Experience Guildford's Amanda Masters on her perfect Surrey weekend
PUBLISHED: 05:08 06 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:36 06 November 2015
What does Guildford's 'girl-about-town' like to do on her days off? Amanda Masters, general manager of Experience Guildford, the town centre's Business Improvement District, tells us more...
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2015
I love a bit of retail therapy and am lucky enough to work in the heart of Guildford surrounded by great places to eat, shop and visit. I’m even luckier to consider visiting many of my favourite town centre hot spots part of my job. As general manager of Experience Guildford, my role is to ensure that Guildford remains one of the most vibrant shopping and leisure destinations in the south-east, and during the week I would say I do my fair share to keep that economy going!
With my retail fix already met, my weekends are more about enjoying life and local attractions closer to my home in Cranleigh, and spending time with my husband, rather than being seduced by the stores.
After a busy week in the office, Friday evenings are always a welcome indulgence – a time to relax, eat well and catch up with my husband or entertain friends. We’re both big foodies and are spoilt for choice with an array of great produce on our doorstep; Cranleigh is one of the few towns in the UK that still has a good butcher’s and fishmonger’s on the high street and a couple of fabulous bakeries. There’s also an excellent choice for great places to eat out, with The Richard Onslow and Restaurant 107 both firm Friday-night favourites of ours.
Our other joint passion is the theatre and we love to nip back into Guildford for dinner and a show whenever we have the chance. I’m a big supporter of both the Guildford Fringe and Guildford Shakespeare Company, so always try to pop along to their productions, plus regularly check out the listings at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, G Live and Electric Theatre.
Lazy Saturday mornings
Saturday mornings are definitely the time to drop the pace a little, with the alarm switched off, a leisurely brunch and a trawl through the weekend papers. I love to be a home bird during the weekend, or more precisely a garden bird, so feeling refreshed (and full), it’s time to don those gardening gloves and head for the flower beds. More often than not, it’s another excuse for a bit more retail therapy, with some great garden centres and farm shops on our doorstep, such as Notcutts in Cranleigh or Secretts of Milford. Gardening has become quite a new passion of mine, and my successful trial-and-error approach to cultivation has got me hooked on creating a little green haven of my own – perhaps inspired by the work I’ve done for the town centre over the years in relation to the ‘In Bloom’ campaign.
I’ve lived in Surrey now for around 10 years and still love to explore the area. We’re blessed with some of the country’s most stunning countryside, oldest woodlands and crystal clear rivers and lakes. A walker’s paradise, Sundays are the perfect time to head for the Surrey Hills to enjoy our favourite landmarks or discover a few of the area’s more hidden gems. I love the circular route around Newlands Corner and the mysterious Silent Pool, or a hike up Leith Hill if I’m feeling a little more energetic – the views are breathtaking.
If the weather’s not on our side, I enjoy mooching around antiques and knick-knack stores with friends. Bourne Mill in Farnham is always a winner; it’s so quirky and you can get lost in there for hours. There’s always a bargain to be had and some great up-cycling projects to get my teeth into.
• Experience Guildford works to ensure that the town centre remains the most successful it can be, helping businesses thrive whilst boosting the local economy with popular events such as the Guildford Christmas lights switch-on, Independents’ Day and the recent urban beach. See experienceguildford.com