Thursday, April 16, 2015

A spot of twitching and a pint....

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Make your mind up time....

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Developments, new MP and birthdays....

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


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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What's new in Tonbridge?

Topics for discussion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like I said. Discuss....


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tonbridge Through Ten Centuries frenzy!...

Okay, maybe frenzy is a bit of an exaggeration but the take up of this superb new history book on the town, Tonbridge Through Ten Centuries, has been quite amazing. To date my little bookshop has sold over 120 copies in just over a week which, in local book sales terms is like the new Apple i-pad air launch! Some people have been ordering 3 or 4 copies to give as family presents. The Tonbridge Historical Society has done a great job in compiling this comprehensive history of our town from the Anglo Saxons onwards, right through to post war and modern day. In fact my favourite chapter is the first one which goes even further back than that. Albeit in brief, it covers the previous ten thousand years. So I for one am looking forward to the sequel: Tonbridge Through Ten Millennia! Better start working on that one now guys! To buy a copy come to Mr. Books at 142 High Street or, if you're a long way from your spiritual Tonbridge home you can order one on the phone or online. It's only £9.50 which is massively under priced. It would still have been excellent value at £15 in my humble opinion....
Buy a copy at Mr. Books priced £9.50

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Copy Magna Carta shows up in Maidstone....

Ever since starting in the book trade over ten years ago I've dreamt of someone bringing in either a first folio of Shakespeare's Works or a copy of the Magna Carta. The dream is kept alive from time to time when I read about important works being unearthed in cupboards or in someone's attic. Only last week Maidstone county archives unearthed a copy of the 1300 edition of Magna Carta, belonging to Sandwich borough council, which was long forgotten, buried deep in a scrap book along with some other ancient documents. It is incredible that these treasures are still out there and I wait in the hope that one will turn up for me to at least see in the flesh, if not own. Read about the find here

Friday, February 13, 2015

Go to Tonbridge Library to see what they're planning for Tonbridge Town Centre....

TonbridgeBlog is keen to hear people's views on the latest proposed High Street Regeneration scheme as reported in the Courier today. I've yet to see the plans so I'll reserve judgement for now. Surely spending £2.62 million on the town centre can only be a good thing can't it? Or have we seen councils squander this kind of dough in the blink of an eye before and been left with very little to show for it? In this case it seems to be a joint project between Kent County Council, who are in charge of the Highways, and the borough council, TMBC. Some might see that alone as a recipe for disaster! For me, if they are to blow this amount, which is a serious sum for a small town centre like ours, the improvements would have to have a lasting legacy and not just look pretty for a couple of years. But what do you all think?...  See the plans which are on public display at Tonbridge Library and the web site here  I'm off there right now

Friday, February 6, 2015

Tonbridge to Penshurst Cycle Trail on YouTube....

....and as promised here is my video production of my own version of Happy Tonbridge. I'm never happier than when I'm out on my bike getting some exercise, fresh air and getting caked in mud in the process. So I thought it might be useful for some to see the whole route, start to finish, from Tonbridge to Penshurst village. If you've never done it just get on yer bike and give it a go. The Leicester Arms is very welcoming at the other end but don't forget that you still have to get back! As for the quality of the video and the audio for that matter? Look I never claimed to be Spielberg did I?! I'm just a novice with a new toy!...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Penshurst Trail video coming up soon....

...and speaking of Penshurst, as we weren't, I had a lovely, and very dirty bike ride out to Penshurst along the cycle trail last weekend. I also recorded it on my new head cam (look it was a Christmas present) so that anyone who wants to be adventurous can follow the route. The video will follow shortly once I've got my head around Windows Live Movie Maker software. I probably need to cut it down from its present half an hour but where to make those edits? That is the question....

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wolf Hall comes to Penshurst...

I see Penshurst Place is in the news again. Many an Elizabethan drama has been filmed at the splendid 14th Century stately home but the latest one, Wolf Hall, is likely to give the place international recognition. It is a lovely house to visit or even just to walk around if you don't want to pay the entrance fee. Right on our doorstep as well if you fancy a stroll or a bike ride it's only about 5 very picturesque miles away across the footpaths. As for the book (actually books because the TV dramatization combines Hilary Mantel's two books Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, charting the rise and fall of Henry VIII's Machiavellian adviser, Thomas Cromwell,) I didn't care too much for it myself, finding it rather long winded and telling me, mostly inaccurately, what I thought I already knew. The truth is that I only finished it because it had been awarded the Booker Prize for fiction so I assumed it most be fabulous. (By no means is this always so in my experience.) The TV drama though, judging by the first episode at any rate, is superbly done....

Why are we all H-A-P-P-YYYYYYYY?

What can I say about the Happy Tonbridge video? If you haven't seen it yet then you are well behind as, at the last count, over 14,000 of you have. Clearly the people who put this film together, inspired by many other towns and cities' attempts around the world, have gone to great lengths. The final products, whilst, you have to say, by no means original, does manage to achieve it's stated objective of making us all H-A-P-P-YYYYYYY. Even an old cynic like me managed a smirk!! As Mark Kermode might say....Here's a clip (actually the whole thing.) Hope it brings a smile to your faces....

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Real Books making a huge comeback....

It's been widely reported that over the crucial Christmas period sales of physical, you know, actual real books, were resurgent whereas sales of Kindles, certainly at Waterstones, have fallen off a cliff. In any case e-book sales, whilst significant, represent a small proportion of overall book sales. The last reported figures that I've seen suggest that e-book annual sales are around £300 million whereas real book sales are over £2.2 BILLLION. Yes that's billions vs millions. So e-books have a huge way to catch up and it actually appears that sales are dropping off....

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Slade

At Chessington World of Adventures?!
A novel way of reading your favourite book!
Slade Primary School have sent me a few pictures from their "Unusual Places to Read" Competition so I thought that I would share a few with readers of TonbridgeBlog if there are any of you still out there. Apologies for the lack of posts recently. Touch of writers block perhaps?! (No, never, just been v busy what with Christmas and all.)
Watch out for these and lots more pics of children reading in unusual places in next month's issue of Tonbridge Town Crier

Anyone for a marmalade sandwich?!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dropping Amazon and returning to indpendent bookshops is the trend....

Here a serious one for you. (I know and it's nearly Christmas as well!) I recently sent a letter to the online book trade newsletter, Sheppards, which they published in full. Here it is below:


Dear Sir
It's been a while since I've felt moved to write in but I was particularly struck by many snippets in this week's newsletter.
  Laura Freeman's boycotting of Amazon is better late than never. In my view the problem is not that people don't want to save local bookshops but instead it's that feeling of it being only little old them and what difference can they possibly make by themselves?!
  A bit like not bothering to cast your vote in the general election and then wondering why the same party gets in again! As Laura rightly points out her vote does matter and by refusing to buy from Amazon she is hopefully at the forefront of a new trend. Certainly many customers in my shop, Mr. Books in Tonbridge, make very bad noises about the dreaded Amazon; that said I get just as many saying, when I offer to order in a new title which isn't on the shelf, things like "Oh don't worry I'll get it on Amazon."
  Buying online has become a habit. It's convenient, quick and, above all cheap. In the vast majority of cases it's unfortunately true that new books can be bought cheaper retail on Amazon than my wholesale price through Gardners Books. Just think about that for a second? How did it get to that stage? What chance have we independents got against such opposition?
  Reading the article about the revived Waterstones (shock, horror without the apostrophe) I was quite surprised by James Daunt's strategy of no discounting at all in his shops. Maybe he can get away with that in swanky central London but most customers would appreciate some level of discount. That's why at Mr. Books I've been recently trialing a 20% off new book orders offer. I have to be a little careful, due to varying discounts on some books, so advertise the offer as on 'most' books but this seems to be working. Certainly my Christmas orders are massively up on last years. That said I do of course need to sell twice as many to make the same profit. I'm pretty convinced by the evidence of the last month or so that customers really appreciate the gesture and, for those disgruntled with Amazon, it gives them an added reason to drift back to buying their books in a proper bookshop.
  Like Waterstones Mr. Books also sells greetings cards and board games, like Scrabble and Boggle although, unlike Mr Daunt, I'll be stopping short of selling Kindles for a good while yet! Mark Richardson, Mr. Books Bookshop, Tonbridge, Kent.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ho, ho ho....

Merry Christmas to all readers of Tonbridge Blog. Please feel free to post your Christmas comments and messages below or indeed anything else that moves you to write. I'll be back soon. In the meantime I've got books and presents to deliver!...

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.