Friday, December 15, 2017

A few pics from my new base in NE Lincs..

Snowy scenes in the village
Moon over the houses

Wood for the fire. It's nippy up north!

Chopping logs is the new hobby!

Sealed with a loving kiss...

Here's a photo of a seal and its pup at Donna Nook, which is a lovely place this time of year, on the NE Lincs coast. The seals think that it's an ideal place to come out of the sea for breeding. In fact, so we learnt, over 2,000 pups have been born there in the last six weeks or so. A great day out for all the (seal) family and not bad for us humans as well!..

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Life in the country!

I'm now living in exile in North East Lincolnshire in a small village. Whether the quiet eventually drives me insane remains to be seen. At the moment I'm enjoying an idyllic existence. Feeling refreshed and raring to go after a whole month off work. The longest holiday I've had in over 13 years! Keep posting your comments and please do support your local independent bookshop wherever you are. I'll probably post a few pictures from my new base here before, gradually, fading in absolute obscurity and the memory of my Tonbridge existence and the footprints I left there being all but swept away....

Saturday, July 15, 2017

12 years, 3 months, 4 weeks, two days....

That's it then. The last day in Mr. Books is almost half over as I write. Lots more on Twitter about this for anyone interested. I'll be leaving the town in less than a week after 28 years but, for now, I'm savouring the moment of spending my last few hours in the shop. There will be a new Mr. Books, starting tomorrow in fact. How's that for a seamless handover! I'll let him announce himself when he's ready. I may continue with the odd post in exile but, for now, it's goodbye from Mr. Books and goodbye from me....

Saturday, June 3, 2017


And now the news you've all been dreading.... Tonbridgeblog will be moving up north very shortly. By the end of July for good and in dribs and drabs in between. The blog may continue as Tonbridgeblog in exile or something like that. Maybe I'll start a Tonbridge Wicked Whispers Blog revealing all the secrets many customers have told me over the years! Actually I'm probably not that cruel, or am I?!
The shop is almost sold but not quite, so we'll see what happens on that front over the next few weeks. It's been nice knowing some of you and it's always good to get comments however harsh and cutting some of them can be. I hope life treats you well and I'm sure some of you will be joining me up north before too long. Especially after the Corbyn revolution as none of you will be able afford to live in the south east when you're paying 90% income tax! Au revoir...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Out and about with camera....

This curious fellow I met in Chiddingstone didn't have a lot to say for himself!

Funny who you meet out in the countryside!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Any rooms at the Bug hotel?!

I bought one of these at the Tonbridge Farmers Market from a chap who claimed that it was made entirely from recycled materials and that it would be crawling with bugs of all kinds within weeks, they'd make it their home. A bug hotel as it were. Well, after about eight months of being on my garden fence more or less undisturbed, by humans at least, all I can say is that the only evidence of insect life are the cobwebs coating the "rooms" of the hotel. And, as any fool knows, spiders aren't even insects! Although, I suppose, most people would still call them bugs!

Very cheap rates at the "Bug Hotel"

Tonbridgeblog out with camera....

Sounds like the title of an old fashioned book!

The view from Chiddingstone Castle. Imagine sitting here for breakfast every morning!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

And my shot of the day....

Taken at Bough Beech Reservoir visitor centre....

Nice landing Mr. Blue tit!
Chaffinch? Someone help me out with identifying this colourful beauty

Out and about around Tonbridge....

The bluebells were quite striking out around Bough Beech Reservoir yesterday....

Bluebell wood...
Everywhere you look there's bluebells

Out and about around Tonbridge....

Out for a drive yesterday with my camera. Here's a couple for you....

St George flag proudly flying over Chiddingstone Castle

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Some interest in Mr. Books but time is running out!...

Nice piece in the Courier last Friday with one of my favourite photos of me of all time I think. The snapper did a great job in capturing me, surrounded by books. Almost as if he was reaching into my very soul (surely that's going too far... don't you mean sole? Ed.) Lovely comments by our MP, Tom Tugenhat as well. I must give him that tenner!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Mr. Books Bookshop is For Sale as a going concern....

Sorry to drop this bombshell on you all this morning my loyal Tonbridgeblog die hard readers who've stuck with me through thick and thin. Let's face it, of late, it's been very thin! Yes I'm off back to my roots in NE Lincolnshire near the sea which I've missed all these years. I will be around for some months yet though so don't despair too much for now. More on the move as it unfolds but, in the meantime my thoughts are turning to what to do with the Bookshop. The lease is up quite soon so my choices seem to be: do I renew the lease in order to then assign it to a new owner at a later date. Sounds risky ish to me. So what are my other options? Well one would be to just walk away from the business I've build up for almost exactly 12 years. I really don't want to do this and would love to see the bookshop carry on with a new owner who has lots of fresh ideas so that they can put their own spin on it. Then there's a third way: I could just continue to own the shop business and employ a manager. It's all very exciting but scary at the same time.....

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A train leaving Tonbridge Station towards Dover most probably...

Okay not the most exciting photo but some people like trains and I was on the railway bridge when it went under so....

Friday, February 17, 2017

Reflections of Tonbridge....

The Medway from the Town Bridge
The river can look quite stunning from the bridge early in the morning on the right day. Here it was recently as still as a mill pond....

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Picture(s) of the day/week....

This shop unit on the railway bridge has seen better days. Next door isn't doing much better. Dodle turned out to be, well, anything but and it's probably many businesses ago since this was the Discount Mini Market. Shopkeepers take the advice of someone who has made the mistake of opening a shop away from the main drag. However cheap the rent is you'll end up regretting it. Anyway, from a purely photographic point of view I really like this shot because it shows a bit of imperfection, faded glory and history. All summed up in one washed out façade. Ahh yes the power of pictures!...

Lovely row of boarded up shops. The first thing many visitors see at the gateway to the town

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Burns Night at Tonbridge Auld Fire Station....

Last night I had the great honour of saying grace, addressing the haggis, and reading, nae performing, some Robbie Burns poetry at the Auld Fire Station. Not once did anyone mention the obvious joke about burns at a fire station. At least they'd have been able to put it out quickly!
If you've never been to a Burns supper then you should take the opportunity as they are increasingly common even as far south of the Border as Kent. Chef Russell, of Kitchen of Kent,did us proud with a four course meal of Scottish fayre. What a feast it was with the highlight, of course, being the Haggis & neeps. The "great chieftain of the puddin' race" was ceremoniously carried in by the chef on a silver tray and I, an unworthy Sassanach surely, was given the honour of addressing it and hacking it wi' a knife. Whilst this would have almost certainly been a lynching offence in Glasgow I really did give it my best shot and hopefully would've made even the great man, Robert Burns, himself proud. I have a confession though as I did cheat a little by performing a hybrid of the real version and the Anglicised translation. I think I just about got away with it even among the kilt-wearing, diehard Scots of which there were several present. For one night only I thoroughly enjoyed being Markie McBooks. You can tak' ma books but you'll never tak' ma freedom! Ladies and Gentleman, both Scots and Sassanachs: The Haggis!

Addressing the Haggis (Markie McBooks Version!)

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
And cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm reekin, rich!

Then spoon for spoon, the stretch and strive:
Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
Till all their well swollen bellies by-and-by
Are bent like drums;
Then old guidman, most like to burst,
Be-thank-it hums.

Is there that over his French ragout,
Or olio that would sicken a sow,
Or fricassee would make her spew
Wi' perfect scunner,
Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On such a dinner?

Poor devil! see him over his trash,
As feeble as a withered rush,
His thin legs a good whip-lash,
His fist a nut;
Through bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit.

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his ample fist a blade,
He'll make it whistle;
And legs, and arms, and heads will sned
Like taps o' thistle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her grateful prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Let's have more sculptures like this one around Tonbridge....

Without wishing to go all arty on you all, I love the way the morning sun accentuates the colours in this glass sculpture at the entrance to Botany captured, if I say so myself, quite perfectly in this photo taken last week. It'd be great to see more sculptures around the town such as on the roundabouts as you enter Tonbridge. Guy Portelli are you reading this??Suggestions please....

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tonbridge Picture of the day....

See if you can guess the time of day this photo was taken!...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Judd School Head retiring....

I hear that Robert Masters, Head of Judd School for many years is stepping down. According to a report in the Kent and Sussex Courier recently he seems to have gone soft in his old age as well. The school, it would seem, has relaxed its policy of chucking out poorly performing sixth formers when they don't make the grade in their AS-level exams as many other schools still do, often leaving them high and dry with very little option of where to study next. What an old softy eh! What next? Will they start allowing more students who pass the Kent Test/11+ who live in the town of Tonbridge to attend the only boys grammar in the town? Don't be ridiculous. Now that would be just going too far wouldn't it?..

The new performance area?

Happy New Year everyone. Being a bookshop owner I'm naturally drawn to the arts in general. In particular it would be good to see more live art in the town. Could we utilize the central library for this? Or even this space in the heart of the High Street? I'm not sure what the street planners were thinking of when they built this little cluster of benches but they seem perfect for use as a small performance area. Almost like a mini Covent Garden! Poetry, street dancing, book readings, acoustic guitar players, folk singers and more. It's be great to see in that little corner of Botany....

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Edible Reindeer? What next?!..

Enjoyed a lovely seasonal biscuit from Bakehouse at 124. An edible reindeer. Get your teeth stuck into one!

Merry Christmas to one and all in Tonbridge and beyond...

See if you can spot TBlog during BBC This Week's TWelfie sequence. If you don't know it this is the Andrew Neil hosted late night political show which I'm a regular viewer of. Don't blink or you'll miss me!

— BBC This Week (@bbcthisweek) December 16, 2016

If the link to the video doesn't work then don't blame me. What do you think I am an IT technician or something! Anyway have a great Christmas everyone. I promise way more posts (and pictures) in the New Year...

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?...