Wednesday, November 04, 2009

In search of autumn colours Part IV - 1 November 2009

Friday Street
The BBC weather forecasters are an invaluable tool for planning a day's activities. Yesterday they accurately predicted that the morning misty drizzle would clear to sunny spells by mid-day, and we based our day out on that information. Today, heavy rain in the morning was predicted to be driven away by strong winds by early afternoon. So although we drove out of London in heavy rain (and wondering if we were mad), by the time we had finished with indoor activities, the rain had cleared.
Friday Street
ShereThe first indoor activity was Clandon House, home to the Onslow family. The interior (of the outwardly boring brick 'box') is quite sumptuous, with wonderful ceilings in every room. We found this house particularly interesting, as it was the home to New Zealand's 11th Governor General, his term starting in 1889. Only 34 years old at the start of his term, Lord Onslow was the first Governor General to have a baby born in New Zealand. This child was given a beautiful kiwi feather cloak, in which he was presented to the Maori elders. Maori Meeting house, ClandonThe cloak on display, along with many artefacts of his time in New Zealand. But the most interesting 'souvenir' is a Maori meeting house in pride of place in the front garden. This particular house stood in the Te Wairoa village near Rotorua. When Mount Tarawera erupted, it was one of few buildings which survived, and saved many people's lives.

When Lord Onslow found it, it was standing empty and derelict and he purchased it for £50 and shipped it home.

ShereThe town of Shere is nearby, and a very picturesque stop for a Sunday pub lunch. After a delicious shared platter and desert, we set off along country lanes covered in leaves, to Friday Street. This is a perfect autumn destination, with the golden trees reflected in the lake.

ShereOur route home took us through Brockham. This is a lovely village built around a large green, but the really interesting feature, was a huge bonfire stack, which appeared to be the work of the whole village. We were told that they used to build one twice the size, but current health and safety restrictions have limited it to what seemed to us an enormous and very well constructed pile of tree clippings and branches. BrockhamWe were told that the bonfire would burn a week after it is lit next Saturday. We have seen signs in villages, before, advertising their bonfire night, but never actually witnessed a bonfire in construction before and certainly didn't realise what a spectacular sight it must be.

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