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In the Wet

I always try to dress appropriately for my stint selling raffle tickets at the annual Horsell Scouts and Guides May Fayre.

This year was no different. I wore my late father-in-law's Scouting hat – I believe he was commissioner for Hampshire Scouts at one time.

I wore a Scout T-shirt declaring that I had been at the Family Centenary Camp at Birchmere in 2011 - I wasn't, the shirt came from a jumble sale in the good old days when the Scouts and Guides ran such useful events. I wore my bespoke sash with the word RAFFLE emblazoned upon it and a whole range of Scouting badges.

As I was going to be on the Wheatsheaf Green I put on my strong, weatherproof walking boots, having taken considerable time to put a polish on them. After all, I was once a Girl Guide.

The very wet weather messed up my attire. Whilst on the green it rained even harder than when I set out and I went home to change my footwear. But the muddy lane I had walked along a couple of hours previously was now a line of puddles and as I opened my garden gate the path was flooding towards the ditch and the water was over my ankles. Wellington boots it was – and change of socks.

Odd as it may seem, I didn't hear much in the way of comments about the weather. Well, no point really, no talking would change the weather. But as you will have seen from last week’s issue, “the rain could not dampen the spirits of the enthusiastic crowd” although, unsurprisingly, the crowd was smaller than in previous years.

It was not only the Dog and Duck show which managed to shrug off the wetness. I spied a young red squirrel thoroughly enjoying the mud.

Before you nature lovers get overheated at the idea of red squirrels on the Wheatsheaf Common I should tell you that Squirrels is a programme for four to six-year old children which started in 2021 but arrived in Horsell just last Easter.

It seemed only right and proper: Rainbows for girls at pre-Brownie age has been going since 1987. Now the boys have dreys – not only the genuine word for a squirrel’s roost, but the name for the den of the young Squirrels of Horsell.

I immediately thought of the Hey Duggee television programmers for youngsters. I have watched, and enjoyed, many episodes during my recent stay with my grandchildren.

It is a good show with lessons taught; the viewers absorb the lessons without noticing. Duggee has a variety of young friends who get badges for such tasks as cleaning their teeth properly – he calls them his Squirrels.

I am delighted the Scouting Squirrels are of the red variety – even their uniforms are red – and not the horrid garden-destroying grey tree rats . Also, a nice touch, the endangered red squirrel still lives on Brownsea Island, where Robert Baden-Powell had his first Scout camp.

That was back in 1907 when he took 20 boys there to teach them the Scouting skills he had learnt during the Second Boer War of 1899-1902.

Back to the May Fayre, and my first glimpse of a Squirrel enjoying the mud. He is the youngest of the new group. He was having a splendid time and his mother was photographing him.

Doubtless some of those resulting pictures will be shown to the delight of his friends on the occasion of his wedding or some other milestone in his life. That's what we heartless parents always suggest when picturing our youngsters in interesting settings.

I first met Monty Martin, delightfully happy, with his hair plastered by the rain, and his face plastered in mud. Making the best of adversity – isn't that what Scouting and Guiding is all about?


What a great name for a music festival. How clever to think of that. All summery and fun and, well, shiny.

The name came easily. It was, in fact, born, for it is named for Shyne Adcock, who held the first then-to-be-named festival to mark her 40th birthday back in 2015 with some musicians, in a friend’s field, with some entertainments and some camping. Just a family and friends do.

But it grew, as some things do, and having outgrown the friend's field some years back it has, after some peregrinations, been sited at Merrist Wood College for two years - this will be the third - which has met with the approval of festivalgoers and performers alike.

My family has gone to all of the Shynefests as my eldest daughter and Shyne were at school together. It was not, I have many times declared, my cup of tea. When the Queen died in 2022 it led to something on my bucket list being lost: I had been promised a ticket for the Last Night of the Proms – which was cancelled out of respect to the late Queen. That shows you the sort of music I prefer.

But my family, rightly, told me I would not know if I did not try it. So last year I tried it. I went along to join friends and family and the atmosphere was amazing. So friendly and so well run.

Shynefest this year runs from Friday 31 May to Saturday 1 June at Merrist Wood – GU3 3PE. There are three stages, a silent disco, kids activities, bars, food court, stalls, camping and glamping. And it is run in aid of Treloar's School for disabled children.

If you would like to go, check out

Shall I go this year? My children are confident that I shall!

What to Wear

The weather in March made some things simpler. What to wear? Answer: wet weather gear.

Now we've had some bright and warm days and I am somewhat flummoxed. OK, so hang up my warm weatherproof jacket. But what do I wear instead? Jackets are going to be too warm. A cardigan? That might do. But take something warmer, just in case.

So much for Dr Buchan, a gentleman I have often quoted on this page as his regular observations of weather patterns – algorithms they'd call them these days – resulted in his listing periods throughout the year which were likely to be cold or warm.

According to his observations we would experience a cold spell between 9 and 14 May. But he did live 1829–1907 and things, including the weather, were very different then, so perhaps he may be forgiven this inaccuracy.

Perhaps we should bide by the saying “Ne'er cast a clout 'til May be out”.

But that presents further questions: does it mean you should not cast off any clothing until may blossom is out on the hawthorn trees? Well, it is . So off with your vest. Or does it mean not until the month of May is out, finished, done with, handed over to June?

How about the difference in times for certain trees to come into leaf? “Oak before ash, we're in for a splash. Ash before oak, we're in for a soak.”

Well, my oak tree in the back garden is in full, luscious, glorious green leaf. My ash tree in the front garden is struggling to put out any leaves at all. So does that bode well for us for the rest of the year? A splash to keep things watered and hold off a drought?

I was secretly hoping that the ash, which is self-sown, was on its way out. It is very prolific in the distribution of its seeds and I spend much time trying to pry the young whips out of my garden beds.

I have noticed dew on the grass after a warm day, which seems rather odd – wouldn't the dryness hold off the dew?

“Dew before midnight, tomorrow will be bright” does seem to be fairly accurate.

If you are still looking for a cheap facial, get out there and wash in that dew before it goes into thin air!

Surrey Day

So what did you do on Surrey Day – May 11? Staying in Surrey would be a fair answer, I suppose.

We decided on a visit to Reigate Caves, nothing to do with it being Surrey Day, for we had to plan and book ahead, but because none of the family had ever visited the caves.

Some of the family didn’t know there were caves in Reigate. Truth be told, there are not, for they are, we were informed, mines, caves being natural occurrences, mines being man made. And these caves were for mining sand.

Perhaps to us that sounds like hard work when you only had to go out on Horsell Common to the sandpits and dig – not mine – the sand to load your cart.

Something else happened on Saturday May 11 – part of the M25 was closed so we had to go the “old way” down the A25, which goes through some stunning countryside and we could well understand why this county deserves a Day.

There were two things against driving down the A25 – bicycles and tractors, neither of which are common sights on the motorway. There were some hold-ups but any jams soon dispersed and we duly arrived in Reigate.

This was a town we all knew but none of us had visited – it was always on the route to somewhere else. It's been there since before it was written up in the Domesday Book of 1086 so we have no excuse.

How delighted we were that we had decided to make a day of it. The town itself is lovely with some very attractive architecture, a variety of shops, a large central car park and plenty of seating.

We had lunch and shopped there so the town benefited from our desire to see the Caves, run by volunteers from the Wealden Cave & Mine Society which holds regular tours of the two cave systems – a knowledgeable and charming lot.

I am not going to describe here what we saw in those mines: some used as wine cellars, at times used as an ammunition dump and Second World War air raid shelters. But I do recommend you see for yourself.

We agreed that, when showing visitors around our part of Surrey, we tend to take in Newlands Corner, and Shere, and Gomshall and Abinger Hammer. In future we will go the extra few miles and take in Reigate.