Liphook steam museum, Hollycombe, opens for Easter

Hollycombe Steam in the Country is preparing to open its doors for the Easter weekend, following a busy programme of winter maintenance.

The museum, near Liphook, is a collection of steam-powered vehicles, rides and attractions, and includes fairground rides, a display farm and two railways.

Pride of place in Hollycombe’s Edwardian Fairground will go to the recently restored Haunted House – thought to be the only genuine one in the world. Constructed circa 1915 by master fairground manufacturer’s Orton and Spooner, the Haunted House is set to scare new generations of thrill seekers, with many original features having been put in place. The exterior of has been sympathetically restored by local artist Wayne Osborne of Osborne Signs, Midhurst.

Wayne said: “It is not every day that you get a commission to restore the painting on a fairground attraction, and as this is the world’s oldest Haunted House, it has been a very special job and an honour to be involved. The team used early photography a

Wayne said: “It is not every day that you get a commission to restore the painting on a fairground attraction, and as this is the world’s oldest Haunted House, it has been a very special job and an honour to be involved. The team used early photography and a lot of desk research to help recreate the characters shown on the Haunted House – I’d like to think that it will set pulses racing and raise the expectation for what lies within!”

Elsewhere, Hollycombe’s small band of volunteers has been busy attending to ground work on the Fairground and ensuring rides are looking at their best following the winter break.

“At this time of year we are putting the finishing touches to all our rides,” explained Hollycombe Trustee Brian Gooding. “Just a few weeks ago the Fairground looked like a bomb site, but it is now transformed and we are just waiting for the Rides Inspector to visit and give us the all clear for the new season.”

Works have been ongoing at the Hollycombe Quarry Railway, which has been regraded with new railway track in place, whilst volunteers have been clearing areas of the gardens, helping to showcase the attraction’s magnificent early flowering collection of daffodils, camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons.

A new face at Hollycombe will be site engineer Keith Hawkins, who joins the Hollycombe team from the De La Rue Paper Mill at Overton. “I’m really looking forward to the season starting,” said Keith. “I have been to Hollycombe many times before and it is such a thrill to think I will be helping to maintain the rides and the atmosphere for future generations to enjoy. One of my roles will be to assist with the volunteers, and to welcome and help train new members of the team. We are desperately in need of new supporters – no experience is necessary and there are many areas to get involved with. You don’t have to be interested in steam engines! We have roles for gardeners, stewards and for front and back of house teams too. We are just passionate about keeping Hollycombe alive and the more volunteers we have, the greater that likelihood is.”

One thing that hasn’t changed at Hollycombe are the prices – held at 2016 levels, with the popular ‘pay once, return for free’ tickets still being offered. This means those visiting over Easter, for example, can return as many times as they like for one year, including entrance to Hollycombe’s special events such as ‘Fairground at Night’ in September and October.

Hollycombe re-opens for the 2017 season on Good Friday, April 14, and will thereafter be open for the Easter weekend and then Sundays and Bank Holidays until mid-October. Added to this will be daily openings between May 31 – June 4, and August 1-28 (closed Mondays except August 28). Admission is £16 adults; £14 seniors and £12 children aged 3-15.

Hollycombe’s programme of special events for 2017 include:













Hollycombe Steam in the Country, Iron Hill, Liphook

01428 724900

A school production to be proud of


Pride and Prejudice

King Edward’s, Witley

This is one of my favourite plays, so I was absolutely delighted to be invited to review the King Edward’s Upper School production, and certainly did not leave disappointed!

Set in the gentrified salons of fine 18th century English houses, the play weaves a complex love story.

King Edward’s Witley – Pride and Prejudice

The two central characters, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy (Levi Nordmann) and Miss Elizabeth Bennet (Ella Garrett) played by Lower Sixth Form pupils, at first appear poles apart – Darcy is dashing and proud, only too aware of his wealth and status, but finds himself intrigued by, and drawn to, headstrong Elizabeth – reluctantly finding himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class.  To succeed they will both need to overcome their own pride and prejudice.

Soon Darcy becomes captivated by her obvious intellect and feisty nature, especially when she stands up to the dominating force of his interfering relative Lady Catherine de Bourgh played by Charlotte Fox (Lower Sixth Form).

“He is a gentleman, and I am a gentleman’s daughter. So far we are equal.”

Really strong supporting cast – all word perfect and well versed in the manners and etiquette of the time.  The soldiers looked dashing, and the ladies suitably captivating.  Many provided great characterisations, especially Mr Hill the butler played by Year 9 student Alex Kalika and the quirky footmen – Alex Kalika, Ben Dowson (Year 10), and Upper Sixth Form pupils Will Kriehn and Alex Dean; special mention must go to Remi Trovo (Lower Sixth Form) the gushing, social climber Reverend Collins – we loved every nuance and flourish of his delightful toadying, and Jessica Langan as Jane Bennet, who turned in a sweet and poignant performance, opposite her beau Mr Bingley (Max Kirkillo-Stacewicz from Lower Sixth Form) who gave us an equally solid performance.  There was well-articulated dialogue from likeable rogue George Wickham played by Harrison Martin from Year 11, and a delightful and irritating characterisation as Caroline Bingley played by Victoria Berger (Lower Sixth Form) tried to thwart the affections of Jane and her brother.

Aside from outstanding performances by the lead characters (whom I could cheerfully watch all day long), I especially loved the chemistry between Mrs Bennett – Kseniia  Elinson, Lower Sixth Form and Mr Bennett – Daniel Varbanov, also Lower Sixth Form – who, despite English not being their mother tongue, delivered the solid and witty dialogue with great panache.

“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”

Well done everyone, especially thanks to co-directors Mr James Langan and Mr Dan Tobias, and their back stage team.  A triumph!

By Sharon Gleave 

Two Sisters and more for Petersfield’s Lion and Unicorn

Sheet Village Hall near Petersfield will once again be the venue for a an evening of theatre, as young  director Sam Gaffney brings Two Sisters to the stage there, for Lion and Unicorn.

Two Sisters is a one-act play by Caroline Harding. It is set in 1880s Russia, and centres on Anya and Sonia, now in their forties, who discover secrets about each other throughout the course of the play.

Playing the sisters are Laura Sheppard, who directed Comedy of Errors for the group last November, and Ali Hill, who was last seen in God of Carnage.

Ali Hill and Laura Sheppard, in Two Sisters, for Lion and Unicorn

Laura said: “This play is a fantastic opportunity to explore the complex dynamics of a sororal relationship, with a touch of madness thrown in. It’s profoundly poignant, with the tragedy of unspoken secrets shaping the sisters’ lives and choices, but is punctuated with absurdly comic humour. It’s a short play, but very cleverly written, and it’s been amazing how quickly we have been able to capture the mood of the laugh out loud, angry, heartbreaking sections. Ali, of course, is a joy to work with – such a talent, and we’re going to feed off each other incredibly well. I can’t wait!”

Ali said: “I also love this play and I think what particularly strikes me is the way siblings can have the closest possible relationships from birth, sharing all the major life events, yet experience those events in utterly different ways and can, unsettlingly, find that as adults they don’t know one another as well as they thought. I think it’s because we make assumptions based on what we know about each other as children, then forget to question them as we grow into adulthood. Intriguing. I jumped at the chance to work with the hugely talented Sam Gaffney again, and it’s a joy to be working with Laura for the first time.”

Two Sisters will be performed at Sheet Village Hall on April 21-22, at 8pm, with support from Unicorn Voice – prose, poetry and short play extracts on the theme of siblings. There will be a licensed bar. Tickets priced £6, are available from One Tree Books or

Nell Gwynn – a joyous, rags to riches romp

NELL GWYNN (English Touring Theatre)

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Tuesday, March 28

Women are the focus of Jessica Swale’s bawdy, joyous, romp of a comedy, telling the rags to riches tale of King Charles II’s mistress, Nell Gwynn, orange-seller and former prostitute who becomes an actress and then the Merry Monarch’s lover.

A scene from Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale. Directed by Christopher Luscombe.
© Tristram Kenton

Hugh Durrant’s Restoration theatre design – costumes and set – are glorious, with the musicians positioned above, very much part of the action.

Characters, high and low, tumble onto the stage in quick succession – from the overbearing mistress Barbara Castlemaine (Pandora Clifford) and the long-suffering dignified Portuguese Queen (Joanne Howarth) to the outraged nuns and poor little Ned Spigot the actor-in-training (George Jennings).

The story steers away from anything too dark or political, the saddest moments being the death of Nell’s mother (drunk and drowned in a ditch) and the death of the King, whose final words were reported to be: “Don’t let poor Nellie starve’, proof of his genuine love for her.

Laura Pitt-Pulford as Nell is superb – feisty, witty, fun, she’s a joy to watch and you can quite understand why a king would love her – honest, caring, intelligent and refreshingly different to the sycophantic, back-stabbing courtiers.

“We’re as knotty and tangly as you are” she says, trying to explain to playwright John Dryden how to write parts for real women, instead of the breast-baring titillation they were expected to be.

As well as this being Nell’s story, the play gives a delightful slice of theatre history, with its busy backstage life, cattiness, jostling and camaraderie.

Much laughter came from seeing the melodramatic stylised acting – the ‘positions’, the language of the fan… fascinating and amusing to us, now so used to seeing naturalistic acting.

Nell was one of the first women on the stage. Playwright Jessica Swale says in her introduction, “Nell was a highly successful and popular comic actress, and, although she was illiterate, it’s very likely that she did invent and perform the Epilogue of our play.”

The play is peppered with period references but uses modern syntax and diction with the occasional anachronism for comic effect.

There is a brief Brexit reference: Charles (played by Ben Righton) is advised by Lord Arlington that he needs to woo the French and the Spanish i.e. Europe, for hisnown security, and Charles replies “…can’t we just leave…?” Cue laughter from audience… He waits, with a knowing smile… then: “I’m JOKING!” and on goes the play.

The ensemble acting is superb in this, with much doubling up of characters. Nancy, (Mossie Smith), the plain-speaking theatre dresser was wonderful, her bawdy quips and terror at having to go onstage in place of Nell, hilarious.

Esh Alladi was a standout performance, as the flamboyant and terrifically camp Edward Kynaston, who, until Nell’s arrival, had played all the women’s parts in the theatre company.

This is a laugh-out-loud performance – warm and witty, with tunes that you find yourself humming all the way home. Catch this on tour if you can.

Guildburys Theatre Company will be performing this at Waverley Abbey in July, so if you miss the pro version, catch the amateur – you won’t regret it.

Kat Wootton


Sam Marks and Laura Pitt-Pulford
©Tristram Kenton 

Large audience for Paddy Ashdown at Churcher’s College, Petersfield

Large audience for Paddy Ashdown at Churcher’s College, Petersfield

More than 600 pupils, parents and Petersfield locals were delighted to be given an audience with Paddy Ashdown on March 21.

The lecture, entitled: ‘Why the world will never be the same again (and what we should do about it)’, provided a fascinating insight into the current state of play from a man who has been involved in high level politics for many years.

He began the lecture by saying: “If you have come here to be cheered up, you might be disappointed,” referencing the unstable nature of world politics and the fact that this is unlikely to change quickly.

He explained that in today’s world everything is interconnected – that world criminality is now global, not limited to “unilateral organisations” such as individual countries or territories. What happens in one place quickly and easily affects somewhere hundreds of miles away. He used the example of swine flu breaking out in Mexico and the direct impact on Glasgow Airport only hours later.

In another example, he pointed out that the G8 became the G20 because it was no longer enough to only include such a small number of countries – world economics had become much further-reaching than this.

Paddy Ashdown’s solution to global instability is a system of global governance (which he distinguished clearly from ‘government’) and suggesting that treaty-based organisations would do this best. In his own words, “we need order and governance in the global space.” He went on to say the UK needs to build alliances and diplomatic bridges with those with whom we have shared goals.

Other parts of the lecture touched on the rise in importance of food security, terrorism in today’s world, and the inevitability of the rise of China as a global power and interestingly, a peacemaker. He closed the evening stating “the most important thing you do, is what you can do with others” and to promote world peace, we must understand and learn to love our enemy.

The event is part of Churcher’s College’s Academic Lecture Series; The Grill Lecture, which takes place annually and was named after Judy Grill, a former teacher at Churcher’s College. Previous speakers have included Lord Robert Winston, John McCarthy and Monty Halls. Prior to the event, Paddy Ashdown met and spent time with with Churcher’s College’s Sixth Form students.

About Paddy Ashdown

Rt Hon Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon GCMG KBE PC has had a wide and varied career. After school, he served for 13 years as a Royal Marines Officer, including Special Forces and command of a Special Boat Section in the Far East. He then studied Chinese in Hong Kong, obtaining a First Class interpretership in Mandarin before returning to the UK.

Paddy left the Royal Marines to join the Foreign Office for four years, before standing as the Liberal candidate for Yeovil (a seat held by the Conservatives since 1910) which he won in 1983. He was also appointed the Liberal Spokesman on Trade and Industry. In 1987 he became the Liberal/SDP Alliance spokesman on Trade and Industry and Education Spokesman. In 1988 he became the leader of the Liberal Democrats and was appointed Privy Councillor in 1989. Paddy stood down as leader in 1999 and retired from the Commons in 2001.

He went on to serve as International High Representative and European Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 – 06 and was awarded the GMCG on his return to the UK for his work to secure peace in the Balkans.

The author of a number of articles on foreign affairs and politics, Paddy has also published nine books, including two volumes of Diaries, a book on peace keeping, a best-selling memoir and three historical narratives based around Special Forces and the French Resistance in World War Two. His latest book Game of Spies: the Secret Agent, the Traitor and the Nazis was published in September 2016.

Drive for Dyslexia charity golf day in Liphook

A charity golf day in aid of the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre will be held on Friday, May 12 at Liphook Golf Course.

Liphook is a traditional golf club with one of the best courses in the country. Opened in 1923, the course was soon recognised by the R&A as an exemplary inland heathland course and is also an early example of strategic design for golf courses.

The format is 18 holes of four ball better ball. The golf will be followed by a buffet lunch, prize giving and raffle. Single or partnered players are welcome.

It costs £105 per player for non-members, while Liphook members pay £75. The cost covers the green fee, coffee on arrival, a buffet lunch and donation to the Helen Arkell Centre.

Book your place through the website page:

Contact Sam Mabbott on or phone 01252 792400.


Hidden Gardens of Grayshott 2017

Spring is here and with the weather warming up, the preparations for the Hidden Gardens of Grayshott, private gardens open for public viewing, are hotting up.

More than 25 gardens are committed to open on Sunday, May 28 and Monday 29, 12.30 until 6pm.

Several new gardens and some of the fabulous former favourites. Plants are being potted ready for sale and bakers are practising for some delicious homemade cakes.

Two-day entry costs £6, children under 12 get in free and can enter a competition supported by Grayshott Pottery, too.

Warren Powell Richards are once again supporting this  village event which aims to raise even more funds this year for distribution within our community.

Darren Light of Warren Powell Richards said: “I could not be more enthusiastic in supporting such a worthwhile event in our community. It is a wonderful day out for all the family, raising funds for such a vast range of diverse projects in our area.”

Check out at the new website: and like the facebook page Hidden Gardens of Grayshott.

For more information email or call Cheryl on 07838 248626.

A Wizard evening at Haslemere Hall


The Wizard of Oz (Haslemere Players)

Haslemere Hall

Wednesday, March 22 2017

Yes, we were off to see the Wizard, and I’m very glad I joined the audience for this show by Haslemere Players.

Directed by Vicki Gavin, with musical direction by Lizzie Hales and Alan Drake, choreography by Debra Allen, and starring a host of young performers, the family-friendly show was perfectly pitched for all ages to enjoy.

Abi Rogers gave a lovely expressive performance as Dorothy, her enthusiasm and winsomeness shining through (a super accent too).

Toto her “little dog” a cavapoo by the name of Benji, was very cute – tail going the whole time, and having fun whether playing tug of war with a flying monkey or stealing a sausage from Prof Marvel. He looks like a pro already.

One of the highlights of the show for me was the performance by Chloe Johnson-Jones as the Wicked Witch of the West, all snarls and shrieks and boo-worthy evilness. Her melting scene was great – well done for the visual effects, Players!

Carolyn Beaumont as Glinda was another standout performance – I loved her gorgeous dress and hair – she twinkled and glittered as she floated across the stage, hands twirling and eyes smiling.

Another performer to catch my eye was young Louie Loveland as Nikko, leader of the flying monkeys. Despite having no words, he managed to convey everything that was needed with some chattering and movement – good work!

Howard Bicknell as Tinman, Peter Coxon as Scarecrow and Mike Byrne as Cowardly Lion did well as Dorothy’s companions – they made a good team and gave the parts plenty of physicality which brought them to life.

Good support came from James Woodley as the great Oz, and Peter Lucas as Uncle Henry/guard.

The various ensembles, from Munchkins to Winkies, Emerald City dwellers to apple trees and poppies, were lively and there was some great dancing, particularly from the smallest children. Well done to all!

Effects were clever – the screen was used well for filmed sequences (loved the flying cow!) and the set was simple but very effective. Costumes were excellent – the emerald clothing was wonderful to see. Seeing all that green, especially the sparkly curtain hiding Oz,  I was transported back to childhood  Christmas-time, watching the film version.

The orchestra was superb – tying the scenes together seamlessly. The sound was just the right level, too. So often the band drowns out the performers but this was perfect; I could hear every word, sung or spoken.

Thank you Players for a very enjoyable evening.

Kat Wootton

Corrected date for Steep Primary School auction

CORRECTION: Life in Petersfield what’s on page states that Steep School auction is this weekend, March 18, but it is in fact Saturday, April 29. Apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Details below: 
Saturday, April 29
Friends of Steep Primary School fundraising auction – presided over by professional auctioneer David Erskine-Hill, lots including a VIP tickets to Classic FM’s September concert and after party, Star Wars and Indiana Jones memorabilia, a family ticket and backstage tour to Beauty and The Beast pantomime at Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal, a golf day for four at Blackmoor, and a tasting day at Fuller’s Brewery, plus a silent auction of promises
Venue: Steep Primary School, Church Road, Steep, Petersfield
Time: 7-11pm
Cost: £10 each, inc drink and canapés on arrival
Contact: 01730 263988, email or buy direct from the school office