Next up in my “Meet My Neighbor Series is Jenny Pellet, she hails from England….
My wife and I just arrived in London after a long flight from JFK…we are in your country for the week and our first stop will be to visit you.
What happens next? Will we be catching another flight, taking a taxi or having someone meet us @ the airport? How far from London do you live?
We are around 40 miles from Central London, situated equidistant from both main London airports – Gatwick and Heathrow. This sounds as if we live under two flight paths in a built up area but we are in the countryside – in the Surrey Hills, south west of the Capital. We can easily meet visitors coming in to either airport – it takes just under an hour to get to either one.
I think you mentioned on your blog, you love to travel? London being one of your favorite places? Tell me about London, what are some of your personal favorite places to visit…and why? We went to New York City this last Christmas with a friend who lived there for several years..we told her right up front, we are not your typical tourists…but love discovering the little hole in the wall places only the locals know about. (little book stores, coffee houses, pubs, etc…those are the places I would LOVE to hear about now…
Yes, I’ve been very fortunate to have done a fair bit of travelling in my time – to Europe, the Middle East, India and China. Although I’ve been to New York, I have yet to discover any more of America but look forward to a time when this will happen.
London however, remains my most favourite city. It’s where my late father had his antique silver and jewellery business; consequently, my sister and I got to know his part of London from an early age as we often spent the day with him there during school holidays. So my favourite area of London has to be that area from the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square right up to Oxford Street, passing Soho and theatre land then sweeping eastwards back around the British Museum down into Covent Garden to the Strand; across the River Thames to the South Bank where the Festival Hall, National Theatre and Hayward Gallery are. Plenty to see, lots of pubs and cafes to stop off in plus a mixture of old and new architecture. Not as stylish perhaps as Paris, or as compact as Amsterdam, but something for everyone, I would say.
See..you don’t have to know anything about farming in this interview not a darn thing!
OK, so after a day (or two) in London, we head to your area of England. You’ve alluded to how much you love the natural beauty of your area..tell me more! do you have any photos you’d be willing to share (attach to your reply) Same question as London.what are some of your favorite places and why?
I have just posted on my blog a walking tour of Guildford, our county town which will illustrate partly why I am so fond of the area in which we live.
photo of iconic High Street
As far as countryside goes, we have heath land, common land and river walks to enjoy; there are stately homes to visit as well as Roman villas and the coast is less than an hour away, as is London. So we are ideally situated to enjoy town, sea and countryside.
If I only had 2 days to spend in your area, where would you take us?
Well, I think I would consider what would be interesting for you to see with the time constraints you have. I’d have to plan a little itinerary to make sure you got the most from your visit. So – how about this? I’d suggest we took a car ride across Surrey to visit the home of Winston Churchill. Rather than go on the motorway we’d go through the lanes, which might take a little longer but then you’d see the countryside. Churchill’s house is just over the border, in Kent, near to the area where I grew up. It is called Chartwell and is now run by the National Trust. Visitors can tour the house and garden as well as see Winston’s studio where he would paint. The house is beautiful and appears to be just as it was when Winston and his wife, Clemmie lived there. On the way back, we’d stop off in an old pub so you could sample our Real Ale.
The next day we could start off with a walk across the common close to us. Perhaps I could take you to the area which is often used as a location by film companies. At the moment they are filming scenes for the forthcoming production of Macbeth. Parts of Skyfall were shot here as well as Gladiator and the miniseries, Band of Brothers. After a good dose of fresh air we could jump in the car to Portsmouth and visit the Historic Naval Dockyards. You can see the Mary Rose – Henry VIII’s warship in a new state of the art museum as well as HMS Victory – the ship Lord Nelson used at the Battle of Trafalgar. We’d drive back through the picturesque Meon Valley and sample another typically English pub.
On your blog you mentioned you work with Autistic children…My wife has also done some substitute helping out @ our local school working with disabled children..How did you ever get into work like that? Do you have anyone in your extended family who is disabled, do you think that had anything to do with your love of this field? Tell me about one (or more) of your favorite children you work with. You don’t have to use their real names..I’m just curious about them..what do you find endearing about them?
My background is in public relations, publicity and marketing! Before I had my own child I worked at a high pressured pace in London. Once I was a parent it was impossible to carry on this career so I began volunteering in school to help children with their reading and literacy. I kind of slipped into my current role because I discovered that I have a lot of patience, love the way children think (who says they’re wrong?!) and enjoy the challenge of helping students with their understanding.
Children with high functioning autism or Asperger’s who are able to attend mainstream school are the most interesting of all and are often the most difficult to help as they tend to be set in their ways. Helping them to access subjects and seeing them succeed is so rewarding. To date, I have seen one boy through to GCSE’s from the age of 11; am just about to add my second when he takes his exams in June and have just begun the cycle again with another lovely lad who has been with us since the start of our school year, in September. The boys have all had their own brand of humour – I go home everyday having had a laugh over something or other with them. With the eleven year old, I am currently introducing him to poetry. He found it very difficult at first so we looked for funny rhymes which he has been devouring and now wants to read them to the exclusion of everything else!
There is no one in my extended family who has the condition, or who is disabled. As a family growing up we were probably regarded as slightly alternative – our parents challenged us to always think outside of the box, which has stood me in good stead with autistic students: finding the ‘way in’ to their way of thinking is key to their success.
Family…tell me about your hubby and son…how did the two of you meet? How did he propose? and your son..tell me a little bit about him…
I’ll leave this one blank as they are both quite private people. I will just mention that my son has written a book which is due to be published soon. It is an account of the American Airborne’s time in England during the months leading up to D-Day. They spent time here training, bonding and forming friendships before their heroic jump into France on 6 June 1944. The release of his book later this year is scheduled to coincide with the 70th anniversary. There will be more news on my blog once he is able to share the title and go public.
Blogging related…have you ever met anyone in person that you first interacted via blogging? (side note- I have. last count.. 5) What are some of the high lights of blogging/ any low lights?
No, I’ve never met any of my blogging buddies face to face – most of the folk I interact with regularly are either American or Canadian. I have two or three UK based bloggers but we live at opposite ends of our little island. Blogging has opened up an interesting world, glimpsing into the lives of some lovely people; I’ve met artists, farmers, teachers and writers online which has been enriching and inspiring. The only low I can think of is that blogging is addictive: I should be getting on with other things but there are so many posts that I just don’t want to miss!
Last question..I seem to ask this on most of my interviews…if you had the opportunity to speak to all of your elected officials for 45 minutes to an hour and were assured of their uninterrupted focused attention..what would you talk about? What would you say to them?
Ha! Given the freedom of my own soapbox, I’d shower our Secretary of State for Education and his lackeys with a tirade of reasons why they are not doing their job properly. Education in the UK at the moment is at an all time low. Teacher morale is at rock bottom as they tussle with an ever changing, impossible curriculum which is only schooling our kids, not educating them. Performance related pay has been introduced which puts even more pressure on our staff which in turn puts more pressure on our children. There are figures available that tell us that more and more young people are struggling with mental health issues. Why the government can’t seem to make the connection is beyond me. It’s not rocket science.
Well, that’s a rap. If you have a question for Jenny, don’t hesitate to ask and be sure to stop by her blog here. :-)DM