Ithink we can safely say that autumn is here. I like autumn, mainly because I feel it better manages my expectations than summer. No longer do I wake up disappointed that the sun isn’t shining on what should be a warm summer’s day, I rise from slumber content with it being a bit grey because the warm palette of oranges and reds that adorn the trees make up for it. And if the sun does indeed choose to shine, then that’s a bonus.
In saying that, we’ve had a pretty good summer this year weather-wise so I shouldn’t really complain, especially as it was the first summer for a long time that I’ve not booked a holiday somewhere hot. There were some twinges of jealousy as I saw social media posts of friends who had flown off to far-flung destinations but generally it didn’t worry me too much because we had a good spell of temperatures regularly topping 30 degrees Celsius. In fact the Met Office confirmed that this summer was the hottest England has ever seen – marginally beating the previous record-making heatwave of 1976.
If summers like this continue then it’s likely many more of us will stay put to enjoy what our homeland has to offer. That’s something Visit Surrey – the county’s official tourist board – will be glad to hear, particularly as it has recently launched a campaign rallying venues to form a united force for the good of the county’s tourism industry. “Staying at home and enjoying all the attractions and venues the county has to offer will increasingly be a first choice for families,” says Visit Surrey chairman Christine Howard. “While having a wonderful time in this beautiful county, they will also be supporting the local economy.”
Championing home-grown tourism is one of the reasons we launched our regular On Your Doorstep segment in 2017 (you can read this month’s feature on page 118). However, just because we agree that we have plenty in our county to warrant a staycation, that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t enjoy a bit of Surrey elsewhere in the world.
While I spent most of my summer in the UK, I did recently manage a short European city break to the beautiful Belgium city of Ghent (turn to page 120 to read more about what I got up to) and while mooching around the city’s quaint and quirky shops, I found myself in Bookz & Booze – an innovative store selling books and matching bottles of plonk. As I looked through the gorgeous array of literature and glassware, I noticed a bottle of Surrey’s very own Silent Pool Gin, sitting proudly in one of the displays.
Since its inception just four years ago, Silent Pool Distillery has gone from strength to strength; there aren’t many bars in the UK or further afield where you cannot order an ‘SP and tonic’. Still, I wasn’t expecting to come across it in a backstreet bookstore in Ghent.
Silent Pool is just one of Surrey’s food and drink success stories and there are plenty more fledgling businesses that I’m certain we will soon see rising up through the ranks.
As this edition of the magazine went to press, the great and the good of Surrey’s foodie community gathered at G Live in Guildford for the sixth Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards. I’ve only been involved in these awards for a couple of years but in that time I have seen how much (and how quickly) Surrey’s dynamic food culture has grown.
While Silent Pool has been adorned with numerous accolades over the years, we were one of the first to recognise the business with our innovation award back in 2015. With that in mind, I cannot wait to see where our 2018 award winners will be in a few years time. One thing’s for sure, we’ll be here supporting them on that journey, so watch this space.