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Godalming Delights

Godalming Delights

January 3, 2023

Godalming Delights

Godalming Delights lives up to its name as one of our favourite neighbours on Church Street and always a total delight to visit. With its mix of retro sweeties and confectionery, ice cream, milkshakes, Barista coffee and all kinds of other indulgent sweet treats, it’s a world of pure imagination. We had a chat to Company Director Ewen Macnair to find out more about this sweetest of local shops...

How and when did Godalming Delights come about?

Godalming Delights is a family run business. My sister, Gillian Akroyd, opened our original shop, Shere Delights, 10 years ago. Gillian had worked in banking before and this was a way to find a more work/life balance. The shop turned out to be more successful than she’d ever anticipated. I’d been working overseas and, looking to return, she invited me to step into the business with a view to seeing if it had ‘legs and arms’ to grow. It did! We started looking at locations to complement Shere and we settled on Godalming. Five years later, our family business is thriving!

What is it you loved about Godalming?

There’s a sense of community in Godalming and running a business here during the pandemic really showed it. As well as the local small and independent business community pulling together, we were able to provide a bit of a lifeline by putting our Truly Scrumptious Delights online with delivery both locally and throughout the UK. Especially helpful for lockdown gifting when people were unable to see loved ones in person. Our gift boxes and other gift options were a sweet hug, well received.

Of course, Godalming is a beautiful town too with a historic feel. Our 2 Church Street premises pretty much perfectly fits our idea of customer experience. It’s a Georgian listed building that sits on the curve of the road in what used to be a tiny pub called The Skinners Arms. People tell us they come to Godalming just visit to our shop, which is lovely!

Godalming Delights - Smoothies

Who is your typical customer?

We have a total mix of customers. Some come as an occasional treat, some pop in daily, others even more than that! We offer something for everyone – young and old alike – and it’s the ideal place for a family outing with retro sweeties for kids and an extra special coffee or ice cream for grown-ups.

Godalming Delights

What are you particularly known for?

We have four main product offers: An amazing chocolate selection; hot drinks; retro sweeties and ice cream. Everything we sell is top quality with natural provenance and nothing but the best ingredients. We focus on ethical sourcing and brand heritage. Although we’re not a coffee shop, I still say we serve the best coffee in Godalming – Illy – with the best barista equipment and skills training to ensure a perfect cup. And our Hot Chocolate is not to be missed – It’s made with French 33% cacao.

Our Ice cream is made for us by a pair of Argentinian / Italian brothers who have their own Ice cream Parlour, and, we’re in good company because they also supply to one of the most prestigious stores in London. Our flavours feature the finest ingredients – our best-selling chocolate Ice cream is made from single source cacao from the Congo with proceeds going to help protect the last remaining Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Park. Our Honeycomb Ice cream is made using honey from the City bee hives of the London Honey Company located on London rooftops.

And tell us more about the sweets…

We sell over 100 varieties of retro sweeties, all presented in glass jars. Everything we sell is handpicked to be the very best tasting you can buy – but even if someone pops in with just £1 or even less to spend, we’ll make sure they find something to suit their budget. We’ve a fantastic choice from classics like Jelly Babies to ever populars like Giant Strawberries and, my personal favourite? Anything covered in chocolate!

You’re known for your visual displays at Halloween and Christmas. How do you come up with the ideas for those?

We have our very own Brand Manager – Estelle of est. Creative who designed our brand concept and guides our overall look. Each shop comes up with its own displays and we use a wonderful local window artist twice a year to paint our windows freehand.

Godalming Delights - Sweets

What are your favourite things about being in Godalming?

Music in the Park is a summer season of live music at the bandstand in the Phillips Memorial Park. With all kinds of amateur and professional bands and performers to choose from, the free concerts run at the weekends all the way from the end of May until September. There are also some fantastic community events run by Godalming Town Council, culminating in the annual Town Christmas Lights switch on. Apparently, the original lights were bought with the proceeds from Godalming’s use as a location in the filming of the movie 'The Holiday'.

Can you share some of your other favourite businesses in Godalming town centre

We’ve teamed up with West Stanton for some great joint ventures, including this year for Halloween. It’s a destination lifestyle store, big on style and conscience, selling independent toys, books, clothes, gifts, blankets… Lots of nice to have and essentials for life with kids. To be honest, all the Church Street businesses work hard at what they do – Wattle & Daub, The Salon, which champions sustainable, biodynamic haircare, and then there’s The Star, which is a proper traditional pub – my favourite in Godalming!

Find out more:

Godalming Delights, 2 Church Street, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1EH

Visit their website:
Follow them on Instagram @godalmingdelights and Facebook @Godalming Delights.


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Hampton Estate

January 3, 2023

Hampton Estate

Hampton Estate comprises 2000 acres of historic parkland, grazing meadows, arable fields, heathland, hop gardens, award winning woodlands and traditional farm property in between Seale and Puttenham, near Farnham. Hampton Estate produces Pasture for life beef, wild roe venison, timber and hops. The team hosts a range of events throughout the year, from Open Farm Sunday to monthly meat collection days. The Estate also has a restored dairy farm which can be rented out for events and has recently opened a campsite. We chatted to CEO & Estate Manager Bill Biddell to find out more ...

Bill, tell us about Hampton Estate

Hampton Estate is a third generation, family-run, rural business. Over 600 acres of the Estate is open to the public via footpaths and we actively manage these areas for everyone to enjoy. The ethos of everything we do is to support the local community whilst also enhancing the environment and sharing Hampton’s natural beauty. We are incredibly proud of our surroundings and we focus on regenerative and restorative land management in order to preserve and enhance it. We have a huge commitment to the stewardship of the land and the part it plays in enabling thriving local communities.

Hampton Estate is known for its rich and diverse habitats. Give us a taste of what kind of wildlife and vegetation we could expect to see.

All of the Estate sits within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it has a variety of biodiverse habitats. Key habitat types include chalk downland, acidic grasslands, heathland and ancient semi-natural woodlands. We are about to embark on a big restoration project for our valuable heathland, which hopes to increase biodiversity and encourage new wildlife.

We’re also home to a wide range of wildlife with bird species including nightjar, nightingale, woodlark, red kites and buzzards. There is a wonderful diversity of plant species on the estate – some of our favourites are Shepherd’s Cress, Squirrel Tail Fescue, Hounds Tongue and Smooth Cat’s Ear. Our fungi have brilliant names too – Turquoise Elfcup, The Flirt, Stinky Knight and Chicken of The Wood.

You were awarded the Duke of Cornwall’s Award for the best multipurpose woodland in the UK – what makes the woodland so special?

We have a range of different types of woodland, from productive coniferous woods which we actively manage, felling the timber when the trees are fully grown, and then selling the timber to saw mills across the UK. We are constantly replanting woodlands, and planting trees in new places too. We have beautiful semi ancient broadleaf woodlands, and sell fire wood from coppicing. One of our woods is also home to a local Forest School, which is great!

Environmental stewardship is clearly important at Hampton Estate, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Hampton has a long tradition of opting into environmental schemes. 90% of our agricultural land and woodland is in Countryside Stewardship, which recognises our low input, conservation-based land management. We are also active members of the West Surrey Greensands Cluster group and the Estate is in a woodland bird assemblage, a designation of national importance. We are really excited to be part of several nature-based finance and restoration pilot schemes with several other stakeholders across Surrey, including the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

We believe that Hampton Estate has been used as a filming location for some big film and TV productions. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, over the years, the Estate has been used as a location for films starring the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Kate Winslet and Colin Firth. Possibly the biggest project was the Ridley Scott production of Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe. It took place over almost two years and they constructed a whole village on the Estate. We welcome these opportunities, but make sure film crews are aware of the long-term cultural and environmental value of the land – we make sure everything is put back just so after the filming!

Your hop gardens in Puttenham are the last remaining commercial hop gardens in Surrey.

Yes, that’s right, hops have been grown in the estate’s hop gardens on the southern slopes of the Hogs Back overlooking Puttenham for hundreds of years. We grow just one variety - Fuggles hops, which are revered by brewers and renowned for their distinctive, well-rounded ale flavour. As well as supplying the hops locally to The Hog’s Back Brewery, they also go further afield to Adnams, Timothy Taylor, Harvey’s of Lewes and plenty of other UK hop merchants.

As well as many events throughout the year, your beef days are particularly popular.

We breed pedigree 100% Pasture Fed Sussex beef cattle and sell the meat direct from the Estate. We are all about producing the best beef – not just delicious but also naturally reared in a way that enriches the environment our cows live in. We operate a mob-grazing system – in effect the cows are our four-legged lawnmowers! We sell the beef directly from the Estate at our monthly beef collection days. As well as fresh Hampton prime beef, wild roe venison, handmade steak pies and sausages of all varieties are available to order.

You even have a campsite – tell us about that.

Yes, we set up Waggoners Campsite during lockdown as a way of encouraging people to access nature and the outdoors. The first year went really well and we’ve extended the season from April through to October so more people can enjoy it. It’s super environmentally friendly and it’s completely off grid. All the structures we’ve built at Waggoners were constructed by our forestry team, using our own wood. We have compostable loos and the woodland showers repurpose our old hop tractor tarpaulins.

What else can we expect to find on the Estate?

There is Manor Farm Craft Centre, which is housed in traditional farm buildings next to the church in the centre of Seale. It’s home to Manor Farm Tea Room, Pip of Manor Farm Wine Shop, Seale Craft Shop, and Seale Natural Health. Our award-winning rural offices at Shoelands Farm provide a state-of-the-art space for working, with renewable heating, unlimited broadband, spacious parking and beautiful views of the Surrey Hills.

Find out more:

Hampton Estate Office, Elstead Road, Seale, Farnham, Surrey GU10 1JE

⁠Tel: 01483 810465 | email:

Find out more at
Follow Hampton Estate on social media at @hampton_estate.


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MB Cyclery, Haslemere

MB Cyclery, Haslemere

January 3, 2023

MB Cyclery, Haslemere

MB Cyclery is an independent, rider owned cycle shop in Haslemere run by self-confessed
bike-aholics Mike Smith and Ben Marks. As well as selling mountain, road, electric, gravel, commuting & leisure bikes, it also runs a servicing, repair and custom build workshop.

We spoke to co-founder Mike to find out what he’s learnt from his own time out on the road and trails and to get his insider tips on the best bike routes in the area.

How and when did MB Cyclery come about?

Ben and I had been working, racing and playing with bikes of all kinds for many years - since we were boys. For me, growing up, cycling was always what I was into – it was my escape and they say you should do something you love. In 2017, we had the opportunity to buy Cycleworks, the business we worked at and set up as our own independent shop under our own name.

How would you describe the shop?

We wanted to create the kind of bike shop you’d find in Morzine. A bit like a surf shop, it just has a cool atmosphere – a place with likeminded people where you want to hang out. We have an incredible crew working with us and we all get on really well, it’s like a family. Everyone works hard and is super knowledgeable.

What are the most popular kind of bikes you sell?

High-end mountain bikes are our biggest seller, but electric bikes are also massive now – they’ve taken off in a big way. The attraction of them is that if you have limited time or you’re not quite as fit as you’d like to be, you can still get out and enjoy everything that cycling has to offer. They’ve opened up a whole new world of cycling to people.


MB Cyclery

Has the market for custom build bikes increased?

Custom building bikes is a service we’ve always offered and we can accommodate anything from small modifications to a fully bespoke bike. The secret is listening to what customers really want, I think we do that well and because of that, we’re known as a brand rather than just a shop.

You’ve clearly got to know the local cyclists of Hampshire, Surrey and beyond very well. Who is your typical customer?

We cater for everyone from entry level right up to those competing at a high level professionally. We certainly have lots of customers who are hardcore enthusiasts, passionate about the sport.

We’re very blessed to have many incredible bike routes in Surrey. What makes it such a good area for cyclists?

Surrey is a mecca for cyclists. It’s got plenty of off-road routes, common land, a mix of terrains, great hills – everything you could ask for, really.

Did lockdown tempt a whole new legion of cycling fans to take to their saddles?

Big time. When we first heard about lockdown, we thought we would have to close the business but quite the opposite – because we were one of the few outdoor activities allowed, it opened up a whole new customer base for us. As the days went on, we got busier and busier and everyone seemed to be getting into cycling. Then of course the industry became sold out due to factories being closed but even so, we had our best year ever.

What would an ideal ride look like to you?

I’d be out on my favourite local, home trails. It would be a sunny day, I’d be with friends and it would be perfect dirt. I’d also be on my favourite ride – a Pivot Firebird, which is the best of the best. Made from carbon, it’s fitted with every kind of bike bling you can imagine.

What are your top cycle routes in and around Haslemere?

Many of my best rides don’t follow a particular route but if I had to choose, I’d say the Devil’s Punch Bowl at Hindhead. It’s not too extreme and the scenery is stunning. Plus, there’s a great National Trust café there. Queen Elizabeth Park is also a good shout for any kind of level from families and novices to more advanced cyclists.

And where would be your favourite places for a bit of post-ride refreshment?

Either The Rising Sun in Milland – a classic country pub with great food, drinks and atmosphere – it has a heated ski lodge marquee and with huge gardens and terraces, - it’s a pub for all seasons and all occasions. Guido’s in Liphook is another favourite for a post ride meal. It is an authentic family run, craft pizza and wine restaurant serving the best pizza ever. Or I’d stop for a coffee at Hemingways on Haslemere High Street, sit outside and watch the world go by.

Find out more:

Find MB Cyclery at 19-21 West Street, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2AB.

Visit the website:

Follow them on social @mbcyclery.


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Kings Head, Holmbury St Mary

Kings Head, Holmbury St Mary

January 3, 2023

Kings Head, Holmbury St Mary

Nestled at the foot of Holmbury Hill in the beautiful Surrey Hills, The Kings Head in Holmbury St Mary is a popular spot in this picturesque village. Its local owners have turned this newly refurbished freehold country pub into a hidden gem.

You can relax and explore the menu inspired by seasonal, local and fresh ingredients in one of its cosy sofa nooks or sample a selection of real ales from local breweries at the traditional standing bar. We spoke to manager Katy Bowker to find out more…

Tell us about The Kings Head

The historic building dates from the 17th century, and rumour has it that smugglers travelled through the area on their way from the coast to London with their contraband. We don't know a great deal more about it – but if only the walls could talk!

The current owners took it on around three years ago and set about refurbishing it, which took around two years. They're local and wanted to put something back into the community and create a place where people could gather and enjoy good food, a sociable atmosphere and a warm welcome..

What can anyone expect when they visit The Kings Head?

We pride ourselves on offering an exceptional fine dining experience as well as a beautiful, landscaped country garden, a private function room and accommodation so you can stay overnight. Everything has a luxury feel - the refurbishment was completed to a high standard, but at its heart, there's a friendly feel and our bar has a traditional rustic English country pub feel with many original features.

Who is your typical customer?

For the most part, it's still locals. We're a bit of a community hub and a place where people are enjoying coming back together. Word of mouth is spreading though, as well as walkers and cyclists stopping on their journeys, it's becoming a destination and people are travelling to find us.

Sofa Nook

Tell us a bit about your background Katy and how you came to The Kings Head.

I started out as a chef and began my career at another King's Head – in nearby Cuckfield. That gave me the passion for a great career in the industry, which has enabled me to travel extensively, cooking in Switzerland, France and Canada.

I worked at South Lodge when Tony Tobin was Head Chef, then I got a taste for the pub industry and discovered a love for front-of-house. After that, I had various other adventures before finding myself here with an opportunity I couldn't refuse. I didn't think I'd find myself back in the pub trade, but here I am again – privileged to be heading up such an exciting project with a great team of people.

Tell us about the menu.

Seasonal, local and fresh ingredients inspire all our food. The owners have a kitchen garden and so much of our produce, such as leaves and vegetables, comes from there. Our Head Chef, Ryan Cain, is really enthusiastic about the local area and what he can create from what's on the doorstep. So the menu is forever changing depending on new discoveries, what's in season and what the gardeners bring down to the kitchen.

Local food and drink are clearly an important objective. How did you go about sourcing the various suppliers?

Yes, making sure everything is as local as possible was an important objective for us. We went to local artisan markets, food fairs and farm shops to see exactly what was available. It's so important to look after local producers, and we're lucky to have so much quality and variety surrounding us.

What are some of your favourites?

Surrey Hills Coffee Roastery simply allows us to make the best cup of coffee, and it couldn't be more local – there's even a Holmbury Hill espresso blend. They're so knowledgeable and they seek perfection in every cup. They'll only send us new coffee when our stocks run out as they're so scrupulous about making sure it's all freshly ground.

Firebird Brewing Company over in Rudgwick is another fantastic local business that provide us with some of our local ales. The beer's great, it's a friendly service, and the company has a real community feel about it. There are so many others, but Taurus Wines also allow us to serve up a fantastic wine list. Again, they have amazing knowledge and provide an excellent service.

Tell us about the shop at The Kings Head.

Its run by Anastasia, who comes from Ukraine and is 100 per cent passionate about coffee. Anastasia trained as a Barista and knows everything about how to choose the right bean and grind to make the perfect cup. So as well as serving up consistently good coffee, we also stock a hand-picked selection of local produce and essential groceries from our artisan producers, such as bakery items, beer, cheese or just a pint of milk.

Find out more:

The Kings Head, Pitland Street, Holmbury St Mary, RH5 6NP.
To book a table online, go to


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Heritage Wardrobe Company

Heritage Wardrobe Company

January 3, 2023

Heritage Wardrobe Company

Expert designers and creators of bespoke wardrobes, The Heritage Wardrobe Company has built a reputation for its handcrafted luxury furniture for bedrooms, dressing rooms and walk-in wardrobes. With stylish storage being one of the most desirable features in a dream home, a tailor-made space is the ultimate in function and style. Who doesn’t want clutter-free organisation and easy access to all their shoes, clothes and accessories? We spoke to Delphine Drouin, Head of Sales & Marketing to find out more.

Tell us about The Heritage Wardrobe Company

The Heritage Wardrobe Company was started 10 years ago by our founder, Laurent Drouin. He had spotted a gap in the market for luxury wardrobes and dressing rooms. It started out as just two team members, today there are around 30 of us and we’re still growing. We install throughout the UK and now have our own factory, based in Feltham. We don’t have a showroom, instead we take the ‘showroom’ to our prospective customers, which allows them to get an up-close look and feel of what we offer.

What is it about a walk-in wardrobe that has become such an interior must-have?

The way I sometimes describe it is, if you drive a Ferrari you’d want to park it in a nice garage. Same goes for your clothes and treasured possessions. Having a dressing room creates a space that’s luxurious and turns getting ready into a special moment in your day. The popularity of the walk-in wardrobe has definitely grown in recent times as people look to social media and influencers for home inspiration.

Your furniture is all handcrafted in the UK. Tell us a bit about the process.

The most important thing is that our wardrobes and dressing rooms are all entirely bespoke. The first part of the process involves finding out exactly what items our customer wants to store, down to the last detail. For instance, how many shoes, bags, suits, long dresses etc they have. We tailor it all to the individual so that everything fits.

Following that, one of our designers draws it up and presents a design, which can then be finessed to the customer’s requirements. Finally, the components and doors are cut to size in our factory and then fitted on site, with a decorator adding the final touches.

What kind of things can you add to a dressing area that makes all the difference?

LED lighting within a wardrobe is great. It illuminates the space so you can see everything but also gives a real luxury look. Recently we’ve been asked more to create ‘secret doors’ where you walk through to a dressing area. These are fun projects to create.

Heritage Wardrobe Company

What are the key things people should consider when planning storage to really make the most of the space?

  • Whether your walls are contoured, you have awkward alcoves or sloping ceilings, bespoke wardrobes enable you to utilise every corner of your room and maximise every last inch of space. They’re the best way of enhancing the space you have and finding a home for everything you have.
  • It’s important to think about what you’ve got and what you use the most. The best schemes organise items so that your everyday items are always within easy reach. You want it to have the wow factor, but you also need it to be functional.
  • Mirrors are of course an effective way to make a small space feel bigger. If you position a mirror opposite a window, it will bring extra light into the room.
Heritage Wardrobe Company

Where do you look for online inspiration? is a lovely website with stacks of interior inspiration. There’s a light, bright feel to their styling and they’re always coming up with fresh ideas. has such beautiful photography and is a great source of inspiration online and on social. With a real mix of styles, @condenastproperty is total house goals! Whether it’s a traditional English character home or a stylish French bolthole, the houses are always incredible. For lighting, I love checking out and for more general interior decor inspiration, has fantastic ideas for dressing a room.


Find out more:

You can find out more about The Heritage Wardrobe Company and their services at or follow them on Instagram @theheritagewardrobeco.

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Hilltop Kitchen

Hilltop Kitchen

January 3, 2023

Hilltop Kitchen

Enjoying stunning views overlooking the Wintershall Estate and Hascombe Hill, Hilltop Kitchen serves up exceptional freshly made food and a menu boasting the best locally sourced produce. A joint venture between founders Alex Winch and Sam Fiddian-Green, it’s become the most talked about foodie destination in the area. We love it and we know you will too. We chatted to co-founder Alex to find out more…

Tell us about Hilltop Kitchen

Sam I are old family friends and our work in hospitality has taken us around the world. When we found ourselves back in the local area due to Covid, we decided to plan some pop-up events and the concept snowballed quite quickly. We opened Hilltop Kitchen in July 2021 and today as well as the pop-up events, we offer a daily changing menu that runs all summer long.

It’s a fantastic setting. How did you find it?

The site is located on Sam’s family’s farm and looks out over nothing but rolling hills. The space itself had been an office so we installed a kitchen and created a covered, heated area that makes the most of the amazing view. It’s a rustic, laidback feel - the tables are handmade and Sam’s mum is a potter so she made all the tableware.

Hilltop Kitchen

What is the philosophy of the dishes you create for Hilltop Kitchen?

Most of what we serve up is sourced from the local area, including meat, such as the Herdwick lamb that comes from the family farm or the wild garlic we pick from the woodlands down the road. Provenance is key and we’re very proud of the heritage of everything we serve. When we first came back to the area, we struggled to find food at a level we enjoy and so nothing makes it onto the menu unless it’s the absolute best.

Hilltop Kitchen

Talk us through some of the things we can expect on your menu and what are some of your most popular dishes?

We bake our Sausage rolls fresh every morning. They are made with the best ingredients money can buy including sausage mix using mince from John Murray butchers in Loxwood and wrapped in French puff pastry. Served warm with homemade brown sauce, they are pretty hard to beat!

Our Focaccia is baked in-house and you’ll find fresh cinnamon buns on the counter every morning. We’re influenced by what’s fresh and at its best, so for instance our Burrata (which comes from La Latteria in North London) may be served one week with shaved fennel, European citrus and olives and then the next with fresh peas and broad beans. We make our own tagliatelle – sometimes as little as 10 minutes before we open, so you know you’re eating it as fresh as can be.

Sam, who creates the menus has worked at a phenomenal level throughout his career and he spent six months in Rome, which definitely gives some of the dishes an Italian backbone, but always featuring the best of British.

You’re also known for serving up a cracking cup of coffee

At Hilltop, we take our coffee very seriously and a lot of research went into finding our favourite beans, which are supplied by Horsham Coffee Roaster. Horsham Roasters are obsessed not only with flavour but also about ethical coffee. They source directly from producers in long term commitments to the same farmer meaning they pay well above the fairtrade price. Back home the beans are roasted using a state-of-the-art low emission roaster and carefully blended to create its Workhorse coffee. To us, the ethics had to match up and be as scrupulously good as the taste.

Who is Hilltop kitchen popular with?

Hilltop Kitchen was set up with locals at its heart and we love the fact that our reputation has spread through word of mouth and we’ve become part of the Godalming community. We’ve become a regular haunt for walkers and cyclists who will stop off on their routes for a coffee or a cold beer.

Tell us about some of your own favourite local foodie hangouts and suppliers?

There are some great farm shops in the area. Sam is a fan of Secretts, close to where he lives, while I’ll tend to go to Kingfisher Farm Shop near my home in Abinger. We love what they’re doing at Greyfriars Vineyard and for beer, the Arctic Fox Pilsner from The Crafty Brewing Co. in Dunsfold is the best you could ever drink on a hot day.

Hilltop Kitchen

What’s next for Hilltop Kitchen?

We love doing our evening pop-up events, which run on a first-come, first-served basis every month. Although we close our daily menu at the end of the summer, as autumn and winter draw in, we’ll be offering banquet-style menus where you come along, eat seasonally and enjoy a hot toddy or a mulled cider. And apart from that, we’re talking about plenty of other plans too. It’s very exciting.


Hilltop Kitchen, Combe Farm Buildings, Alldens Lane, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AP is open Thursday – Sunday from 9am serving coffee and fresh pastries, lunch from 12am, snacks, drinks and good times from 3pm to 6pm⁠

Find out more:

Follow Hilltop Kitchen on To book a table online, go to

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Shere Kitchens

Shere Kitchens

January 3, 2023

Shere Kitchens

Shere Kitchens is a Surrey based, bespoke kitchen maker. Established by Andy Driscoll, Ella Driscoll and Mike Hill, the company has built a strong reputation for outstanding craftsmanship skills and superb attention to detail combined with a flair for design. The team has worked on Surrey Hills Grade I and II listed homes in and around its base in picturesque village of Shere, including Albury Manor Estate. We spoke to co-founder Ella Driscoll.

How and when did Shere Kitchens come about?

My husband, Andy and Mike have been neighbours and best friends since childhood. Andy is trained in classical joinery and was designing and creating bespoke cabinetry from his Wild Wood workshop in Shere. Mike was running a business renovating homes and listed buildings. They began working together on various projects and in 2017 ended up installing a beautiful, handmade kitchen in a home that was being converted from a three to a five bedroom house with an enormous kitchen space. It was a big success and while kitchens are the most complex and detailed part of a home, we have evolved into a bespoke kitchen business ever since.

Shere Kitchens Team

What sort of kitchens are you best known for, and can you describe the sort of projects you work on?

We’re most known for creating truly bespoke kitchens. Each one is individually made to order, considering the architecture of the property and how the family live. The design process is collaborative between us and the client as we don’t have any fixed ‘products’ or ‘ranges’. We specialise in preserving heritage in Period and Listed homes, working around wonky walls and beams, creating furniture with character and integrity. We are fascinated with wood and how beautiful it can make a home.

Understanding the character of a house and household is all-important and makes the most of our craftsman’s skills but that said, we create kitchens in new build properties and can bring character to a space that is lacking it. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and we love creating places where our customers will make their own memories.

Shere Kitchens

Your designs are tailor made from start to finish. Tell us a bit about the process.

Most of our business is word of mouth, which is lovely. We make one at a time and the entire process can last for up to 18 months. The first thing we do is assess the space, which can sometimes be just a sketch drawing from the client. Then, we look at budgets, have a consultation and begin the design phase, which involves CAD plans.

Each kitchen is designed individually as each space is unique and we don’t have ‘one size fits all’ cabinets. Once we’ve provided rendered images, we move onto the style and architecture, deciding on details such as mouldings, materials, colours, finishes and all-important technical considerations such as appliances.

Next, we hand make all the cabinetry at our workshop in Shere. Finally - the critical point - the kitchen gets installed and the very last detail, one final coat of paint happens on site. It’s an in-depth process and there’s lots of trouble-shooting involved along the way.

What trends have you seen emerging in kitchen design in recent years?

Hand painted kitchens aren’t going anywhere, but we are seeing more and more natural or oiled woods as a finish. There is something about the feel and look of wood that makes you feel grounded and connected to nature within your home.

Big islands always tend to be on people’s wish lists and one thing that’s become hugely popular is a walk-in pantry. It’s an absolutely brilliant element that can make a big difference and you can often just steal a small amount of space to make it work.

What are the key things people should consider when planning a kitchen redesign?

The most important thing over the style or how your kitchen will look is making it practical. Ask yourself what you have, what activities you do in the kitchen, maybe even what annoys you about your current kitchen and then think about what will work for you. Flow is all-important and you have to make sure everything is in the right place for how you’ll use it.

Figure out the things like where to put your bins and underfloor heating manifolds and then you can come onto the fun stuff like wine fridges, bars and plenty of spaces for people to sit.

How much is your location in the Surrey Hills an influence on the business?

We all grew up in the Surrey Hills area and have a deep love of the local landscape - from walking our dogs to exploring the chalk grasslands, letting the children run wild in the woods and enjoying the local vineyards. We view sustainability and appreciation for the local environment high among our values and as well as a scheme where we planted trees at Clandon nature reserve, we’re now involved with the Surrey Wildlife Trust and we make a donation, which goes towards plating trees or hedgerows for every kitchen we make.

We source wood and materials locally where possible and re-useable protection blankets are used to transport cabinetry rather than disposable plastic. We donate off-cuts to a local Design Technology college and we were involved in a project with Albury Vineyard where we created a bug hotel from our off-cuts of wood, which helped to educate local children about the nature around them.

Shere Kitchens

Tell us about the Gold Trade Mark Surrey Hills you received as a mark of local provenance and quality

We were hugely honoured to win this award in recognition of the work we did with Clandon Wood Nature Reserve. It was a joint project where we donated Elm trees to help provide a wildlife corridor for the endangered White-Letter Hairstreak butterfly. We wanted to do something to enhance the Surrey Hills and its landscape. We are so lucky to live and work here.

What local companies do you work with and would you recommend?

We’re very fortunate to work with some incredibly talented, local creatives such as Julia Currie who is our photographer and Karen McBain who styles our images. Jenny Branson is a colour specialist based in Dorking and she advises on many of our projects.

We love working with Cow-Shed Start-up who created our website & have been incredibly supportive since day one. They are integral to our team.

For a Friday team treat, we’ll head to the Dabbling Duck in Shere for breakfast baps and coffees and when it comes to celebrations or sending a special gift, we are very partial to the sparkling wine produced at Albury Vineyard, which is a wonderful local, family business. Another business we love is Kingfisher Farm Shop for local goodies for our homes, for gifts and for photoshoot food and flowers.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Shere Kitchens and their services at or follow them on Instagram @sherekitchens.

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Natasha Meechan Spotlight

Natasha Meechan Interior Design

January 3, 2023

Natasha Meechan Spotlight

Originally hailing from Ireland, Natasha Meechan now runs her successful interior design business from Surrey. She has accomplished a varied portfolio, from commercial design in Melbourne to designing luxury interiors of private homes in the Cotswolds, London, Berkshire, Portugal and Los Angeles. We caught up with her to talk all things interiors.

How did you get started in interior design?

My love for art and design started at a young age. I was very creative at school but started out working in finance. I knew where my real passion was though and so I studied part -time for a degree in Interior Design in Dublin. After graduating, I went to Australia for a year and got some experience working for MYER, the well-known department store. Then, I came back to London and have never left England since.

I worked in the retail and hospitality sector at first, but then moved to the Cotswolds and through working with architects, I figured out I loved the residential side of interior design. Architects are such technicians and that’s where I got most of my knowledge and insight from. I don’t just ‘choose fabrics’, I do a lot of design as well as understanding project management and interior architecture.

Tell us a bit about your business now. Who are your clients and what sort of projects do you work on?

I’d call myself a Luxury Interior Designer and I work on a wide range of projects alongside a whole team of builders, architects and suppliers. For instance, it could be a huge, whole house fit-out or it could be a small refurb. Interior Design is a very personal thing and for me, it’s all about creating a connection with your client. When you understand their tastes and style, they’ll always need you.

My style is modern but timeless. I’ve worked on everything from very contemporary to much more classical but what I bring to it all is a very high-end, quality finish.

What have been some of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on?

One of my first was also one of the best. I managed a project in Portugal for a summer. Being trusted to run the entire thing on my own when I was just starting out and offering the full service, which created such value, was very satisfying.

Equally, I worked on Marylebone mews house recently, which was one of my favourites. The space was small, so you have to really think about how to maximise it by getting light in and considering all the details such as furniture and joinery.

What do you think the biggest shift in interiors has been in the last 10 years?

I’d say people value their space more now than ever. As well as looking for bigger houses, offices and garden rooms are also on the wish list. Work and home have become so interlinked that everyone wants the option to have a room they can use as an office.

What are the key tricks to mastering a successful interior?

Bespoke design always brings a personal touch and you have to invest in the quality of the finish. Trying to save or cut corners when it comes to design never pays off. I tell my clients, "Buy cheap, buy twice" and also, "You really do get what you pay for". 

And what would you say are the biggest decorating mistakes people make? 

Over-use of colour is probably the biggest one for me. Painting an entire room bright red may be brave, but trust me, you’ll get bored with it. Bold colour can work in a Gentleman’s Club or restaurant, but in your own home, you need to tread carefully and mainly use colour as an accent.

What companies do you work with or can you tell us about any local places you source your items from?

My go-to is the The Design Centre in London. It has everything you could wish for – all the fabrics, all the trimmings. I’m still getting to know Surrey, but one place I’ve come across and love is Wattle & Daub in Godalming. It has such amazing accessories and finishing touches. As an Interior Designer, that part of the process is a real art form and finding the right items to add that level of detail can make all the difference.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Natasha’s services at 

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Carola Colson Horse Training Spotlight

Carola Colson Horse Training

January 3, 2023

Carola Colson Horse Training Spotlight

This month we speak to Carola Colson, horse trainer, instructor and coach. Carola helps owners feel more connected with their horses through live sessions, coaching and clinics.

Tell us about more about what you do…

In a nutshell, I train horses with a holistic approach. When I’m looking at a horse that comes in for training, I’m picking up clues about everything from their energy to their body language and how they are moving. For instance, you could find something physically wrong with a horse by looking at the wear patterns in the hooves, but horses can be emotionally unfit, not just physically. I’ve developed my methods in a way that’s grounded in skills and training but ultimately, it’s also kind and intuitive.

Were you always destined to work with horses?

I grew up in the Netherlands surrounded by horses. My childhood was pony clubs, traditional riding and then dressage. Although I always loved horses, I went off to study History and Italian In Amsterdam and then in Italy. I started studying for a PHD in Rome, but decided to go back to Amsterdam and ended up working with Dutch film crews as a location scout for film and TV. That journey led me to London and I’ve been in the UK ever since. When I was pregnant, I met two amazing Australian horsemen, who taught me a unique and different way of training horses altogether. Finally, I was able to fulfil my desire to truly understand, connect and communicate with these beautiful creatures!

What is it about horses that you love so much?

They are such intuitive animals with a very special, tuned-in energy field. When I’m around horses, I feel part of the earth – connected to nature and true to who I am myself.

You talk about the living conditions of a horse being key. What are the factors to consider when setting up home with a horse?

What you have to remember is that a horse is not worked by humans for around 23 hours a day, therefore you need to give them a herd environment in which they can feel happy, confident and healthy. Ideally, I like horses to be barefoot and able to roam. They’re used to foraging so they thrive on different types of ground and vegetation. Horses prefer being part of a herd because it offers them stability but at the same time you have to get the mix right and make sure your horses are content and relaxed in each other’s company.

What’s the best tip you could give to anyone wanting to improve their connection with their horse?

Look at your own energy first. Make sure you’re calm and relaxed and that will rub off. When you connect to them with calmness, you’ll see an instant change. If they’re slightly nervous, let them feed off your energy and not the other way around.

Tell us about your favourite off-the-beaten track location for a horse ride in Surrey.

I currently live on Thursley Common, which could not be more ideal for riding. It’s a really special place and offers everything a horse needs. I’m out on the Common most days. I’ve just written a guide to ‘Going Beyond The Arena’ about developing relaxation, softness and fitness out on the trail. There is nothing like the feeling you’ll find when out on a hack with just you and your horse.

Can you share your favourite local place where you would source horse supplies?

I don’t use normal tack, instead I import it from Australia. But I do get most of my other supplies from the wonderful AnA’s Pet ‘N’ Tack on Tilford Road, in Rushmoor. It’s a tiny little place with super-friendly, knowledgeable staff. I have special horse feed, which they order in for me. They couldn’t be more helpful.

And the best place for a cosy pub lunch after a long ride….?

It has to be The Three Horseshoes, just off Thursley Common. It’s a traditional pub that hasn’t given in to the standard ‘gastro grey’ makeover. I love its friendly atmosphere and the food is fantastic quality.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Carola and her services on Facebook @CarolaColsonHorsetrainingCoaching.

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Mitchell Evans Spotlight

Mitchell Evans Architects

January 3, 2023

Mitchell Evans Spotlight

Founded 30 years ago in Surrey, Mitchell Evans is a medium sized architectural practice, specialising in managing a diverse range of architectural projects including design, planning permissions and Listed building  consents, through to working drawing packages for contractor procurement and construction.

Toby Howell joined the company 20 years ago as a graduate and together with business partner Darren Grist, now heads up the company’s three offices in Godalming, Isle of Wight and Wales.

Here Toby talks about the history of the business, what architectural trends are emerging and offers some tips if you’re planning an extension to your home.

How has the Mitchell Evans brand grown over the past three decades?

Our main office is in Godalming, where our founder, David Mitchell, started the company in 1991. I joined 10 years later, after graduating from university and took over the company with my former partner Ian when David retired in 2017/18. Darren joined the company in 2016 as a project architect and is now my business partner. My brother Tim joined the company a few years back. We were brought up on the Isle of Wight and he wanted to return there so we decided to open an office on the island, which has been a great success. The model worked so well there that when a member of our team was making a move to Wales, we decided to open an office there too. We however collectively work as a team across the offices with Island and Wales members coming to our Godalming office on a
weekly basis.

Who are your clients and what sort of projects do you work on?

Ninety per cent of our clients are individuals who want us to help them realise their dreams, whether that’s creating a high-end contemporary home or making a more traditional property better fit their current lifestyle. I think one of the reasons people come to us is that we work on all different styles of architecture. Here in Surrey there’s a lot of historical architecture and some people want to keep that character as much as possible while adapting it to suit their current needs. Others want a more contemporary look, driven by programmes like Grand Designs, and are much bolder with their ideas. However, we are happy to work in any style and our design process will explore a number of options for our clients.

How has the pandemic changed the way people view their homes?

In our opinion, and from what we have experienced it’s led to a mass exodus of Londoners who no longer want a two or three-bedroom house in the city but somewhere larger where they can work from home and have lots of outdoor space. However, they don’t want to compromise on style – they often want to  recreate what they had in London out here in the country.

What trends have you seen emerging in domestic architectural design in recent years?

The way people live has completely changed over the past few years, for example very rarely do we see people wanting a formal dining room anymore. Family life is much more sociable than it once was and so people want open plan kitchen family room living. The shift to working from home has also driven a desire for his and hers offices but one of the biggest trends is undoubtedly how people are incorporating outdoor living into their homes. We get a lot of requests for outdoor kitchens, swimming pools and outdoor entertaining space that is connecting, seamlessly, with the interior of the home.

What key things should people consider before embarking on an extension or renovation?

Ask us to check the local planning laws: Each borough will have different planning policies so just because you might have seen something done elsewhere in Surrey, doesn’t automatically mean it will be possible in your part of the county. Also houses in the countryside and greenbelt land can only be extended so much so it depends on the planning history of the property and how much it may have been extended in the past. I have on occasion had to shatter people’s initial dreams with that news. However, there’s a lot you can alter internally in a property to achieve what you’re looking for so don’t be disheartened if your initial ideas aren’t possible.

Live in a property before you make any big structural changes: Many people we work with who have moved to their new home, want their property changed to a new specification before they move in (depends on the condition of the house) but sometimes it’s worth living in a home and experiencing day-to-day life their first before you start knocking down walls. You may find you don’t live in the house the way you thought you might and this will change priorities for any building work.

Don’t rush the design process: Take your time with the design. It’s so easy to get excited about getting the build underway but you need a solid foundation. It’s important to get the design right first to avoid what could be expensive changes further down the line.

What local companies do you work with and would recommend?

Find out more:

You can find out more about Mitchell Evans and their services at or by following them on Instagram @mitchell_evans_architecture.