Sunday Reflection

In this, our penultimate Sunday Reflection, Jane Woolley and John Hindley, the editors of Hambledon’s Parish Magazine, reflect on how it has kept the village informed and entertained throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lock-down.

“All church services cancelled”; “Cricket suspended”; “Promising season curtailed”; “A rousing last performance”.  Just some of the headings we were having to write during March as we edited the April issue of the Parish Magazine.  Our hearts were sinking deeper and deeper into our boots:  what prospect was there of any subsequent issues as everyone and everything locked or shut down until further notice? 

However, by April 16th, the last date for receipt of copy for the May edition, there was so much material that, for only the second time in recent history, we had a 60-page issue on our hands. But not the last.

Although runs could not be scored on the cricket green, no goals kicked at the football club, no audiences entertained at the village hall, just about all the other village organisations and clubs – from the church to the pub to the shop – had re-activated themselves in ways that they had never imagined of in pre-pandemic days.

Parish Council meetings? No problem thanks to Zoom.  Church services?  Worship, prayer and fellowship on offer online.  Pub grub?  A special take-away menu prepared for those who were having to self-isolate.  The weekly shop?  Just telephone or email your order to Hambledon Village Shop for delivery to your door-step on the very same day.

All this plus community assistance and fundraising initiatives launched to provide for those in need of support, including financial help, and articles on how individual families were responding to lock-down.

And where to find all this vital information? In the Parish Magazine, of course. Throughout the pandemic the Magazine, with a team of volunteers to deliver it to doorsteps, attempted to keep track of and report on the often fast-moving and sometimes contradictory changes that affected everyone in Hambledon.

Perhaps an even more important role has been its ability to keep people aware of what a significant number of individuals and groups have been doing to ensure that village life continued under the new-normal. New contributors appeared, with wonderful offerings, and three more 60-page issues followed. VE Day was commemorated.

For people who had to self-isolate and for to all who had to lock-down, the Magazine demonstrated that Hambledon’s community spirit never wavered.

The editors had few problems, other than dealing with last minute changes.  The good-news stories continued to flow and one of the best headlines we were able to write for the latest (August) issue of the Magazine was “Heading back to normal” (although caution did dictate the addition of a question mark!).   

SUNDAY REFLECTION

The Merry Harriers, Hambledon’s 16th Century village pub, reopened just over a month ago as lock-down restrictions eased. This involved a great deal of hard work and planning to ensure it could keep locals, visiting guests and staff safe. In this week’s Reflection, general manager Jake Andreou looks back on how things have gone.

One month on from re- opening, and I thought it might be time to write a little reflection on how the pub has handled the changing circumstances post-lock-down.

Our customers will have noticed the many differences in how we serve at the Harriers, but the changes go far deeper than what you see.

The most notable thing for me is how much our busy hours have changed. It used to be a certain bet that Sunday would be the busiest day of the week, but now it is almost impossible to predict just how busy we’ll be on a day-to-day basis.

For example, some Tuesdays have been busier than a peak summertime Sunday would have been last year! As a result, it is difficult to manage the rota to ensure we have enough staff on duty from our small (but dedicated) team.

I would like to say “thank you” to everyone who has visited us in the last month for how understanding you have been with my staff. It really does make a difference and it keeps their heads held high on otherwise challenging shifts.

It has also been great to see how many of you have come down and supported us in an ever-changing world. When I arrived last autumn, I seldom saw the front ‘beach’ as busy as it is now, with tables full of people laughing and enjoying each other’s company…at a safe distance of course.

In terms of an advert for the business I’m proud to be running, I could not ask for more.

We are very fortunate to have the outdoor space and seating that we do, and I’m hopeful that the weather remains favourable for as much of summer as possible!

How things will change when winter arrives – bringing colder and wetter weather – will be next in a long line of challenges since the Covid pandemic arrived. But that is something we must plan for when the time draws nearer. At the moment I have enough to concern me, trying to keep enough barrels of Shere Drop in our cellar and bottles of rose wine in our fridges!

For me, lock-down was difficult at times with only the ever-patient Nick Ash, the sous chef, to keep me company for long stretches.  Together with Jake the dog, of course.

So, I just wanted to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of you who have checked in on me and the pub, not just as customers but as friends, and I look forward to seeing you in the days and weeks to come.

SUNDAY REFLECTION

Life is slowly getting back to something like “normal”. But we know that many things will have changed forever. There is, therefore, some comfort in reflecting on the past. In this week’s Reflection, Jane Woolley reminds us that our little village has a rich heritage. On this website, and within the Heritage archive that Jane keeps at her home, much can be discovered.

Ever wondered what your house used to look like?   The chances are that it was one of Hambledon’s many small cottages, probably with no modern utilities, before it was “developed” to create a fair-sized family home complete with wi-fi and superfast broadband.    Ever imagined what the noise must have been like when the empty expanse of what is now “Nutbourne Park” was a thriving brickworks?  Ever been curious to know whether The Hydons and Hambledon Park always looked the way they do to-day?

Well, thanks to the Hambledon Heritage archive, it’s easy to find the answers to these and many more questions about the village, its activities, its inhabitants and its institutions.   By charting the development of the village over the best part of 200 years, the archive also demonstrates how much the Hambledon of to-day owes to the Hambledon of the past:  there’s nothing new about Hambledon’s community spirit.

The material in the archive has accumulated gradually over the last 60 or so years.  It’s a real social  history, in words and pictures, of families from all walks of life, their homes, their workplaces, their farms;  of the village hubs – the shop, the Post Office (they weren’t always the same thing and the village had more than one shop in the past), the Village Hall, the church and the pub;  the changing landscape; the sporting and social clubs, past and present;  and the institutions (including the Hydestile Hospital and the Hambledon Institute, the predecessors of The Hydons and Hambledon Park respectively – and the Institute was originally the workhouse). 

Disasters (from bombing raids to storms) are recorded;  so are successes such as winning best-kept village competitions and saving the village shop and the school (now the Nursery School).  Village fetes and celebrations of national events ranging from VE Day to jubilees are chronicled in detail.   There are scrapbooks, booklets written by villagers, photographic albums, press cuttings and numerous individual contributions.  On the whole they paint a picture of an ideal village – but don’t be fooled:  less than 10 years ago the Surrey Advertiser reported that “A village regarded by police as one of the safest places to live in Surrey has proved to be the ideal base for two cannabis factories” – which led to the arrest of six people under the Misuse of Drugs Act.   Never let it be said that the archive is a dull read. 

When my mother bought Cobblers, little did she (or I) realise that the two outbuildings that go with it were almost more spacious than the cottage itself.

  This means that I have been able to provide a home for the archive in the sun room.  Anyone is welcome to visit and browse.  You can find a list of all the documents with, in some cases, a list of their contents, on the village web site:  just click on history/historical village documents/the Hambledon heritage albums.  And do please consider whether you can add to this invaluable village resource:  although everything that happens now is media-recorded, that used not to be the case.  Our history is still dependent on paper documents and photographs. 

Hambledon Coal Yard – Now…and Then

Small businesses operating out of Hambledon’s former coal yard have grouped together to showcase what they have to offer on a new website which also promotes wider village attractions.

Under the banner of Coal Yard Creatives, the website was set up by Ian and Alpa Cox, after relocating their micro gin distillery to one of the new units.

Currently the yard hosts a range of small enterprises including tile maker, a joinery, party shop, bespoke bakery, catering service, florist and upholsterer, and a martial arts studio, with potentially more to come.

The new website also provides links to a range of activities, houses and gardens open to the public, nearby walks, the village shop and pub. It also links to Hambledon Village website.

Ian and Alpa hope that Coal Yard Creatives will be a shop window to visitors on all that Hambledon has to offer, who may wish to stay on to enjoy a day out in the Surrey Hills.

It can be found at www.coalyardcreatives.com

It is the latest chapter in the history of the yard which once supplied the village with its coal and other heating supplies, before closing in the 1990s.

The village website takes a look back at how things used to be. Please read on.

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Sunday Reflection

Since the introduction of restrictive measures to combat the Coronavirus pandemic, Hambledon website has invited village organisations to reflect on life under extraordinary circumstances. This week we hear from Camilla Edmiston on behalf of the Book Club.

There is something truly magical about losing yourself in a really good book. Never more so than in the current strange times in which we find ourselves.

As part of the Merry Book Club I have loved the opportunity to sometimes be challenged to read different things – books I would never have chosen but have then really enjoyed. Or sometimes not.

However, it is still a revelation and creates interesting conversations when we meet and discuss who likes what and why.

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Merry Harriers Reopens on Saturday

Lock-down restrictions across the UK will be further relaxed this Saturday, July 4th, allowing for the reopening of pubs and restaurants as long as safety measures are in place and enforced.

In Hambledon, The Merry Harriers will reopen at midday, just over 100 days since it was required to close.

Behind the scenes, general manager Jake Andreou has been working hard to ensure the pub can comply with detailed government guidelines to protect staff, locals and staying guests from the risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus.

A member of staff will meet and greet customers arriving at the main entrance. The new measures will be explained, any questions answered, and a contact taken for individuals or for one member if in a small group. Drinks can be ordered at the bar, which has a Perspex screen installed, and will be delivered to you at a table. Payment will be by card.

A one-way system will be in place and customers will enter and leave by different doors. Tables and benches – inside and in the garden areas – have been situated to ensure correct social distancing can be maintained. A marquee has been erected on the boules court and this may also have a bar for outside drinkers.

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Volunteers Restore Hambledon Bridleway

Many people have been put off walking the footpath from the Merry Harriers towards Enton and Witley because of its boggy condition. All that has changed, thanks to the efforts of volunteers, as Mike Parry explains.

The Old Road to Witley – Bridleway 186

This will be known to most of us as the path alongside the Merry Harriers to Buss’s Common and beyond and was many years ago an established highway between Hambledon and Witley.

More recently it has been even better known for its very wet condition as for most of the year it has only been passable on foot if wearing waterproof boots. The photograph below was taken in March last year.

The bridleway was last repaired in 2002 by Surrey County Council and has deteriorated through use and flooding problems since then.

In October 2018 the Parish Council asked for some help from SCC to at least evaluate the possible cost of repairs and a sketch was prepared by the Parish Council with a suggested improvement scheme. Due to a lack of funding at that time there was no further progress until March 2019. Continue reading

SUNDAY REFLECTION

Kate Walford, the Head Teacher of Hambledon Nursery School, contributed the Sunday Reflection this week.

As I reflect upon the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Hambledon Nursery School I would have to say that, overriding all else, is the fact that for the first time in its history it had to close, from Monday 23rd March to Friday 29th May 2020.

If I had tried to imagine this at the beginning of the year, it would have been unthinkable. But, as the worldwide Covid-19 crisis unfolded, it became apparent that the nursery would not escape the impact of the virus and it closed under lock-down.

We did not have children of key workers or vulnerable children for whom the nursery was required to remain open, so we entered what was a very strange and unique period of time.

A small team, comprising of myself as head teacher and the school secretary, Stephanie Campbell, worked behind the scenes to keep things ‘ticking along’. Setting foot into the nursery while it was closed to children, staff and parents was an eerie and at times deeply saddening experience. However, like so many community organisations in the village, we adapted to the unprecedented times that we found ourselves in.

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