Woking Wonders

Round & About


A glimpse of Woking between the wars is the focus of a current photographic exhibition by Sidney Francis at the Lightbox Gallery

Photographs around Woking: Sidney Francis in the 1920s and 1930s gives us a glimpse of life in Woking and the surrounding towns and villages nearly a century ago.

This fascinating, uplifting collection is testament to the area’s vibrant and diverse community spirit.

Visitors can gaze at locals dressing up celebrating Woking Carnival in 1927; family-owned businesses such as dairies, butchers, printers and confectioners proudly displaying their wares; crowds gathering for Remembrance Day memorials; religious holidays at the Shah Jahan Mosque (Britain’s first purpose-built mosque) and families uniting for modest yet joyful wedding parties, sports teams, Eid celebrations, parades, dancers and musicians.

Sidney Francis was born Sidney Francis Patient in Southwark. By the time of the 1911 census, he was working as a photographer’s assistant in Crawley. By 1916 he was working as a photographer in Godalming. During the First World War, he served in the Royal Air Force.

From 1923 Francis lived at 88 Maybury Road in Woking, where he also ran his photography business. Often describing himself as a “photographic chemist”, Francis’ work included wedding photography, commissions for local businesses, event photography for local newspapers the Woking News & Mail and Surrey Advertiser, and commissions for The Islamic Review.

For details, please visit www.thelightbox.org.uk

Making merry with Robin Hood

Round & About


Join Robin Hood and his friends from Sherwood Forest this month in The Savill Garden, Englefield Green, thanks to an outdoor special from Chapterhouse Theatre Company

A dashing new theatre production of Robin Hood, adapted by award-winning writer Laura Turner, will be brought alive with sword play, song, dance and stunning medieval costumes. Producer Richard Main says: “The best thing, is each night is like an opening night. For the cast and audience each performance is an opening. If you imagine at the beginning of the summer the sun is high in the sky and there isn’t a star in the sky but as you work through the months the atmosphere changes. Unlike in a theatre, the audience has a chance to relax and see friends in a garden setting and there is a sense of freedom.

“I love the creative process of putting the tours together and creating the opportunities for arts to be brought to people up and down the country. I had toured Shakespeare as an actor as well, and these were always open-air productions, so the passion for gardens and being out in the open to deliver some of the most beautiful words ever written just became a part of who I was. Chapterhouse was a culmination of years of hard work and learning and I am still amazed to find myself in the very privileged position of performing at some of the most glorious venues in the world.”

Robin Hood & His Merry Men will  perform in The Savill Garden, Wick Lane, TW20 0UU, at 7pm (gates open at 5.30pm) on Monday, 27th August; tickets £11-£18. Visit www.chapterhouse.org

Claim to FAME!

Rachel Wakefield


The 30th anniversary tour of Fame The Musical is coming. We catch-up with star Jorgie Porter, of Hollyoaks fame, ahead of her performance.

Remember! Remember! Remember the 1980, phenomenal, pop culture film, Fame The Musical? Well now there is an updated version, minus the legwarmers, still following the lives of students at New York’s High School for The Performing Arts as they navigate their way through the highs and lows, the romances and the heartbreaks of life.

This bittersweet but uplifting triumph of a show explores the issues that confront people even today. Jorgie Porter, perhaps best known for playing Theresa McQueen in Hollyoaks is taking on her first role in a stage musical and is delighted about it.

Jorgie Porter

“I am so excited to be making my stage debut playing Iris Kelly in Fame,” Jorgie tells us. “The musical is one of my favourite ever films and I can’t wait to open the show in Manchester, my home town. I’ve not had a chance to perform ballet for a long time. It’s what I originally trained in – so I’m looking forward to getting my ballet shoes on”.

Jorgie started ballet lessons aged three and it was only when she landed the role of Theresa she gave them up. So who, or what, has inspired her? “I went to see Phantom of the Opera as a child and that really made an impression on me,” she adds. “More recently, I am a big fan of Beyoncé and Darcey Bussell I just love the discipline she has. So, would like to follow Debbie McGee on to Strictly, and be judged by Darcey and the others? Wow, the leg extensions Debbie did last year – I would jump at the chance to do Strictly!”

This is Jorgie’s first role on stage in a musical, but she can draw on her time appearing in the soap as good experience. “Definitely, my work on the soap has enabled me to be in control of my emotions and be able to switch them at a moment’s notice. Plus, both of the characters have secrets that they are keen will stay hidden.”

As Jorgie starts this new venture, what is the best advice she’s been given? “Probably two central pieces of advice; always be true to yourself and make sure you have a circle of friends around you who will tell you the truth.”

Fame The Musical comes to The Hexagon, Reading between Monday 3rd and Saturday, 8th September:  www.readingarts.com  & New Victoria Theatre, Woking, between Monday, 1st and Saturday, 6th October www.newvictoriatheatre.

Bollywood bliss

Round & About


Shalini Bhalla, a well-known Cranleigh resident and director of local Bollywood dance-fitness company Just Jhoom!, has just published a revealingly honest book about her mental health and relationship with late husband Jeremy Lucas.

Shalini dancing Indian classical style
Shalini dancing Indian classical style

Shalini Bhalla, finds solace in traditional Indian dancing and focusing on mindful practice, as a coping mechanism when life gets tough and her mental health suffers. She says: “I used dance, mindfulness and meditation, nutrition and healing to bring (and keep) my mind, body and spirit into alignment.”

She founded Just Jhoom! based upon the joy principal and engaging others in the fun of Bollywood style dancing. Shalini is also an accredited mindfulness teacher and developed an online four-week introductory course into mindful practice -Mindfulness for Beginners.

She feels that this training in mind, body and spirit helped her cope and deal with the impact of losing her husband Jeremy Lucas in 2016, due to cancer. Dancing and focusing didn’t lessen the grief, just helped her to cope, and Shalini took to writing about her feelings in a self-published book, Always With You.

Shalini's lifeThis book is about Shalini’s personal battles with mental illness, the coping strategies she relied upon to regain a positive mental state after severe depression and the loss of Jeremy to cancer. In this emotive memoir, Shalini writes about her experiences of depression, attempted suicide as well as family estrangement, and struggles with religion and national identity.

Shalini wrote the book so she could share her story with others, offering an inspiring message of recovery and renewal as she looks to face the future with strength, hope and anticipation.

Shalini’s positive message has led her to be chosen as a “Voice of MIND” – campaigning for better mental health provision in the UK. She has spoken in the Houses of Parliament to MPs about wellbeing and mental health resilience.

Shalini has lived in Cranleigh for 18 years and been involved in village life, with Just Jhoom! and Mindfulness classes, over that time. Her late husband had lived in the area all his life and his untimely passing, aged 59, left a gaping hole in the community.

Jeremy and Shalini in Samburu
Jeremy and Shalini in Samburu

The pair also had a shared love of Kenya and its people, culture and wildlife, Shalini established an education fund: The Jeremy Lucas Education Fund, initiated in 2017, it has raised just over £42,000 and is sponsoring 12 children to attend secondary and tertiary education in Kenya.

Always With You is available on Shalini Bhalla website www.justjhoom.co.uk or Amazon.

Super Sam’s Business Award

Round & About


Puttenham mum and Surrey business owner Sam Reynolds has won an Inspire 2018 award in The Mpower National Business Awards for her company SamSpaces.

Sam Reynolds is a mother of one from Puttenham, and she is also the founder of SamSpaces. She has built an online resource and support group for anyone recovering and adjusting to life again after cancer. Alongside this venture, Sam is starting her post-natal doula business after experiencing motherhood after cancer and recognising the need for a deeper level of support.

Sam says: “It is an honour to have been nominated, let alone get this far. Being able to raise awareness and support those of us living life after cancer is something I feel passionately about. I am in an incredible company!

“There are a lot of awards out there, and we are proud about what makes these awards, and the women who enter, different!” says Nicola Huelin, multi-award winning business coach, founder of the Mpower awards, and mum to four children with her partner Graham.

“Often invisible to most, mums in business are changing the business landscape, while raising and inspiring the generations of the future. We believe their efforts and successes in overcoming the unique challenges of combining business and motherhood, particularly in those first few years when it’s the hardest, need to be recognised and celebrated.”

The Mpower Gala has been called The Networking Party Of The Year and is open to all entrepreneurs and business owners for an evening of networking, inspiration and celebration. To find out more about the 2019 event, and to nominate your business, or a friend’s, you will find a range of resources and information for mums in business, so visit www.mpowerawards.com

Ale & Hearty

Round & About


Here at Round & About Magazine, we are passionate supporters of local pubs, restaurants and producers. After all, anyone working in the food and drinks industry will know it takes a lot of hard graft to help punters relax!

We have so many to mention that are especially beautiful in summer. For starters, top picks for a romantic meal include Kinghams in Shere (GU5 9HE, once known as Hangman’s Cottage) and Jodie Kidd’s wondrous Half Moon in Kirdford, RH14 0LT, (check out the events and sun terrace!). The March Hare in Guildford, (GU1 3SY), hits all the right gastro notes and The Dog & Pheasant in Brook, GU8 5UJ, is famed for its amazing roasts and garden – for free-range children. The roof terrace at Guildford’s Thai Terrace (GU1 3RW) is perfect for tom yum and cocktails while The Windmill in Ewhurst (GU6 7NN), offers great views. Oliver Reed’s old boozer, The Plough Inn at Leigh Hill (RH5 5RZ) might just be the quintessential village pub, especially when a summer cricket match is on, with its own brewery.

Speaking of breweries, hoppy bunnies are spoilt for choice. For tours, tastings and hearty ales, check out Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham (GU10 1DE), hand-batched brews at Windsor & Eton Brewery (SL4 1SE ) and Alton’s Pride and other award-winners from Triple fff in Four Marks (GU34 5HN). Cheers also to the teams at Ascot Brewing Company in Camberley (GU15 3DX), the Crafty Brewery Company in Dunsfold, Tillingbourne Brewery near Guildford and Surrey Hills Brewery (creator of the Shere Drop and Albury Ruby) based at Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking (RH5 6AA). We’re also smitten with the Sussex Dry Gin by artisan creators Blackdown Cellar in Lurgashall (GU28 9HA). High spirits indeed!

So, we’d like to know; what’s your favourite pub, and your favourite brewery, and leave a comment below!

Pick the best?

Pick the best?

Stir Crazy with Ching He Huang

Round & About


We asked Ching He Huang, one of the many chefs starring at Woking Food Festival 31st August – 2nd September, about her kitchen faves

Q: What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
“My Lotus Wok is a one-tool wonder; you can braise, steam, shallow fry, deep fry and make pop corn in it. Woks have thousands of years of history, but this humble tool is in danger of extinction as Chinese embrace western cooking equipment like the oven!”

Q. What’s your favourite summer dish?
“I love a noodle salad. A Chinese-style salsa verde with ginger, spring onion, sichuan pepper chilli oil tossed with courgetti noodles, sliced radishes, basil and fresh hand-picked Cornish crab – British produce with a slight Chinese twist.”

Q. Do you have a favourite food supplier?
“My husband’s family have taken me to visit Garsons Farm recently – you can pick blackberries and sugarsnap peas. I love the farm shop there; you can get organic milk from Goodwood Estate and Woodhall’s ham, which is perfect sliced and stir fried with scallops and black rice vinegar.”

Q. What’s your fave summer fruit and tipple?
“Strawberries – my garden patch has produced quite a bit this year so I’m delighted! They’re perfect in a glass of Pimm’s, of course…”

Visit www.wokingfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk

Stir Crazy by Ching He Huang
Stir Crazy by Ching He Huang

Round & About Magazine has a signed copy of Ching’s book, Stir Crazy, and one of her Lotus Woks to give away. Simply answer the following phrase: Which ingredient would you find in Ching’s noodle salad…
a: Homegrown Strawberries
b: Cornish Crab
c. Woodhall’s ham



Wine quench marks

Cherry Butler


We uncork some of our favourites food and drink places to enjoy this summer, starting with Cherry Butler’s visit to one of Bentley’s sparkling wine-producing beauty…

Once home to hops, the fields at Jenkyn Place are now filled with vines – although at one point, it could have been Christmas trees. After buying the Hampshire estate in 1997, property entrepreneur Simon Bladon considered farming festive firs. Then he tasted some “Champagne” that turned out to be from West Sussex which he enjoyed so much he set about growing grapes.

Simon Jenkyn
Simon Jenkyn

Judging by the delicate, fruity rosé I tried (and found especially moreish), this was a wise decision. Jenkyn Place has won numerous awards, its brut cuvée scoring gold several times. Since 2016, the vineyard has produced vintage sparkling wines every year, as long as the grapes pass muster. The North Hampshire Downs climate and chalky “greensand” soil is ideal for growing the classic Champagne varieties: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.

Cherry Butler Vine Planting
Cherry Butler Vine Planting

Camilla, Simon’s daughter, manages the business, with dogs Bertie and Oscar and brothers Freddie and Jack lending a hand/paw. Heat killed a fifth of the first vines in 2004, when the fledgling viticulturists planted them before laying down polythene sheeting. Rebecca, Simon’s wife, informed him that of course they should have laid down the poly first (like Nigel Pargetter just had on The Archers). Despite this, they let me – a rookie – plant a new vine; I hope to return one day to taste the fruit of my labour!

Right at the top of the first field, a wooden gazebo provides a sheltered spot to take in the view, and some wine. On the north side of the Wey Valley, the sloping site is carefully landscaped. Oak trees form a windbreak; and each row of vines is bookended by roses, which act as a “canary in the mine”, picking up any pests or diseases before the vines do. An 18th-century red-brick house and walled garden with a fountain complete the English country scene.

Roses at the end of each vine row
Roses at the end of each vine row

Anyone can visit, since Simon and his winemakers offer tours on selected dates. Wine buffs will appreciate the chance to see how the grapes are produced and ask questions, while casual enthusiasts can have fun soaking up the setting and tasters. Bottles to take home are available at a discount. Happily, Jenkyn Place is a five-minute taxi ride or half-hour walk from Bentley station, so there’s no need for a designated driver.

It’s said that if Wimbledon fortnight is sunny, the autumn harvest will be good, so we wine-lovers – and the Jenkyns team – should be able to reap the rewards of a particularly fine 2018 harvest.

Tour & tasting sessions £15. Visit www.jenkynplace.com

Booze & Bites in Surrey

Liz Nicholls


We live in a rich and fertile part of the country with many hard-working food & drink producers to appetise you! Here are some nibbles…

The Hampton Estate produces mouth-watering grass-fed beef from their pedigree cows which graze the southern slopes of the Hog’s Back. The meat is hung for three weeks to mature and is sold directly from the farm at the famous monthly Hampton beef days. Also check out the Hampton Herby sausages, beef bangers and wild estate venison. To order email enquiries@hamptonestate.co.uk or call 01483 810465.

Cordon Bleu-trained chef/proprietor Suzanne Rose has been delighting fellow foodies with her Lavender Hen Catering Company catering services in the Virginia Water area for 30 years. Suzanne has worked at prestigious establishments in the UK and honed her craft around the world, too. Her Supper Club is well worth checking out for five-course feasts in a beautiful summer house setting and BYOB booze (no corkage). Visit www.thelavenderhen.co.uk

Planning a summer bash? Wrights of Farnham has been operating since the 1950s and is now the area’s longest-standing family-owned off-licence and wholesale outlet, catering for all your liquid needs! The business has a fresh look but the same vintage charm and ample parking. Lion Brewery, GU9 7AB; 01252 715749 www.wrightsoffarnham.co.uk

Some saucy news for health-conscious foodies! Henry Kay and Nick Briggs, local founders of In The Buff, launched their Sweet Paprika Ketchup in May and it’s not only delicious (we’re addicted) but made with all-natural ingredients, high in fibre, amino acids, vitamins A, E and B6 and iron, suitable for vegans and coeliacs and has anti-inflammatory properties. www.in-the-buff.uk

Show time

Rachel Wakefield


This month, admire a wealth of creativity thanks to Eynsham artists’ work on show.

Eynsham Arts Group is an all-inclusive, friendly and proactive group for local artists and all those with an appreciation of art. Their summer exhibition opens on Eynsham Carnival Day, this year on Saturday, 7th July.

Artists who make up the group range from beginners to professionals and use a variety of media; oils, acrylics, pen, pencils, photographic prints and watercolours. Julie Sailing-Free and Jenny Bowden of the group say: “We aim to promote painting and drawing locally, while providing a forum for the exhibition of, discussion and promotion of local artists.”

Exhibitions are held four or five times a year in The Bartholomew Rooms in Eynsham Square and the summer exhibition will begin on Saturday, 7th July, from 9am until 5pm. It continues on Sunday, 8th July, from 10am to 4pm; and then from Thursday, 12th July until Sunday, 15th July from 10am to 4pm. Entry is free.

The start of this exhibition coincides with Eynsham Carnival Day when the square will be busy with stalls and Morris Dancers, a shirt race through the village stopping at local pubs along the way, followed by a procession at midday, before the carnival proceeds to the playing field where there will be dog shows, motorcycle displays, a multitude of stalls, Tug-O-War, pig races, a fun fair, live music and much more!

Artwork is varied and of a high quality, reflecting the enormous and diverse talent in Eynsham and surrounding villages and towns. The group also runs an ongoing exhibition at The Swan Hotel in Acre End Street, Eynsham, where members mainly display work representing the village, the Cotswolds and surrounding areas as well as Oxford architecture. No appointment is necessary – open hours are noon until late every day.

“Although many of our artists sell work locally, nationally and internationally,” adds Julie, “many of our members belong to our group for the appreciation of art itself.”

As well as the group’s frequent exhibitions, there are meetings on the last Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm. The speakers are varied and provide talks and/or demonstrations and all visitors are welcome. Guests can turn up and pay a small fee at the door. New members can join any time – visit www.eynshamartsgroup.org.uk