Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Discover the story of your drinking water at Twyford Waterworks

Twyford Waterworks' Spring Rally is set to take place on Sunday 7th May 2017 as it looks to have yet another successful year.

The  Rally brings together exhibits ranging from large steam engines and vintage vehicles to working models and displays. Visitors will be able to view the old pumping machinery and discover how clean drinking water has been pumped from deep underground to their homes from the wells at Twyford for the past 117 years.

Currently booked in are the following types of exhibit: - Full sized steam traction engines and steam rollers - Vintage vehicles, classic cars, fire engines - Miniature steam railway - Stationery engines - Fairground organs

This is in addition to the Waterworks itself which contains: - Steam pumping engine and boilers (under restoration) - Working diesel pumping engines - Gas, petrol and water powered engines - Lime kilns and water softening works - Industrial narrow gauge railway - Wildlife walks and picnic sites - Tea room and gift shop - Large free car park

Twyford Waterworks is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the only complete Edwardian pumping station remaining in the country, retaining a full set of steam and diesel pumps, lime kilns and unique water softening works. Nestling in the Hampshire Downs the five acre site is a haven for wildlife with a nature trail and hide to bring visitors closer to our native species. The tea room serves light refreshments while a BBQ provides more substantial fare.

The Waterworks Trust is run entirely by volunteers as a registered charity and is nearing the completion of a £1m project to return the steam pumping engine and boilers back to working order. For more information please visit their website.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Italian Fever set to hit The Milk House

The Milk House in Sissinghurst are set to go all Italian with their Vespa Really this Saturday (29th April from 1pm).
The team are all fired up about the hotly-anticipated Spring reopening of their wood-fired pizza oven so they’ve invited a cavalcade of Italian scooters to join them for a pizza.

There’s no need to book in the bar or on the terrace. Just turn up and admire Kent Vespa Club’s finest pieces of motor while enjoying a pint of Peroni, a glass of Pinot Grigio and – with any luck – some perfect Mediterranean weather.

Last year The Milk House laid on a similar event with the Kent Ferrari Owners Club who put on a spectacular display. Then on Monday 1 May, the pub will be reverting to its Kentish roots, thanks to the Weald of Kent Morris menu who will be leading everyone into dance at 1pm. Get your handkerchiefs ready so you don’t miss out on the May Day merriment!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

New Multi-Media exhibition at Stowe

The world-famous landscape garden at Stowe in Buckinghamshire is the setting for a new multi-media exhibition inspired by the sixteenth-century poem The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser that starts on 8th May.

Spenser’s epic unfinished poem, one of the longest in the English language, is an allegorical tale of chivalry and virtue that follows characters on chivalric quests.

In a partnership between the National Trust and Oxford University, Stowe’s exhibition, Demons Land: a poem come true, is a re-imagining of The Faerie Queene and tells the story of an attempt to build a world in the image of the poem.

The narrative for Demons Land is the brainchild of a character called The Collector and is his attempt to build a world in the image of The Faerie Queene. The story is curated by a fictional contemporary woman called Ola who discovered a tranche of the Collector's paintings and manuscripts.

Demons Land unfolds on a journey around Stowe’s landscape garden, temples and monuments using film, soundscapes, sculpture and paintings that reflect the dark side of man’s attempts to impose control on a chaotic world.

The project was conceived and written by Simon Palfrey, Professor of English at Brasenose College, Oxford and is a collaboration with Tom de Freston (artist), Mark Jones (filmmaker), Luke Lewis (composer), Stephanie Greer (actress) and a team of staff and volunteers from the National Trust at Stowe.

Stowe’s garden was created in the eighteenth-century by aristocrat and politician Lord Cobham and revealed his beliefs about the politics and morality of the day. Public virtue and private vice lay at the very heart of the design where visitors then, as now, were presented with choices between the paths of virtue, vice or liberty.

Professor Palfrey explained:

'Our first visit to Stowe convinced us that it is the perfect site for Demons Land.
'The gardens and temples are a unique attempt to make a poetic vision come true.
'The paths of Vice, Virtue and Liberty reflect the utopian ideals of Spenser’s poem and The Temple of Venus at Stowe once contained paintings of scenes from The Faerie Queene.
'The Collector’s attempt to build a world in the image of The Faerie Queene is a rapturously literal vision of poetry and history, in repeating rhymes, rhythms and stanzas.
'Demons Land will show how he would succeed where Spenser did not: he would complete the unfinished poem and the project of reformation that it served.
'The poem did indeed come true – but not as the Collector imagined.'

Jane Greenhaf, General Manager at Stowe said:

'We are delighted to be hosting this new exhibition which draws on Stowe’s history and shines a light on a little known story.
'It will give visitors a new perspective on this famous garden.
'Through the different media of film, music and art, Demons Land presents some thought provoking, perhaps even challenging ideas that reflect some of the original concepts the gardens at Stowe were founded upon 300 years ago'. 

The exhibition is funded by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Following its staging at Stowe,

Demons Land will move to various locations in Oxford, London, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Demons Land: a poem come true runs from 8 May - 16 July 2017 at Stowe. Normal admission applies. For more information and opening times:

Friday, 21 April 2017

Tractor Ted Arrives at Stonor Park!

Wonder Woods, Stonor Park’s new adventure play park, are delighted to announce that Tractor Ted, the UK’s favourite little green tractor, will be visiting Stonor Park for the very first time on Sunday 30th April.

Tractor Ted is a lovable children’s tractor who captivates, entertains and educates young children with his exciting stories of real life farm adventures and discovery. Sunday 30th April welcomes a Tractor Ted Treasure Trail to the Wonder Woods and all young children are welcome! The trail will start with the famous little green tractor and children will follow the Tractor Ted Fun Farm Fact signs around the park. Some signs will be hidden in the Wonder Woods – perfect for adventurous play – and will finish with the Tractor Ted Bouncy Castle (a 5 metre high giant green bouncy tractor ) total heaven for young children!

Bouncy Ted

Everyone will receive a sticker and certificate of excellence; perfect for show ‘n’ tell back at school and will be entered into a prize draw to win some Tractor Ted goodies.

Wonder Woods was opened in October 2016 after William and Ailsa Stonor wanted to enhance the visitor experience for younger folk.

Timber Play, the brilliant people behind the Diana, Princess of Wales, Playground in Hyde Park, were invited to create a stimulating and fun environment for all children up to the age of 15. Located on the edge of woodland, the wooden and steel structures are designed to embrace the grassed landscape and as new saplings take root and grow, this truly becomes a captivating wooded wonderland for children of all ages.

For younger children, the play area has a raised play house and slide surrounded by soft sand, leading to the water pump where children can divert water through channels and water wheels. Plus see-saw, wobble dish, rocking deer (a nod to the fallow deer in the park) and swings are close by.

Further into the woods older children will enjoy the challenge of the wooden climbing structure that leads to a rope climbing forest, connecting to a tree house with slide and 50 metre zip wire and tunnels adding to their fun.

Lots of seating has been created, the Pit Stop café is close by too, offering coffee, drinks and artisan snacks for the whole family. Bathrooms and baby changing facilities are adjacent to the café.

Spring Jousting Tournament at Blenheim Palace

Spring Jousting at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace are set to enjoy an exciting historical jousting tournament from 29th April – 1st May. The palace will recreate the glorious jousting matches of Britain’s 13th Century as knights will do battle in a daring display of bravery and skill.

Taking place on May Bank Holiday weekend on the South Lawn at Blenheim Palace the Knights of Royal England with engage in a jousting knockout. Each jousting tournament will be staged twice daily over the weekend starting at 12.30pm and 3pm.

Visitors can enjoy a weekend of entertainment with plenty of interactive activities and family friendly entertainment. Enjoy jesters in the side arena, followed by a Jester workshop and Baby Dragon walkabout.

Watch a thrilling falconry display and see the birds of prey in action. As well as falcons, families will also have a chance to meet a Harris Hawk, Eagle Owl and American Kestrel with two shows daily in the Main Arena.

Knights line up

Furthermore families can get stuck in and have a go at archery on Blenheim Palace’s South Lawn as well as exploring the extensive grounds and parkland and taking a ride on the miniature train to the Pleasure Gardens. Once there families can enjoy the permanent features like the Marlborough Maze, Adventure Play Area and Butterfly House.

For the younger children there will be Baby Dragon’s walking about. Hatched from a small Dragon sanctuary in the Welsh Marshes, these delightful creatures are very friendly and well mannered, although a dragon is never entirely predictable… Discover an exciting Dragon Procession and head to the marquee to hear some magical Dragon Tales.

What: Jousting, Falconry and Historical Action at Blenheim Palace

When: May Bank Holiday Weekend 29th April – 1st May

Why Visit: Knights on horseback, battles, falconry displays, archery and much more!

Admission: Park & Gardens ticket required: Adult £15.30 / Child £7.10 (Age 5-16) /Concession £11.50 / Family £41.00 (2 Adults & 2 Children)


South East England have a number of historic houses on offer.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Lamb Buggy Tours at Blenheim Palace

Lamb Buggy Tours at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is expecting a record number of twins this year! With over 3,000 lambs due to arrive towards the end of April, visitors can see them gambolling about in the ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland on a special Lamb Buggy Tour beginning 22 April.

The 1550 ewes were scanned by two members of the Rural Team in February meaning that Estate Manager Roy Cox and Head Shepherd, Charles Gerring know they are expecting 253 singles, 1,129 sets of twins and 144 sets of triplets. The spring arrivals are thought to be arriving from 20 April.

The scans show an increase in twins expected by the Blenheim Palace ewes and a reduction in triplets, which is good news for shepherds and mums-to-be. Ewes who give birth to triplets usually have one of their three offspring taken away and given to another ewe so that they can cope with feeding.

In The Avanue

 Head Shepherd Charles Gerring says:

'The estimated yield of lambs from our flock this spring is really pleasing.
'The increase in twins is fantastic, and always what we hope to achieve.
'With the reduction of triplets we won’t have as much worry with fostered lambs being rejected and ewes struggling to look after more than they can cope with.'

Visitors can learn about Blenheim Palace’s rich agri-history and discover more about the Estate farm on the Lamb Buggy Tours which will be running through the Park to the lambing fields set in the historic surrounds of the Grand Avenue.

The grassland within this World Heritage Site is an idyllic area for our extensive flock to graze throughout the year. We lamb outdoors in order to give lambs the best spring grass and nutrients they need.

Blenheim Palace lambs later than many farms because their sheep are reared entirely on grass largely staying within the Park walls, keeping them as naturally healthy and organic as possible.

The sheep breeds which graze Blenheim Palace parkland are the Scotch Mule and Romney - according to Charles these sheep 'Make the best lawnmowers!'.

 The Estate team have put in place a careful health management programme for the 1,550 resident ewes, which has led to great lambing results over the last two years. After the lambing season the total number of sheep grazing Blenheim Palace rises to over 4,500 (1550 Ewes & 3000 Lambs).

 Estate Manager Roy Cox says:

'We have planted new herbal grass leys which have a mix of Chicory, Sainfoin (a traditional ‘super grass’ that lost favour to more vigorous rye grasses) and lots of other things that the sheep like.
'This has meant we could take the lambs off their mums earlier to give them a break.
'Also the weather was quite mild this winter, particularly at tupping - this meant we’ve had plenty of grass throughout the year.' 

Visitors are asked to please refrain from approaching or touching the sheep and lambs whilst on this tour. What: Lamb Buggy Tours at Blenheim Palace Why Visit: See a lambs full of the joys of spring frolicking upon the ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped Parkland at Blenheim Palace When: Daily from 22nd April – 3rd June Admission: Park & Gardens Ticket + Price: £3.50 per adult, £2.50 per child.

South East England has a number of Historic Houses to visit.

Marwell reveal new interactive experience

The Great Brick Safari: An Interactive Experience with LEGO® Bricks exclusive to Marwell Zoo.

Marwell Wildlife is to become the first UK zoo to host a collection of giant LEGO brick animals. This summer over 80 stunning sculptures, representing 25 different species, will be installed at the Hampshire attraction, offering an exciting and unique trail to connect children with nature.

Over 2 million bricks will be used to make the sculptures, which are being created by Bordon-based LEGO building company Bright Bricks. Among them will be a 1.5 tonne elephant, a life size Bengal tiger and a trio of Giant panda cubs. Other sculptures will be inspired by Marwell’s own diverse collection of animals, with a red ruffed lemur, a warthog and a mob of meerkats all featuring on the trail.

James Cretney, Chief Executive of Marwell Wildlife said:

'Families love being around nature at Marwell and the LEGO brick trail will be a fun and engaging way of highlighting some of our really important species, as well as welcoming some exciting new animals to the zoo!
'We are delighted to be the first zoo in the UK to host an interactive LEGO brick experience.
'We know our guests both old and young are going to absolutely love the trail.'

LEGO fans of all ages will also be able to try their hands at making their own animal sculptures in the LEGO brick play area. The Great Brick Safari will be included with general admission to Marwell Zoo and will run from Tuesday 1 August until Sunday 1 October. Follow Marwell Wildlife on Facebook for all the latest.

South East England has a number Zoos and Animal Parks.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Blog Archive

We have recently changed our website, please see here for our previous blog posts.

Going potty at Grayshotts

Grayshott Pottery
Have you ever wanted to try your hand at pottery? The thrill of throwing down clay onto the potter’s wheel, using your hands to create your own pot… perhaps not quite knowing what the final result will be – but that’s the excitement of the art; every ceramic pot can be different!

 Pottery has been with us for thousands of years, being used by humans throughout the ages to store and carry food and drink from the earliest times. Pottery has perhaps enjoyed a renaissance in recent years and even had its’ own BBC television programme broadcast both this year and last, as potters competed with each other to be crowned in the Great Pottery Throw Down.
Here in the South East, Grayshott Pottery in Hindhead, Surrey has been making pottery for more than 60 years – and today it is a successful business producing ceramic giftware for shops and galleries throughout the UK. If you’re looking for that special gift, then Grayshott has an extensive “Emporium” of all kinds of pottery, whether you are treating yourself to a new dinner set, a hand-painted plate, a mug or some beautiful jewellery.
 However, Grayshott Pottery is more than a shop: you can try your hand at pottery, too! I remember first having a go at pottery when I was at school, recalling how quickly you could use simple ingredients of water and clay, aided by the speed of the potter’s wheel, to craft your own pot. Mine wasn’t especially successful – but I guess that is part of the fun. Grayshott run their own workshops for both children and adults where you are able to spend a day or a few hours having a go at this interesting art form. To find out more about the Pottery Workshops and Events click onto their website; there are upcoming events over Easter and in May and June and the price includes one piece of pottery that has been glazed and fired.

Getting arty
If you’d like to discover more about how pottery is made, then you can take part in free ‘Journey of the Clay’ tours which are held twice daily; please note that booking is essential. These tours are a great way of discovering how the talented Grayshott artists transform their clay into stunning creations using techniques from the past as well as using modern, contemporary methods. And after all that pottering about, you can relax and perhaps discuss the merits of your creations with a tasty snack or lunch at the Grayshott Pottery Kiln Café.
Food from the Kiln Cafe
Go on – Why not have a go, you never know there may be a budding potter just waiting to come out? By Simon Frost at Hibou Communication.

See here for all of Simon's previous blog posts.