Friday, December 9, 2016

More from T Blog....

Okay, quite a bit going on in Tonbridge at the moment. You can read all about the opening of the new M&S Food Hall on the front page of the Courier today. Really! Is that really front page news? It's only the same as Lidl but in expensive looking packaging you know! Then there's the new pubs about to open: Mojo's is being rebadged as a tapas bar apparently, Fuggles will open sometime in 2017, I'm told that this will be once Mr. Bonner has sold all his furniture from the existing shop! Meanwhile The Gatehouse has pipped them both to the post by opening up well in time for Christmas as a craft beer pub. Well, sort of anyway. In truth it's more like a rebranded Slug and Lettuce, complete with sports screen, fruit machines etc. with craft beer knobs on. They obviously ran out of money when it came to the signage outside the pub as it's faded and shabby looking after only a couple of weeks! I haven't been in there yet preferring to occasionally frequent Ye Olde Chequers Inn for my post work pint. I'm afraid that the new owners, despite their best efforts I'm sure, don't appear to have lifted the place all that much. The décor is still pretty drab inside, you still get stared at by the regulars propping up the bar as you walk in and there's still no food, except if you count the very tasty kettle crisps. Cheese n onion being my personal fave. Thankfully though the Tribute Ale is every bit as well kept and beautiful.
My new years resolution will be to blog at least once a week btw. So we'll see how that goes along with the street photos to be taken on my new camera....

Friday, November 25, 2016

Tonbridge Police Station...

Walking past Tonbridge Police Station about 8-30pm last night I couldn't help but notice that there was a huge mound of dog shit right outside the, by then closed, station entrance. Whilst tutting to myself at the blatant disrespect that this filthy act showed I then noticed that the "Kent Police" sign post had a large wet patch at its base. In fact, by the looks of things, so many dogs, and probably humans, had pissed up against this that the metal has corroded. Yes these are wanton acts of disrespect and vandalism, not to mention unhealthy, but I can't help wondering if these mindless idiots would be so free with theirs and their dogs toilet habits if the boys in blue bothered to keep the Police Station desk manned 24/7 instead of closing about tea time. Someone ought to let them know that quite a lot of crime happens at night! Discuss....

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

14 Walks: Walk #3....

Apples are a regular feature throughout the walk. (We never scrumped any officer!)
There are some open stretches across windswept fields
The Tonbridge Civic Society very thoughtfully published a book called 14 Walks some years back. Not surprisingly, as the title suggests, there are indeed 14 walks in the booklet. I say booklet but actually it's more of a plastic wallet with loose sheets inside. Each sheet has a walk with description and a small map to guide you throughout. Every so often these instructions need updating and this was the task which myself and Mrs. Tonbridgeblog had agreed to do. The walks range from about one mile to 8 miles. We chose walk number 3 because we thought, since we're relatively young and fit, we could handle a 7-mile stroll without too much sweat! I must say though that this walk seemed more like a 10 miler although that could just be that either we're out of practice or, more likely, that we had to keep stopping to annotate the walk guide instructions. This walk starts at Hartlake Bridge, takes you on through the orchards of Hadlow Place Farm, on to Steers Places, Style Place and along the Medway and back to the start point. Essentially you are walking in a big loop around Hadlow Tower, which is never far from view. Anyways, enough of all this spiel, here's some pictures to give you a flavour of the walk.

Hadlow tower is nearly always in sight and a good landmark
PS. You can buy 14 Walks from Mr. Books and it's only three quid. £3 for all 14 walks, come on this is a bargain. Alternatively, you can download the app for free. (Yeah right!)

Lots of Oast houses making typical Kent scenes

This is Bourne Mill which looks idyllic on a sunny day

You'll see plenty of these around Hadlow stables especially

Back at the river. East Lock on the Medway

Under Hartlake Bridge and back to where we started the walk
Ideally take an OS map with you though. Especially when the new edition comes out with all our garbled new instructions!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Summer has gone but thanks for the tenner!...

Well, that's it then, summer is definitely over now. The Met Office declare it over at the end of August but that's just for admin purposes. I've always thought of the end of the summer season to be the middle of September on the 15th. There is no doubt though, apparently, that it is, by all measures, over after the equinox which was on the 22nd (or was it the 21st?) Either way that's it. All we have to look forward to now are ever darker evenings, cold weather, soup for lunch, porridge for breakfast, stews for dinner and an overall feeling of doom and gloom until next spring. No wonder Christmas is in the middle of it all or I doubt whether any of us could cope! On a brighter note someone has just donated £10 to Tonbridgeblog by clicking the Paypal button opposite. Either they've just won the jackpot on the lottery (in which case actually ten quid is a bit mean mate!) or they were at least mildly impressed with the content here. Now the rest of you don't go feeling pressurized/obliged to follow suit will you!! 

PS. I do promise to remember my camera one of these days so that I can post some quality photos from around the Tonbridge which, frankly, will be easier than trying think of words to write! I'm aware that I made this promise some time back but, then, the town is over a thousand years old, so it'll keep a few more days/weeks won't it....

Thursday, September 8, 2016

If only sunsets were like this in Tonbridge....

The view from my balcony on holiday in Cornwall

All go for Fuggles Beer Cafe....

Fuggles have the go ahead. By all accounts it is now public knowledge that they have been granted planning permission for what is currently Bonners furniture shop. But will they also have competition close by at Ye Olde Chequers Inn? According to the Landlord and Lady someone will be taking over from them in the not too distant future. If it's who the rumour mill is telling me it is then it'll be another great place to have in the town centre. I said that Tonbridge had great potential when I moved here. It's just that it's taken 27 years for others to realise it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fuggles coming to Tonbridge??

If the rumours are true, and they appear to be, the old Bonner's building near Church Lane is to become a Fuggles Beer, Wine, Whiskey and Gin Café. I'm informed that you are not required to drink them all on the same night although, thinking about it, it might be quite fun trying. I've never been to their bar, sorry Beer Café, in Tunbridge Wells but, if their pop-up at the Old Fire Station is anything to go by, then Tonbridge is in for a right treat. I love craft beers so I'll be like a pig in doo-dah. They have a choice of around a 100 different ones on a good night. Just down the road from Mr. Books as well. Talk about temptation! If culture is more your thing then there's the new art gallery, Artspring, right next door. Not sure when the café is opening but the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned....

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Roadworks update....

...why are most drivers still ignoring the 20mph speed limit along Tonbridge High Street? Are the signs clear enough? Tonbridgeblog suggests maybe not!...


...and the much anticipated pictures of the town, taken with my new and fabulous camera will follow at some point but, in the mean time, here's a close up shot of a vintage Brooks saddle which is part of my restoration "project" of a 1970s Holdsworth Les West with Reynolds 531 steel frame (for all you cycling fans out there Les West was a top British cyclist in the 1960s, 1970s and early 80s.) There you go, I knew you'd be interested! Anyway that's how I've been filling what little spare time I get. How about you??..

Slade School saying goodbye to Mrs. Resch....

Here she is, after 17 years service to the town, the community and the school as Head Teacher at Slade Primary School, Vivienne, yes I can finally feel comfortable calling her that instead of Mrs. Resch, was working hard at the recent Slade summer fete, held on their magnificent fields at the back of the school. Of course the sad thing was that this was her very last fete in charge. No news yet on her replacement but she is a hard act to follow that's for sure. I for one will miss her and wish her a very long and adventurous retirement. Although I must say she does seem awfully young to be retiring. Only in her early 40s at most surely?!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Photos of Tonbridge....

I've bought myself a new camera so watch this space for quirky snaps of Tonbridge street scenes. In the meantime here's an old one....

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Roadworks Update....

They're nearly finished. Only took 'em 8 months!...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Roadworks update....

A little birdie has told Tonbridgeblog that the High Street won't now be fully "regenerated" until at least the end of May. So I calculate that it'll be seven, perhaps even eight months since they started by the time the diggers finally go away. Is this acceptable? What can we do about it? Will the Highways authorities, and the borough council be coughing up to compensate the shop keepers who've been effected by this shambles? Yeah, good luck with that one! You can't help thinking that, if this had been a busy street in London, they'd have got the job done inside a week or two by employing an army of road workers and working around the clock....

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New newspaper for Tonbridge. What do we think??..

I see Tonbridge finally has a new newspaper. The Courier probably had it coming to them as they seem more and more Tunbridge Wells centric since they quit their Tonbridge offices a few years back. Difficult to keep an ear to the ground from five miles away! Anyway up steps the Times of Tonbridge, a new free weekly to give them a run for their money. Personally I doubt whether a freebie will ever take over from a paid for due to the psychology involved: if you pay for something you are going to read it whereas a freebie is likely to be glanced at and then cast aside much more quickly. That said let's see what happens. The first issue looks quite fresh and bright, it's also noticeably wider than most tabloids, including the Courier. Maybe they did that to differentiate the two but it does seem oddly wide in your hands. There's a tendency with freebie papers to cram the publication full of advertisements, advertorials and sponsorships and this one seems to be no exception. Always difficult to take a paper seriously when the whole back page is an advertisement (in this case for some up-market bedroom furniture company.) Everyone expects the sports news to be there but there isn't any. The newspaper group already publishes the Times of Tunbridge Wells, presumably successfully enough to enable them to launch the Tonbridge edition so they should know what they're doing. However, being based down the road in our sister town, will they be able to devote enough resources to make our edition any less Wells focussed than the Courier? Again, on the evidence of the first issue at least, it looks highly unlikely that they will. But, who knows? Time, or should that be Times,  will tell! It's a bold move launching any in-print newspaper or magazine at the moment what with the current mad dash for digital media and the cost savings therein, so good luck to them. Judging by the first issue though I'd say that the executives over at the Kent and Sussex Courier, with the resources of Northcliffe Newspapers behind them, won't be quaking in their boots just yet....

P'd Off with the P Off again....

The Post Office are at it again. No amount of customer friendly counter can prepare you for the outrage of being charged over ten quid for 0.087 of a kg of parcel. That's 87 grams I'm talking about. How is this possible? I can sense some of you thinking. Well here's how. A UK parcel weighing up to 2kg costs a very reasonable £2.80 BUT my package was 2.087 kg (a heavy book) with the cheapest charge being £12.93 for Parcelforce. Normal 2nd class would have been even more! You would think for all the world that the PO would have another tiered rate for, say 3kg/4kg etc. but that seems far too logical for them. The result I had no option but to cough up (short of opening up the envelope and tearing out some of the pages of the book to get it below the dreaded 2kg mark. But even my mercenary tendencies wouldn't go quite that far!) Mind you, looking on the bright side, £12.93 is still cheaper than taking the parcel up to Warwickshire myself! Unless I walked or cycled there of course, which might still be quicker than Parcelforce come to think of it!! (Now you've just gone too far with that last bit, Ed.)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bakehouse at 124: £2.30? For a Pain au Chocolat. How can they justify that?...

A few mornings a week I tend to grab a free coffee from Waitrose on my way in to Mr. Books. Sometimes I also grab a sandwich for later and very occasionally a pastry for breakfast if I didn't have time at home. Today though, although I'd had no breakfast, I thought I'd give The Bakehouse at 124 a go. After all we are neighbours in the Tonbridge Business community so why not. Being honest, and being a bit of a skinflint, I do find their prices a little off putting. £2.30 for a pain au chocolat against 85p in Waitrose seems a little on the steep side. Nevertheless I thought I'd treat myself to a fresh baked one from a local bakery. When I'd finally set up the books outside my shop and turned the computer on ready to start the day I could finally settle down to eat my breakfast which was sitting on my desk enticing me by this time. What happened next I'm not making up.

After two or three mouthfuls I realised that by comparing a Waitrose pain au chocolat with the Bakehouse one was like trying to compare a burger from McDonalds with one made my Jamie Oliver. The difference between driving a Ford Focus on the M25 with the experience of driving a  Ferrari Testarossa into Monte Carlo! With every bite I was transported back to a holiday in France as a twenty year old with my girlfriend (now wife I hasten to add) sitting in a water front café in St. Malo, watching the waves lap up to the harbour walls. Every mouthful a buttery, sweet, chocolaty delight to my youthful taste buds. Tasting breakfast properly for the first time in my life. Bakehouse at 124 this morning helped me to relive those moments.
Now, if that's not worth £2.30 I don't know what is!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tonbridge High Street Regeneration update....

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Never have so many done so little for so few!...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Do it yourself....

B&Q is closing down. It's official. The huge advertising van parked outside Mr. Books as I type gives this away. "Everything must go!" That chilling phrase which means we must all rush down there for those massive bargains. I don't know: a drill with an old style battery for a tenner? A split open bag of nails for 3 pence? Some plastic stacking for the garage storage you've put off for the last seven years? The possibilities are endless! Does any one actually have the time for DIY any more? I tend to call a handy man these days otherwise I just never get around to it. Mind you have you tried pinning down a tradesman (not literally you understand) these days? You'd almost be better off, well, doing it yourself!

Poetry at the Fire Station...

Tickets for Roundel Poetry Night at the Old Fire Station in Castle Street on Wedns March 16th are now on sale at Mr. Books, 142 High Street, Tonbridge.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Don't panic! Girl who told lies burns to death! Poetry night at the Old Fire Station

Pop up restaurants, celebrity chefs, beer cafes, pop up car showroom and now this. Here's a poem I should read out at the event which is to be held at the Old Fire Station on March 16th 7-30. Limited to about 50 tickets so hurry this always sells out.

Matilda Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the Telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London's Noble Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the Gallant Band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow.
With Courage high and Hearts a-glow,
They galloped, roaring through the Town,
'Matilda's House is Burning Down!'
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;
And took Peculiar Pains to Souse
The Pictures up and down the House,
Until Matilda's Aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed;
And even then she had to pay
To get the Men to go away,     
It happened that a few Weeks later
Her Aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that Interesting Play
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her Niece
To hear this Entertaining Piece:
A Deprivation Just and Wise
To Punish her for Telling Lies.
That Night a Fire did break out--
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To People passing in the Street--
(The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence) -- but all in vain!
For every time she shouted 'Fire!'
They only answered 'Little Liar!'
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

Are we all doomed? Don't Panic!

This is the third flood warning that I've seen this winter and I'm going to look pretty foolish if villages are effected like they were two years ago. Surely though this is just the Environment Agency playing safe after they (allegedly) cocked it up at Christmas Eve 2013. So are they right to issue these warnings or is it alarmist, scare mongering even, unless it's a real danger of serious damage to the towns and villages?? Here's the official warning from the EA which came to me via a Tonbridge Civic Society bulletin:

A Flood Alert has been issued by the Environment Agency for the Middle River Medway Area. 

Flooding is possible for the The River Medway from Penshurst to Hampstead Lock at Yalding, including the Leigh Barrier Flood Storage Reservoir, the Ensfield Road, Tonbridge, Paddock Wood, the Hop Farm, East Peckham, Branbridges and Hale Street  . 

Low lying land and roads will be affected first.

Be prepared to protect yourself, family, pets and property.

No flood warnings are currently in force

Heavy rain overnight and through the day has led to high levels on the upper Medway. Outflows from the Leigh flood storage area will peak between ten pm and 4am on Thursday morning. We will not need to use the flood storage area as no properties are at risk of flooding and flows are not high enough.

Around East Peckham and Yalding the river levels have been dropped for routine inspections so will have appeared to have been very low recently.

We continue to monitor the situation and will update messages as required. The current forecast is for light showers which will be followed by more persistent rain on Saturday

- Prepare a flood kit including a torch, batteries, mobile phone, warm clothes, water, food and any prescription medicines you may need.

- Avoid walking, cycling or driving through flood water.

- Farmers should consider moving livestock and equipment away from areas likely to flood.

- Keep an eye on local water levels and weather conditions.  Visit the Environment Agency website for river level and flooding information.

- Call Floodline on 0345 988 1188 using quickdial 012641 for up-to-date flooding information.


Environment Agency
Kent and South London Flood Resilience Team
Orchard House, Endeavour Park, Addington
Kent, ME19 5SH
Telephone Floodline on: 0345 988 1188

Friday, January 8, 2016


Well, it's that time of year when all the newspapers talk about how few calories we should all be consuming, or how many miles we should be walking, cycling and running. Time to join a step/spin/aqua aerobics class perhaps? The latest thing to hit the headlines is a little old hat but here goes: we shouldn't be drinking any alcohol at all if we know what's good for us. The trouble is I'm not sure that anyone does know what's good for us; so mixed are the recommendations from the various health organisations. Half a pint of Guinness a day used to be good for boosting your iron deficiencies when pregnant so it was claimed (probably by Guinness!) Then it was a well known fact that a glass of red wine was good for the heart and circulation. Until this week that is. Now it's being claimed that this was, after all, an old wives' tale and that it's now true that the only good alcohol is in fact NO ALCOHOL. So what are we to believe. 14 units a week, a day? Save them all up across the year and blow them all on New Years Eve?! It's such a mess all this Nannystatism that no one knows whether to eat a Mars Bar, followed by a bacon sandwich a day or just munch on a raw onion. Nothing a day equals certain death within a few weeks so I'm sticking with good old common sense, whatever that is!
All this brain ache and a bout of this winter virus which has been going around (probably as a result of mild weather, wet weather, cold weather, too many late nights or too much bacon) is enough to make me want to break open that Christmas bottle of malt whiskey which, up to now, I've been too frightened to touch....

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

And here's a much older pic of Tonbridge. Circa 1260 AD

A bit of Tonbridge History in photos...

This is well worth a look. It's not often that you see photos from the 1960s of the High Street but here you'll be able to see many of the shops which older folk will no doubt reminisce over. Who remembers Macfisheries where Peacocks is now? Why were there so many Wool shops? There's a Singer sowing machine shop and you can see the demolished areas where there used to be The Angel Hotel and the Tudor Houses up to the river near the Chequers Inn. A gentleman by the name of Bill Warner has given the Tonbridge Historical Society access to some of the hundreds of photos he took during the 1960s and 70s and the result is an wonderful new archive which the whole town can now share. Take a look for yourselves. Comments welcome as always....

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More on Grammar skool anexations....

Charles Moore of the Telegraph has been listening in on the conversation of Tonbridge school children. Maybe I should explain that comment before his lawyers contact me! He says as much in his most recent comment piece in the paper. Actually he was extremely positive about the level of discussion coming out of the (often loud) mouths of the school children of our town. Charles lives in East Sussex and, so he says, is a regular commuter through Tonbridge but he's actually using the daily scene of the mele of school boys and girls as a lead in to the real point he makes which is that he thinks that the growth of grammar schools should be encouraged. He goes on to say in his column that we should be celebrating inequalities rather than trying to equalize everything in our society and particularly in education. Some may not be at all that surprised by Mr. Moore's point of view given that he is Margaret Thatcher's official biographer, chosen by the lady herself no less, but I happen to think that he maybe has a point. At least grammar schools give less well off children a good fighting chance of becoming upwardly mobile. Unless all grammars and all private schools countrywide were to be abolished, which is highly unlikely in the next hundred years, we will go on having unequal opportunity; so why fight that fact by trying to impose idealistic principles in education policy? Which just makes all this business with Weald of Kent School having to call the recently approved new Sevenoaks grammar school an "annexe" rather absurd. Let there be more grammars in all counties and not just in Kent and a few others. So long as comprehensives maintain their own standards where the harm in it?...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tonbridge Mayor dresses up as Fireman Owen!...

There are some fab piccies of the Old Fire Station launch party on the Kent Messenger web site accompanying their feature in this week's paper. Have a butchers

New Grama Skool....

Great news about the Weald of Kent "annex" in Sevenoaks which now means that our neighbouring town gets its own state grammar school as has been widely reported in the national press today. This should mean that hundreds or school kids from Sevenoaks don't have to trek to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells every day which can be a 25 mile round trip. That's a lot of wasted time and a lot of extra traffic on the clogged up roads. It's also great news for the primary school children of Tonbridge who also might just stand a better chance of gaining a place at a grammar school in their home town, as it should be. So why are many dead against the concept of new grammars when anyone can see the benefits when they are closely effected by it? Something to do with equal education for all perhaps. Fabulous idea, lift everyone up to the same standard and all that. Does it work in practice though? I would suggest that it doesn't; at least not unless there's a complete change of ideology at Government level. I believe that some Scandinavian, for example, countries have achieved this. Anyone have a view they'd like to share on this topic?...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Update on Old Fire Station Launch....

Mr. Books alter ego?
Fuggles are in town for a week or two. Apparently I had quite a good time at the launch party held last week at the first of the pop ups at the Old Fire Station! I can highly recommend The Kernel, a wickedly deceptive light tasting beer which is actually 6.8% abv so I'd drink it by the half pint if I were you. If malt whiskey is your thing they do have a nice range of malts including this one, The Classic Laddie, which I thought particularly suited my mood that night! Fuggles also brought along their delicious range from Chapel Down vinyards, as enjoyed by Kate and Wills at the royal wedding breakfast so it was reported. You can read much more about it in the Tonbridge Town Crier on the My Shout page. In the meantime Fuggles will be there this week from Thursday to Saturday from 4pm till late.... 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Town Centre "Regeneration" Update....

How's that regeneration of the High Street coming on? Tonbridge blog has only heard people moaning on about how inconvenient it is having to drive around the back on the town centre or how much trade they're losing as a result. So it would be nice to hear if anyone approves of them or thinks that the upheaval will be worth it. Comments please....

Slade Primary's new building....

Drawbridge to Main entrance!

Wearing the Slade badge with pride!
Anyone seen what's been going on at Slade School? The picture shows their magnificent new building which was a semi derelict old building right next door which the school bought so that they could expand and modernise. And what a great job they've done with it. Now they have state of the art classrooms for the Year 5 and Y6 boys and girls which they can be right proud of. Having had a tour round them, courtesy of Head Teacher Mrs. Vivienne Resch, I can tell you first hand that they quite superb. They just need someone famous, maybe even local and famous, to come and officially open it for them. Ideas anyone??
State of the art classrooms
A window on the world for the children?
(Photos by Izzy R)

Old Fire Station....

Camera shy new owner Richard Collins
Anyone seen what's been happening at the Old Fire Station in Castle Street, Tonbridge? Watch out for pop up restaurants, shops, bars etc.In fact I'm toddling off to the press launch this very afternoon to find out more. What I'm really interested in of course though is the free food and champagne!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Shop closures in Tonbridge....

We've all read about Perfect Platters closing down after about ten years trading super size sandwiches next to the Police Station, and the shop unit, which was formerly the insurance brokers, has lay vacant for quite some time; but I'm also hearing other bad news for the South end of town. A reliable source tells me that Graham's hairdressers is about to shut it's doors for the last time, the guitar shop is thinking the same way and even the cop shop itself is rumoured to be closing in about three years time. Don't arrest me for suggesting the last one but that's what Tonbridgeblog has heard on the grapevine. How it would be possible to effectively police the town without a proper station is beyond me. Mind you they already close at 8pm for the evening which also defies all logic to me so I suppose illogical decisions happen all the time. Perhaps the police chiefs in their ivory towers have worked out a way of keeping all crime in the daytime by asking burglars to politely refrain from their activities after dark! I digress, because we were talking about shop closures weren't we.
On top of the recent closure of Homebase, I also hear that B&Q are closing soon enough. Now you'd think that, in the absence of the local completion, the DIY chain'd be raking it in (no pun intended!) but apparently not. By all accounts the store is screwed! (Pun definitely intended!) Even Halfords, it is rumoured, are also considering wheeling away from our fair town. I for one will be devastated if this happens as I am a frequent visitor to the bike hut there and find the staff incredibly helpful on all matters bikey. On the bright side though we are getting a drive through McDonalds so we can all console ourselves by sitting on our backsides in the Drive Thru and going large!

Friday, August 21, 2015

"Regeneration" of Tonbridge High Street....

Now that Tonbridge High Street is being ripped apart has anyone changed their views on the pavement widening/"regeneration" scheme. I just hope the results are worth all this turmoil. But what does everyone else think?? Did the town centre even need "regenerating?"

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Coming for to Carry me Home the SIBA Beer Festival....

It's very unusual for me these days but this morning I am feeling somewhat hung over. For last night I had to taste around twenty different beers. All in the name of science you understand! At the SIBA South East Beer Festival there were actually around 150 real ales and ciders, from more than fifty breweries, to choose from. So you could even argue that I was a little reserved in only trying twenty! The event is still going on as I write so there's still time for you ale fans out there to get round to the rugby club on The Slade. Leave the car at home because you will be tempted to try out lots of different beers and some are wickedly moreish and a bit on the strong side. Last night there were at least a couple of hundred people (mostly men it has to be said) in and spilling out of a large marquee about fifty yards long and lined with barrels, three deep. The organisation of this festival seems to get better every year. One of the Tonbridge Juddians, who run the bar, advised that I only try about six tasters before deciding which one to commit to and supp. I'm afraid that I didn't take heed of this advice but elected instead to try as many as I fancied before eventually saying enough! These were my faves:

Top of the list has to be Flack Manor Brewery's Flack Catcher which is described in the blurb as golden ale, honey citrus aroma, zesty marmalade taste. That about sums it up for you did get a tang of all of those flavours. Absolute nectar I'd say.

Others were Hedge Hop by Flack Manor again, Plateau by Burning Sky Brewery; Thirty Three by Brighton Bier; N7 and N1 were proving very popular from Hammerton Brewery. So much so that the N1 ran out. Hopdaemon always manage to impress and this year I enjoyed a taste of Golden Braid and Incubus. Our very own Tonbridge Brewery again pulled off a beaut with Union Pale, somewhat stronger than the ones I usually favour but this was really lovely in all its golden, grapefruity, biscuitiness.

I love some of the cheeky and macho names of these ales like Hopspur, Naked Ladies and Iron Duke but was surprised to see that there aren't many real rugger bugger type ones. So I've suggested a few of my own. I've already applied for the trade marks so no copy cats please!

Sweet Chariot should be one for definite; then there could be Zulu Warrior and of course the stronger version Zulu Chief and then the most potent of all Carry Me Home!...

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Say OXI to Gatwick expansion!

It was interesting reading some of the letters in last weekend's Courier newspaper about the opposition to expansion of Gatwick Airport. I for one have definitely noticed that the air traffic seems to have increased considerably over Tonbridge in recent years. As I lay in bed last night about 11-30, an early night for me, I heard at least six aircraft fly over low enough to be a sound nuisance by any sensible measure. Could this have been that they were all stacking up to get in before a midnight curfew? Possibly. But the fact remains that it has become a problem for the area.
The loudest voices in the local paper last week were those who lived in villages such as Hever who have, according to them, had more than their fair share due to the narrowing of the flight paths being a condition of the proposed second run way (still a strong possibility by all accounts, despite the knock back that Gatwick had with last week's decision.) This operational strategy seems sensible at first glance but not so much if you happen to be one of those houses right on the narrow flight path. For them I can only imagine it to be a bit of a nightmare and that's putting it mildly. Say you'd bought a dream house in the country 30 years ago and now you can't sit in your garden for more than four minutes without another super sonic jet coming in low for its landing approach. Not much fun and who'd want to buy that house when the time comes to sell up? So it's already a big problem for many and it effects the rest of us greatly as well. If the expansion goes ahead we might as well all move to Crawley! Actually Oxi to that, thanks.
One more thing as well. I do still have one burning question which must be resolved quickly: How the heck do you pronounce Oxi anyway?!

Comments please.....

What's happening in Tonbridge?

Well the Carnival went well enough. No pictures this year but if you scroll down for previous years they'll be much the same! Anyway, lots happening in Tonbridge at the moment. Summer has acumen in as they nearly say. I'm twittering/tweeting a fair bit and leaving posts on various newspaper web sites and still writing the My Shout page in the Tonbridge Town Crier magazine but, I do admit, I've ran out of steam a bit on this blog. Perhaps I need a holiday in Cornwall (other counties and countries are available) to recharge me batteries.
The window displays at Mr. Books continue to be praised by many passers by. We have a Teddy Bears picnic and summer garden scene at the moment if you haven't seen it. The Tonbridge Through Ten Centuries book continues to sell well and has been a great stimulus to trade in general for the shop. I wish the Historical Society would bring one out every month and then I wouldn't have to do anything else. 600 sold to date by Mr. Books and about 1,500 sold in total at the last count. At a tenner a pop, as the Americans say, you do the math!
I've been keeping fit largely by cycling and have been rediscovering the beautiful Kent countryside hereabouts. I even managed to cycle up Toys Hill a couple of weeks back. Okay it's not quite the Alps but have a go and you'll soon find out how your lungs are tightened.
Our new MP, Mr Tugenhat, almost unprompted, has offered to come to the shop for a brief visit and photo session which can only help business, unless of course you happen to be a Labour or Liberal supporter and the it might put you off. I'm happy to be a Tory supporter even if it's only for about ten minutes! He seems like a nice clean cut sort of chap, in fact I quite like the cut of his jib, and after all he does represent all of us including those in Tonbridge who didn't vote for him.
Always happy to hear views and comments especially from new readers....

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Join the Carnival....

It's back and bigger than ever. It's the Tonbridge Carnival this Sunday 12-30 onwards...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tonbridge Half Marathon

I took part in this four years ago when it first started. Trained from being able to do the odd gentle jog to regular 8 miler training runs and then the event itself. Takes alot of effort and dedication to do it properly. But I'm nearly 15 stones. Hard to believe seeing me yes I know! If you need a summer fitness challenge, a goal to aim for this could be just the right timing. Give it a try it'll give you a new lease of life (if it doesn't kill you first that is!) Here's the circular I've just received promoting this year's Half marathon

Tonbridge Lions Club and Tonbridge Rotary Club are staging the 5th Tonbridge Half Marathon at the fantastic West Kent College. In addition to some of the best facilities of any half marathon in the country, a finishers medal and a goody bag, runners will also receive a technical t-shirt – all this and the price is UNCHANGED from last year – only £20 or £18 if you are an affiliated runner!! AMAZING!

The undulating course is on traffic-free lanes through beautiful countryside around Tonbridge and Leigh. Last year the event raised over £16,000 for the charities we supported and the runners themselves raised an estimated £50,000 in sponsorship for more than 45 of their own charities.

You can enter online via our website. If you have any queries, please contact me on

Join us this year and help to make it an even more successful event.
If you’ve already entered, please spread the word and encourage others to enter.

Good luck with your training.


I was thinking of going to the farmers market last weekend but I couldn't be bothered. Thought I might try that new Bakehouse at 124 High St. it sells artisan bread and does nice coffee and tea so I'm told. But you know what I couldn't be bothered. Its the Slade School summer fete next Saturday I think. Might go along if I can be bothered. Might go to browse a bookshop or two one lunch time but it's alot of effort to be bothered. There's that play on at the Oast Theatre, been meaning to go out to see more live entertainment, have a few laughs. Can I be bothered though? Was going to write a letter to the local paper because it annoys me seeing all those Kent Highways department signs in the High Street, you know the ones where they keep congratulating themselves for laying down new tarmac on the roads, so basically doing their jobs then. Might not bother though as I don't want to make a fuss.

People of Tonbridge. BE BOVVERRED

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Post your summer events below...

What other events can we look forward to this summer? Slade School's summer fete is always one not to miss in the centre of town. Then there's the Tonbridge Summer carnival and festival, Dragon boats I'm told will be back complete with music from Haiwai 5-0 (Why??!) I think the SIBA Beer and Cider Festival will be coming back again in July. There's another weekend of musical delights at the Castle and there's sure to be lots more. Post them below....

Bakehouse @ 124 opening tonight....

There's a new café and artisan bakery (what's one of them? Ed.) called, quite appropriately, The Bakehouse at 124, which is at 124 High Street, opening in Tonbridge tonight and I'm invited to the grand opening. You know how it is, me, the Mayor of Tonbridge, the new MP, Tom to his mates, and a few other select folk from the glitter and literati of the town. All of us tucking in to that lovely fluffy bread and hopefully necking one or two glasses of fizz. I don't want to sound ungrateful but I do hope that there are at least some tasty canapés being handed out as well. A man cannot live on bread and wine alone you know! Mind you they better get a move on as the new café still looked half finished when I looked in earlier this week. I think there will have been a flurry of activity this week to get it ready for tonight. It'll be a bit like one of those DIY programs where Handy Andy and his team work like crazy to some appropriately fast tempo music and put up the final shelf at exactly the moment the Mayor walks in!  Good luck to them because it's gonna be tough going in this big bad world of retail you're letting yourselves in for...

What not to wear at the school prom!

I just posted this about dress codes at school proms after having read this article in the Telegraph about a Canadian girl being given detention for wearing an "inappropriate" dress, which was full length but showed off her upper arms, back and shoulders (and tattoo.) As the school prom season is upon us in Tonbridge I thought that I'd share my comment. I'm sure it may provoke some similar and totally opposite views from some of you:

This is what I wrote:
"If the dress codes are anything like as stringent as they are at my daughter's school then surely going to the prom and other events is a chance to let rip. I do wish schools would butt out, to use a great Americanism, when it comes to what especially the over 16s can wear in or out of school. Someone's idea of "appropriate" is always wildly different from someone else's. So let the young adults, for that's what they are, decide for themselves. Teenagers have, and always will, want to shock us boring grown ups and long let it be so!..."

Saturday, May 9, 2015

More people didn't vote Conservative than voted for them in Tonbridge and Malling....

So our new MP, Tom Tugenhat, as expected, comfortably took the seat of Tonbridge and Malling which also, btw, includes Edenbridge, where, incidentally, I used to play golf when I first moved to this area. But that's by the by! His victory was pretty emphatic which sort of half rhymes with Tugenhatic, which is also by the by.
Enough of this nonsense and let's analyse those figures in a little more detail shall we. His party, The Conservatives, polled 31,887 which was 59.1% of the votes. The other parties, between them, polled less than that at 21,783 or 40.6% of the vote. So that's pretty emphatic isn't it? But what about the ones who didn't vote? These will be a mixture young people who didn't register to vote in time, people who couldn't make it to the polling station and, of course, people who just couldn't be bothered, a whole host of reasons. The turn out was 73.8% which is generally considered high. That said in the recent Scottish Independence referendum the turn out was about 95% so, you see, it is possible for more people to vote when they really feel it counts. Maybe Russell Brand had a point afterall! So, taking the ones eligible to vote who didn't bother into account the picture looks different again. The 24.2% of voters who didn't exercise their democratic right for whatever reason represent 12,988 people. Are you keeping up with me? So if we add those to the non-Tory voters that's actually 34,771 people. So, in fact, more people who were eligible to vote didn't vote for Mr. Tugenhat than voted for him and he needs to remember that.
I'm now off to munch, a cry into, my tripe and black pudding sandwiches again!...

Tom Tugenhat's web site....

Here's a link to our new MP for Tonbridge, Malling and, let's not forget, Edenbridge ,Tom Tugenhat's web site. Let's hope he carries out what he said he would do. We're all counting on you mate whether or not we voted for you. Tom's web site

Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 Election results for Tonbridge

That's a huge majority of 23,734 from the next nearest candidate and Labour did even worse. The lib Dems? Let's not even go there. Blimey though what a turn up for the books the whole thing was. People have been telling me this morning how they've been predicting the whole thing. Funny how no one mentioned it before and that they could see into the future better than the professional opinion pollsters isn't it!
Feeling like a disenfranchised northerner marooned in the leafy south east, I guess I'll toddle off home any minute for me tea of tripe and black pudding sandwiches! If the Missus is home we might watch a bit of telly if we've enough money for the lecky meter. Here's the result in full:

Tonbridge and Malling

  • Tom Tugendhat (Con) 31,887
  • Rob Izzard (Ukip) 8,153
  • Claire Leigh (Lab) 7,604
  • Mary Varrall (Lib Dem) 3,660
  • Howard Porter (Green) 2,366

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A spot of twitching and a pint....

Here's a post which might appeal to a certain regular commenter on this blog. Lovely summer's evening last night so my wife and I went out for a drive out to Bough Beech Reservoir. There's a "hide" there where you can view Herons, Coot's, ducks, geese, Kingfishers. If you've never been I'd recommend a trip and, particularly, at sunset. Very peaceful. Obviously that's not the bit which might appeal to the regular, let's just call him PB. We then drove on to a place which I would never have known was there called The Greyhound, at Charcot, which is a curious little hamlet, set back off the main road, near Chiddingstone Causeway. The pub, and I think the rest of the village, had a power cut and it was starting to get dark so we sat outside on a rickety wooden picnic bench at the front. Fortunately the pumps weren't effected by the cut so I sampled the Tonbridge Brewery Coppernob which was very welcome and perfectly passable to my untrained palate. The landlord seemed quite a friendly host and we noticed that there was a reasonably priced menu so we could well go back. I'd heard that the Fleur de Lis at Leigh had been recently refurbished, and it was on our way back home, so it seemed natural to go there for another half pint (I'm driving remember.) Turns out that it's a Greene King pub so the beer selection was quite limited but decent enough. The Landlady allowed us to sample the beers before committing to our choice of Golden Speckled Hen which to me also seemed perfectly passable. They were serving food and the menu didn't look half bad. The interior décor was a little too squeaky clean for my tastes but my wife loved it and it was clear that they'd spent a pretty penny on the place. We were told that the exterior has been promised an upgrade also to make it look more appealing. We'll definitely be back there as this looks like the hosts really mean business and want the place to succeed. It's an easy bike ride to Leigh and not that far to walk from Tonbridge which always helps if you fancy more than one drink. We'll be experimenting with other establishments over the summer so watch this space and, landlords I cannot be bribed by free pints and meals into writing good things about your boozers. Not a chance. Homemade cheeseburger, chips and sticky toffee pudding, three pints of Coppernob and a small Glenmorangie chaser? That'll do nicely!...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Make your mind up time....

Made your mind up on who to vote for in the general election yet? The 2015 election is tipped to be one of the closest fought ever and this particular floating voter is yet to make up his mind. Even five years ago Sir John Stanley's replacement, Tom Tugenhat, would have been a shoe-in as the Tory candidate. But are things so certain any more? Only today it's been reported that a UKIP supporter has donated £30,000 to help the local candidate in a rather bizarre revenge swipe (something to do with Tom T's father, who is a High Court judge, passing judgement on the businessman over some middle east deal.) The details aren't that important as much as the way the election, even for Tonbridge and Malling constituency, cannot be taken for granted. Five years ago the Conservative vote was way out in front of Liberal Democrats in second place and, in third Labour. That order at least is likely to be dramatically changed this time around. Will UKIP maybe even split the Tory vote and allow a more even contest? Does any of it matter? Did you know that Joey Essex, of TOWIE fame, thought that Nick Clegg's party was called the Liberal DemoCATS not crats! I wish I was joking but it does at least demonstrate how disengaged from politics particularly younger people are. It's less than a month away so let's hear some comments unless of course you think politics as a subject should be avoided along with religion....

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Developments, new MP and birthdays....

Yes I know nothing new is going on this blog very often these days. Is it inertia? Lack of interest, fewer comments indicating that readers are more interested in twitter, facebook, snapchat and, for all I know tinder and grinder (not that I have a clue what they all are) I have to feel motivated enough by a topic to get the urge to write about it and at the moment that's for sure. The big story of the moment is still, without doubt, the success of the new Tonbridge Through Ten Centuries History book. It's about to be reprinted because of its huge success; the first print run of 1,000 having sold out within the first month since publication. Mr. Books alone has sold around 250 in that time. There are of course many developments being built or at the planning stage such as the one next to Waitrose and the Cannon Lane waterside one. I heard a rumour only yesterday that the River Centre is to be pulled down and another development is to be put up there. There's also the huge housing development on the old Siemens site near the Porsche dealership. Oh, and apparently there's a general election coming up so Tonbridge is to have a new MP after the retirement of Sir John after 41 years of serving the town.

PS. As some of you may have read in the Courier, Mr. Books shop was 10 last week and here's a picture to prove it!
Cake to celebrate Mr. Books 10th Birthday now part of window display
supplied by An Enchanted Cake of Two, Barden Rd.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What's new in Tonbridge?

Topics for discussion:

New Tonbridge History book. The Historical Soc have pulled off a blinder!

Candy Inc sweet shop opened next to McDonalds. Good thing?

Café in old Moss Bros clothing shop next to Chequers Inn about to open. Good for North end of town?

The Town Team are in the news a lot with their loyalty scheme and views about the developments in the town. But do they speak for us all?

Millets probably relocating to card shop premises on corner of arcade. Thought they were closing altogether which would've been a shame or maybe an opportunity for some entrepreneur, whichever way you look at it.

Roundel Poetry night at Rose and Crown sells out again which says a lot about the power of poems. Or does it?

I've got a new bike and have discovered places around and about that I never knew existed....

Like I said. Discuss....