The Big Butterfly Count

Round & About


Join the Big Butterfly Count and spot the species

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of the Big Butterfly Count – the world’s largest butterfly survey. 

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation is calling on everyone to do as many 15-minute counts as possible between today, Friday 19th and Sunday, 11th August. 

Just record what you see and send your results to or submit them using the free Big ButterflyCount app. 

Last year a record 100,000 participants took part, spotting almost one million butterflies across the UK. 

This summer, experts are keen to see how common garden butterflies are faring, as despite many species bouncing back in the 2018 heatwave, colourful favourites such as the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock both recorded poor years.  

Butterfly Conservation vice-president Chris Packham is following in the footsteps of Sir David Attenborough by getting behind the campaign this year. 

Chris said: “It’s easy to feel powerless when confronted with endless decline statistics from birds to bees to butterflies, but the fight for our environmental future starts with small acts, it starts with you.  

“That’s why I urge you to take part in the Big Butterfly Count this summer. By taking part in the count you are showing that our butterflies, our wildlife and our environment are worth fighting for.” 

Get involved:

People can take part in their gardens or local parks, but there are plenty of free events taking place across the country too – more details can be found here…

Castle to Coast tips

Karen Neville


Top tips for the Castle to Coast challenge

It’s less than a month now until Castle to Coast, the UK’s only sportive triathlon, takes place between Windsor and Brighton.

The non-competitive format on Saturday, 10th August, is designed to break away from the traditional time and racing and focuses on the adventure of the swim, cycle and run.

The challenge includes a 1.2-mile swim at Eton Dorney, a 67-mile road race through the Surrey Hills followed by a 13.2-mile run up Ditchling Beacon and over the South Downs.

Founder and triathlon coach Lee Brown has some great ‘common sense’ tips to help participants get the most out of the day.

Race Preparation

* Don’t leave everything to the last minute.  

Life is busy and although Amazon do deliver the next day getting your bike serviced 24 hours before an event isn’t a smart move and won’t help pre event nerves. Take the time before the race to check over your bike and get if serviced if needed. Aim to do this in the weeks before the event, not the days before. Allow enough time for testing the bike out with a few rides.

* Stop messing about with your kit! 

Check it, pack it, then leave it alone. The amount of times I’ve seen athletes losing stuff because they have changed everything around in their bag half a dozen times is incredible.

* Stop winging it 

Skipping the briefing or not reading the event information because you’ve done enough triathlons before and they are all near enough the same never ends well. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

* Review the course in advance  

You must get the route straight in your head before the day of the triathlon but if you have any questions then ask the event (race) director after the briefing and they will be happy to answer.

* Warm up properly before you start
Going off like a rocket without warming up will leave you gasping for air and flailing around in the water like you’ve not swam since you were four years old. Warming up also makes you go faster, if that is important to you, and can help avoid cramping in the swim.

* Keep hydrated 

Dehydrated athletes at the start line makes sits at the top list of pet hates on event day. It can be quite a wait between dumping your bags and race start, keep a bottle with you up until you’re about to start then hand it off to a friend or hand it to a marshal. Equally if you’ve got a long day ahead don’t skip breakfast, now is not the time to suddenly see how far you can go on air alone.

* Think about your nutrition 

How are you going to fuel your ride, where are you going to get your calories from and how are you going to carry it? General advice is to aim take on 45-60g of carbohydrate per hour throughout the bike and run along with adequate fluids/electrolytes.

The Event

* Have some patience 

Delays can happen due to weather, safety or simply things over running slightly. Try to stay calm as getting worked up isn’t going to help. Use the time to relax and focus on the task at hand. If it’s a significant delay get some layers on and go back to warming up, it will only improve your condition relative to the rest of the field when things do get moving and they’ve all been sat around getting cold.

In endurance events wild cards happen more often than you might think. In my time organising events I’ve had to escort blind people through run courses and stop a race due to a swan going ballistic and attacking the swimmers. In the event of an event stop, pause or diversion please give the events team a minute to make sure everyone is safe and compose themselves before you start bombarding them with questions.

* Swim/Bike/Run with friends or in a group 

Remember the main aim of Castle to Coast is participation and completion of the challenge. Make sure to stick with friends or make new ones along the way, why not wait and regroup at transitions. Help others on the day if they are struggling and make it a memberable experience for all.

* Take your time on the swim 

We’ve got an open start with the Castle to Coast swim which means you can plan to start with the first group at 8am or enter after they have gone and when you’re ready.

* Don’t rush your transitions 

Remember the Castle to Coast is NOT a race, there is no prize for the first to make it to the finish onto Brighton seafront. Make sure you’ve got everything you need before you leave, get hydrated after the swim and the bike, put on some comfortable clothes and go for a wee if you need to!

* Take in your surroundings 

Soak in the incredible views throughout the route as you head towards Brighton.  Shortly into the ride you will pass through the historic Eton and continue through picturesque scenery in the Surrey Hills. After transition you’ll be rewarded by the spectacular views of the South Downs as you reach the top of Ditchling Beacon.

* Avoid tunnel vision 
When you’re working hard it’s easy to settle into challenge ahead and focus purely on the task at hand. This isn’t great when you start to ignore course signs, the highway code and marshals’ instructions. On more than one occasion I’ve had athletes complain about course marking only to walk them back to a barrage of signs, cones and tape which they will swear wasn’t there earlier!

* Pace the day 

It’s a long day out with some tough climbing on the run, so pace yourself and think about how you’re going to take on the hills. The Fullsteam marshals will do their best to cheer you on of course.

* Supporters 

Make sure your support team know where they are going and the best places to see you well in advance. They will be able to check your progress online as you pass through feed stops and transitions so you should be able to time their appearances to cheer you on. We will put out a spectator guide ahead of the main event.

* TT responsibly 

We’ve got a reasonable use policy when it comes to TT bars. Please avoid using around junctions or groups, but when you’re riding solo out on a bit of clear straight road feel free to get down and go!

* Littering 

If you want to continue taking part in Fullsteam triathlons, then don’t drop litter on the course! Hedges are for birds not gel wrappers and if you drop a bottle go back and pick it up.

* Stay positive 

All athletes have bad days and you may not have achieved quite what you want to but getting negative about it won’t help. Try to write down three positives from any event or training session in your log and one thing to work on for next time. It’s important for your sanity to have more positives behind you then negatives.

And if you follow all that advice, a finish line party awaits on Brighton seafront.

A video detailing the Castle to Coast route is available here

For more information on the Castle to Coast event

30 Days Wild challenge

Round & About


Picture credit: Nick Upton

More than 10 million random acts of wildness in month-long challenge

More than 400,000 people carried out in excess of 10 million ‘random acts of wildness’ as part of the 30 Days Wild Challenge in June.

Wildlife enthusiasts were encouraged to do something wild and enjoy nature every day, taking part in the Wildlife Trusts’ initiative which proved to be more popular than ever this year.

As well as the 50,000 households who signed up for their free packs, wall charts, stickers and wildflower seeds, more than 9,000 schools, 1,300 businesses and 570 care homes also took part.

Wildlife Trusts’ head of communications Joanna Richards said: “It’s been an extraordinarily wild month! We’ve loved seeing the creative and inventive activities of people taking part right across the UK – getting up close to bugs, butterflies and birds, rewilding a garden or making a daisy chain.  You don’t need to go far to appreciate wildlife and often the simplest interactions can bring us the most joy.”

Wildlife gardening in homes, care homes and schools was a popular activity, with people creating small ponds, building homes for bugs, sowing wildflowers, noticing the birds and insects that visited and pledging not to mow their lawns, to encourage more variety of wildlife to flourish.

Other Random Acts of Wildness included:

– Waking up early to hear the dawn chorus at its best

– Organising beach cleans and litter picks

– Noticing a rainbow of flowers and trees growing in towns and countryside

– Creating wild works of art from petals, leaves and feathers.

– Care homes residents and carers have enjoyed planting pollinator-friendly blooms, making leaf art and creating wild playlists, with music inspired by nature.

Guildford Summer Festival

Round & About


Guildford Summer Festival, with sponsor Silent Pool Gin, is back for its 36th year between 8th June to 10th August

Guildford Summer Festival is a huge celebration of all that is great and good about the town.

You’ll be able to enjoy a whole host of theatre, sport, art, music, walks, heritage, tours and days out to keep you busy over the summer.

New events for this year include Animal Encounter Tours at Merrist Wood and the University of Surrey Conductors Concert at Holy Trinity Church. Don’t miss the Woodland Fairy Fair at Watts Gallery and take a trip to the beach at Guildford on sea outside the Electric Theatre.

Popular returning attractions include the festival craft fair, farmers’ markets, cricket festival, Guildford Lions raft race, drama in the castle grounds and classical concerts. Also back by popular demand are the free Alice Day at the castle (3rd August) and the Cheese and Chili Festivals at Shalford Park (21st & 22nd July).
Join a free guided town walk exploring the history, the Alan Turing walk and new Leading Lights Walk where you can meet characters from the past. Staying outdoors there’s the Round the Hogs Back Cycle Tour to join too.

The whole Guildford Summer Festival is being sponsored by Silent Pool Gin.

There are arts exhibitions to view at the Mill Studio, Watts Gallery and Guildford House Gallery and theatre at G Live and the Yvonne Arnaud as well as Guildford Fringe Festival at several venues in July.

Find out more

Festival brochures can be picked up at the Tourist Information Centre and tickets are on sale now for most events.

Wisley garden

Karen Neville


Make the most of the longer evenings thanks to some highlights this month at RHS Garden Wisley in Woking

Various events “after hours” at RHS Wisley should have you enjoying summer to its fullest. Quad Cinema will screen three films from 11th – 13th July including Mamma Mia, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Greatest Showman.

On Wednesday, 17th July, join Surrey Bat Group for an evening walk, and on 24th July pet owners can bring their dogs for walkies. On 26th visitors can enjoy and evening stroll and some live music in the garden until 9pm. There will also be an open-air theatre performance of The Wind in the Willows on Sunday, 28th, at 5.30pm.

Fuchsias are the focus of the Glasshouse display at RHS Garden Wisley from 6th July to 18th August, with a colourful display from Wisley’s fuchsia collection. The Glasshouse Gallery hosts the Carnivorous Plant Society for its show between 20th and 21st July with talks, advice, sales and a special presentation each day at 11an and 3pm entitled The Natural History of Carnivorous Plants.

Jazz in the Garden will take place each Saturday afternoon, 1-4pm at RHS Garden Wisley, when Chi Jazz entertain Wisley visitors from the Butterfly Pavillion. RHS Garden Wisley invites you to help celebrate 50 years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar with some fun family adventures in the Garden. They will also explore lifecycles and help children understand where their food comes from and how it grows.


RHS Wisley, GU23 6QB; call 01483224234, email [email protected] or visit their website

Party in the Park

Round & About


Get ready to Party in the Park in Woking on 6th July

This annual summertime celebration in Woking Park, which is free to attend, offers a packed programme of family entertainment and fun activities for children.

Attracting upwards of 10,000 visitors throughout the day, crowd-pullers include Wimbledon Championship action on the big screen, live music to swing along to, thirst-quenching craft beers, a sizzling hot food village and a carefully curated selection of street theatre and dance.

Entering its eighth year, Party in the Park provides a platform for local talent and aims to encourage participation by introducing partygoers to new activities and local groups. As well as parading around the park at midday with carnival band, UDM Samba, top of the list of things to try this year are slacklining (tightrope walking on a suspended line of webbing), and Tokyo 2020 Olympic sport, skateboarding! You can learn a kickturn or pop an ollie on a mobile mini-ramp with help from the pros at Mount Hawke – helmet and knee-pads provided!

Festival organiser, Riëtte Thomas, Celebrate Woking Manager at Woking Borough Council, said: “This year Party in the Park is going back to its roots. On 6th July, visitors can expect a celebration of all the things we love in Woking and are proud of, plus an eclectic mix of things to see and do across four distinct areas.

“Each year we add new content to the programme to keep the format fresh, to appeal to new audiences but most importantly, to ensure there’s something for everyone at Party in the Park so that we can bring communities together.

“The gravity-defying displays of urban sports will appeal to thrill-seekers young and old, we’re adding more music as requested, and there’s a particular focus on the environment this year. We’re also very excited to be working with one activity provider whose workshops we already know, will be the highlight of Party in the Park 2019.”

In a change to the usual line-up, this year the Main Stage will be dedicated to live performances from professional and big name acts. Headliners announced so far include Britain’s Got Talent finalists, Old Men Grooving, Glimmer Theatre’s raucous Cabareilidh, and singing sensation, Motown Gold Frontline. Local favourites, The Farleys, return to the park after their 2012 debut to fly the flag for home-grown talent.

With everything from Punch and Judy to a whirling urban astronaut floating 20ft up in the air, it’s easy to understand why Party in the Park was voted by Essential Surrey as one of the “best, unmissable events” of 2019. And for added feel good factor, this year’s event concludes with a free outdoor screening of everyone’s favourite, The Greatest Showman.

More info

For full details and latest line-up announcements

Pop-up shop

Round & About


This summer, a new charity pop-up art gallery and garden in Shere will raise awareness and funds for nature conservation and better mental health

Feeling & Matter is a retrospective celebration of the work of John Rich, taking place at his home and studio between July and September. The pop-up exhibition will display the diverse creative output of this English painter, sculptor, picture restorer, writer, husband and father.

John’s creative talent was obvious at an early age and upon seeing his art, a teacher told him he should definitely “take it up”. The young John interpreted the word “up” as an instruction not simply to pursue an art career, but to raise the form “up” to another level.

He studied at the Epsom School of Art and then the Slade School of Art. He won a scholarship from the Guildford School of Art to study in Paris, at the Academie Grande Chaumiere and Academie Julien, while Elizabeth became his muse, a model and their chief money-earner.

A contemporary of Peter Blake and David Hockney – exhibiting alongside them – John went on to have critically successful one-man shows at the Rowan and Grabowski galleries in London. He became an artist of some standing, exhibiting with the Young Contemporaries and the London Group. Despite this auspicious start, John “retired” from painting and did his best to focus on a growing family. He resolved to take art up again afterwards. He taught himself picture restoration and achieved a reputation for excellence in this field – supporting his family while falling into obscurity from the contemporary art world.

His self-imposed exile – while affected by bipolar, encouraged a growing feeling of disillusionment about the contemporary art industry. Their focus was firmly on youth and spectacle. At this time, awards such as the Turner Prize, were not open to those aged over 50 and the rise of Damien Hirst and young British artists, dominated the headlines.

The charity pop-up gallery with garden is a non-profit venture based in Shere celebrating the creativity of the artist, supporting nature conservation and improved mental health.

Run by volunteers from Voluntary Action South West Surrey and the family of John Rich, the exhibition is open at weekends.

Find out more

Head to John’s website to read more about the exhibition and his work

Get into gear

Karen Neville


Join Wokingham Bikeathon on 30th June and take on 15 or 35 mile route

This year’s Wokingham Bikeathon on Sunday, 30th June, is literally bigger than ever – in addition to the 15-mile route, there’s a 35-mile challenge for riders to take on as well.

The new relatively flat route should be an easy ride and at an average speed of 12 miles per hour, should take about three hours to cycle.

This longer distance builds on the success of the bikeathon which started in 2008 with just 143 riders – since that time thousands have taken part with the invaluable help of volunteers, local businesses, charities and organisations.

Run by a committee, headed by Wokingham ‘champion’ Stan Hetherington the original aim was to get people out on their bikes and enjoy the local area, over the years it has developed into a vehicle for fundraising with many charities benefitting.

Money from entries each year goes back into the event for the following year with any surplus after covering bills going to good causes.

Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome to saddle up, with many cycling as families. For these the 15-mile route is perfect, it provides the quietest route for families, is easy and should take around 60-90 minutes to complete. There is a drinks stop at 9.3miles with snacks available too.

Over the years it has developed into a vehicle for fundraising with many charities benefitting

Course split points will be used to highlight where the route divides between the 15 and 35 mile courses. For those taking on the longer distance, there’s a drinks stop at 19 miles.

Registration is open now for those wishing to do so online but you can just turn up at Cantley Park on the day.

Get involved!

For all the important information you need to take part and to register in advance

Harrison’s Fund

Karen Neville


Join Box Hill brunch walk and raise money for Harrison’s Fund

Two mums from Surrey are organising a walk to raise money for a charity that funds research into a life-limiting condition for children.

Klara Cecmanova, 41, and Vicky Lush, 49, from Epsom have organised The Box Hill Walk as part of local charity, Harrison’s Fund’s Harrison’s Brunch campaign. The walk starts at 9.45am on Sunday, 30th June at Box Hill Viewpoint and sees walkers walk down the hill and back up the steps to the top, followed by a bring your own picnic.

Klara has been a big supporter of the charity since two of her boys Theo (7) and Oskar (5) were diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2014.

She said: “Due to their condition, both Theo and Oskar would struggle to walk up Box Hill, their muscles just aren’t strong enough.
“We would love to see as many people as possible at the top of Box Hill ready to help our little warriors down the steep slope, over the stepping stones, and back up the stairs to the top – a tough walk for those that are fully fit but almost impossible for our boys.

“We’ll be able to see the area we live in from the viewpoint so they’ll get a real kick out of this and once back at the top we’ll be relaxing with rugs and a picnic so bring your own and get to know us and your local community.”

We would love to see as many people as possible at the top of Box Hill

Harrison’s Fund was set up in 2012 and funds research into Duchenne – a rare genetic condition which affects all the muscles in the body, causing them to waste away.  Harrison’s Fund’s goal is to get as much money as possible into the hands of the world’s best researchers, who are working to find a cure for Duchenne. The charity is currently funding 16 research projects in the US and the UK.

Klara and Vicky have been raising money for the charity since 2015 when she was part of a local team of women to put on a big community event. Since then it has become an annual event organised by parents with children of the same age who have seen the boys grow from active little boys to becoming increasingly wheelchair bound. The walk is part of the charity’s Harrison’s Brunch campaign which encourages everyone to host a brunch during the month of June to raise money.

Luci Roberts, campaigns executive at Harrison’s Fund said: “Theo and Oskar, like all boys with Duchenne, are an inspiration to us all. Even though their little bodies are slowly failing them, inside, they are just still, little boys who love an adventure, so we hope the local community will join them on their own adventure this June.”

All the proceeds from Harrison’s Brunch will go directly to fund the purchase of a “high throughput analyser” which enables scientists to compare different gene medicines when working in a lab. By using computer automation, the analyser can screen different models and evaluate them in a fraction of the time it would take a team of scientists.

Support the walk or join them

Castle to Coast

Round & About


Take on a triathlon with a difference from Windsor to Brighton

Travel from Windsor Castle all the way to the coast at Brighton on a journey covering more than 81 miles –  but you’ll be completing it in a one-day triathlon. 

You’ll start with a 1.2 mile swim at Eton Dorney followed by a 67mile open road cycle through the Surrey Hills before finishing off with a 13.2 mile run up Ditchling Beacon and over the South Downs. 

There’s no competitive side to it and no timings instead it’s just about enjoying the adventure of the swim, cycle and run on Saturday, 10th August. 

Lee Brown, director and founder of Fullsteam, the endurance events company, says: “In 2019 we wantedtocreate something new in the world of triathlon.Castleto Coast’s sportive format will appealtothose lookingtostep uptoa middle-distance triathlon without the pressures of racing and beating the clock.” 

Swimmers will start the event in the water, in waves, and take on the continuous lap before taking to the saddle and embarking on the cycle ride which is fully supported with a feed station, toilet facilities, mechanical assistance and marshals at key locations as riders make their way along the route and 3,400ft of climbs. 

Then you’ll hand over your bike over to the transport team who will either take it on to Brighton for you or back to Windsor. All equipment for the run and changing facilities will be available in a sports centre. 

A finish line party will greet you on the seafront in Brighton where you’ll collect your medal. If you’re then heading back to Windsor, support staff from Fullsteam will take you back on the organised transport. 

Entry, which is limited to 500, costs from £160 before 1st August. 

  For more information about the event and full entry information, including costs, visit