Monday, 24 April 2017

A Tale of Two 'Trafficless' Villages

Now is the time of year for getting out and about when the sun shines. I love to explore Surrey villages and then write about what is going on for Surrey Life magazine.  It never ceases to amaze me how much activity is buzzing behind the scenes in what often looks like a sleepy hamlet or quiet village high street – apart from the traffic!
It’s inspiring to talk to people who, often quite modestly, lie behind events, clubs, campaigns and so on – those ‘movers and shakers’ who make things happen.  A few weeks ago I visited Stoneleigh Community Library to meet up with Diana Kay and her creative writing group, and donate three of my books.
The location of the library is unusual. In the middle of a vast area of London suburbia, a residential rabbit-warren, you come to a high street and wonder where is the traffic? Parked cars, yes, but virtually nothing moving on wheels!
The reason is that it becomes a cul-de-sac where the railway station lies and right there, opposite the station, is the library. This gives Stoneleigh a real village feel and is such a pleasant surprise – in fact it is more peaceful than some country villages where  traffic streams through. I wrote about this solid, enterprising little library in the February issue if you want to take a look: Notes from a Small Village, page 47
Within a few days I visited Watts Gallery in Compton near Guildford to talk to Dr Desna Greenhow in the lovely tea-shop there about Mary Watts.  I also met up with Tristan Greatrex in Shere to find out more about him and the wonderful website he runs for that picturesque and historic village. Shere draws a host of visitors for which there is a large, free car park!
You can find the Mary Watts article in the current issue of Surrey Life (May) and the Shere column will be in the June magazine, out mid-May.
Surrey is a great county for country walks, as well as villages, and last week my husband and I took our dog to Hindhead to do the Devil’s Punch Bowl walk. So lovely to see the many shades of green that come with fresh spring growth - sorry, no blue sky at the time! 

Surrey people and those who live nearby in Sussex will be aware of the story behind Hindhead – the building of a tunnel that lies 65 metres below the walk pathway. The busy A3 that stretches from London to Portsmouth used to pass through the village as a single-carriageway and proved to be a terrible bottleneck for traffic. Since 2011 the road goes underneath an area of land called the Devil’s Punch Bowl and has transformed the village, as you can imagine.

We remember dicing with death, years ago, crossing the road half-way through the walk (see photos for how it is now!) and again at the end to get back to the car park. Now all is calm.

If only all villages could have a by-pass!! How many times do I say this every year? My family are probably tired of hearing me say it – a pipe-dream.  Or is it?

Appley Green does its best to be free of traffic!!