Book now for Easter holiday fun from the RAPP van

A cracking Easter holiday is in store for youngsters across East Hampshire as the Rural Areas Play Project (RAPP) and Get Activ8d schemes are back to provide ‘egg-citing’ activities over the two-week break.

The Easter holidays are nearly here and children, parents and grandparents from around the district are set to have great fun at the two schemes organised by East Hampshire District Council.

The two-week Easter Holiday programme runs from Tuesday, April 2 to Friday, April 13, and the RAPP vans will be visiting towns and villages across East Hampshire, including Froyle, Whitehill and Bordon, Rake, Buriton, Clanfield, Selborne, Horndean, Liphook, Medstead, Lindford, Liss, Froxfield, Bentley, East Meon and Greatham.

RAPP was set up 12 years ago by East Hampshire District Council to give children up to the age of 11 (under eights must be accompanied by an adult) the opportunity to get involved in fun activities, games, adventures, workshops and meet new friends in the school holidays.

This Easter, RAPP will feature lots of Easter-themed arts and crafts sessions, as well as some samba drumming, bug hunting, balloon making, volcano ‘eggs-ploding’, plant growing, kite flying, raft building, unicorn making fun!

The full programme of activities and locations can be found here:

Get Activ8d, which provides sporting activities to children aged seven to 14, is also back this Easter in Alton, Whitehill & Bordon, Kingsley, Blackmoor, Horndean and Petersfield.

The Get Activ8d Easter programme includes street dance, cheerleading, hula hooping, tennis, golf, gymnastics and climbing sessions.

The full programme of activities and locations can be found here:

You will be able to book online from 10am on Tuesday, March 20 through the My East Hampshire District Council portal:

Ramster Garden celebrates spring with special offer

Ramster Garden in Chiddingfold Surrey is celebrating the arrival of spring and its first weekend of opening with a special 2 for 1 offer on adult entry on Sunday, March 18 (10am until 5pm).

See early rhododendrons as they burst into flower marking the start of garden’s spectacular flowering season. Be dazzled by the array of brilliant yellow daffodils and look out for the native Narcissus pseudonarcissus with its delicate creamy outer petals and a deep yellow centre.

Don’t miss the ancient magnolias and kaleidoscope of flowers along Camellia Walk which delight you with patterns and colours some resembling raspberry ripple ice cream. The camellias which mostly originate from Japan give a fantastic show of colour from the deepest shades of pink through to the purest white during March.

“After a long winter the garden suddenly comes to life with the most exquisite flowers and colours,” says Rosie Glaister, who runs the family owned garden. “A few early birds from our rhododendrons collection will already be out including R. Cilpiense hybrids, R. ‘Prince Camille de Rohan’ and R. ‘Rosa Mundi’ one of our most reliable performers forming banks of pink blooms.”

Explore over 20 acres of magical woodland and see for the first time a view of the Valley of the Giants which features exotic trees recognised by TROBI (Tree Register of Britain & Ireland) for their remarkable sizes. Trees include Eastern Hemlock, the Giant Sequoia, the Grand Fir currently standing at 47m and the prize Japanese Cedar which can reach almost 7,000 years old.

As you walk around Ramster Garden you will also discover sculptures and natural carvings of wild boar, chickens, a fox and an owl bench. Visitors can relax after their walk in the Tea House which serves cakes, sandwiches, snacks and drinks.

Ramster Garden opens daily from March 17 – June 10. The special 2 for 1 offer on adult entry applies to Sunday, March 18 only. Normal admission applies at all other times. Membership which entitles visitors to unlimited visits during opening times is available. Free parking and discounted group rates for 15+ people. Dogs on leads are welcome in the garden.

Admission charges: adults to the garden £7.50; group rate for garden (15+ people) £6.50; children under 16 free; registered disabled £3.

Ramster Garden, Chiddingfold

01428 654167

Liss Film Festival this month

The Triangle Centre in Liss will be hosting its 6th annual film festival from February 15-18. Films to be shown include Victoria & Abdul, Hairspray, Despicable Me 3, Lucky Logan and Tea with Mussolini.

The Triangle will also be introducing its new Cinegi system by showing the award-winning theatre production of The Audience, with Helen Mirren.

Further details can be found at or by telephoning 01730 301000.

Winter walks and workshops with Surrey Wildlife Trust

If you’ve indulged in too many mince pies this year, why not work off those Christmas calories by taking a walk on the wild side with Surrey Wildlife Trust?  With more than 70 nature reserves to explore and a host of New Year events, now’s a great time to get outside and enjoy Surrey’s winter landscapes with family and friends.

Pull on your boots and warm clothes and head to Shere Woodlands near Guildford for an inspiring walk through fallen leaves, with the promise of breathtaking views from West Hanger across the Weald and towards the South Downs. Keep an eye out for birds of prey like buzzards or kestrels hunting for small mammals.

Brentmoor Heath – photo by Mark Horton

Or grab your binoculars and take a trip to Nutfield Marshes, near Redhill, for some fresh air and a satisfying stroll round the lakes. This wonderful wetland reserve is a magnet for winter water fowl and waders. Tufted ducks, gadwalls and the odd pochard can be found at this time of year, together with mute swans, little grebes and greylag geese.

Greylag goose

A walk on the vast windswept landscape of Chobham Common is spectacular at this time of year. This rare lowland heathland is the largest National Nature Reserve in the south east of England. Over 100 species of birds have been recorded here, including the rare Dartford warbler – look out for this small but striking bird perched on top of gorse stems.

“It’s a winter wonderland out there with so many wild places to discover,” said the Trust’s Charlotte Magowan. “So why not get out with your family and friends this season?”

Or you could join one of the New Year events, including guided walks, family fun and courses? Here are a few ideas to start your 2018 in wild style:

Shiver & Shake at Ashtead – Saturday, January 13, 11am-12.30pm

Explore magical Ashtead Park in winter and learn about the habitats create such a fantastic haven for wildlife.

Wild Families – Saturday, January 13, 10.30am-12.30pm

Go wild with your family and get closer to nature at a fun session for all ages at Newlands Corner near, Guildford, with games, crafts and wild activities for all.

Wild Families


Dual Workshop: Willow Making & Yoga – Tuesday, January 16, 10am-3pm

Enjoy a New Year treat at Nower Wood, near Leatherhead – spend the morning learning to make outdoor candle holders/bird feeders from willow. After lunch, relax with an afternoon yoga session – dreamy!


Winter Wanderings on Rodborough – Monday, January 22, 10am-12noon

Blow away the Christmas cobwebs on a guided winter walk exploring the beautiful expanses of Rodborough Common, near Godalming.

Remember that members of the Trust get free walks and discounted talks and courses. You can sign up for half price membership in our January sale and get a free calendar, while stocks last. For more information on membership and all of the Trust’s events, courses and talks, as well as a full list of more than 70 nature reserves to explore across the county visit

The Seeing Eye photography exhibition – Farnham Pottery

Farnham Pottery is not only a place to learn how to throw a pot, do some life drawing or write a masterpiece (to mention just a few of their programmes) it also makes an engaging exhibition space. At the latest exhibition – Seeing Eye – Responding to the environment – works by six photographers are given extra dimension by being displayed on walls and in corners that seem to hum with almost 150 years of creativity.

The six photographers are varied but fit together neatly. Headlining is Jacqui Hurst who delights in gardens and urban areas colonised by unexpected plants and will return to the same spot time and again to find the right light and the composition that works to create her beautiful  work. Angela Shaw also turns to nature for her inspiration and works as an “environmental artist”.

“I am not a photographer, I am an artist working with light,” she says. She has created intriguing installations, placing items in Alice Holt Forest and playing around with them then photographing them, and also uses pinhole cameras to take pictures over months, something that allows her to capture the changing seasons.

“It’s about slowing down to spend time in nature,” she says.

In contrast, Hugh Rawson literally “shoots from the hip”. A headteacher at a local school, Hugh turned to street photography in recent years as a creative outlet and is particularly drawn to urban environments where, camera on his hip, he takes thousands of pictures from which he chooses just a few. He chooses well. The results are cool, compelling glimpses of lives, mostly in black and white, which leave you wanting more.

Mike Green, on the other hand, also produces black and white film but works the old way – 36 prints per film, each shot lovingly often after a long wait. “I often find a spot which speaks to me as a place and then I wait for perhaps a couple of hours and I see how people interact with that space.” The results are little stories which draw the viewer in.

Luke Whatley-Bigg takes a different angle – usually from the sky. Just 13 years old, he specialises in drone photography and takes his drone out to local landmarks where somehow me manages to hold the drone steady and work out exactly the right angle for stunning photographs. He is certainly a name to watch.

Finally, Wrecclesam resident Miriam Windsor is exhibiting six intensely personal photographs of women who have suffered from post-natal depression, alongside letters written by the present-day women to their former selves. Among them is a picture of Miriam herself and it is photography which helped her to find a sense of herself when she was ill after the birth of her daughter 10 years ago. The portraits are regal, like ones you might find on the walls of a stately home, the letters are intensely moving and the combination is a reminder of both the dignity and the fragility of human life.

The exhibition continues until December 7. For details see or call 07733 325138.

By Stella Wiseman

Petersfield gets All Shook Up with Elvis musical by PTG

All Shook Up (Petersfield Theatre Group)

Festival Hall

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

All Shook Up is basically Elvis Presley songs strung together with a Twelfth Night storyline – girl dressing as boy, love triangles, and a Shakespearean happy ending where all the couples get together. There’s nothing demanding about it – it’s a fun romp with lots of comedy and plenty of musical numbers to sing along to.

There are also a fair few stereotypes – the museum lady who turns into a nymphomaniac at the read of a sonnet (I was waiting for the ‘why Miss Jones you’re beautiful!’ moment as Emma Twist, playing Miss Sandra, went from glasses and tweed to skintight dress and loose hair); not to mention the man-weary landlady who only needs the love of a good guy to loosen her up a bit and make her less shrill and carping… hmm… but that’s an issue I have with the book by Joe Dipetrio, not PTG.

Sadly, Amy Perkins who was due to play one of the leads, Natalie, was ill, so was replaced at short notice and with great success by Charlotte Turnbull. Natalie, the ‘Viola’ character in this, is a tomboy mechanic who pretends to be a boy in order to get close to the “guitar-playing roustabout” former jailbird Chad, who sweeps all the girls off their feet when he rocks into this sleepy American town on his motorbike. Ross Cobbold played the swaggering, sneering, singing trouble maker with great style. He has good comedy timing and a remarkably Elvis-sounding voice too.

Also excellent was Ewan Wharton as Dennis, Georgie Gardner-Cliff as Lorraine and Ethan Emery as Dean. These youngsters were all very natural onstage, with lovely singing voices. Well done to director John-Paul McCrohon for getting the best out of them. I look forward to seeing all the young leads onstage in Petersfield again.

Kerry McCrohon as Sylvia, the world-weary, seen-it-all, been burned by love landlady of the town bar, was very moving in her song, There’s Always Me. She brought experience to the stage, as did Conrad Stephenson as the widower Jim. His transformation from sad dad to Chad impersonator was very funny.

But the standout of the show was, for me, the diminutive Michelle Magorian as the battle-axe (another stereotype, tut tut, Mr Dipietro) Mayor Matilda Hyde – marching across the stage, never letting Sheriff Earl (played in hilarious hangdog silence by the perfectly-cast George Stephenson) get a word in. Her guitar contest with Chad surrounded by a bunch of angels was inspired. Hilarious. More please.

The ensemble members were hardworking and obviously enjoyed performing this show, at one point getting the audience up to dance. The band, led by Darren Alderton, certainly produced a lot of sound, but unfortunately, because of its placing at the very front of the stage, drowned out quite a lot of the songs. Actors seemed to be struggling to be heard above it, even with mics, which was a shame.

I liked the set with its two levels and the wide corrugated iron doors opening out at the back to change the setting. Set changes were speedy and effective. Costumes were wonderful, too.

This is a great fun show – it will certainly put a smile on your face and a spring in your step on a grim autumn evening. The show continues until Saturday night.

Kat Wootton

Russian cellist gives free concert for Making Light charity

Russian cellist Mikhail Lezdkan is giving a solo recital on Sunday, November 12 at 3pm, in St Laurence Church, Station Road, Petersfield.

The programme includes two solo suites by Bach; no. 1 in G and no. 6 in D, plus Suite 3 by Benjamin Britten (written for Rostropovich).
There will also be some short intervening readings from Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Admission is free, with a retiring collection in aid of the charity Making Light. 
Refreshments will be available in the interval. 

McKellen returns to play Lear in crystal clear production


 ‘King Lear’ by William Shakespeare

Minerva Theatre, Chichester

The first season with Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley in charge of Chichester Festival Theatre is crowned with a memorable production of King Lear in the Minerva. Any doubts about staging yet again one of Shakespeare’s bleakest, bitterest and bloodiest plays are removed by Jonathan Munby’s exemplary direction and a fine ensemble cast, led by Sir Ian McKellen.

This production marks another return to Lear in the last few years. These include: Frank Langella’s superb performance at the Minerva in 2013, the somewhat disappointing National Theatre version with Simon Russell Beale in 2014, and Anthony Sher in Gregory Doran’s RSC production last year. In the current programme notes, written by the actors and production team, Sir Ian says that he welcomed the chance to play Lear again when he himself was a similar age to the character, in his eighties.

“I’m not the first actor who has wanted to return to this play, as if unfinished business. Perhaps it’s just that the closer you get to the king’s age, the more telling it becomes; for some, more a therapy than a job.” Sir Ian was a highly praised Lear directed by Trevor Nunn at the RSC 10 years ago, and this was turned into a TV film. Sir Ian also wanted to perform in the intimate surroundings of the Minerva.

King Lear embraces authority and chaos, misjudgement and madness, age and infirmity, betrayal and brutality, justice and injustice. At the end there is reconciliation but only when Cordelia lies dead in the arms of her father who is briefly finds humility and sense. But Britain is left in ruins, without government. At the end of the play Edgar speaks to our time, when untruth has become so significant in our world: ”The weight of this sad time we must obey; Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”

At first Lear is an unsympathetic character. A quick-tempered authoritarian, used to absolute power, he is removed from knowing or understanding himself, his children, his court or his circumstances. Haunted by his age and a fear of madness even in Act 1, Lear is fevered with his lack of self knowledge: “‘Tis the infirmity of is age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.”

And he also has a sense of his own senility: “Oh! Let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven; Keep me in temper; I would not be mad.”

For a start, Lear was mad to believe that he could surrender his power to his daughters while keeping their love and support, and retaining his authority without responsibility; that he and everyone else would be happy with his retirement hunting and roistering with his 100 knights; and that power would not corrupt his children and turn them against him. “Does thou call me fool, boy?” He asks his Fool, who replies: “All thy other titles thou hast given away; that wast thou born with.”

Lear’s anguish is mirrored by that of his servant Gloucester, an adulterer who trusts his bastard son Edmund rather than his natural heir, Edgar. The engrossing action works well within the close confines of the Minerva, whether Lear is celebrating at table with his knights, or out on the bleak, cold, rain-lashed heath. We were warned before the play began that there would be two hours before the interval but the production did not drag for one moment and time passed swiftly. This is a tribute to the work of director Jonathan Munby. His production is far bigger than the sum of its parts and he brings great clarity to this complicated work.

Phil Daniels exemplifies this as a Fool who looks and performs like a cross between Eric Morecambe and Elvis Costello; he is both witty and wise, whereas sometimes the character seems crass and convoluted. Some of the playing is uneven, and that includes Sir Ian. Neither Goneril (Dervla Kirwan) nor Regan (Kirsty Bushell) completely convince as the evil sisters. Damien Molony does not seem devilish enough as Edmund. But Danny Webb makes a convincing Gloucester and Michael Matus earns his laughs as the servant Oswald.

While it is a surprise to find the Earl of Kent/Caius played by a woman, Sinéad Cusack brings great vitality to the part of a noble who is both loyal to the king and outspokenly blunt (especially when disguised as Caius after his/her  expulsion from court). These minor criticisms should not detract from an extremely high-class exposition of King Lear, which runs at the Minerva until October 28.

Nick Keith