 22nd, 11.30am & 2.30pm at Farnham Maltings, Bridge Square, GU9 7QR. To buy your tickets, £10, call 01252 745444 or visit www.farnhammaltings.com

Peter Anderson

Market forces: crafty shopping in Godalming

Round & About

Surrey

Two creative Godalming locals have set up a local market to showcase local craftspeople and help make your Christmas shopping fun!

Danielle Giornandi and Laura Goddings wanted to bring something to Godalming that would reinvigorate the high street and give something fellow locals could get excited about.

Coming from backgrounds in humanitarianism, art history, jewellery design, event design and management, and sales they realised they had the right skill set for this kind of venture to be successful.

Danielle says: “One day over coffee, Laura said ‘hey, that old little shed is up for rent, shall we see it?’ ‘Yes!’ I said, though we had no idea what we were looking at or why. The moment we went in, the space just spoke to us and we both spontaneously had the same idea – to have a kind of brick-and-mortar Etsy, permanent contemporary craft fair promoting independent artists and creatives. Throwing caution to the wind, we put in a bid…and we got it!”

The pair’s idea has grown into an amazing venture with more than 40 artists, almost all local, renting a little space, specifically sized and designed for them and their type of products.

“We’re excited to provide Surrey residents with high-quality, unique, handmade goods created by independent artisans and producers,” adds Laura. “In an age when the high streets are dominated by chains and mass-produced products, we pride ourselves on representing and working for  both the artists and the consumers. With the rise of online shopping, our high streets have taken a huge hit. We want to re-establish the relationship between consumer and producer, as well as reigniting that tactile and sensory experience a shopper has when they find a product in a shop – something that cannot be reproduced online.”

More than 150 people attended the opening party in October. “Everyone that’s come through the doors has been so surprised and pleased that something exciting like this has come to Godalming. We look forward to a successful Christmas shopping period, highlighted by events such as the Godalming Christmas Lights Festival and Late Night Shopping Evenings with Prosecco. We are determined to make Yard Market more than just a shop, but an exciting and vibrant community creative space.”

Wintershall wonder: Nativity play in Bramley

Round & About

Surrey

Peter Anderson tells us why we should celebrate the Christmas story with Wintershall Players in Bramley between 12th and 16th December.

The Christmas story began just over 2,000 years ago in a barn in Palestine, and once again this year visitors will flock to a barn in Surrey to see that magnificent story unfold once again before their eyes. The Nativity has become a much-anticipated fixture of the Christmas season, performed by the Wintershall Players.

A volunteer cast of 50 in biblical costumes, assisted by a full complement of sheep, donkeys, horses and a sheepdog, will take the audience on foot from the chill open air into the atmospheric, candle-lit barn, as the story of how Jesus changed the world unfolds with songs and music and joyful carolling.

The Wintershall Nativity once again brings the story to life in natural beauty of the rolling Surrey hills, as it has since the late 1980s. The extraordinary story of these productions has its modest beginnings in Medjugorje, Bosnia, visited by Ann Hutley and her daughter Charlotte in the mid-1980s. The visit changed their lives. Peter joined Ann on a visit in 1989.

He wrote and produced the original production in the barn in 1989, and since then the audience has grown from a small group of friends, to last year when over six thousand people saw the performances. The Wintershall Nativity is now produced by his daughter, Charlotte de Klee who had travelled with her mother to see that show in Bosnia.

Peter Hutley whose concept this was, has been awarded both an OBE and an MBE for his work promoting Christian understanding, and it is not just the nativity play for the Wintershall cast also come together to perform the Passion of Christ at Easter, at Wintershall, Guildford and Trafalgar Square, but also an epic Life of Christ at Wintershall during the summer. In 2011, her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded the Wintershall cast, artistic director and support team the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

This is a magical show to share with friends and family and a rare opportunity to experience the true meaning of Christmas. The Wintershall Nativity Play will be performed from the 12th to the 16th of December both inside and outside of Holly Barn at Wintershall in Bramley near Guildford. There is free parking and visitors are encouraged to wrap up warmly and mince pies and hot drinks will be available before and after the show.

For further information, please visit www.wintershall.org.uk

Where’s Santa?

Round & About

Surrey

Father Christmas is very busy this month finding out who’s been naughty or nice! Here’s where you can catch him (remember, he’s magic so can be in lots of places at once!)

Saint Nicholas, AKA Santa, will be in his own sitting room at Hatchlands Park near East Clandon on the first, second and fourth weekends of December, 11am-3.30pm. £5 per visit per child, including a present. On the third weekend, Mrs Christmas will fill his boots! For further information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park

At Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking, children can take a train ride to see Santa and his elves in his cellar and receive a present and sticker book. £8.25 per child, no lower age limit. For £3, adults can join them on the train to much mince pies and browse craft goodies. www.denbies.co.uk

He will visit Haslemere Museum on Sunday, 2nd December, between 11am and 3pm as part of Haslemere Christmas Market. Little ones can tell him their wishes and receive a present for £3. He will return from Thursday 20th to Christmas Eve morning to chill in his Victorian parlour. £4 per child; visit www.haslemeremuseum.co.uk.

Over at Birdworld you can meet Santa’s reindeer and some of their friendly farm animals before you enter a magical world full of animated characters in winter wonderland settings. As you walk through the different scenes, enjoy friendly banter with the impish elves and meet Santa to claim your present! For full information and prices please visit www.birdworld.co.uk/christmas

On certain days in December, Santa has instructed his elves to teach children some of their magic with fun craft workshops at Painshill Park near Cobham (with a present and a note from Santa at the end). £8.50 per child, suitable for children aged between two and eight and two adults can go with them for free. Visit www.painshill.co.uk

Over the first two weekends in December, you can go on a Santa hunt on the Swingbridge broadbeam boat for a gentle family cruise along the River Wey. The boat will depart from Millmead Island, looking for clues along the towpath while you enjoy mince pies and mulled wine before Santa hops on board with his sack of gifts for the return journey. It costs £10 for each under-16, £10 for an adult with a child and £35 for a family (two adults and two children). Search for Swingbridge Santa Cruises on Facebook or call 01483 444334.

Other family-friendly Christmas highlights include carols, songs & readings at Hatchlands Park on Sunday, 16th December, at 12pm & 2pm. There is also the Lost in a Book Georgian Christmas trail, daily between Saturday, 1st December and Sunday, 6th January, 10am-4pm when you can enjoy the trail through the parkland and follow the Boscawen family as they discover the story of Gulliver’s Travels. Call 01483 444334 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park

Carols for Clandon will warm the family cockles at Holy Trinity Church in Guildford on Tuesday, 18th December, from 7.30pm. The Oxford Singers will deliver carols and readings to support Clandon Park. Adults £12, child £9; call 01483 444334 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clandon-park

Fairytales & fun: panto

Round & About

Surrey

Your local theatres have a stockingful of pantomimes to delight family audiences (and some just for adults). Liz Nicholls rounds up some star-studded highlights to enjoy at a theatre near you this winter…

Pantomime elicits some very strong feelings. But, love it or loathe it, the art form – a beanstalk-like offshoot of the 16th century commedia dell’arte tradition – often represents youngsters’ first taste of theatre. And, here we are at the end of 2018, with theatres and stars near you preparing to give the year the happy ending this year needs.

Recently, some press has been given to the nature of fairytales and pantomimes not chiming at the right level of political correctness… However, that’s not stopping Michelle Gayle, who plays the Fairy Godmother in this year’s Cinderella at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud, from getting into the spirit… “Long before Disney realised you can entertain parents and children simultaneously, pantomime had figured out entertainment can work on two levels,” says the 47-year-old singer and actress. “Going to see a panto is such a lovely thing for the whole family to do together at Christmas. My family are really looking forward to coming – my son’s already asking how many friends he’s allowed to bring! And, to be honest, I’m particularly excited that I get to present Cinderella with a beautiful carriage drawn by real ponies! It’s going to be magical.”
You can catch Cinderella (which also stars Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Eagle Radio’s Peter Gordon and Nick Barclay as the Ugly Sisters and Jamie Brook between Friday, 7th December, and Sunday, 6th January. For tickets call 01483 440000 or visit www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk

 Over at Theatre Royal Windsor Dick Whittington will celebrate 80 years of traditional panto fun with the help of Anne Hegerty (AKA “The Governess” from The Chase), Basil Brush, DJ Mike Read and comic Kevin Cruise, along with resident dame Steven Blakeley who will don a frock for his 10th year! Catch Dick Whittington up until Sunday, 6th January; to book call 01753 853888 or visit www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

Paul Chuckle will star as Baron Hardup in Cinderella at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre. Paul says: “I’d like to thank everybody for their amazingly kind outpouring of love and support following the loss of our dear friend and my amazing brother, Barry. Panto was a huge part of our lives for over 50 years and I know Barry would want and expect the show to go on so I’m very happy to be starring in Cinderella in Woking this Christmas alongside our good friend Craig Revel Horwood. The three of us had a fantastic time doing panto last year and Craig and I are looking forward to going out there, getting started and doing this year’s panto in loving memory of Barry.” Cinderella is on between Friday, 7th December and Sunday, 6th January. Call 01483 545938.

Over in Bordon, The Phoenix Players are sharpening their arrows ready to present Robin Hood between 17th and 26th January, at The Phoenix. And, if you’d rather enjoy something adult, Puss In Boots, penned by Joshua Dixon, is an adults-only show full of “sauce and smut” on Friday, 21st December. For tickets call 01420 472664 or visit www.phoenixarts.co.uk

For a different kind of show again, some of the region’s skating talents will bring you Snow White On Ice at Guildford Spectrum between Friday, 14th and Sunday, 16th December. Call 01483 443322 or visit www.guildfordspectrum.co.uk

Head to mystical Leatherheadababa (AKA The Leatherhead Theatre) for Aladdin between Thursday, 20th and Sunday, 30th December; 01372 365141 or visit www.leatherheadtheatre.com. And Princes Hall Theatre in Aldershot invite you to be their guest with Beauty & the Beast – their “most spectacular pantomime yet” – between Friday, 7th and Monday, 31st December; call 01252 329 155 or visit www.princeshall.com. Beauty & The Beast is also the production at Dorking Halls, between 15th and 29th December, from the team behind last year’s record-breaking Sleeping Beauty; call 01306 881717 or visit www.dorkinghalls.co.uk. While Basingstoke’s Anvil Arts’ pantomime this year is Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs between Thursday, 13th December and Sunday, 6th January; call 01256 844244 or visit www.anvilarts.org.uk. Happy holidays!

A cut above: best Christmas roasts

Round & About

Surrey

Turkey is a traditional favourite but there are so many choices of meat when it comes to the festive table, and many excellent local producers

What scene depicts Christmas more traditionally than a large cooked bird being brought out to the table and carved by the head of the household?

Turkey is, of course, still the popular festive choice. Tom Copas Jnr says: “Turkey is what you’re meant to have! We’ve been rearing the best turkeys in Britain for over 60 years and nothing tastes better on Christmas Day, especially knowing all the care and attention that’s gone into their welfare.” Visit www.copasturkeys.co.uk

For minimal stress, it’s important to plan your Christmas catering about now in the manner of a military operation. Ideally, place your order by 1st December and remember your butcher can help decide how big your roast needs be. As a rule of thumb, a 10lb turkey will feed between eight and 10 people and still give you leftovers. Tell your butcher not only how many guests you have, but how big an appetite they have to judge wisely.

“Talking to our customers, it’s become clear that many are looking for something a little different from the traditional turkey this year and we’re very pleased to oblige,” says Calumn Connelly of The Hungry Guest Butchers in Petworth. “The Goodwood rib of beef roast, or venison from the Merryworth Estate are delicious alternatives, looking wonderful as they’re served, and offering a glimpse back to older English traditions. There are, of course, many for whom turkey remains the centrepiece of the Christmas table; and alongside an offering of the finest whole birds, there’s the option of rolled turkey which is easier to prepare and serve, or a memorable three-bird roast. The Creedy Carver chickens and ducks used for these also make perfect alternatives for smaller households; and our homemade pigs in blankets will complement your meal, whichever roast you prefer!” Visit www.thehungryguest.com

Recipe queen Lyn Deveson says: “I’ve always cooked turkey and a gammon; cold turkey, ham, turkey curried, stir fried, in sandwiches is a big part of the appeal. But I cooked a cockerel last Christmas and won’t go back to turkey – it has more flavour. I remember my mother cooking the turkey all night on a low heat but the French way is best; higher heat and less time. People complain it can be dry but if cooked properly, it isn’t. Good gravy makes all the difference, too!

“I also remember my mother cooking the turkey all night on a low heat, but the French way is best – higher heat and less time. People complain it can be dry but if cooked properly, it isn’t. Traditionally we cook turkey, stuffing, bread sauce, sausages wrapped in bacon etc. with the head male at the top of the table, carving! That’s the  picture we all have in our heads and everyone wearing paper hats and pulling crackers! Because turkey meat can be quite bland, you can go to town with the other flavours. A good gravy makes the difference and thanks to chefs such as Jamie Oliver, we are learning that Bisto is not the essential ingredient but I am shocked by the number of English who still use it! The trouble is we are so spoilt nowadays and can eat anything any time of the year, so Christmas lunch or dinner isn’t such a treat as it used to be.”

Hungerford master butcher Christian Alba says: “In all the places I’ve worked, most of the Christmas meat customers buy is turkey. But I grew up on a turkey farm, so I have beef fore rib!”

Enter our competition for a Christmas In A Box foodie hamper – including a 6kg turkey!

Missing Frink: sculpture at The Lightbox

Round & About

Surrey

As our thoughts this November turn to the centenary of Armistice Day, the current exhibition at the Lightbox Gallery celebrates the work of the 20th century sculptor Elisabeth Frink.

This year marks 25 years since Frink’s passing in 1993. She was born in 1930 in Suffolk, and evacuated for her own safety to Devon aged nine. She drew from an early age, then studied at the Guildford School of Art and Chelsea School of Art and became a member of a group of post-war British sculptors known as the Geometry of Fear School.

The exhibition Elisabeth Frink: A Collector’s Passion, from The Ingram Collection, covers the key themes of Elisabeth during her career, which were described in her Times obituary as being “the nature of Man; the “horseness” of horses; and the divine in human form.” Shedding light on these key themes the exhibition will explore representations of animals, man and their relationship to each other. From early on, Frink regularly returned to motifs of standing men, men on horseback, men’s heads, horses, warriors and birds falling, flying and attacking.

Elisabeth Frink was unusual for a female artist of her day and even modern times in that she made sculptures of men’s bodies. Sculptures such as Warrior II (1964) and Riace III (1986) are prime examples of her exploration of masculine power. Frink’s men are muscular and strong, with protruding jawlines and large chins – but also naked and defenceless.

Wartime experiences also feature in her work; Spinning Man (1960) portrays a falling man – disorientated in mid-air, recalling her childhood experiences of witnessing aeroplane crashes near her childhood home in Suffolk and RAF aircrew without parachutes.

Closer to home is Soldier’s Head (1965), the misshapenness of the head reflecting Ted Pool, her second husband who suffered shrapnel injuries – with this sculpture she presents us with the image of a man, damaged beyond repair by war.

The works in the exhibition are from The Ingram Collection, and include personal responses to the artworks by Chris Ingram. Chris Ingram is, in his own words, “nutty about Elisabeth Frink”. The breadth of her work really struck a chord with him – her ability to convey a menacing and unsettling aspect of human nature, through to the naturalistic portrayals of animals. He loves the feelings that her work inspires and hopes that visitors to the show will come away knowing more about one of our great artists of the 20th century.

The exhibition runs until 6th January. On Thursday, 29th November, Jo Baring, director and curator of The Lightbox will give an illustrated talk about Elisabeth’s life and career; for more information visit www.thelightbox.org.uk

GINspiration

Round & About

Surrey

Gin is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, with a wealth of interesting spirits produced right here on our doorstep. We chat to some of the enthusiastic local producers and offer up our favourite tipples!

History of gin

Gin may be one of the most popular liquors in the country, yet the colourless spirit has had to contend with a chequered history since it first landed on these shores more than 300 years ago.

Originally gin was sold as a medicine, distilled and supposedly capable of aiding kidney ailments, gallstones and gout after Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius created genever. Brits were first introduced to it when the English soldiers assisted the Dutch against the Spanish in Antwerp during the late 16th century during the Eighty Years’ War.

The armies were known to drink genever before heading into battle, and it’s thought to be the origin of the phrase “Dutch courage”. William of Orange then arrived here to rule in 1688 and promptly relaxed laws on making spirits. Gin, which starts with a base of juniper berries, gained in popularity – among all classes – with the upper classes drinking genever and the working classes making do with a new, cheaper “imitation” gin, substituting the costly ingredients with such things as turpentine and sulphuric acid.

Subsequently, gin’s reputation took a turn for the worse. In London alone, more than 7,000 “dram shops” sprang up with an estimated 10 million gallons being distilled annually by barbers, grocers and market stall holders. Gin became increasingly cheap to produce, easily accessible, little duty was paid on it and some workers were even given it as part of their wages. The 1736 Gin Act forced anyone wishing to sell distilled spirits to take out a licence costing £50.

Only three such licences were taken, but gin’s popularity did not wane as “mother’s ruin” remained hugely popular, before a second act was passed in 1751, which raised duty, and prohibited distillers, grocers, chandlers, jails and workhouses from selling the liquor.

Thankfully this was the low point for gin and the spirit has rebuilt its once-tarnished reputation to become the UK’s most popular alcoholic drinks. Gin’s popularity has been helped by upmarket gin bars, ever-growing gin festivals and distilleries offering delicious varied botanical flavours.

Distillers of Surrey

One such distillery is Ripley-based Distillers of Surrey, producers of bespoke spirits. Head distiller Simon Sherlock says: “I was inspired by the gin renaissance and really loved the creativity of distilling spirits. I’ve always dreamt of opening my own distillery and releasing truly small batch, hand-crafted spirits. Distillers Of Surrey is focused on providing distinctively different spirits of unparalleled quality. We are unhindered by the trappings of large-scale production, focusing entirely on quality and ethics.”

The Gin Kitchen

After hearing a radio show about the gin revival in 2016, friends Helen and Kate decided to set up a distillery, buying a beautiful Portuguese copper alembic still “using the money we would usually have spent on gin”. , set in a gorgeous 170-year-old barn in Dorking’s Punchbowl Lane, creates batches of superb gin, including the winter-spiced Gutsy Monkey infused with ginger, thyme, Jamaican allspice, coriander seed, black pepper and cumin. Visitors are welcome and there are experience packages on offer.

Elstead Village Distillers

Elstead Village Distillers, based at the 500-year old Thundry Farm in the Surrey Hills, was formed by Paul Shubrook and Neil Redit who decided to embark on their current journey at a gin-making event in London. What they produced was enjoyed by their friends and formed the basis of their first products – Original Gin and Sanctuary Gin – and eventually led to their flagship Thundry Hills Gin – The Spirit of the Hills.

Bombay Sapphire

Bombay Sapphire is one of the most popular gins on the market and its fascinating history can be seen first-hand at its heritage workshop and working distillery at Laverstoke Mill in Whitchurch. Charting more than 1,000 years of the mill, the heritage host tour showcases the history of this prestigious site with a range of artefacts, photos and historic documents. Bombay Sapphire has restored the beautiful Georgian and Victorian buildings to their former glory, and the Self-Discovery Experience allows visitors to take their time to explore the distillery and, of course, enjoy a free cocktail in the Mill Bar alongside the beautiful River Test.