Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tonbridge 2425 please....


I almost forgot to mention that, again according to my Kelly's Directory for Tonbridge 1950, and again at the risk of sounding Michael Portilloesque, the telephone number for John Greig, bookseller & stationer was Tonbridge 2425 and, no doubt, you had to go through an operator to reach it!...

The circle of books....

Many will remember that 142 High Street, Tonbridge, where Mr. Books Bookshop is now, as Angelique ladies outfitter. Not long ago though, as I've discovered it was Featherstone's a bookshop, stationer and toy shop. In the 1950 Kelly's Directory for the Tonbridge area it was another bookseller called John Greig and the shop went by that name. Next door was Clarke and Coleman chemists (so no change at all there) and the other side, number 144, now the Daily Rice Chinese takeaway was Florence Hubbard who, according to my Kelly's Directory sold "gowns" which I assume to be short for coats and jackets also. At the risk of sounding like Michael Portillo, with his Bradshaw's Guide, I do love all this. It's fascinating to know that I can trace the owners of the businesses where Mr. Books trades back to at least the 1930s and that for most of the time since then the shop has been a booksellers....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Memorial....


I went down to the new War Memorial off Bradford Street yesterday morning on my way in to work. As it was November 11th and the centenary of the start of the Great War it seemed appropriate. I didn't plan this trip but I'm very glad that I went. It was very peaceful there first thing in the morning and the various societies and the council who helped in the design have done a good job in creating a space where you can be alone with your thoughts for a little while. It's years since I last went to see the memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives, and I'm sure the newly cleaned stone walls made it feel that bit more immediate, but I was thinking that one hundred years is no time at all really. Still in living memory for a few; shaping the lives of our grand parents, parents and therefore ourselves. I don't remember noticing them before but there were three soldiers names which stuck out for me. All of them called Richardson, just like me. Names calling out down the generations. Lives lost on a muddy battle field on a misty field far from their homes. Leaving behind them despair and tragedy, hopes and dreams. Dreams of what might have been, could have been, should have been. We'll never know the contribution that some of those lads who had their lives cut so short would have made. I went to John Ray's excellent talk at Tonbridge parish church the other day and, when asked the question, he was in no doubt whatsoever that both world wars were necessary and justified from a British point of view. Seeing those names in cold stone at the war memorial leaves me in serious doubt I have to say....

Sainsbury unlikely to change minds on Tonbridge....

Here's a pic of Sainsbury's in case you didn't know what it looks like!
Here's a link to a piece in today's Telegraph financial pages which goes a long way to explaining why the company pulled the plug on its planned new store and leisure complex for Tonbridge. The company have just announced that it lost over £250m in the year to date. In the light of all this Tonbridgeblog suggests that it is highly, highly unlikely that the retailer will have a change of heart on their store opening in our town. But was Tonbridge unlucky? Or did we perhaps have a lucky escape from the clutches of the evil Lord Sainsbury?!..

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Is Tonbridge bursting at the seams?

The new Courier reporter, Frank Foster, is understandably trying to make his mark on the paper. He is the replacement for Shams Al-Shakarchi who, as a young reporter for around three years, served Tonbridge well. Let's hope that Frank does the job as conscientiously as Shams appeared to and good luck to him. Frank has been phoning around town centre businesses to get a feel for what they think about the new developments in the town centre. Most of these are along the riverside which, after last winter's flooding, brings its own problems, but what about the sheer number of homes being crammed into what is after all quite a small town centre. There's the Medway Wharf area, Botany, next to Waitrose, Cannon Lane and more; blocks of flats seem to be springing up at an increasing rate. Is it better to build here or might it be better to expand a little into the countryside? Will the town centre schools be able to cope? Slade school is expanding with a new classroom and soon a new block but will the other local schools feel the pressure? Will there be enough parking for the inevitable increase in traffic or can people be educated to do without cars and instead walk, cycle or use public transport. For my money I should have thought that it's better to make use of these so-called brown field sites along the river than to leave them, as they were when I moved to the town, as derelict warehouses and factories. Take a look in the Courier on Friday for more on this and sorry to steal your thunder Frank but you are right to say that these are very important questions....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Has Tonbridge blog shot its bolt??

I know that the site hasn't exactly been overactive of late but has Tonbridgeblog shot its bolt quite yet? Probably not. Just looking to be inspired by some juicy local story....

Friday, October 10, 2014

Slowing down in Tonbridge....

The pouring rain in Tonbridge today reminds me of the story one of my more, and I'm sure she wouldn't mind me saying this, quirky customers in Mr. Books told me a little while back. She is a very thoughtful, poetic sort of person and she was observing a family of ducks and how they behaved on a similarly rainy evening. She was so lost in thought and enjoying the moment that she was quite oblivious that she was getting soaked whilst standing there on the bridge. She generally wears a long dress and carries a staff (I did say she's a bit quirky) so she may have looked like one of the characters in  Game of Thrones. Her deep thoughts were broken when a passer by asked her if she was alright as though just looking at the river and marvelling at this simple event was a indication that she was about to launch herself off into the dark waters below! It struck her as rather odd, and me too, that you can't just pause anymore in this busy life and take in its simple beauty. You have to keep moving or you become in some way suspicious....

Friday, September 26, 2014

Moss Bros spooked in Tonbridge....

Moss Bros, the men's outfitters, seem to have closed their doors for the last time in Tonbridge. Their shop next to The Chequers Inn was being cleared out the other day as I walked by so I asked one of the men working in there what was occurring. He simply said that the lease had ran out and that they'd opted not to renew it. By all accounts the decision was swift and they are relocating to Tunbridge Wells. Good opportunity for another business as it is a really lovely building what with its original Tudor beams and all. Apparently a café is being considered as one option but Tonbridge Blog is told that it's early days on that one. That would be a good use of the building I'd have thought. Just so long as customers don't mind the noises from the ghostly presence on the upper floor!...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tonbridge Audi becomes Tunbridge Wells Audi....

Tonbridgeblog is probably a bit slow off the mark here but, driving past the other day, I couldn't help but notice that Tonbridge Audi seemed to distinctly lacking any cars in the showroom. On their website it says that they have "moved" to a purpose built site on, yes you've guessed it, North Farm, Tunbridge Wells. This probably accounts for why they are not sponsoring the Tonbridge Half Marathon this year which, by the way, is this Sunday if anyone wants to go and watch sweating people huffing and puffing as they run on by. Still at least we're getting a new drive thru Maccie D's! That said the North Farm have already got one of those as well. Charming isn't it?!

The best thing that happened to me today in Tonbridge....

Okay, not the usual style of this blog but I'm going to keep this up from time to time and you can blame it on a few positive thinking books which customers at Mr. Books recommended. So the best thing that happened to me in Tonbridge today was:

On my way in to work this morning I was walking over the wooden foot bridge near the Angel Centre towards Waitrose when I was stopped in my tracks by the pure simple beauty of the dappled sunlight, peeking through the trees, reflecting on the water as I looked down the stream. It was a lovely moment of calm in an otherwise fairly hectic day and I stopped for just a few glorious seconds to take it in.

That's mine now let's hear some of yours. I bit of positive thinking won't hurt anyone!....

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tonbridge not to become an independent country (for now at least)

TUDC coat of arms
The good of the people (of Tonbridge) is the supreme law...
So the people of Tonbridge and Kent have voted to stay a part of the UK. They must have figured out that the revenues from the couple of hundred visitors to the Castle and the few remaining apple orchards just wouldn't have been enough to sustain us for the next 300 hundred years. There was a cry of "Oh, let's just get the Yes vote and worry about the details later," but prudence and common sense seem to have won the day! For now at least....

McDonald's going super sized in Tonbridge....

As predicted here on Tonbridge blog there is a planning application in for a huge new McDonalds, with drive thru (with American spelling of course) if the report in today's Courier is anything to go by. This will be handy if you happen to be feeling hungry when buying a bag of screws at B&Q or if you are peckish when buying paint at Homebase next door. Not sure that many will go too far out of their way but you can bet your bottom dollar that good old Maccie D's will have done their home work. There's no doubt that it would be a welcome boost to jobs in the area and, as the spokesperson for the food chain says (apparently with no sense of irony at all, although it's difficult to tell from a quote) those employed at the new restaurant will have ..."access to leading training schemes, as well as the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications."  They'll be able to flip burgers with the best of them anywhere in the world!...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Micro pubs and funerals....


Anybody know what's happening about the proposed micro pub opening at the north end of Tonbridge High Street? I just took a walk along to the shop where it was rumoured to be opening and there's no sign of any work going on at all. And, while we're about it, what is going on with the shop unit on the corner of Bank Street/High Street (the old Silvermans jewellers?) It has been "Under Offer" for months now. Tonbridgeblog understands that a funeral directors was awaiting planning consent but that was about a year ago. It's a mystery. Not even the ladies in the hairdressers next door have even a Scooby (that's clue btw just in case you're not up with the latest rhyming slang! Oh look, just think about it, Scooby Doo, clue. It's a bit like Your Aris but we won't go into that one shall we. Oh go on then Your Aris is your bum as everyone knows but it's arrived at in a typically Cockney cheeky way. Aristotle rhymes with Bottle, bottle and glass, if you're keeping up, rhymes with... that's right: bottom. So there you have it. Straight up, no word of a lie.) Anyway, when that micro pub finally does open mine's a Vera and Philharmonic!

Should Tonbridge become an independent nation?...

The great debate rages on and is likely to go right to the wire.... Should Tonbridge become an independent principality/republic? Let's have a record turn out at the polls tomorrow, get the yes voted in the bag and then, and only then, will we need to think about the finer details. Sir John Stanley for President of course. Let's all answer the call under the Three Red Chevrons flag of the De Clares! Tonbridge castle can once again be the seat of power and our proud town can be restored to it's former glory. (Think I'd better go for a lie down now!)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

To Vape or not to Vape?

Okay enough sucking up to our very own Dame Kelly Holmes and on to more serious matters. TonbridgeBlog noticed the other day that we are about to have a vaping, or e-cig, shop open in Tonbridge. There's a large sign in the window of one of the Quarry Hill Parade shops which was previously vacant. Near or next door to the chippy. I was up North a couple of weeks ago and noticed that there was already one of these Vaping (that's what they called it actually) shops just opened in my home town and made a comment to my wife that there'd be one in every town before long. So are we seeing the tip of the ice berg (or should that be cigarette butt?) in this particular market. Is it sustainable to have a whole shop devoted to the product. I've even thought of stocking them in Mr. Books as a matter of fact. Decided against though as Mr. Fags and Books didn't have the same ring to it! I read a good article by Matthew Norman, who nearly always makes me chuckle, on the Telegraph web site today which, even though delivered very tongue in cheek, said that e-cigs are one of the best inventions ever, at least on a par with the wheel and the plough! Whilst that claim appears to be hugely exaggerated, for heavy smokers at least, the writer certainly makes a good point and goes on to say that he has been vaping the equivalent of 80 fags a day with no apparent tightness in the chest of phlegmy cough which would normally be associated with that level of self abuse. The jury is out as far as I'm concerned though because the other side of the coin is that people who might otherwise have not smoked at all may well try vaping just to see what all the fuss is about and, before they know it, they'll be on super strength capsules and shortly afterwards, so the arguments go, they'll be main lining H and snorting C & E, and munching cacti extract and scoffing down magic mushrooms and all manner of substances....

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Our Kelly ten years on....


Anyone who doubts what a wonderful achievement Kelly Holmes double gold medal winning Athens Olympics was then just watch this. If it doesn't make you feel proud of Tonbridge's golden girl and if you don't get a lump in your throat watching it then you must have a heart of stone!  Enjoy it ten years on 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Refreshed?....



Well back anyway. But missing this view every evening....


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."