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. 

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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Vann Garden – Additional Opening

The garden at Vann will be open to visitors on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the rest of June, beginning from today.

Vann is the home of the Caroe family. Many in Hambledon are still greatly saddened by the death of Mary Caroe from Covid-19. Mary, a loved and respected village resident and community volunteer, gave much of her time to the magnificent property, which includes a water garden created by the noted designer Gertrude Jekyll in 1911.

Vann, Hambledon, Surrey; garden originally designed by Gertrude Jekyll

The 5-acre garden, in beautiful countryside in Vann Lane, Hambledon, GU8 4EF, is open from 10am to 4pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays, until at least the end of this month. Tickets cost £10, payable in cash on the day, and visitors will receive a Vann booklet and postcards.

The garden is looking splendid, benefiting from a great deal of hard work and the warm late spring/early summer weather. Visitors can wander around at their leisure, observing social distancing.

Vann has been open on selected days for many years under the National Gardens Scheme. Mary was an active member of the Surrey Gardens Trust, and a member of its Council since its inception in 1991.

Further details of Vann garden and its Arts and Crafts movement house can be found at www.vanngarden.co.uk

Our photograph shows Vann in its Spring finery. Picture credit: Andrew Lawson

Surrey Hills AONB – Please stay away

The Surrey Hills Partnership is asking people NOT to visit the many public facilities and car parks at recognised beauty spots within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and instead to access countryside close to where we live.

Well-known visitor attractions such as Frensham Ponds, Box Hill and Newlands Corner have seen a massive increase in visitors in the recent hot weather following a relaxing of lockdown restrictions.

This has resulted in a concern that social distancing is not being properly observed and there have been additional issues such as congestion, illegal parking, litter and fire risk.

Please click here for further information: https://www.surreyhills.org/dont-travel-plea-from-the-surrey-hills/

 

Hambledon Nursery School Phased Re-opening – Monday June 1st.

A semblance of normality returned to Hambledon today with the reopening of the village nursery school. David Evans, chair of the Trustees, explains the latest developments.

Hambledon Nursery School has been working towards a phased re-opening from June 1st, in line with government advice. The issues this raises for all involved are challenging, as the following article explains.

Since late March, for the first time in its history, Hambledon Nursery School has been closed. Usually bustling with the play and laughter of small children, for the past two months the school has been strangely empty and quiet.

But although the children have been at home, a core group has been keeping the heart of the school beating. Outreach to parents coping for the first time with home-schooling, with a steady flow of ideas and links and personal support. Videos from teaching staff letting the children know how much they are missed, and looking forward to when they return. Liaison between members of staff, keeping everyone in the loop over a period when every news report seems to say something different, and the government’s advice and plans have taken time to take shape. Physically looking after the fabric of the school itself. And behind the scenes, administrative and financial activity: applying for and administering the furlough schemes, monitoring our financial health, and working out what in different scenarios the future might look like.

But now, at last, it looks like we have a route back to normality.

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May Parish Magazine Delivered This Weekend

The May edition of Hambledon Parish Magazine will be hand-delivered to subscribers across the village this weekend.

A small team of volunteers will be out and about in their designated areas of Hambledon, so please look out for your magazine on your doorstep or in your letter box over the next few days. If you are a subscriber and do not receive your copy please contact Stewart Payne on 07831 393561.

Thank you to the volunteers, and to the editorial team of John Hindley and Jane Woolley who have put together a magazine packed full of interesting articles and information, much of it relevant to the current situation.

Until recently the magazine was also available at the village shop where it could be collected by those who had pre-paid, or bought over the counter. As this is not possible at the moment, all village subscribers will receive their copy at their doorstep.

A small number of copies will be left in the church porch beside a collection box and available for purchase at the usual cover price of 70p, first come, first served.

If you would like to subscribe to future issues, please contact Mary Parker on 01428 682545. A year’s subscription costs £7.50. By becoming a subscriber you are guaranteed a home-delivered copy and it helps the editors to manage the print run.

Back issues of the magazine, including an archive covering many decades, can be viewed on this website on the Parish Magazine page.