For all the publicity about the renovation of Reigate Priory Park through Heritage Lottery Funding of £4.2 million plus more millions from local businesses, I have always maintained that a DVD would be an ideal way of recording the process and the outcome.
So it was a great treat this Christmas to see the new DVD sponsored by the Borough Council and Legal & General. It features some key historical elements since the 12th century, as well as the ancient woodland deerpark, medieval fishponds - now the lake, wild flowers, Victorian-style herbaceous borders and numerous magnificent tree specimens.
Those of us interested in nature conservation might be astonished by the attention to regulations when it came to the demolition of the old air raid shelter with its one resident bat. Similarly with the draining and dredging of the lake, one single duck nest had to be protected by giving it a wide berth of several metres.
The silliest story in my opinion, though, is about the fully grown terrapin that is an unwelcome resident of Reigate Priory Park lake - certainly not a genuine heritage feature and according to Surrey Biodiversity Partnership, actually 'a serious threat to our wetland fauna'. Project manager Nina Porter explained that she had heard about the terrapin before, she had seen it herself and it was a menace, eating fish and ducklings. I wonder if it had been properly listed in the paperwork as a living creature that should be moved to a new and more suitable home, if the opportunity presented itself.
Well, now we know that there was indeed a perfect opportunity, but failure of communication with a naive contract worker.
Suffice it to say that, after all that hard work and financial outlay, the overgrown and unwanted exotic pet still lurks there. Yes, Reigate's Rogue of a Reptile was taking a stroll across the grass when it was spotted by a workman, picked up and ushered back into that beautiful, tranquil and ancient lake, where it remains to this day. Watch out - he or she has grown to the size of a dinner plate.
Now how about a Reward for anyone else who finds it again?