Vice-chairman of the Surrey Hills Society, Ken Bare on his perfect Surrey weekend
PUBLISHED: 10:09 04 September 2015 | UPDATED: 10:37 04 September 2015
As vice-chairman of the Surrey Hills Society, Ken Bare likes nothing better than making the most of this stunning stretch of countryside come the weekend...
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2015
For many people with a typical career, the weekend is a time to catch up with all those tasks that can’t be done during the week. And so it was with me until I resigned about seven years ago whilst in my mid-fifties. Since then, my weeks have been inverted – it’s now the weekend that often gives structure to the week.
Just after I gave up paid employment (it’s definitely not retirement because I’m probably working just as hard now, I’m just not getting paid), I discovered the newly-launched Surrey Hills Society. High up on my list of loves are countryside, walking, wine and local food so it was not too great a leap of faith to decide to get involved with the society. I quickly became the person to lead on their outreach activities, and my weekends now tend to be focussed on either the society or one of these other loves.
From April until October, most weekends will see me at a show, fête or other public gathering with the society’s promotional trailer or gazebo. With a small band of colleagues, we cover a large number of these events across the county to promote both the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the society that supports it.
Apart from our promotional work, one of the great pleasures of these weekend activities is meeting all the interesting people who come along. These may be members of the public with fascinating stories to tell about the area or other stallholders such as local food producers – I’ve tasted some wonderful confectionery, jams, chutneys, bakery goods and meat products – or service providers such as woodsmen and local crafts workers.
Food for thought
As a big fan of local food, there’s a good chance that I might be checking out a farmers’ market or some local producer or retailer – and sometimes for the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards of which I am a judge. Good fresh food produced locally has a lot to be said for it. I like eating seasonal food and enjoy cooking. A stall selling something unusual or seasonal is a magnet for me. Last year, I came across freshly dug scorzonera (a.k.a. black salsify) in a local farm shop. That was a definite for the weekend menu – and when the fresh picked sweetcorn arrives in the markets, it will certainly be one to buy.
For over 40 years, I’ve also been interested in wine so the development of a Surrey wine industry has been good news for me. Every two or three weeks will see a bottle of local wine coming down off the wine rack. I’m a particular fan of our sparkling wines and part of the weekend pleasure is seeing how different vineyards compare and how their wines are increasing in complexity as their vines get older.
I’ve always enjoyed walking too. When I worked, it was a way of clearing the head and getting exercise. These days, a good weekend walk is exercise plus a chance to learn more about the beautiful countryside in which I’m privileged to live. I can walk out of my village and up onto the Sheepleas in a matter of minutes. One hundred years ago, this was one of the original Rothschild sites (forerunners of Wildlife Trusts) and was defined as “the finest piece of entomological and botanical ground within thirty miles of London”. I’ve normally got a camera with me and these pictures become the images that I use in my promotional work, talks and articles for the Surrey Hills Society newsletter. How lucky I am to live, work and relax in the Surrey Hills.
• For more information on getting involved in the Surrey Hills Society, visit surreyhills.org
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The Surrey Hills Society is a monthly Surrey Life columnist