Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year to the whole of Tonbridge....

One of my favourite pictures of 2010. Where is it though?
After my scathing comments about Tonbridge main Post Office let's try not to end the year on a bad note. Have a really fab time tonight everyone and here's hoping for a very happy and prosperous New Year (although I very much doubt it!)

Cheers everyone
Tonbridge Blog

P Off again!...

PO competition: Guess the opening times!
Tonbridge Post Office are at it again! With just a tiny amount of research down Tonbridge High Street this morning Tonbridge Blog was able to glean that Monsoon will be open until at least 5-30pm, as will New Look and WH Smith and, no doubt, many other shops. The main Post Office however will close at 4pm and not reopen until next Tuesday(apparently there's a notice on the entrance door although I couldn't see it.) They make no apology for this, it does not appear on there web site although if you can manage to get hold of the branch through their centralized telephone system, then I feel sure that they'd have informed you in a friendly manner of their early closing! I know I've expressed how p'd off I am with the PO before but come off it this is ridiculous! People and small businesses are relying on them to be reliable and that includes staying open. Ok it is News Years Eve but it isn't a bank holiday and you are supposedly a national service and surely have a duty to be open at least until the end of normal trading hours; this is especially so given the huge backlog of letters and parcels due to the recent cold weather. If commercial shops can stay open then so should the main Post Office in Angel Walk. But then I suppose the staff have got to get home to get ready for their NYE parties and nights veging out in front of Jools Holland's Hootananny. We wouldn't want to disturb that now would we! So have a great time, see you next Tuesday but only if you feel like opening. You know if you have a bit of a hang over then we'll all just wait until you're ready!....

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tonbridge Teenage Kicks....

My God I really drew the short straw last night after having agreed to pick up my son from a party in Hildenborough! After a totally sober evening I drove down a narrow country lane in the thick fog, risked turning my car over several times, scraped past some huge tank-like 4x4s coming the other way and eventually arrived at the teenage party which was being held in a room above the host's garage. Unlike most events I pick my children up from this time curiosity got the better off me and I actually went in to collect him instead of waiting sensibly outside. (Truth be told I also thought I might get a glimpse of his girlfriend, who I haven't seen yet, as well!) So into the party scene I went shouting, with faked adult authority, "So this is what you get up to" to my son to cause maximum embarrassment! Then the room hit me in the face. I guess this is what teenagers like but even my fairly liberal minded eyes were horrified. There were drinks cans and rubbish everywhere you looked. There were girls and boys lolling on and over each other, hoodies mixing with Goths and grunges, a dirty stained matress on the floor. Actually I think it was meant to be fancy dress but to me it looked more like the stuff of nightmares. If you can imagine something between a six form common room where the teachers have no access whatsoever and the squalor of the flat in the film version of Trainspotting then you'd be somewhere close! Maybe I'm just getting too old to remember what having that kind of "fun" was all about. Give me a nice bottle of real ale and a generous glass of Old Pulteney 12 year old malt and plonk me in front of an episode of Miss Marple any day of the week! Still my son can make it up to me when I'm an old man by coming to collect me from the Darby and Joan Club which will probably be equally horrifying to him!...

Where's my New Year's Eve party invitation?!..

It's that crappy time between Christmas and New Year's Eve when you're not quite sure what to do with yourself. They're not proper working days; in fact office workers who drew the short straw usually go in a bit late, make a pretence at doing a few hours work and then nip down the pub for a couple of hours, come back to shuffle one or two papers around on their desks and toddle off home early usually via the same boozer they left about an hour before. Or was that just me?! Well if, like myself, you still haven't decided what you're doing on NYE then you'd beter just stop hoping that one of your friends is going to belatedly invite you to their bash and either bite the bullet and organise your own or else resign yourself to another of Jools Hollands very tired Hootanannies. Please God not that! I think I'd rather go to bed at 9-30 and forget the whole thing....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tonbridge 2010 in pictures....

Tonbridge Parish Church looking very festive


An arrest at Mr. Books (Thankfully I managed to escape!)

The Big Picture on the Castle wall summed up the spirit of the Arts Festival

Magician, Jonathan Shotton, gave a Las Vegas style performance at The new K College theatre

Tonbridge Christmas tree at night looking lovely in the snow

The Mr. Books bike axle deep in snow

Another Tonbridge Book Fair got underway in May 

Merry Christmas and on to my other job!

The park floods yet again, better than the town flooding I guess!

All aboard the 213 for Willow Lea

Sorry pal Klan has been closed for over two years now!

Deep snow and ice is very much the story as 2010 draws to a close

Where did I put my canoe?

Sofa so good! A very strange scene in the middle of the High Street.

Just look at the size of those pumpkins at the award winning Shipbourne Farmers Market

A tough year for traders at the Angel Flea Market?

Bucks Fizz finished off a superb Tonbridge Arts Fest in suitably kitsch style!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter starts!...

Oh I nearly forgot to mention it. Better get your hats coats and gloves out because, apparently, winter officially starts today!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Here we snow again!...

Actually, provided you don't need to drive out of your street and you don't mind getting your walking boots or wellies on, it's not too bad in the centre of Tonbridge. Most of the shops seemed to be open when I walked the length of the High Street earlier so, if you can make it out, you will be able to get your last minute Christmas shopping done. Mr. Books is open today and they don't usually open on Mondays at all. There's dedication for you! The pavements are quite well gritted although it still amuses me to see the pathetic sight of a couple of blokes in high viz jackets with shovels and brushes taking on the hole of the centre of Tonbridge, gradually chipping away at the thick ice on the pavement (at least that's how it seems.) They need some proper equipment like mini ploughs and gritters like they have in countries where it snows all the time. With more snow on the way today could be the day to get out and get your supplies in; you can then hole up, batten down the hatches and get all cosy with your families in time for Christmas Eve....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What's in a name....

With views like this one it's easy to see why they called this road Weald View Road. But the origins of some street names in Tonbridge are not quite as easy to decipher. Why, for example doesn't Mabledon Road end up at Mabledon? Why doesn't Bank Street have any banks on it? Why is Dry Hill so named. I'm sure there are countless other examples around town but in the meantime enjoy this snowy view of the North Downs....

Lit up like a Christmas tree....

I know the picture quality ain't all that great but has anyone seen any worse examples than this? Why do people inflict this on themselves every year? I suppose it's not so bad when you're inside the house as you're not the ones who have to look at it! Or is it just me? Bah Humbug!...

And now for the Sports News....

There is none!
Most disappointing of all is that the local derby game between bottom of the table Tunbridge Wells RFC and Tonbridge Juddians, currently heading up the League, has been called off due to the f'ing snow (I meant freezing oh course!) This is most disappointing as, number one, the club had arranged a huge lunch for members and their guests and, number two, they had a marquee with beer and hog roast planned and, worst of all, I was going along to watch and get in the Christmas mood with a few pints of Larkins ale and a small pig sandwich. I now feel completely deflated having got myself all keyed up for the game. (What's that you say? I wasn't playing but only going along to shout from the touchline?! Does the club have the finances to install under soil heating I wonder? Cos I think they're gonna need it in the coming years unless the season is rescheduled goes on until August!...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh God please no....

Words fail me on what to make of the Courier's front page of the Tonbridge edition. Allegations about Monsignor Michael Smith, parish priest of Corpus Christi catholic church in Tonbridge, have led to his arrest for allegedly sexually assaulting a child. Nothing has been proven so we can't go condemning the man and I, for one, sincerely hope they are not true for the sake of the community. If you can't trust the people who are placed in influential positions to help guide us through our lives then who can you trust?...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Get your free Christmas cards here....

Not wishing to sound like a right old Scrooge (who wasn't such a bad bloke actually) I just don't see the point in sending out many tree killing Christmas cards this year. So I was particularly taken with a neat idea on the Guardian web site this week which enables you to send some top artists' alternative festive cards by email. No need to queue up at the card shop any more; no need to fork out begrudgingly for another pack of cards and spend thirty quid on stamps and then be worried whether or not they'll get there on time because of postal strikes and snowy weather! Oh no, just sit in the warmth of your home (or in my case shop) move your mouse hand around a bit, click a few times and there you have it all your cards sent with a nice festive message and all for a Scrooge-pleasing no pounds and no pence. There are a few choices on the Guardian site but this one is by far my fave....

Tonbridge Angels famous ex-players....

If you are a footy fan of a certain age then you'll probably remember Malcolm Macdonald, often known as "Supermac." I certainly remember him when he played for Newcastle, then Arsenal and England as a prolific goal scorer. What I didn't realise though is that he started his career a bit closer to home playing for the Tonbridge Angels. Since it was before their move to the Longmead Stadium I guess that he would have played at the Angel Ground on what is now the Sainsbury's carpark. So next time you park your car up to do a bit of food shopping just remember that you're parking on hallowed ground!...  (Admittedly I did glean this information from wikipedia but see no reason why anyone would forge these kind of facts about an almost forgotten legend of a player.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mince pies and Mulled wine all round....

Botany Stream Development Proposal next to the Angel Centre

New bridge and walkway up central street
For those of you who didn't attend the last Tonbridge Civic Society talk of 2010 you didn't half miss out on some lovely mulled wine and some scrumptious mince pies! Apart from that there was some nice company, oh yes and an illuminating talk about the latest proposal to develop the Sovereign House/Botany Stream area. That's that ugly bit between the walkway to the side of the Angel Centre entrance and Waitrose/Iceland stores. It's quite a large area which currently comprises the old Benn Publishing, as I know it, office building and the car park along side it. The pictures above show you the extent of what is being proposed at the moment. I say proposed because, actually, the plans have all but been approved as the developers informed us last night. There's a plan A and a Plan B but basically it appears to be a shoe in probably more down to the economic situation rather than it being a design classic. I must say though, on the evidence of last night's presentation, it appears to be a vast improvement on the previous owner, Oracle's, proposal to build a fifteen storey tower there. BUT I'm still unsure about it myself. There's the elephant in the room question, which was only very briefly mentioned last night, about how much of it will be "affordable housing"  and what type of families might be living there right in the centre of town. Is it to be a no go area or do the pretty tree lined streets in the presentation really depict the true image of how it might look in ten years time? To be honest, no matter how they tried to dress it up with their high tech "fly past" views of computer images of the finished development, I was still left thinking that it will look like a large Medittarranean style block of flats. (That said, if money were no object, I wouldn't  mind one of the top penthouse appartments with panoramic views to the South West!) But come on where's the retail units which had been discussed for this river side development? Where's the restaurants and waterfront cafes? Walking between the buildings down the newly formed street will seem like walking along with the White cliffs of Dover on either side of you with a few shrubbs to keep your mind off them! If they decide to keep the old Benn building then, so we were informed, this is most likely to become a new large medical centre with three Tonbridge practices all moving in there. (Any guesses as to who?) Let's face it the Sovereign House development will be functional at best and certainly no oil painting. Mince pies anyone?!..

Bumped into Victoria Hislop the other day (as one does!)

Oh did I nearly forget to mention that I bumped into Victoria Hislop out doing her Christmas shopping in Tunbridge Wells with husband Ian last Sunday, just like any other regular couple? It must have completely slipped my mind! There I was in the i-Store about to be given a demonstration of the Bose Companion 2 computer (and i-pod) speakers when who should walk in but Victoria, closely followed by Mr. Hislop.  I'd already committed myself to saying hello before noticing, in the corner of my eye, that Ian was there so I didn't get the chance to be introduced as he was gone again in a flash. How the heck would the nearly famous Tonbridge-educated author have known Tonbridge Blog anyway? I sense you all wondering. Well she was kind enough to do a book signing in Mr. Books shop about 18 months ago and she spent a couple of hours talking to me on and off as she signed away. On Sunday she probably thought, at first, who's this nutter staring at her (and to be honest it took me a couple of minutes for me to get past the "Where do I know her from?" stage before it clicked.) We're not quite on media luvvy kiss of each cheek (moiw moiw)  terms but I did shake her hand and have a brief chat. More importantly I also managed to get a little nugget of information out of her regarding her third novel that she's been writing for the past year or so (you can't rush the creative mind you know!) It is pretty much finished and should be published in the middle of next year all being well. Victoria had rave reviews of her debut novel The Island and pretty good ones for the follow up The Return so she must be feeling the pressure somewhat for the third one (title??) I asked her if she'd do another signing maybe at next year's Tonbridge book fair or arts fest but she wasn't making any commitments. Still it was nice to see her again....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And here's what you can have for pudding....

According to the Tonbridge Historical Society web site these were popular in the hay day of Tunbridge Wells with those genteel folk taking the waters

Tonbridge Cake
Ingredients:
1 lb flour, 6 oz sugar, 6 oz butter, 2 eggs
Method:
Rub butter well into flour, add sugar and mix thoroughly, make into stiff paste with the two eggs well beaten; roll out till thin and cut with the top of a tumbler into rounds; prick these with a fork and cover with caraways or brush with white of egg and dust over with a little white sugar, or, instead of either, place on each round a thin crescent or horseshoe-shaped slice of candied peel; place on a flat tin and bake in a moderate oven."

An alternative Christmas dinner recipe perhaps!...

This is a recipe called Tonbridge Brawn taken from Eliza Acton's famous book: Modern Cookery for Private Families published circa 1845. Ms Acton was almost as famous in her day as Isabella Beeton. Her book was groundbreaking in that she was one of the very first to give clear instructions on how to make the meal and provide a complete list of ingredients. Basically she was well ahead of her time. More importantly for us though she immortalised Tonbridge by naming many of her recipes after the town, it's people and places such as Bordyke Veal Cake and Tourte a la Judd (I'm not making this up you know!) Anyway this one sounds pretty gruesome in its preparation but I'm sure it tasted wonderful:

Tonbridge Brawn
 Split open the head of a pig of middling size, remove the brain and all the bones, strew the inside rather thickly with fine salt, and let it drain until the following day.
Cleanse the ears and feet in the same manner : wipe them all from the brine, lay them into a large pan, and rub them well with an ounce and a half of saltpetre mixed with six ounces of sugar ; in twelve hours, add six ounces of salt ; the next day pour a quarter of a pint of good vinegar over them, and keep them turned in the pickle every twenty-four hours for a week ; then wash it off the ears and feet, and boil them for about an hour and a half ; bone the feet while they are warm, and trim the gristle from the large ends of the ears.
When these are ready, mix a large grated nutmeg with a teaspoonful and a half of mace, half a teaspoonful of cayenne, and as much of cloves. Wash, but do not soak the head; wipe and flatten it on a board ; cut some of the flesh from the thickest parts, and (when the whole of the meat has been seasoned equally with the spices) lay it on the thinnest; intermix it with that of the ears and feet, roll it up very tight, and bind it firmly with broad tape; fold a thin pudding-cloth quite closely round it, and tie it securely at both ends.
A braising-pan, from its form, is best adapted for boiling it, but if there be not one at hand, place the head in a vessel adapted to its size, with the bones and trimmings of the feet and ears, a large bunch of savoury herbs, two moderate-sized onions, a small head of celery, three or four carrots, a teaspoonful of peppercorns, and sufficient cold water to cover it well; boil it very gently for four hours, and leave it until two parts cold in the liquor in which it was boiled.
Take off the cloth, and put the brawn between two dishes or trenchers, with a heavy weight on the upper one. The next day take off the fillets of tape, and serve the head whole or sliced with the brawn sauce...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kept in the dark....

The lampost at the corner of the High Street and Bank Street in Tonbridge has been made safe it would seem after the terrible incident of the electrocuted dog. The workmen flattening out the pavement after the repair had no idea what had happened and were interested to find out. When I told them the story of how a dog had taken a leak against the "live" lampost and got a heck of a shock they were sypathetic they really were. But it didn't stop one of them bursting out laughing at the very thought of it. Some people have a very cruel sense of humour! Now that they've earthed it or whatever they did to make it safe it would actually be quite nice if that, and the other lampost on the same corner, could actually have a bulb put in them so that they give off some, you know, light. I know I'm probably asking too much here but I maybe thought that that was their purpose!...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting the money shot....

What a fantastic adrenaline rush the photographer must have had in Leicester Square yesterday when he realised that he was the only press photographer on the spot at that historic moment when Charles and Camilla were caught up in the chaos caused by the student riots. I really wish I'd been Matt Dunham of Associated Press at 7-20pm yesterday (that was the recorded time on his camera when he snapped his money shot. Those five pictures that he had the presence of mind to capture have already gone down in history as capturing an amazing moment. They say a picture speaks a thousand words well, perhaps, these speak a million more. What do they say about the role of Charles and Camilla being uselessly trapped in the middle of it all and yet representing the establishment? and what do they say about the increasing fury of Britain's young population. Is his picture capturing a pivotal moment in our country's history? Time will tell. What a fabulous picture. I've been meaning to treat myself to that digital SLR for some time now as I did used to be a fairly keen photographer myself. I even toyed with the idea of having a go at being a pap! Perhaps now's the time to nip down to Jessops in the Pavillion, Tonbridge to eye up that Canon EOS 500D unless Santa already has his instructions....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Still no VAT on books!!..

20% VAT in January is a bit of a crippler it has to be said. That's a fifth of everything we spend out shopping will soon be going straight to the government's coffers! I can remember, just about, when there was no VAT and then the outrage expressed when it went up to 8% in the 1970s. We'd settle for that now wouldn't we. Fear not though because there is a way of buying all your Christmas presents and paying zero VAT. "How's that TonbridgeBlog?" I hear you all say. Simple you go out and buy everyone a book each. There's never been any VAT on books in their printed form and there still won't be any in January....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shovel for victory!...

And still with ice clearing..... I remember as a kid my Dad used to always clear the snow and ice from our driveway and the area of pavement in front of out house. He'd often do the area for the old lady next door as well. I did the same thing last year in front of my house and asked my son to do it this year. But, being honest about this, how many people do the same? I'm guessing hardly anyone. Just think about it for a moment: if every household could be bothered to clear their patch then all the side roads and pavements would be completely cleared wouldn't they? We'd all be able to drive into our roads and walk along our pavements in the safe knowledge that the rest of the road would be pretty much ice free. Every one's a winner! So why don't we then? Is it really that we are just too busy to find the time or have got lazy in our middle class, centrally-heated, cosy worlds? Is it a suspicion that our neighbours won't do their bit and that you'll end up being the sucker (as I was last year?) Worst of all, could it be that we might be sued if we do our bit and then someone slips over in front of our house. If it is this last reason then it has to be utter nonsense dreamed up by the naysayers and gossip mongers. This is the speak of the moaners and the jobsworths; those people who are always looking for an excuse not to do something that needs doing. Don't listen to their phony advice, just do your bit for the town. Shovel and brush away that snow and ice and we'll have done it together like the old days....

Ice work if you can get it!...

Right that's 10 yards done. Now for the rest of Tonbridge!
Tonbridge Blog hasn't had much of a moan for ages now (oh alright then a few days anyway!) but couldn't help feeling a little surge of annoyance welling up when passing the pathetic sight of a couple of blokes wearing high viz jackets, with a shovel and a brush between them, on Pembury Road this morning. It seems as though they alone are responsible for the battle against the whole of Tonbridge's icey pavements. As hard as they work, and I'm sure their backs are aching from it all, they must be fighting a losing battle. People are slipping a-over-t left, right and centre all across town. I only managed to avoid falling on my backside by walking on the roads and having to dodge cars and vans; a danger in itself of a different kind. Come on isn't it about time that the councils (note plural for here lies the problem in my opinion) get their acts together and invested in some decent pavement clearing equipment. If Tesco can do it for their carparks then surely Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and KCC can manage it between them!  Why should it be safer on the roads than it is on the pavements? How does that sit with the council's and government's other drives to get people out and about and getting fitter, leaving their cars at home? Where's the joined up thinking or is it all gloss and spin? This is the third year running now that we've had serious disruption caused by snow and ice so come off it guys stop short changing us council tax payers and spend some of our cash on much needed mini ploughs and gritters....

Is Mr. Books Bike Bust?...

I've already had a similar picture made into a post card which I sell in Mr. Books and also give away as a business card but I may well have another printed with this image as it's even more festive than last years. I like the way the bike is half buried in the deep snow. Rather fortunate really since, when you see it without the snow, the poor thing has been kicked almost, but not quite, into submission by, I suspect, young lads on their way home from Mojos or more likely SOS night club. Don't they realise that it's an antique from a bygone age! It has served me well over the last five years or so but I fear the time may be approaching when I have to search the great God of retail, ebay, for a new one. Unless any bike shops out there want to offer their services for a reasonable price? I realised quite how bad it was looking when Simon, the owner of Cycle ops, came into my shop and ever so politely asked me if I would move it as it was not exactly the image he wanted associated with his up market bike shop which has some bikes on sale for over three grand. I'm not sure it would make any difference to his sales even being right outside his shop but, nevertheless, I respected his request and moved the Mr. Books bike to a new home near the Chequers Inn while I consider it's future!...

Very festive!....

Looking North towards the Rose and Crown Hotel

Christmas Tree at the Watergate
The Christmas lights look especially pretty down the High Street this year don't they what with all the snow around? The white stuff may create havoc on the roads and pavements but you do have to admit that it improves the look of just about everywhere....

Tonbridge Insider Out Now....

Has anyone seen the latest issue of The Tonbridge Insider yet? Inside it you'll find some useful information about what's going on in Tonbridge around Christmas. There's some hints about what to buy food wise and also some eye catching photos. Oh yes and there's that new page called Tonbridge (Yule) Log which, this month, actually stretches to four pages. I wonder who writes it! The December issue is out now....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tonbridge School boys sent home for "pilfering" from local shops....

I was shocked to read the piece in a newspaper clipping: Under the headline: "Top School Sends 3 Boys Home: Three public school boys have been suspended for the rest of the term for shoplifting. They were sent home from Tonbridge School (fees £360 a year) after complaints from shop keepers in the town...." it goes on to say that "...the boys have been severely dealt with..." and that the shopkeepers have been completely reimbursed. I for one was flabbergasted to hear this of the well heeled boys who, let's face it, probably want for nothing in life. I blame their lack of respect on the demise of fagging myself! But let's not be too harsh on the school; the clue should have have been in the annual school fees which, so I understand, are more like £30,000 these days. This newspaper clipping is from the Daily Sketch (which doesn't even exist anymore,) from December 5th, 1962! It just happened to fall out of a book about the history of Tonbridge School. I wonder if the boys, who weren't named in the article, went on to be members of the government or captains of industry. We will never know....

Safe Roads please....

I have to drive to Farnham tomorrow and do you know which bit of the journey scares me the most? It's not the A21 through the Sevenoaks Downs, nor is it the possibility of being shunted by some nutter on the M25; or, for that matter, the prospect of a freezing cold wind blowing the car off the A31 "Hogs Back" between Guildford and Farnham. No, it's none of these, but it is the 200 yards from my driveway to the Quarry Hill! Now what does that say about the negligence of our councils' services. I'm told that the problem lies with the fact that the Highways are the responsibility of Kent County Council, as are the pavements by the way; that is to say it's nothing to do with the borough council (Not our problem mate!) Or it could be that they now sub contract most of the work out these days. Work for which previously they would have employed their own full time staff to do. To be perfectly honest I, and I suspect the vast majority of the Tonbridge public, don't care about the ins and outs of it. WE JUST WANT OUR ROADS MADE SAFE PLEASE!!!! After all, as we're hearing on the news, Tescos supermarkets have invested in mini snow ploughs and gritters to clear their car parks so why can't the council do more?...

Friday, December 3, 2010

P Off....

I called in at the main Post Office in Angel Walk this morning to enquire as to when they were anticipating closing today and they told me it was likely to be around 12-30 or 1pm. Great! I thought to myself. I've got about ten parcels to post and last time we had bad snow, back in January, I remember arriving at the same PO with bundles in hand, finding it closed and then having to walk up Quarry Hill with them so I could bring them back again the next morning. So I wasn't going to be caught out like that again. But isn't it amazing that Monsoon can stay open, Mr. Books can stay open, Cafe Nero can manage to stay open and, for that matter, most of the shops on the High Street can? But not it seems Tonbridge Post Office, owned by the Royal Mail. Aren't they meant to be a service we can rely on whatever the weather or am I asking too much of them? So it seems that our letters and parcels will be accepted at the Post Office counter but only if they can be bothered to open up and they're not feeling too cold. Surely a skeleton staff is better than no staff and enough to keep them ticking over. Pull your finger out Post Office staff, buy some decent hats scarves and wellies and get the local personnel to walk in to work like other companies manage to do if that's what it takes. This was not the spirit which got our boys back from Dunkirk or that beat the French at Agincourt! If it was your company and your money you'd find a way....

It's enough to make your hair stand on end!..

If anyone was anywhere near the Bank Street/High Street junction a couple of days ago they would have heard a dog going absolutely crazy and running wildly around the lamp post right on the corner of the busy pavement. Turns out that the dog had been electrocuted by the lampost and that the pavement was"live" for about a metre around it. The poor dog must have had such a shock (quite literally.) and it's owner was, understandably hopping mad himself. The Police cordoned off the whole corner while the council contractor came to make it safe. The really annoying thing about this incident is that this lampost has been defective on and off for at least two years now resulting in this particular area being very much in the dark from about 4-30 in the evening all winter. Not good for trade in the shops nearby and, more importantly, damned right dangerous. Why does it always take an incident of this kind for the authorities to actually do something about it? It's enough to make your hair stand on end with anger...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Anyone for a bit of skateboarding?!..

This was taken this morning. Wouldn't it be great if someone built a skateboarding snowman on top of the ramp!

Eskimos spotted on Tonbridge Park!...

Walking across Tonbridge park this morning on my way to work I thought I was hallucinating; the cold can have that effect you know! But no I must not have been because here is the photographic evidence that someone has built themselves an igloo next to the pitch and put golf course. Maybe it was a commuter who gave up on his journey to Ashford or somewhere and he'd come prepared with his ice saw and axe!...

More on (ic) travel chaos....

I take it from the sight of four or five coaches abandoned outside Tonbridge railway station that the trains were cancelled, they laid on a coach service, probably at huge expense, to get round the problem and then had to abandon the coaches because the roads were impassable. Just a hunch!...

A trek across the Siberian wastelands!...

If you've already been out and about this morning in Tonbridge you may have spotted some mad fool wearing a duffle coat with the hood up, carrying a shovel over his shoulder. That would have been Tonbridge Blog walking across snow and ice to get to work. As you can see though I did put my camera phone to good use on my travels. Then, as soon as I arrived, I put the shovel to good use to clear an area around Mr. Books which now has its own cute little footpath leading from the high street pavement to the shop door. It looks like something out of a fairy tale! I'm not expecting many mad fools to venture out to buy books today but you can't blame me for trying. It's still snow joke for many commuters but guys, here's a tip, stop feeling guilty, tell the boss you'll be working from home and then nip down to Christopher Hull sports shop, buy a sledge and head for lambs bank slope to put it to good use. Okay it's not Chamonix but last year there was a fella on a snow board up there! Enjoy yourselves it'll all be gone by next week. By the way my boiler's still knackered but, thankfully the Dimplex heaters I bought from Homebase on Canon Lane last Friday is working a treat and the emersion heater, like a sleeping collosus, has sprung into action....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It is no joke....

We can all joke about the how namby pamby some people are for not being able to make it in to work but for some commuters it really is snow joke. It's not that long ago since I used to make the dreaded journey into London Town every day and, let's face it, even at the best of times it was only just bearable. But when you add in snow and the resultant disrupted services it becomes soul-destroying. Enough to make you give it all up and open a bookshop in Tonbridge! So walking past the railway station this snowy morning gave me a bit of a flashback and made me feel all warm inside and a bit smug. The train time table had obviously become irrelevant as people stood around arguing with staff and getting pretty agitated. I only lingered for a few seconds but that was enough to send a cold shiver down my spine and make me glad that I'm out of all that. I'm hearing reports last night of 3 hour train journeys back from London and people having to spend the night in waiting rooms. I hope they all have jobs which are worth all that hassle!... 

Open for business?...



Walking across Tonbridge today I couldn't help but notice that around half the shops were still not open at around a quarter to ten. What's going on? What is all the fuss about? A bit of snow shouldn't stop the wheels of industry and commerce turning should it? I feel a bit smug, as probably do all the other people who managed to make it in today. "At least I made the effort!" I hear the cries across Tonbridge. Weald of Kent and Hillview Schools are closed today and I'm not sure about the others. It's probably more a case of the staff not being able to get in rather than the kids. Let's face it all the children who couldn't manage to get to school will almost certainly be out right now on sledges and having snowball fights; and who can blame them! Quarry Hill was just about still passable and, from what I saw this morning pretty free of traffic. Everything looks so beautiful and fresh as you can see in the photos. You could be forgiven for thinking that you are in Lapland or Alaska instead of outside St. Stephen's Church at the bottom of the hill. Enjoy it while it lasts....

Snow joke....

Here's one for you:

How do snowmen travel around ?
By iceicle !
And another to give you some cheer on these dark December days:

What do you get if cross a snowman and a shark ?
Frost bite !
Another cracker or at least they will be in one soon!...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lovely warming winter food if you ASK me!...

Now being a local blogger I do go out of my way to stay as independent as possible in the face of quite a few attempts for me to become, let's say, a bit more commercial in my approach. A fair few restaurants and hotel groups in particular have offered me weekends for two and meals as their guest. For the most part I say "no thanks" but last night I'm afraid I succumbed to temptation after a particularly nice invitation to eat out at ASK in Tonbridge High Street. I've mentioned before that the new manager there, Eric, seems to be a very likeable chap and, perhaps it's his half Brazilian, half Italian charm which makes him bubble over with enthusiasm. I rather like ASK anyway and Eric has introduced a few changes to the menu and talks about supporting the Cottage hospital and other local charities, so how could there be any harm in accepting his invitation?! But do you know what the real driving force for me going along last night was? Nothing to do with food at all. Previously I may have mentioned that the boiler at home has conked out on me completely and we are waiting for a replacement one; so the thought of a Friday night huddled around a small electric heater wasn't all that great versus an evening eating lovely hot food in a WARM restaurant!
My girlfriend and I arrived at around 8pm and we were greeted by the assistant manager; alas Eric had had to go home early so wasn't around for our usual chat. I wouldn't say we were treated like royalty but I sensed that we were getting a little bit of extra special attention. I'd love to be in Michael Winner's position (with his food critic hat on that is as opposed to his Death Wish one!) and be able to go to any restaurant where he is always paying the bill, that way he can say whatever he likes good or bad. But, being honest, based on last night's meal there really isn't much bad that I could say about the whole experience. Our waitress, a lovely polite girl from the Czech Republic was very attentive even before she knew we were the manager's guests. She was always willing to stand and talk about various menu options, she seemed to have tried most of the food herself and therefore was able to make informed recommendations. Similarly the assistant manager helped me choose when I started being indecisive about which main course to plump for. Of course we had to have a an aperitif didn't we and some olives and garlic bread as nibbles (well I don't get out much these days!) For starters my guest went for the Prawns al Piccante and I opted for the Mushrooms al Forno which, as the names suggest, one was spicy hot and the other was just piping hot. The piccante was absolutely superb, judging from the tiny taste I had, but a little too piccante for my taste buds so it took me several mouthfuls of the mushrooms to really appreciate the flavours. When they did finally come through they were a wonderful mixture of different Italian cheeses, garlic and pesto (in fact my mouth is watering at the mere thought of it!) Nice bottle of Moltipulciano D'Abruzzo which was not at all cold, which you do sometimes get with reds this time of year, so more points scored there; although, if I'm honest it was only the house wine and maybe I should have been slightly more daring and gone for a Chianto Classico or something. I do like to drink Italian wine with an Italian meal but maybe that's just me. My girlfriend had already chosen her main course the Rissotto Frutti Di Mare which I didn't get to taste so I'm guessing it was very good! I was torn between the Terrina Mediterranea or the Polpette al Forno and, on the manager's recommendation, went for the first choice. Again nice prompt service, not too rushed but not leaving us hungry inbetween courses. By now my feet were nice and warm for the first time all day and the wine and the beer were taking effect and the conversation was starting to flow. It was turning out to be a really nice evening. It got even nicer when I took my first taste of the Terrina Mediterranea. I'm so glad that I decided not to have the usual safe bet of a pasta or pizza dish which I often tend to go for in this type of restaurant. It sounded good and it tasted even better. What a superb fusion of flavours there was with tender chicken, king prawns, tomatoes, olives, white wine, butter beans and garlic; it was just divine. Heaven in a casserole dish! and just the right choice on such a cold night. Desserts were Tiramisu for my guest and Apple Rustica, a sort of apple crumble Italian style, for myself. A was able to get a little taste of the Tiramisu which was lovely although just a tad rich for my liking so I was glad and felt a bit smug that I'd made the right choice again. Although, I must say that the Chocolate Nemesis did sound awfully tempting! I rounded off the meal with a filter coffee which, to be truthful, was a little weak for my liking (but I said nothing in true English style! and frankly, if that was the only negative thing I could say about the whole meal, then I'll settle for that) and a small but fortifying grappa to warm me up for that long walk home back to my freezing cold house. We stopped off at the P&J on the way for a quick half pint of Hobgobblin beer and a malt whiskey chaser, which was very welcome, but I'll save that for another time....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Is Tonbridge H A P P Y????

So is Tonbridge a happy town? There's a debate going on at the moment in government circles about whether or not happiness can be measured. So what do you all think? I sometimes feel like a grumpy old git and do my fair share of moaning (often on this blog as you may have noticed!) but I wouldn't say that I'm unhappy. In fact, deep down, I'd say that I'm very happy the majority of the time. But I couldn't be sure about it as my mood changes from one day to the next. If everyone is the same what use would a survey be? Lots of comedians and people who, on the surface, seem bubbly and fun to be with end up being the depressed ones, even sometimes suicidal ones. Shouldn't we all just get on with our lives or is there anything in this assessing happiness lark?...

Moan of the week....

Generally speaking I can't complain too much about the post service BUT I am getting quite fed up of all the gumpf they keep delivering. Junk mail is one thing but the increasingly large pile of rubbish that the postman (actually woman but let's not split hairs) keeps handing me in my shop most mornings is becoming irritating. The ones pictured here, I'm not kidding, are just one day's worth. Why bother? It goes straight in the bin I don't need a pizza, sky movies, a new web hosting package or some craft materials. If I did I'd probably look on the internet or in the Yellow Pages not on some tacky leaflet that falls on my doormat. So Royal Mail: Please stop this abuse of your position and continue doing what you do best ie. delivering letters and parcels....

Sofa so good!...

What the heck was going on in Tonbridge the other day? If you saw the surreal sight of a couple on the sofa on the pavement near Botany you'd have been forgiven for thinking that you'd gone round the bend. Sounds like a cushy number to me! Actually I think they were filming for some sort of market research but being a bit laid back about it all. Pretty neat idea though and it certainly grabbed my attention....

New look Sarah Mayhew in Tonbridge....

TonbridgeBlog has noticed that Sarah Mayhew has opened up a new shop on the High Street near the corner of Bank Street. They've merged their two shops into one impressively large new one which is complete with treatment rooms, manicure desks and hairdressing chairs. It looks very state of the art and it's right in the heart of Tonbridge and they're not even paying me to say all this! I'm going in there right away for a chest waxing!...

White Christmas in Tonbridge?...

Will Tonbridge look like this by the weekend?  Well I for one could do without it, so please God can you save it until over the Christmas holidays as I've got a dodgy boiler at the moment and it's already pretty cold!...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All your Christmas shopping in Tonbridge....

It's nearly that time folks. We can put it off as long as we dare. We can pretend it's not creeping up on us. We can wait to see if the sales start early again this year, but that can be a dangerous game to play and you might end up grovelling around for the scraps at the eleventh hour. So my tip for this year is do it early, get your shopping out of the way and then just enjoy December. But when and where to do one's Christmas shopping?! What a quandry! Or is it? Tonbridge blog's guide to Christmas shopping in Tonbridge is designed to save you time and probably money. Cheaper thoughtful pressies can often be much better appreciated than more expensive things. But remember, if in doubt, chuck money at it. But better to plan ahead and save yourself some wonga. You can do all this in an afternoon or two if you put your mind to it. Start at Quarry Hill and work you way down the High Street. Actually thinking about this (with my commercial head on for a second) start at the Ivy House and walk towards the Tonbridge Railway Station; that way you'll have more to spend at Mr. Books at the start of your shopping spree! Try these:
Salon quality hair and beauty products from Sarah Mayhew or Retro Blue. Seriously also you really could do worse than poke your head into Mr. Books which is stacked full of alternative gift ideas such as local history books, signed first editions and other gems (but I won't go on about it and make this post sound like an ad for my shop!) then walk across the road and you have the shoe repairers and key cutter (has Tonbridge Blog lost it?!) where you can actually buy more than just shoe laces and polish. He sells, for example, silver and pewter cups and tankards which he'll engrave for you on the spot. Then a couple of doors on there's Bronsons newsagents where you might want to buy someone a box of chocolates, all your Christmas cards and they even stock a nice range of Havana cigars and weird and wonderful looking pipes. Over the road there's Silvermans Jewellers who do lots of nice things and can also make bespoke jewellery if you give them enough time. Gift Box do all sorts of trinckety type girly gifts, costume jewellery, bags, scarves and hats. Most of the restaurants do gift vouchers if you can't think of anything else. The new independent offie has a massive range of fine wines, world and local beers and malt whiskies to choose from. All this and we haven't even got to the town bridge yet. Then there's Waitrose for nice food and drink produce, Monsoon for chic and slightly hippyish accessories. Michalef jewellers for all manner of shiney things and those bafflingly popular charm braceletts. Then there's Sweets and Shakes who do jars of sweets and other gifty type confectionary at this time of year. Obviously there's Boots and WH Smiths for more conventional gifts. Keep walking and you've got another row of shops on Quarry Hill Parade where you'll find more hairdressers (think hair and beauty products, Wild Cherry, the tatooist, for a really off-the-wall present idea and, over the road from them, Beat n Track the music shop with a great choice of stuff from key boards to ukeleles and the finest selection of guitars in the wider area. If you still have time there's the Saturday Market for a range of stocking fillers and your Christmas fruit and veg. Have I missed anything? So you see it is possible to do all your Christmas shopping in dear old Tonbridge so why on Earth go through all the hassle of getting parked in Tunbridge Wells or Black Water?...

Tonbridge Blog is back....

Tonbridge blog has been left unmanned for the past few days but there really was no need to worry about my safety or, for that matter, my sanity. I wasn't stuck in the tunnels under the Castle whilst looking for hidden treasure, nor was I ill or injured. There were teenagers in Mr. Books over the weekend, but hopefully keeping the business going and not partying (I'll have to have words maybe!) It's nice to see so many comments being posted while I was away; perhaps I should let you all just write the whole thing and be done with it! Actually the reason for my absence was my attending the funeral of a family friend up North and I decided to make a weekend of it and stop at my Mum's for a few days. The funeral was for Ron 'Canonball' Cockerill who no one in Tonbridge has probably ever heard of; but in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area, let me tell you, the man is a legend. He was a great servant of Grimsby Town Football Club from about 1958 to 1969 and got the nickname from his extremely powerful boot which was used to great effect in a number of free kicks during his early days at the club. He was also a gent off the pitch and a great inspiration to the younger players. Grimsby are now playing in the Blue Square Premier League but, during Ron's day they played the likes of Chelsea, Man City, West Ham and the other top sides. They were never a massive club themselves but they were certainly a formidable force back then. His funeral was like a trip down memory lane with all the players I remember watching as a kid in the late sixties and seventies in attendance. Among them was ex England manager, Graham Taylor, who played for Grimsby Town from about 1962 to 1968 as a fellow defender with The Canonball. Graham gave a moving tribute to Ron during the service at Grimsby Crematorium which left everybody present wiping a tear from their eye. It was a great testament to the man that there was such a large turn out of so many ex players and friends. But to me Ron will always be my mate's dad who tried to teach me to kick a ball with my left as well as my natural right foot on the school field at the back of their house. I never did quite master it but that was probably my fault and nothing to do with the coach!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tonbridge Priory tunnels from the Castle????

A lady just came into my shop to ask about the framed print in the window. It's a hand coloured 1735 print of Tonbridge Priory and it's just reminded me of this mostly forgotten part of the history of the town. For those who don't know the Priory stood for around 750 years on the area roughly between the Sainsbury's petrol station and the railway tracks; of course I don't think Mr. J. Sainsbury's ancestors had set up shop yet in the year 1100 and certainly the railway hadn't been thought of! All that's left of it now though, of course, are a few clues in street names such as Priory Road, Priory Street, St. Augustine's old people's home, Priory Vetinary Clinic etc. The most intriguing part of it's history for me is the bit we don't know, the bit that's just folklore and rumour. I read a book a few years back called Tonbridge Legends, written in about 1890, which has a short tale in it about a man, fuelled by drunken bravardo talk in a nearby hostelry, discovering tunnels under the castle and finding some treasure and also something so unspeakably horrific that he had to leave town right there and then, never to return. But surely that was just a made up tale with no grain of truth in it whatsoever. Wasn't it? Then I read an old guide to Tunbridge Wells, compiled in 1814, with a section on Tonbridge, or 'Tunbridge' as it then was, in it. In this section, written some 76 years earlier than Legends, it too mentions the folklore about tunnels running from the Castle to the Priory. I quote: "It is said, that there was a subterraneous passage carried under the bed of the river, from the priory to the castle, in order to supply the garrison with the necessaries in the time of distress; but I can find no warrant for this report except the uncertain voice of tradition."  That's all it says and clearly it's by no means conclusive but, nevertheless the seeds were sown in my mind that there might, just might be something in these tales. It's so frustrating that there doesn't seem to be anything else about it in any other books on Tonbridge; certainly there hasn't been in any that I've read and, believe you me, I've searched them. When I wrote the Tonbridge Community column for the Courier I mentioned this same story and, afterwards, a number of people came forward with their own version of the legend and tales of other secret tunnels emanating from the castle.  Can anyone throw any light on this lovely Tonbridge mystery....

Give us a K....

Waddaya got? So that's it then West Kent College's long awaited name change is K! Well we're all glad that we hung on long enough to witness that aren't we?! The students must have been up all night thinking that one up. Cynicism aside though sometimes the simplest ideas are the best and, after all, what's in a name? At least it wasn't KKK! Now that would have been a PR disaster. When companies are thinking up new names for themselves for their brands it's, more often than not, a case of working out which names they shouldn't or can't use than which they should. The most famous example I've ever heard of is that the French opted not to use Toyota's MR2 car model when it had been highly successful in other countries. Pourqois? Because MR2, when said with a French accent, sounds too much like merde and means something quite different in their lingo! Big companies therefore often use computer generated, none offensive names for their new products. A quick check would have revealed that there is a K Shoes brand, a lager called K and, not forgetting Special K breakfast cereal. If you watched The Apprentice this week then maybe they should have gone for Teach o nators or maybe even Octo Teach to show that they mean business and that they are multi taskers! At the end of the day though it will be how good they are at teaching and coaching their students and staff which ultimately determines how successful K College is not how good their logo looks.... 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Perfect Scrambled Eggs....

In an idol moment this morning I read this piece on the Guardian web site about how to cook the perfect scrambled eggs. The simplicity of this favourite breakfast dish didn't stop the writer calling on the expertise of a number of top Michelin Star and TV chefs. Perhaps surprisingly each of them had their own magic version of the meal. Even more suprisingly none of them used any milk, preferring instead to opt for creme fresh, cream or nothing at all. I was moved to send in my own recipe as this is one of the very few things that I pride myself on being able to get pretty much spot on every time. I thought I'd share my version with you.... 

  
      Scrambled Eggs a la Richardson      (Serves Two Adults and two hungry kids on a Sunday Morning)
9 (yes 9) free range large eggs (Two each and one for luck)
A glug of milk (as Jamie Oliver would put it!)
pinch of salt and pepper
knob of butter
tomato ketchup

Mix ingredients except butter into a bowl with a fork just enough for it to be mixed well together. (No whisking please.) Heat up a large frying pan (with enough room to really spread out the mixture on a highish heat; add a knob of butter and watch it start to bubble. As soon as it does add in your mixture from the bowl. Leave for a minute or so until it starts to solidify a little. Then turn over with a wooden spatula (not spoon) so you can lift it easily from the edges of the pan. At this point turn the heat down to about half way down and keep lifting the now fluffy eggs from the edges and bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down to low to control the speed at which it sets and keep lifting eggs off the pan. Meanwhile make your toast and and coffee and get your daughter to get off facebook to make your breakfast bar look pretty. Lashing of butter on toast and cut two slices for each plate, laying them at angles across each other to look nice but also to stop them going soggy on the plate. Season more if you really must and serve.

That's it. Simple isn't it but also simple to mess up.

Lest we forget....

Despite the appalling wet weather I can reliably inform you that the cannon at Tonbridge Castle still works as I've just nearly jumped out of my skin twice actually. It's let off to mark the beginning and the end of he two minutes silence for Remembrance Day and it gets me every year! It's probably not a real cannon but, more likely, a firework but it's certainly loud enough to stop you in your tracks and make you think....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

December Issue of The Tonbridge Insider Out Now....


November Issue
 I may have mentioned that Tonbridge Blog has a magazine cousin called Tonbridge Log in The Tonbridge Insider. It's new, it's glossy, it's ever so slightly controversial, it's fresh, it's a spread and it's out now! They also have an online version of it where you can read it as if you had the magazine in your hands using the rather nifty adobe reader if you have it....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where to buy cd's in Tonbridge?...

Where the heck can you buy a cd from in Tonbridge these days? You remember them; they are the small circular plastic things which came before ipods! How about Woolworth's? We all know what happened to them. Bionic Records on Botany? Nope they closed about two years ago. Alright then good old WH Smith's? Them neither as it seems they have now stopped stocking them altogether. So where then? Well, apart from a patheticly small top forty-type display in Sainsbury's, absolutely nowhere. Certainly nowhere where you can find decent selection of records other than the charts stuff. I tried to buy a couple the other day and quickly realised that I'd have to make a journey to Tunbridge Wells since they have both an independent record shop, Ape Records, and also HMV megastore in the Victoria Place shopping centre. But should the people of Tonbridge have to go to TWells just to buy a cd? Shouldn't we be able to buy these fairly basic items right here in our own town? Actually, it gets worse because, to finish the story, I couldn't get any of my selection in TWells either. They said that I could order them and I said I don't come to TWells that often and not to worry about it. By now of course I'd already hatched a plan for where to obtain them. I could just save myself the bother of shopping altogether and just download them onto my ipod touch which I bought quite recently but actually, call me old fashioned, I do still like to have something tangible for my money instead of just a track listing on a screen which could crash and be lost at any time. (At least that's my fear!) Anyway it's just as easy, once you have the cd, to rip it on to i-Tunes and then I've still got the cd to play in the car and on my stereo at home. So then there's good old Amazon. I hate doing it but they've surely become the biggest trusted brand in the whole world; they seem to have everything and indeed they had all three of the cd's I wanted with free delivery. Total cost was around £18 which, by the way, would have cost me £32 if I could have found them in HMV (plus the cost of the wasted trip.) I'd still rather buy them locally if I can but it does make you think doesn't it. That said don't go buying all your books there will you!...

Fab photos from Hillview Dance Platform....


Fabulous silhouette

The Hillview School Dance Platform, held during the Tonbridge Arts Festival was a massive success (scroll down to earlier post for full details.) Tonbridge Blog has just been sent some fab photos from the event. Alas they were not taken by TB but by a professional photographer who just happens to be on the school's PTA and was attending the event. Claire Dominic Family Photography is a studio that many of you will have already heard of but she certainly deserves a big plug.


Just like watching Slumdog Millionaire!
Here are just a couple of them and you can see more in next month's Tonbridge Insider magazine, for which I'm now writing a regular page. I'm sure if anyone wants to order any of the pics from the night Claire will be happy to oblige....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sky High rents in Tonbridge High Street??..

According to a commercial property web site 48 High Street was let to The Childrens Trust (Tadworth) for £23,000 a year and the same agent let unit 10 Angel Walk, the old John Adams bookshop for £27,500 to the Barnados charity. I'm actually a bit surpised that this information is in the public domain; you'd think that it would be a guarded secret so as not to effect their future negotiations but there you go. Now you may think that these rents are fair enough I'm not really passing comment on that. I am a little amazed though that charities, in the first case quite a small charity, can afford these rents but they must be able to sell enough stuff to make it work or I guess they wouldn't be in business. I know one thing though: I wouldn't be have a viable business if I had to pay those costs or anything like it or perhaps I'm missing a trick....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another woolley council idea!...



Take a look at the picture above. That's right there's nothing much there other than a pavement and a bench, a bin and a couple of street lamps, some bollards and a sign telling us where the parish church is (even though you can see it very clearly from there!) Oh and some bike racks. Crucially though there are no hideously ugly wooden containers with trees in them. Well when I say trees what I really mean is a skinny whips, starved of moisture, wrecked by vandals and surrounded by thick weeds (See top picture.) Another crazy council idea which probably sounded like a good idea in a distant committee meeting. So I won't be missing them one bit. What to put in their place? I know that the idea is being mooted of a larger tree in their place to fill the empty pavement space. What kind of tree? Who knows but they do put a Christmas tree there every year anyway so why not plant a pine or a nice spruce and decorate that every year. Or then again what's wrong with an open area of pavement? It could be used for a bit of busking or maybe street theatre. Why not leave it as a usable space? At the Civic Society talk the other day, during the announcements before the actual talk, this came up and I said, in all seriousness, that we should think about putting a statue there. No, not of me that can keep for another time! No, I was thinking of maybe Tonbridge's cricketing hero, Frank Woolley; what a fitting tribute to the man a large bronze statue would be. Bat in hand about to do one of his trade mark off drives. (Actually I made that bit up but you get the idea!) But, knowing the council they'll probably just dump another ugly tree there and have done with it for a few more years....