What do mushrooms and pandas have to do with it?
A few days ago we crammed ourselves into a minibus and headed off for a whistle stop tour of Surrey for our away day(s).
Our first stop was Heather Farm, a chance to catch up with an old project. Between 2010 and 2015 we worked with the Horsell Common Preservation Society to turn a disused mushroom factory into a wetland nature reserve. Habitat creation was completed at the site in 2014 so this was a great opportunity to see how the habitats had developed. The lake, ponds and marshes were looking great with Mute Swans, Moorhens and Little Grebes already setting up home despite the ongoing construction at the site as they put finishing touches on office buildings, workshops and a cafe ahead of a grand opening planned for next year.
Our second stop was a short hop away as we visited the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) new headquarters in Woking. Known as the “Living Planet Centre”, their new headquarters is one of the greenest buildings in the UK and features a host of innovative features with solar panels, rainwater harvesting and windows designed to maximise natural light in the building. Open plan offices are combined with a range of meeting rooms, including the large Sir Peter Scott Project Room, to create a collaborative working space for around 300 people! Oh, and don’t miss their (spooky!) Panda sculpture with 100 pandas that turn round to face you as you walk past it! It really is an inspirational building and well worth a visit if you find yourself in Woking.
After a night of driving mini-buses down woodland trails and an ale or two we all loaded up for one last stop – the RHS gardens at Wisley House, where we were shown around by former London Wetland Centre Manager, Stephanie Fudge. The world-class Wisley garden in Woking attracts around 1 million visitors a year and has a whole host of different gardens, orchards and attractions. It was really interesting to take a walk on the horticultural side and have the opportunity to look around such a large visitor attraction.
All in all, a great time was had by everyone. Here’s looking forward to next year’s!