A fete accompli

Every year another delightful little day of summer fun pops up, and 2015’s new kid on the block is Westfest.

A summer fete held in the beautiful village of Westcott and arranged by the locals, Westfest promises all of the hardy perennials found at Surrey fetes including a tombola, raffle and maypole dancing, but also a pet show, craft stalls and even a bouncy castle and a bar (best enjoyed in that order).

It’ll be situated in the hidden but surprising large Cradhurst recreation ground in the centre of Westcott. See map below …

Westcott is just outside Dorking but there’s very little parking in the village and Cradhurst park can only be reached on foot, so the recommendations are that you take public transport. However, buses aren’t exactly plentiful, so SS recommends you enjoy the lovely walk along the Pippebrook from Dorking, or that you get there early to find a parking space on the outskirts of the village, then go for lunch at Bertram Bees or The Prince of Wales (both on the A25) until the fete opens.

Saturday 27th June,  2-5pm

  • Bring lots of change
  • Don’t wear heels – its not the smoothest of parkland
  • Don’t forget to look up at Westcott’s amazing views of Ranmore (but hurry past the eye-widening horder’s house in Furlong Road made famous by Channel 4!)

Surrey has the X Factor

Surrey may be muddier, greener and have more badgers than London, but it’s certainly just as glamorous. Even the head of X Factor’s ‘talon’ contest Andrew Styles has left the big smoke to take up residence at the super-stylish salon Clay, in Oxshott.

I’ve lauded Clay in a previous blog, but Andrew’s new nail department deserves it’s own little mention.

downloadOriginally from Johannesburg, Andrew moved with his family to the Isle of Wight where he founded two nail salons. He got a reputation as the ‘nail scientist’, fixing the unfixable and growing the ungrowable, whilst making them completely beautiful too.
When he made the move to the big smoke he was quickly snapped up by nail brand Filthy Gorgeous London who hired him as their consultant. Here he was discovered by the X Factor to manage the talents’ talons and he and his team made sure their designs shone on stage.

Secret Surrey can attest to the quality of Andrew’s work, SS’s manicure and nail art lasted a full two weeks! That’s just normal polish, not gel. And underneath the nails were found to be buffed and beautiful – this guy is good!


Secret Surrey’s neutral nails with Nails Inc by Victoria Beckham, with a touch of Andrew’s magical nail art.

Find Andrew on twitter, read his blog, or make an appointment to see him in person – you won’t be disappointed!

Supernatural Surrey

When choosing your summer holiday reads, consider bestselling author Roz Morris’s new SciFi novel set in Ranmore and Dorking.

The Surrey Hills may seem an unusual setting for a science fiction novel, but its quirky blend of science fiction and fable is proving a hit with readers and provoking comparisons with science fiction greats such as Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut and Margaret Atwood.

The novel, Lifeform Three, is set in the future, where back-to-back cities have erased the countryside. Cars drive themselves while their human occupants sleep. One idyll of countryside remains in the sea of concrete – the remains of a country estate that belonged to a manor house called Harkaway Hall. Dubbed the Lost Lands, Harkaway Hall has become a tourist destination, tended by humanoid robots called bods. One of the bods begins to dream at night that he is riding a horse (known as lifeform three) – and this begins a great mystery. Why does he dream? Why is he having scattered flashbacks? Soon he is thrown into a nightly battle to reclaim his past and his soul.

The author, Roz Morris, says she was inspired by the landscape of Dorking and Ranmore.

The woods and paths around Polesden Lacey, Norbury Park and Denbies are full of clues about the kind of life that was lived when those houses were prospering estates. Norbury Park has a pair of grand gateposts down on the floodplain that now lead to a farm. When I researched them I found that a manor house stood in that area, which was then rebuilt high on the hill where the present Norbury Park is now. But the gateposts remain as an enigmatic ghost. And Denbies has had several magnificent mansions on the top of the hill overlooking the vineyard, before the private house that stands there now. Near Dorking there is an underwater dining room, the last remnant of another country house. The dining room is still there, with access via a tunnel and an island. I wanted to write a story to explore the wonder of these vanished places and the people who lived there. Also, I’m a horse owner, and have come to know the area by exploring it on horseback. Many of the bridlepaths are ancient byways, and as I rode them – on this most traditional form of transport – I felt very connected to the history and the land. But this fantastic natural space is vanishing too, and I wanted to remind us to cherish it.


Reviewer reactions to Lifeform Three include:

Beautifully written, meaningful, top-drawer storytelling.’

Roz Morris has created a masterpiece and I don’t say that lightlyI’
AC Flory, science fiction author

If you like to think along with your scifi, you should find plenty of fodder in this novel.’
Deb Atwood, literary author

Engages from the start, never falters and carries the reader to their destination with startling strength and speed
John Whitbourn, Award-winning author


Roz Morris’s fiction has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, although you won’t have seen her name on the covers as she ghostwrote for high-profile authors. She is now writing fiction under her own name. She is a writer, journalist, fiction editor and the author of the Nail Your Novel series for writers.

The novel is available on Kindle, Amazon and at Barton’s Bookshop in Leatherhead.


Nail it

pimmsandtuffinThe sun’s finally arrived but that doesn’t mean you suddenly have the time or cash to spend all your time lounging around on the lawn with your friends.

Especially when the garden furniture looks like it’s been recovered from a deep sea salvage and your toes are still in post-winter lack-of-sock-shock.

So here is Secret Surrey’s top tip for smart beautifying.

Head into Dorking’s Waitrose and pick up one of their very delicious free lattes, or whatever hot drink you prefer using your MyWaitrose card (also free). Then carry it a few doors down to Dorking Nails for speedy, friendly and extremely bargainous nail-do.
Owner couple Trang and Tung, and occasionally their daughter Lisa, will often fit you in without an appointment and charge just £5 for a file and paint – even a proper pedicure in a massage chair is only £23. Frankly it’s more skin-scrubbingly effective than a beauty salon’s whale music and scented candle ‘experience’ costing £45 and it’s certainly more time efficient too.

So you can be out the door and back in the garden before you can say ‘Anyone for Pimms?’

Nosy Parker

Did you know that if you buy a parking ticket in Mole Valley, and have something else to get at the other end of the high street, you can use the same parking ticket until its time expires?

So as long as you’re in the same town, your parking ticket is valid in any car park. It’s true, we even checked with Mole Valley District Council.

It’s the little things …

Little gems

Surrey is full of great places to eat. But Secret Surrey has a few favourites …

Bryce’s fish restaurant in Ockley
A family run, decently priced restaurant that’s been popular for decades, with good reason. The cosy pub part does superb quality bar food and their smart restaurant offers a slightly more refined menu of the same great quality plus just the right amount of attentiveness from considerate, enthusiastic staff. They also do great value set menus and cabaret nights.

Drakes in Ripley
The Michelin starred magic needs little explanation. Worth every penny for special occasions, don’t go with a crowd as this standard of cooking deserves all your attention.

The Jolly Farmers in Betchworth
A large, light pub with a deli and great food. Ask to sit in the main room for sunshine in the day and the pub-part for cosiness in the evening.

The Grumpy Mole in Brockham
Perfect in winter, this small, cosy pub has delicious food and very good wine.

Bertram Bees in Westcott
What was once a rather murky pub was transformed in 2012 by new owners Dennis and Virginia into exactly what Dorking needed. It’s now an extremely beautiful French-style wine bar/deli/coffee shop/reduced-restaurant with the more recent add-ons of a beer bar and gift shop. They use local produce, have regular live music of excellent quality and rather than churning out the usual suspects on a too-long menu, they just offer one or two dishes on Friday and Saturday nights and sharing platters the rest of the time. It’s a great idea that’s proving very popular.

And finally a new favourite …

Little Dudley House in Dorking’s South Street
The 16th century building was a rather over priced, low quality restaurant until it was transformed by new management last summer. The decor and ambience is now fabulous, the service is good and most importantly the food is now worth the fairly hefty prices, it really is very fine dining indeed.

So now when friends ask, ‘Know anywhere good’. Your answer will be an enthusiastic ‘Yes I certainly do!’

Bad Romance

You’ll be forgiven if this relentless weather has dampened your passion for celebrating the day of love, but don’t think you can get away with ignoring it.
If you hate valentines and decide to bypass it you’ll only instill a seed of anger in your loved one that you’ll pay for later.
And if you’re usually the herald for the fourteenth, you can’t let your standards slip, not even this once, or that will set the bar for your humbug-half to never better your worst efforts, forever!

So, take a deep breath, read our advice for a ‘productive’ valentines and reap the rewards until it comes around again next year!

So the trick is – do something! Anything, there’s no need to be flash, romance is not found in the wallet.  A thoughtful token (ideally, but not essentially, with a little meaning or sentiment behind it) will go further than any bottle of expensive generic perfume ever will.

Yes a box of chocolates will do. But if you’re going to buy that, why not go for a bottle of something delicious instead; for the girls maybe Amaretto or Frangelico, and I’ve never known a man snub a decent bottle of brandy or whisky.
But if you want to go further than the consumables how about …

❤️ A silver locket from Scott’s

❤️ A dream catcher from Mystery Mountain (Dene Street)

❤️ A vintage handbag from Shrewd

❤️ A head massage and blow dry voucher from Dare (Reigate and Dorking)

❤️ Local ales from Cobbetts Real Ales

❤️ A ‘food of love’ cookery book from Waterstones, or even a racy classic like Lady Chatterley’s Lover

❤️ Some frilly knickers from Victoria’s Little Bra shop, West Street

❤️ A vintage letter opener from West Street

And finally, if you can’t bear to be serious (my favourite sort of people) get your beloved a pair of inner soles from The Boothole (giving your inner sole – geddit?)

Remember, as Oscar Wilde says, ‘Nothing ruins romance so much as a sense of humour in a woman or the want of it in a man.’

Happy Valentines! xxx

Funny That

Moving to the countryside doesn’t mean that the fun’s all over. Not when there’s this kind of comedy kicking around town.

The brilliant stand-up, Canadian Katherine Ryan (8 out of 10 Cats, Mock the Week, Never Mind The Buzzcocks) was performing at Red Bar, Dorking last Wednesday (for an absolutely measly £4 entry fee). And frankly, she was brilliant. ‘I heard about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy, and I thought, ooh I wonder if she’ll keep it!’

And she was supported by four other very good acts indeed. The compere, a very tall and sharp-witted Luke Benson, a New Zealander, TJ McDonald who says his signature dance is the ‘Caucasian Shuffle‘ and a great caricature act by Adrienne Coles.

But most notable, was the new comic Philip Simon, who, in Secret Surrey’s laudable (that’s laudable –  not laughable) opinion, is one to watch. Despite being relatively new to stand up, he has won numerous awards and his dry, intelligent gags, reminiscent of David Mitchell, brought the house down. He said ‘I was asked by a child I taught if it was ok to fancy your teacher. I looked at the teacher and the answer was definitely not!‘.

Out of Bounds comedy nights can be found all over Surrey and Sussex and the quality is as good as London comedy clubs. Only that they’re on your doorstep, cost next to nothing and the beer’s half the price. Ok … two thirds of the price, we are still in Surrey after all.

Roll with it

Did you know that every roll of clingfilm or kitchen foil in the world has these tiny tabs at either end of the roll box, intended for you to press them in to hold the roll in place?

No? Neither did we.

Ok, so it’s nothing to do with Surrey – but it’s a secret that everyone in Surrey should know once and for all!


‘Demi-priced latte please!’

Louise, founder of Dorking Deli

Did you know that if you buy ANYTHING in Dorking’s West Street, Dorking Deli will give you a half price coffee? No? Well now you do🙂

So you can shop til you nearly drop… then get a half price coffee, and carry on!

Hurrah for community spirit, there’s gallons of it to be found in Dorking.