Musician Michael Collins on his perfect Surrey weekend
PUBLISHED: 10:35 12 July 2013 | UPDATED: 10:39 12 July 2014
Copyright: Benjamin Ealovega 2011
As one of the finest clarinettists of his generation, soloist Michael Collins is in demand all over the world. So he looks forward to working closer to his home in Farnham whenever the chance arises
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2013
Life as a world class professional musician can be hectic. I am just back from a ten day tour of South Korea and will shortly be off again to Japan. With such a busy schedule, weekends off are precious to me. I try to relax and use my spare time to catch up with family and friends.
I moved to Farnham from Guildford about six years ago as I wanted my children to experience the freedom of growing up in the countryside. I love the tranquillity here and it is such a pleasure to come home to somewhere so peaceful after an overseas trip. However glam it may sound, so much international travel can take its toll, that’s for sure.
Having said that, I do sometimes miss the buzz of Guildford. It’s a vibrant place and if you live in the town, as I did, then everything is so convenient. The shopping, the restaurants, access to London, it is all so easy. One thing I don’t miss though is the walk home up Pewley Hill, which I used to do on a regular basis laden with shopping!
I am a real foodie and will get up early at the weekend to visit the farmers’ markets or head off to North Street, Guildford where there is a stall selling fabulous coffee. I stock up with a selection of my favourite beans and I always like to try something new, too. I have eaten in some fabulous restaurants all over the world and have tried most types of cuisine. I guess that is why I am a bit of a gourmet cook and if I am hosting a dinner party, as I often do on a Saturday night, then I will go to great lengths to source the right ingredients for a specific recipe.
A note to taste
There are some fine restaurants in the area. I take my children to The Mill at Elstead for a Sunday lunch; the river and ducks keep them entertained. I love Italian food and La Luna in Godalming is one of my favourites. They have a real passion for the quality of the food and it shows in everything they do; the seafood and pasta there is to die for. Raymond Blanc has just opened a restaurant in Farnham, which I’m delighted about!
After winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year aged 16 my career really took off and I am very lucky to remain successful at what I do. When not on stage, I am often rehearsing for the next event, as I am at the moment for my performance in May at the Holy Trinity Church, Guildford as part of the Surrey Hills Music Festival.
I have recently given in to ‘pester power’ and very soon we will take delivery of Smudge and Poppy, two adorable Jack Russell puppies. This will give me an excuse to get out in the fresh air a bit more. One of my favourite local walks is around Frensham Ponds, which on a frosty morning has a breathtaking beauty about it.
My son has just taken up a new interest – flying remote controlled airplanes. It is great to see him so enthusiastic about something and I must admit, dad is enjoying it too! We have great fun at the model flying club in Ripley indulging our new hobby together and to see him so happy just makes those rare free weekends that little bit more special for me.