Soprano Justine Balmer on her perfect Surrey weekend
PUBLISHED: 14:51 22 February 2013 | UPDATED: 22:19 26 February 2013
One of the UK's newest and most exciting classical-crossover sopranos, Justine Balmer is releasing her debut EP this spring. Having recently returned to her roots in Surrey, here she reveals how she likes to spend her perfect weekend at home
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2013
One of the UKs newest and most exciting classical-crossover sopranos, Justine Balmer is releasing her debut EP this spring. Having recently returned to her roots in Surrey, here she reveals how she likes to spend her perfect weekend at home in Godalming
I am originally a Surrey girl who was born in Guildford and lived in East Horsley before moving up North to Leeds at the age of ten. After living, training and working in London, I decided it was high-time to head home to the beautiful Surrey market town of Godalming. To return to the county I love
I very rarely have a full weekend off work Friday and Saturday evenings often find me in a beautiful gown singing somewhere in the UK or abroad. But when I am in the UK (and sometimes on a Sunday morning), I have to get up at the crack of dawn to reach the QVC studios in Chiswick by 7am for a gardening show!
As I live in a flat without a garden, its important for me to get out and about whether thats simply sitting on the banks of the Wey Canal and watching the longboats go through the locks, or exploring some of the beautiful countryside that surrounds Godalming. In the summer, I love heading down to Godalming park with a picnic and friends, or sometimes even by myself with a book.
Im always looking for great places for a cream tea. My current favourite is the Bell and Dragon in Godalming its to die for! Farncombe Boat House also has great home-cooked cakes that you can eat right on the riverbank and they also hire out rowing boats which I keep saying I must do one weekend!
Down the local
The closest and my favourite pubs are The Inn on the Lake and Milfords The Refectory, both of which have great food. The Refectory has a wonderful real fire, which I love sitting by in the winter and having a huge pot of tea with a friend (along with a good gossip of course)! But if Im visiting my mother, who lives in Woking, we often go to The Red Lion in Horsell, which again has fantastic food can you see there is a bit of an eating theme going on here?!
And of course being so near Guildford, there are far too many tempting shops around, from big high street chains to little independent stores in Jefferies Passage. Theres even a castle to visit and a beautiful river to sit beside and eat a sandwich to take a break from all that shopping!
If Im not singing in a concert on a Saturday night, I tend to make the most of all the fantastic entertainment that is nearby. Between the Ambassadors Theatre in Woking, the Yvonne Arnaud and G Live in Guildford, and the open-air concerts at Loseley House, we are truly spoilt for choice.
Being a singer, Im a huge fan of live music and love being able to go to concerts where I live rather than always having to go into London. I can only hope that the funding issues with the Guildford Philharmonic will be resolved very soon so that this wonderful orchestra can continue to bring fabulous music to all of us.
Stepping back in time
There are so many great things to do in Surrey that when friends come and visit for the weekend, we make a point of going out and exploring. Hampton Court Palace and also Windsor Castle, just over the border, are favourites. They are both so full of history, you can really feel part of those bygone eras or is that my romantic side coming out?!
Weekends for me are all about making the most of the time Im not working which can be anything from catching up with friends to reading a good book. A lot of my friends also live in Surrey now, although we are spread out all over the county so spare rooms are a must!
- Justine Balmers debut EP will be released in Spring 2013. Find out more on her website at: justinebalmer.com or you can also follow Justine on Twitter: @JustineBalmer