Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beer Festival a Success.....




I hear that the SIBA Beer Festival, held in a large marquee at the back of the TJs Rugby Club, went down a storm. Fortunately, for once, not literally! The club have been unlucky of late with the winter festival having been called off in February due to the Christmas flooding and subsequent severe damage to the club house. Two years ago the summer festival was cancelled at late notice due to heavy rain and flooding of the festival location. I understand from a reliable source that there were about seven trillion pints swilled, er, or should that be tasted and sampled, I myself went along on the Friday night and downed several halves of some lovely tastey ales and ciders. Oh I pretended that I was some sort of an expert as I asked for small samples and swirled it round in my special half pint festival glass, as I "nosed it" and swished it (that's another technical term) against my pallet. But, when it boils down to it, I've found you either like it or you don't. I did like most of the ones I tried (full report later) and, on the whole found that, pale summer ales were very palletable but anything over about 6% wasn't.  Long may this event continue it is, without doubt, the high spot of my beer drinking year

Nothing is not an option....

I met Tom Tugenhat  at a so-called "networking evening" earlier this week which was being hosted at Martin & Co. letting agents, on Tonbridge High Street. I can't say that I got to know him at all well but, from the brief conversation we had he seemed okay to me. Not much of an accolade for anyone is it but that really is all I can say at this stage. He didn't grab my attention with his dynamism, nor did he fill the room with his presence. Maybe that's a good thing in a politician though. As I suggested to him in not so many words, he is a virtual shoe-in for the parliamentary seat of Tonbridge and Malling (following the retirement of the erstwhile Sir John Stanley btw, if you haven't kept up with local events.) I suggested to him that, in a way, he'd be better off doing nothing for the next year rather that risk tripping himself up by getting drunk at a networking evening or something (not that I'm suggesting he did get drunk, or even a little tipsy, you understand!) To his credit Tom's reply to that was that he wasn't going to take anything for granted before the general election next May. That, it seems to me, is a sensible and mature approach if he is to win, not only the election, but also the hearts and minds of his electorate. Tom you may not have won my vote. Being brought up by working class Yorkshire parents from the villages around Sheffield it'll probably take more years than I have in this lifetime for me to swing to the Tories. But you certainly persuaded me that you're not the type to sit back and do nothing and, as we all know, in politics Doing Nothing should never be an option. Unfortunately Doing Nothing so often is the option which many a career minded politician takes so that they don't face the axe if the reforming actions come a cropper. I sincerely hope that Tonbridge (and let's not forget, Mallings and Edenbridge) see the best years of Mr. Tugenhat.....

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Micro Pub for Tonbridge?...

A little birdie at the SIBA beer festival being held at TJs Rugby Club this weekend told me that there's a micro pub opening soon in Tonbridge. These little jewels are springing up in many towns up and down the country; they tend to serve well sourced craft beers, ciders and fine wines and are usually small bars so can make use of old shop premises which will keep down overheads when compared with the expenses of running a traditional public house. This is great news if it's true and particularly so for the North end of town which is short of a café style bar. I dare say that they'll do a great trade and, if the craft ales are well chosen, I for one will be a regular customer....

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Beer Weekend starts now....


It's here, it's back and I can't wait. The SIBA Beer Festival starts tonight and goes on till Sunday. So if real ales and ciders is your bag then I suggest you pay them a visit. Where else can you find a hundred or more different locally produced beers and ciders in one place. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY on all three days again and again! Food also available. All they need is to provide beds and you could spend the whole weekend there.... There's more here

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tonbridge Arts Festival is now open....

Lady Mayor, dignitaries, press photographers, passers by, arts fest committee members and me were all out in force to watch the unveiling of the Big Picture down by the Castle wall just now. This marked the official start of the Tonbridge Arts Festival which is on until at least the weekend and probably beyond. (Check websites/programmes for details of events around town.) The mayor gave us a short speech and children from local primary school, Slade, played us an ocarina and orchestral delight. It was quite funny that the Lady Mayor, new in her role, couldn't get her tongue around the word "ocarina" which, btw if you didn't know, is a small stone shaped wind instrument. She may never have to say the word again with any luck! The picture itself was quite amazing close up and depicted a scene of a shot down aircraft during WW1. Pictures to follow naturally....

School Fete....

He shoots...
I do like a good traditional summer fete and, once again, Slade School's fete didn't disappoint on Saturday. I arrived there early because I was hungry and I knew how tasty the burgers were and my gosh it certainly was. This put me in the mood to enjoy the strawberries and cream? no this time they were curiously teamed up with marsh mallows but still very juicy and the Pimms which went down a treat. I couldn't stay for the whole afternoon but it was nice to see such a large turnout, especially in view of the ominous weather forecast which meant that everyone was expecting a right old downpour. I'm still waiting in the forlorn hope that I may have won the barrow of booze, which was a raffle for, quite literally that: a wheel barrow crammed full of bottles of beverages. You even got the barrow as well, and you'd have needed it to wheel it all home or to the car I can tell you! Naturally I had to throw a few balls on the coconut shy and, amazingly, I hit one and off it popped from it's little stand. I shall display it at home as a trophy of my summer of sporting prowess!The penalty shoot out looked like a right old competition with the record being 11 scored on the trot. I could have beaten it of course but decided that the potential for embarrassment should I slip and miss was too great I didn't want to embarrass the poor ten year olds! I was looking forward to seeing some of the demonstrations of dancing and martial arts in the centre stage but, alas I was dragged away by other commitments. I'm reliably informed that the whole day went extremely well and was a great success for the school and the PTA....
He scores.... I think!


Yum yum. There's a lot of hard thought (and eating) going on at the cake tasting!
The burger meisters were there even if the Mayor wasn't! 
This young lad's not shy!


Please don't whack me Miss!

Mr. Books is having a book art attack!

Words and pictures leaping from the page!

Mr. Books window display is a little different from the usual kitchen set or murder scene. This time it is BOOK ART. The children from the Slade Primary School, our most local school, aided and abetted by Lorena from the Art Trolley, who run art workshops, have put together a marvellous installation which I was happy to give display space to. (In fact I might even have paid to have it in there it's so good, but keep quite on that one!) Words and pictures are, quite literally, leaping off the pages. Come and have a look for yourselves....
Lorena from The Art Trolley with friend (and stepladder!) get to work


Stunning book art!

Come and look at Mr. Books, 142 High Street

Slade children play the festival....

Hello Tonbridge! Okay, doesn't quite have the same ring to it as "Hello Glastonbury!" but don't forget that the Tonbridge Arts Festival officially starts today with the unveiling of the Big Picture down at the Castle wall, by the river, at 4pm. I shall be there to listen to the Slade School children's mini re-enactment of their Guinness World Record breaking ocarina performance. Not sure which tune they'll be playing but I'll be there to find out. Let's hope it's nothing by Metallica!! See more here

Friday, June 27, 2014

Family fun at the Slade School fete tomorrow....

I'm quite sure that none of you missed the summer carnival and fete last weekend. But, if some of you did then fear not as the Slade Primary School Summer Fete is tomorrow (Saturday) at (citation needed!) o'clock until (another citation needed) It's really worth the effort as they never fail to put on a really great event. I'll be straight over to that burger stall and for desert it'll almost certainly be strawberries and cream, then maybe a tiny morsel of Battenberg from the cake stall. I might have a go at the penalty shoot out and dream of what it would be like to take a penalty in the World Cup Final (I have that in common with the England players, they can only dream as well!) Then there's the mini army assault course (okay, maybe I'm a bit old for that one.) Anyway you should go it'll be great traditional fun.....

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Wells have dried up....

Oh Deary me, I hear that the waters in Tunbridge Wells have finally dried up after over 400 years or more. It could be a temporary thing but, let's face it, who will miss them. If the Pantiles tourist people are that bothered all they have to do is attach a hidden hose pipe near the opening of the well covers, serve a cup full and sprinkle on iron filings to taste. Believe me the tourists won't know the difference! As anyone who has "taken the waters" will tell you they do taste absolutely disgusting. I'm not making this up you know....

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Floating in mid air, in Covent Garden he was....


Anyone like to have a go at explaining this one. Is Yoda using the force?!

Carnival in flaming June....

Not very 1960s but timeless anyway!
Selfies are all the rage!
Well, I went along to the Tonbridge Carnival. It was a hot day and great fun by the looks of it for all those taking part. The theme was the 1960s and there were many great interpretations of The Beatles, Mods and Rockers, London buses, scooters, flower power you name it. Here are a few of the many pictures taken on the day....
Bang those base drums boys


Very colourful

Almost certainly an E-Type


The Tonbridge Nepalese Community are rocking at the Carnival

What Sixties themed Carnival would be complete without the iconic mini?

We are the Mods, we are the Mods....



Weren't buses red?

And who could forget the Twirlers!

Flower Power! and, Wow! she's way off the ground


Vegetable rights and peace man!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Come on let's join the Carnival....

Don't forget that tomorrow is the Tonbridge Carnival. Can't wait to see all those stalls and floats. Hope the mad sod who dressed as the Crazy Frog, sitting on a missile, one year is there to entertain us. And let's not forget those twirlers!! I'm looking forward to it and, of course, Mr. Books will be open to join in the festival fun....


Friday, June 13, 2014

Tonbridge Taster Day could take place alongside the carnival....


Shame to see the report in today's Courier that the Tonbridge Taster Day will not happen this year. Their spokesman is not promising anything for next year but hopes that it will become a bi-annual event. TonbridgeBlog is of the opinion that, although the day was a great success last year that the organisers should not have, as was suspected at the time, blown their budget in one go. Moreover, what is wrong with the idea of doubling up with the Tonbridge Carnival which is taking place on June 22nd. Year after year this event is superbly organised and marshalled (by the Tonbridge Lions) and I'm sure that they would welcome additional support from the Tonbridge Town Team, if they have and money left that is. Everyone would be a winner and especially the good people of Tonbridge, which surely is the main point after all....

Dragon Boats on the Medway....

Good to see that the Dragon Boat races are set to make a return to Tonbridge this summer. Not sure what Tonbridge's historical connection with China is but it'll be great fun anyway. I have offered my services this year for any team with the desire to lift the trophy!...

Beer and Pub Grub in Tonbridge??

A customer in Mr. Books just asked me if I, or anyone else, can recommend a decent pub to take a bunch of older folk for a beer and a bit of pub grub. The snag though is one of them is a vegetarian, none of them want to drive anywhere and they don't want to walk too far. Basically it boils down to the centre of town or the outer rim of the town centre. I mentioned the P&J (which no longer does food so I'm told so that's out) Wetherspoons (not quite smart enough) Ivy House (a strong possibility) Anyone got any suggestions, especially you Paul Bailey? What about the George and Dragon? Nice pub, decent pint; but do they do decent grub?? Surely these lovely people won't have to resort to hopping on a bus to Tunbridge Wells will they?!..

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Any fool can be "in love".....

A customer in Mr. Books just asked if I could recommend a passage in a book for a wedding speech. A bit like that passage from Corinthians 13 which I've read once or twice, most recently at my niece's wedding last summer, it must summarise the very nature of this thing we call love. I think that this passage from Captain Corelli's Mandolin takes a bit of beating:

 From Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.

And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being "in love" which any fool can do.Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Is Tonbridge Cottgae Hospital now safe....

The new Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, seems to be saying that the organisation will reverse the trend of cottage hospitals so that communities are better served. He says in a Telegraph report today that countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA have been showing us the way with smaller hospitals successfully helping to serve their local communities. Let's hope that this is good news for the campaign to save Tonbridge Cottage hospital. Long serving Tonbridge MP, Sir John Stanley, to give him his dues, has fought a long hard battle to save it from closure. It would be a great legacy for him if the hospital is saved for the next few generations

Help write TonbridgeBlog....

To keep TonbridgeBlog more vibrant and alive why not contribute yourself. This can be done, as many already do, by simply leaving short comments against any of the posts below. Better still send in longer posts and, provided they look decent, local and relevant, they'll be published on the blog. So come on let's all see some creative writing, poetry, incisive comment or even just a good old moan. It couldn't be easier to get yourselves heard. Post it in comments and I'll do the rest.....

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Election fever hits Tonbridge....


TonbridgeBlog doesn't often do politics but it does seem very topical this week.
I hope everyone was able to exercise their democratic right and got out to vote on Thursday. You had from 7am until 10pm to cast you vote so, let's face it, you all had every opportunity. But what did you vote? It was only for the European elections after all. Not even the local council elections were held in Tonbridge. When the results come in on Sunday, if the council elections in the rest of the country are anything to go by, the country is in for another shock of the UKIP variety. If it isn't sending out a message to the main parties that people are fed up with the main parties and that the country is being led by a London centric elite then I don't know what will. It's going to interesting from now until the general election to see what happens and whether this wave of support will continue to surge into the one that really counts next May. If you're a student of politics, as I once was, these are indeed fascinating times. We've had the first official Coalition since the War, the first ever Liberal Deputy PM, the changing landscape that UKIP has brought, expenses scandals, the potential of permanent hung parliaments, a the real possibility Scottish independence. It's going to be a heck of an ugly fight I reckon. Does Cameron want to go down in history as the PM who lost Scotland and allowed the far right, or at least the well right of centre, party in Britain to gain real power and influence? I very much doubt it. The party machine will fight tooth and nail to avoid both of these happening. That's politics done for at least a month or two for TonbridgeBlog. But what do you all think????

Saturday, May 17, 2014

300,000 thousand visits for TonbridgeBlog....

Just noticed that TonbridgeBlog has gone past 300,000 hits. (In fact it's far more than that because the blog was on a different platform for about two years before its present Google one.) Not sure how many that works out per day or even month or how many unique visitors and all that kind of stuff. All I know is that it does feel as though the site has, over the years, become reasonably popular locally. I can't really ask for much more can I even though Justin Bieber has about 30 zillion followers on twitter for coming out with a load of spillage!... Keep the site going by being an active reader. The odd comment wouldn't go a miss either. You can comment anonymously at the moment but it's much better to have a user name or "handle" as I like to call it. Say anything you like about the Tonbridge, the surrounding area or pretty much anything else. So long as it's legal, moral and decent of course....

Thoughts on appeasement of Putin....

Readers who like frivolous gossip about the soaps and celebrity cooking shows look away now for we're getting a bit political and serious. You see I do like to read Charles Moore's piece in the Saturday Torygraph. (I did even before he did a book signing in Mr. Books Bookshop, honest) This week he seems in particularly fine, and somewhat controversial, form. Stopping short of calling for us to take up arms against a belligerent Russia under Vlad Putin, he is certainly calling for a tougher stance. See the full article here There are always hundreds of comments under Mr. Moore's pieces and sometimes I feel like adding my twopenn'oth  This is what I said today:

"If the price of European/world peace is some Ukranian soil them so be it. What would you do Mr. Moore if you were in a prominent government position? Have a military stand off? Or might it be wiser to be pragmatic and try to control the situation as, largely, is happening. There are times when it's absolutely right to stand up to dictators but I'm not sure that time is now. If Russia invades a German of French speaking state then that would be totally different. But, realistically, it's not quite the time for us in Britain to sharpen the garden spades and pick up the pitch forks just yet!....

Friday, May 16, 2014

Smelling is believing....

I see it's been reported that Drytec has finally agreed to do something about the nasty pen and ink that drifts across Tonbridge Town from time to time polluting our nostrils. I'll believe it when I smell it!....

Great local businesses #4 Bespoke Home Improvements....

A special thanks to Chris at Bespoke Property Improvements on Quarry Hill Parade. I asked him about garage doors and, although they don't actually do them, he was extremely helpful by advising me what he knew about them and a recommended supplier and fitter. Now I ask you would you get that level of service from Anglian windows and the like? I very much doubt it. Give me a good Tonbridge, local based business any day of the week. In fact they were so helpful that I've asked them to quote for replacing two windows also, which again they were glad to assist with. Contrast that with Anglian who have plagued me on and off for about 8 years now and seem satisfied only if all the windows in the house are made of plastic not just the two that I want to be....

PS. Good luck in the Tonbridge Half Marathon in September Chris at Bespoke. I might even be joining you!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A thought about passport applications....

At the main Post Office in Tonbridge you can renew your driving licence over the counter in a special, space age booth which takes your photo and checks your details. You even sign it there and then electronically on a light pad which sends it to the DVLA. They then post you a new licence, presumably having doubled checked all the details. If it works for driver's licences then what's wrong with extending it to passports. I dare say that not every passport application or renewal could be done in a similar fashion but I'd have thought that about 95% of them could be. So why not save us all the hassle and worry of having to do everything the old fashioned, and very slow, way?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Get Some In Dame Kelly Style!...


The Legend of Saint Kelly and her Olympic Torch
I see Dame Kelly Holmes is in the news today for wanting to bring back national service! In her guest editing slot on Radio Four's Woman's Hour she advocated that young people would benefit from doing National Service because it would "...instil a sense of responsibility and discipline in them..." and help them to "...find themselves." Whilst this might well be true Dame Kelly Tonbridge Blog can't help thinking that this would be a little bit of a step too far. The double gold medal winning middle distance athlete and local heroine recalled her own time in the army and feels it helped her enormously in her own life and sports career. Great for you Kelly but is it right for everyone? In any case, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that woman have EVER been required to do national service so why would many of them want to start now?...
Kelly sits up top during Tonbridge Carnival (ok it's quite an old picture but the only one I had!)

Arts Festival should be a winner this year....


Wow I like the look of the Tonbridge Arts Festival web site this year. Massive improvement on previous year's. I appears that they may well have put everything in place for a really decent event this year. It runs from July 1st to 6th across the town. I've made some negative comments about in the past, and I still think that the rehashed music nights on the Castle lawn are a bit cheesy and old hat, maybe that's just me, but let's hope all goes smoothly. So long as they support less popular events such as art exhibitions, local band night and poetry then I guess that's the best we can all expect. I really hope it all goes without a hitch and look out for Slade Primary School opening the whole thing at the unveiling of the Big Picture on the Castle wall with their mini re-enactment of the Guinness World Record for ocarina playing! They performed with over 3,000 other children at the Royal Albert Hall late last year for the actual record breaking so I'm sure they won't be at all daunted but the gentle folk of Tonbridge....

P Off at it again....

I know. It's been a while since my last post on here. But there we go. Not sure who's reading this anyway anymore since the rise and rise of Twitter etc why would anyone bother?! You see I've been busy, up to me neck in it actually. What with running the shop, attending book fairs, doing PR work, writing magazine articles, sorting out my new storage units, clearing out books from people's houses etc. etc. And that's just Monday mornings! So, bearing in mind how busy I've been, imagine my glee at having to wait over 20 minutes at the good old Angel Walk post office to have my passport renewal checked over. I filled out the form online so as to save time and hopefully avoid any problems. Simple process. Or so they make out. Having waited what seemed like an age in the new non-queue  space age system that they must have spent tens of thousands on, where only chaos seemed the order of the day, with a toddler squealing in my ear as the father got more and more agitated at his uncontrollable, inquisitive son (bless him he was probably excited at the prospect of meeting friendly Postman Pat) I finally get to the counter to be told by a very miserable looking Postwoman Patricia that, because said passport form had been filled out online, they couldn't check it even if I paid the £8 charge. Their system, it seems, would have completely broken down, exploded probably, if they had tried to process my application. I realise that this was partly me getting my wires crossed but the P Off really does have to sort out it's act otherwise it might be more than toddlers screaming at the tops of their voices....

Friday, April 4, 2014

What's the Plan B for Tonbridge Town Centre?....

Lots in the Courier today about the Sainsbury's bombshell dropped earlier in the week as they pulled out of the, so called, "Sainsbridge" regeneration store, leisure centre and cinema project at the advanced stages. It was an outrage according to council officials and many townsfolk. That said the reports also suggested that the views of quite a few shoppers, businesses and passers by up and down the town weren't all that in favour of the development to start with. Some seemed to be suggesting that the project would have caused years of disruption and much loss of trade as a result and that the high street might well stand to benefit from the shift in focus away from the Angel area. Either way the borough council has the headache now of finding a Plan B, and pretty damned sharpish....

RIP the Selfie?...


Selfies have taken the internet world by storm in recent months but, apparently, now they've become very boring.. They've always been for self important people who feel the constant desire to see themselves published on websites, blogs and social networking sites. The type of people who just need to have their views aired and cannot bear to be just anonymous and get on with their lives. You know, always seeking approval of their own self righteous views. (What do you mean I've just described myself? What nonsense!) One recent report suggests that selfies have become the digital equivalent of dad dancing! And this from something which only became an official word in the Oxford English Dictionary last November! So is it RIP the selfie?...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Beales to stay in Tonbridge....

As regular commenter Paul Bailey points out in one of his comments against the original post about the Sainsbury's pull out bombshell (scroll down) it looks like Beales department store is to stay in Tonbridge after all. They received a reported £1 million for surrendering their lease to allow for the Sainsbridge scheme so, unless they have to pay it all back, it'll be Freixenet cava all round at the next Beales board meeting. I dare say the staff in Tonbridge will be quite relieved as well. Where else would we all go for that essential Peter Rabbit money box christening present, or my Timberland boxer shorts?!..

A satisfied Mr. Books online customer....

This is a genuine email from a customer for a book sold on the internet from someone who is clearly a real book fanatic. It's always nice to get positive feedback from customers as, due to the nature of us humans, you only tend to hear when someone has a problem or hasn't received something. Or, as "Basil Fawlty would have put it: A satisfied customer, let's have her stuffed!"

" Dear Mr. Richardson,

Thanks so much for the book you sent me by V. Gordon Childe.  It arrived yesterday.  It was quite kind of you to send it airmail, even though I didn't upgrade from surface.  Anyway, I really like the book very much, and was interested to notice the small oval sticker from a bookshop in Cairo.  2nd hand books have such an aura, from the trees from which they are made, from the spirits of the writers which infuse the work, and from their previous owners and the past lives of the books.  Thank you for this beautiful book, which has been well cared for, and for your excellent service.

Sincerely,  Meaghen, USA."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Apologies from Sainsbury's for dropping bombshell on Tonbridge..

After much deliberation, procrastination and, frankly just not answering any phone calls a Sainsbury's spokesperson has finally given TonbridgeBlog a comment on their pulling out of the proposed new store, cinema and leisure development and this is what he had to say:

SOWWY! :-(

Sainsbury's drop a bombshell on Tonbridge....

Well, well well! Who'd have thunk it? Sainsbury's it seems have done the dirty on Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) and it ain't a cruel April Fools joke. Their, much trumpeted new store, combined with a cinema and leisure centre complex on Bradford Street has been canned. It seems to be in the face of "changing retail patterns" by which I think they mean that they've just noticed this new way of shopping called the internet. It took them long enough but they got there in the end! They have now worked out that, instead of a giant hyper market style store in Tonbridge town centre, all they actually need is a couple of nerds and a few computers in a building in a low rent, poor part of Wales and tiny little "Xpress" shops (or is that Tesco?!) on the High Street. So a bit like the Spa shops model of about 40 years ago except now you don't even have to bother to leave your house and order the food, you can just lay around at home in your underpants, watching Jeremy Kyle and Heir Hunters whilst ordering your fruit and veg and cheap baked beans, only bothering to drag on a pair of stained jogging bottoms when the delivery man arrives at your house. Pretty soon they too will be replaced by robots! Anyway, I digress. Sainsbury's have really dropped a bombshell here as Councillor Nicholas Hedgelop will testify. In fact he's jolly hopping mad at the amount of work he and the rest of the council have put in on this. Especially the scheme to build a new leisure centre and cinema on a flood prone street. He is said to have commented that it really wasn't cricket to stop the building of this site which they hoped would, in the next few years, be able to match the flooded swimming pool, football and rugby pitches so that fitness fanatics, and just casual visitors of all standards, plus the unemployed, who can enjoy services at a fraction of the cost of peak time users, who just want to give badminton or underwater table tennis a go without feeling committed, can play sports in a river water themed, relaxed, semi-aquatic environment. Sainsbury's were unavailable for comment except to say that they are really, really, really sorry. They were last seen examining the Iron Age Castle Hill fort site off the A21 which they reckon will be flood free for at least another 2 years and also very handy for that shopping trip to the North Farm estate.....

Saturday, March 29, 2014

P Off Joke....

I hate to start the day with a moan but, waiting 25 minutes at the swanky, newly refurbished Post Office in Angel Walk, when I was running late anyway, really isn't acceptable. They have a "greeter" on the door like it's some sort of conference hotel or something, they have a new take-a-ticket when you walk in system, it all looks lovely, you can sit down while you wait instead of queuing. It all sounds great until you realise that there are still only 3 counters out of 9 staffed. It's Saturday morning for Pete's sake! I feel a little sorry for the staff who seem almost embarrassed about the new "system" so I didn't give them too much of a hard time. If only though, I told them, they'd spent the thousands of pounds that must have coughed up for the refurb, on more staff. It's no laughing matter but it is a joke....

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Pretty Penny Spent....

It's come to something when someone is willing to pay £120,000 for a couple of public loos hasn't it. £120k? Yes that's right. Now that's a pretty penny to spend isn't it! That's, apparently how much the toilets on the Ridgeway and Lambert's Yard went for at auction last week when the council sold them off. What are the developers going to do with them one wonders? Open a WC museum? Or maybe a laboratory (or should that be lavboratory?!) on new flushing mechanisms, or soft wipes? No, I suspect that the answer is somewhat less amusing. It's likely that the Lambert's Yard lav, next to the Scout Hut, will become a retail unit or office; and the Ridgeway bog, which I never knew existed, it's probably very fragrant and ex-directory being at the posh end of town, will be turned into a couple of small dwellings. The passing of the public loo, it seems to me, is a very sad trend indeed. Let's hope that the good visitors to our lovely town aren't caught short before they can get to the loos opposite the Railway Station, which is far enough from Lambert's Yard but, I fear, just unrealistically too far to grimace and hold it in all the way from the Ridgeway. Except of course I've just remembered the sanctuary of the latrines by the Castle. Now there's a relief! At auction? Now they would fetch a pretty penny!

Sorry but I just couldn't resist quoting that famous bit of graffiti which no self respecting public lavatory wall would be without:

Here I sit broken hearted
Paid a penny but only.... (that's enough of that, Ed.)

Pedestrianisation....

The High Street is back to normal and there's been an immediate uplift in trade at Mr. Books. Could just be the weather or Spring being in the air but I reckon it's more than a coincidence....
btw keen observers will note the spelling of "Pedestrianisation" or should that be "Pedestrianization" Look I run a bookshop so surely I can indulge in a little pedantry now and then!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not sure Tonbridge town centre ready for pedestrianization....

So how is everyone enjoying Tonbridge's temporary one way system? I personally have got quite used to it. It's a lot more quite, that's for sure, and it feels less polluted, although I have no proof for that other than not choking so much as I walk along the High Street. Unfortunately what goes with that is that trade in my shop is massively down, which could be the weather, the recession or several other factors but generally when it's this obviously, sudden and dramatic then it's something out of the ordinary and the road works causing the one way system are the only thing I can think of. The only period that I can compare it to was when I had scaffolding outside Mr. Books for about six weeks and suffered a similar fall off in trade. The perception of shoppers seems to be that the town centre is a place to be mostly avoided at the moment if they can help it. So shoppers are maybe waiting for normal road conditions to be restored before shopping in Tonbridge again and, most probably, that means that they are spending their hard earned pounds elsewhere by going to The North Farm, Tunbridge Wells, London or Bluewater.
So to those people who are campaigning for Tonbridge High Street to be pedestrianized Tonbridge Blog says "Hm, not sure."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Doctors Appointments....

Is it my imagination or is it much harder to get a Doctor's appointment these days? The receptionist in my experience, has always been the, sort of, "blocker" when it comes to seeing your family doctor but these days it seems almost impossible. Not that long ago I wanted to see my Doctor about something fairly minor (as it turned out) but it was worrying me alot before I knew that so I deemed it necessary to see him. Now I reckon that I've been to the Doc's, for myself, not counting for children's ailments, maybe six times in the 25 years I've lived in Tonbridge so I'm not exactly a drain on the NHS. So when I was standing at the Doctor's reception ( tact and diplomacy prevents me from naming the practice) asking to see my doctor any Monday in the next month or so I was expecting to just put a date in my diary, perhaps even be seen there and then, or that afternoon maybe. "No." I was told flatly. "Well then, what about next Monday?" I replied. "No we can't do that...." said the receptionist "...we reserve Mondays for appointments made on the day by telephone." By now I'm starting to feel like tearing my hair out whilst calmly explaining that Monday was the day when my shop is closed and that I really didn't mind if the appointment was several weeks hence. "Sorry you'll have to make the appointment by phone, I'm afraid." She was quite adamant. "But I'm standing here now!" Came my last desperate appeal to her sense of reason. All I got was a shrug of the shoulders. Essentially, rather than make the appointment whilst standing right there in front of her, the Doctor's receptionist was telling me I had to go home, and telephone, which, by the way, generally takes ten minutes, minimum, to actually get through to find out if I could get an appointment. There was no online system or email appointments system. I'm not knocking doctors and medical staff but this system just seems farcical. So is it just me? Or a sign of the decline in the NHS?...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to teach blogging to kids....


Slade School have asked me to do a session on blogging for an IT group of children. Do I know anything? Come to think of it, I've never really tried to analyse it before now. I just sort of start writing and either vent my spleen or say something funny, depending on what mood I'm in. Keep it short and funny and eye-catching is my first thought by way of advice. But do I even take heed of my own advice? Why do I want to teach an army of school kids to enter this murky world we call the blogosphere?! I'll do my best for them!...

Body found in Medway....

I saw on the Meridian TV news last night that a body has been found in the Medway at Tonbridge. Sadly it looks like this is that of missing person Kieron Knowlden as this link to Kent Online seems to confirm. It was looking like this would be the case but I'm sure it's still devastating beyond belief for Kieron's family. It's not like Tonbridge Blog to go all sentimental but my heart goes out to them....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hall's Bookshop welcomes Adrian Harrington as new owner....

On Sunday I heard a rumour that the famous Hall's bookshop in Tunbridge Wells has been bought out by an even more famous bookseller. So yesterday, since I was in our upstart daughter town, I went along to Hall's to investigate. As it happens both the current owner and the next owner happened to be there and were able to confirm it. So it is true Hall's is being taken over by Adrian Harrington's, currently of Kensington Church Street in London. Apparently Mr Harrington has been looking to move out of Town for sometime now and one of his key employees also happens to live out T. Wells way. So cut your overheads, move your books over and come and enjoy the life out in the sticks. All seems to make perfect sense to me. I tell you it'll be worth visiting the new Hall's/Adrian Harrington's in a few weeks, once they've set up, just to marvel at the beautiful books they'll have in there. I've visited Harrington's in London, quite recently actually, and some of the individual books on display there would almost certainly be the value of my entire stock. Seeing really is believing. Perhaps Mr. H will want to come along to Mr. Books and stock up on some cheaper books that he'll need for the passing trade he's probably not used to. Perhaps he'll buy me out in, let's say five years time. Asking price about £250,000 or, to him, a set of signed Ian Flemings!....

Hall's Bookshop
Adrian Harrington

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The good old interweb....

Blimey I've been quiet on here of late but don't worry my twitter fingers have been quite active so, if you want to see what's up in Tonbridge you can always take a look there @tonbridgeblog is of course my handle. Is that right "handle" or is it name, or feed or something edgey and internetty perhaps like i-name or e-name?? Anyway have a butchers there.....

Friday, February 28, 2014

Ex Judd School teacher jailed over sex assaults....


A can't see Judd School being all that pleased with some rather unwelcome publicity on the front page of the Courier this weekend. You have to feel sorry for Headmaster, Robert Masters, in having to defend the actions of a PE and history teacher who taught at the school 30 years ago, well before his time there of course. It does serve to highlight though just how vigilant we all need to be still. We all hope that it doesn't happen but keep hearing of these isolated cases from years ago. The sad fact of the matter is that paedophiles are sad and perverted, yes, but often also highly intelligent and manipulative. They prey on the innocent and the vulnerable and don't regard what they are doing as wrong. Often they will seek positions where they are in contact with children on a daily basis and are prepared to bide their time and wait for opportunities where they think they can go undetected. Our awareness of this has of course improved dramatically over the last few years but we must never be fooled into thinking that the problem has gone away....

Horses to Hairdressing.....


Good to read in the Courier just now that K College has been saved from bankruptcy and ruin by, of all institutions, Hadlow Agricultural College. Good on them I say as they appear to do a grand job there by all accounts. But will they do as well with Hairdressing and Health as they do with Horse Management and Horticulture? Let's hope so and that we keep K College, or whatever they end up calling it, on our doorsteps for many years to come. It's a vital education facility in the heart of our community and ever more essential since from now all 16 to 18 year olds, by law, have to be in full time education or training. K College, it seems to me, is a classic example of an organisation which hasn't bitten off more than it could chew. An ambitious expansion plan to encompass other colleges spread across the county, an £80 million new building and, probably worst of all, an expensive, and arguably totally unnecessary, rebranding which opened the senior staff up to criticism and ridicule....

Kent "Freedom" Pass...


Parents of children travelling to school by bus must be disappointed when they see the cost of the, so called Kent Freedom Pass going up and up. When my son used to travel to Tunbridge Wells every day he paid a £50 "admin fee" for the pass. This subsequently rose to £100 and now they are making noises about putting the fee up to £200. It seems difficult to see how "admin" could cost £20 let alone £200. Most of the children using it have little or no choice and probably get no extra benefit other than their journey to school. At one point they were talking about extending the scheme to the young people who would really stand to benefit, the over 16s of sixth form and college age, but I'm not sure what came of that proposal. That would have given that age group real "Freedom." There is an online consultation on this whole subject coming up and you can find out details here  although good luck with that because, as with most local government forums they seem designed to deliberately put you off bothering....

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Some pictures from around Tonbridge....


Even the floods were fun for some!
It's been a heck of a long, wet winter so I thought I'd add some cheer by posting a few pictures. Let's hope that there's a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow!...

 
Spot the 21 Murder weapons at Mr. Books (some more obvious than others)




Organ pipes in the parish church. Well it's different and I just like the shot!
Stained glass window at St. Stephen's church
This brightened up a wet day over Cannon Lane industrial estate recently

Fresh Muffins with Tonbridge Tom....


Tom Tugendhat, the next MP of the Tonbridge and Malling constituency, has very kindly invited me to have breakfast with him at the Hadlow Manor Hotel. Very nice of you Tom but I hardly know you and still have trouble spelling your name, let alone pronouncing it! That said I have, rather cautiously accepted his invitation on the basis that I should be able to trust him. After all, as he points out on the invitation, he is an ex-journalist, PR and Management Consultant, financier and future Member of Parliament and we know how trustworthy they all are! Interestingly he makes no mention of his having served, as I understand it, for many years as a reservist in war zones and the like. Maybe he likes to play that one down and for it just to sit there, as it were, as his ace card! Actually I'm sure that he has invited lots of my fellow Tonbridge business folk so it will be an opportunity for a bit of gossip/opinion gathering and maybe some of that, what do they call it now, networking. 7-30am is a little early for a bookseller though Tom so don't expect to see the best of me and make sure the croissants and muffins are nice and fresh please!...

Lest We Forget....

I'm a historian at heart and, consequently, I'm very much enjoying the various World War One documentaries which are bombarding our TV screens to mark this year of the Centenary (of the start of hostilities) such as Max Hastings insightful programme which was repeated on BBC 2 last night. The causes of WWI are a question on every history student's mind at some point or other and it seems fascinating to me that, all this time later, there is any debate about it. But, as Sir Max points out, indeed there is. Was it merely the shooting of the Arch Duke Ferdinand by the Serbians which then dragged all the others allies to a stand off? Or was it the expansionism of an imperial Germany? Max Hastings asserts that Kaiser Wilhelm was almost certainly suffering from some chronic, psychotic disorder, if not madness, which made him all the more willing to enter into hostilities. I'm sure that historians will still be debating all of this in another 100 years time but, for the rest of us I wish we could forget the whole sorry business after this year. I realise that this is a forlorn hope even though now everyone who took an active part in the Great War is no longer with us to tell the tale. But I for one think that it does us no good to keep dredging up this dark episode in our past. That said it has always fascinated me to think that there are, apparently normal people, walking among us in Tonbridge who carried acts or war beyond the comprehension of most of us. Just imagine for a moment what an veteran of the world wars has seen and done. Has he killed one or many of his enemies? Did he shoot them or even kill them with his bare hands? How can these men then go back to being an upholsterer, mechanic or teacher once they've witnessed anything like that? I hear many a story form visitors to Mr. Books of Japanese camps and falling from the skies having been shot down and they are all fascinating. But my hope is that one day the two World Wars will become such  distant events that they will be talked of only in the same way as the Napoleonic Wars are today....