Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More on Baby news scoop...

You would expect Private Eye Magazine to put it better than TonbridgeBlog and they didn't disappoint!... (PS. I may even renew my subscription after seeing this!)


Man hurt by falling tree near Weatherspoons pub....

I did wonder what was going on last Friday when I saw a huge oak tree being chopped up and loaded onto the back of a huge lorry at the back of the Co op. The whole road was blocked off round that vicinity. I just assumed that a tree had been felled to make way for some new development or something along those lines. Someone just told me though that actually the tree had fallen down and crushed three cars, trapping and seriously injuring one man who was sitting in his. See story here on local news site....

Daphne Du Maurier's Study at Mr. Books?...

What is Daphne Du Maurier's study doing in Tonbridge? See the new window display at Mr. Books....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Best beers?...

As previously blogged about I missed out on the SIBA beer festival, held annually at Tonbridge Juddians Rugby Club. By way of consolation however I have been enjoying some of the lovely bottles of, seemingly, pure nectar which were left over from the event. This has been made possible by the bars manager taking pity on me and kindly invited me to inspect the surplus supplies with a view to sampling them. I've only tried one or two bottles so far out of the dozen I bought but a full report on my investigations will follow in due course....

News Scoop!...

A man and his wife, both in their late twenties, have just announced that they have had a baby boy. The couple, William and Kate from Wales are said to be delighted with the delivery and will choose a name very soon. I can't think of any more to say on this subject other than to wish the couple and their child a long and happy life....  (Their name is Wales and they're from central London, Ed.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

SIBA Festival....

What a superb weekend for the beer festival at the Rugby club. In complete contrast to last year's event which, can you believe it was flooded and was therefore cancelled, the organisers got their reward with an absolutely glorious weekend. Hot weather it seems is very good for beer sales. A little birdy tells me that on Friday night alone they'd sold over 1,400 pints of the lovely sticky nectar. Not really surprising when you consider that there were around 120 different beers and ciders on offer and all from independent brewers. Imagine how gutted I was therefore when I discovered that the event fell on the exact same weekend as my niece's wedding which I had little choice but to drive up on Friday night for and return Sunday evening thereby missing the whole festival. The wedding was lovely though so I guess it was just the way things go sometimes. I hear that the whole festival was a great success. I'm already looking forward to next year's and will have to have a word with my other niece's and nephews to make sure that the same clash is avoided!...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What Arts Festival?...

I wasn't going to say any of this publicly, but it's been bubbling up inside me for a while now and I feel that the time is right to speak....
The original Tonbridge Arts Festival started life as a literary festival which, granted, was a little too narrow. It morphed into a very decent ten day coordinated series of events held together by a common purpose: to bring the folk of Tonbridge out to appreciate some of the finer things in life and to be properly funded and supported by the community. Yes there were tribute bands and The Three Degrees but there were also evenings of orchestral music and projects like the Big Picture and Dancing in the Street which hit people in the face with wonderful images, involving them and giving them something to ponder on. There were very well attended poetry nights, a lovely evening of short films; art exhibitions, schools events, a literary day on the castle lawn with talks by great authors which was like a mini day at Hay on Wye Lit Fest right here in Tonbridge. There was pottery, ceramic arts, printing and demonstrations of other visual arts on the Lawn. K College, many local schools, Tonbridge School, and Tonbridge council were all among the many groups and hard working individuals involved. Last year's was a great effort but the momentum has perhaps been lost this year and it needn't have been so. Although I somehow doubt it, I do sincerely hope that this momentum is regained for next year's event because last weekend's effort was no Arts Festival, just a few sporadic events occurring over a weekend. Having a business is all about making a decent amount of money but you cannot judge an arts festival on how much profit it makes; that's not the point of it. The bigger events with mass appeal should fund the events which need to be encouraged like poetry, like local band nights and classical music and short film nights. The organisers may not ultimately achieve it but I believe it is their purpose to have a go at stretching the intellect and imaginations of the community. Isn't that after all what "The Arts" are all about. Oh yes and I'd even put up with a fake Freddie Mercury if they made a real effort towards that goal.... 

What we don't need is more Radio Gagga....

Some of you seem to have got in a bit of a tiz about my "pompous" comments regarding the Killer Queen concert. To coin a phrase some of you need to calm down a bit. You'll live longer if you do! That's the point of a blog you know to let people have their say. Just because my views don't always agree with your own doesn't mean you have to have a go. I'm sorry if I find Killer Queen and tribute bands a bit naff and clichéd. They have their place if you like that sort of thing and I've already admitted that I've seen a few in the past. I also cannot deny that it was a commercial success given that it was sold out. (the weather must have helped on that score though.) But as the centre piece of an Arts Festival? I'm sorry but lets not even grace it with that phrase. An arts festival should, in my opinion, be about lifting peoples expectations and making them think a bit deeper than a 30 year old song that they've heard a thousand times, sang by a saddo in a yellow jump suit, which they can shake their heads to while they get slowly drunk. So if thinking that makes me "pompous" then so be it. If the fella who runs the local indie bookshop doesn't push for a better appreciation of The Arts then what hope is there left?...

Watch out for Fake Fifties....

BanknotesI tweeted about this yesterday but I'll post it here to make sure people know about it. Especially to shop keepers of Tonbridge: Watch out for fake fifty pound notes. I was very nearly  caught out yesterday and would have been £35 plus four books down if I'd fell for it. Even though he was friendly, chatty and smiley something did smell bad, I sensed something wasn't quite right so I didn't accept the note even though it passed the ultra violet light test (at least partially.) It wasn't just the note but the man himself: he was smartly turned out with a slightly well spoken accent but that didn't sit right with his tattoos and very shaven head. My good nature though was telling me not to judge people and, like I said he was a chirpy chappy. He was trying to pass himself off as a bit of a young professional, city trader type, going away for the weekend; so it was believable enough. He also chose his books rather too quickly which sent a signal to me that he hadn't really been too bothered what they were. Also he was interested in True Crime which maybe was his way of taking the micky, having one over on me! When it came to payment he then said he had a company credit card which he could use so the only note he had was the fifty! A bit too slick I thought, so made my excuses about not wanting to be wiped out of change which was sort of true anyway. There are quite a few checks retailers can make on banknotes to verify that they are genuine but most of the time we don't have time or don't think there's a problem. With a £50 note though that's a heck of a hit if it turns out to be a fake. I realised for certain afterwards that the note was a fake because, firstly, it felt too new and smooth (real ones have slightly raised print) and under ultra violet light it showed up a "50" which cannot be seen by the naked eye but, crucially, not the thick green line which should show up bright under the light. There are several other checks worth knowing about and the Bank of England web site illustrates them for each banknote in a very handy guide. I would urge every shop keeper to cram up on this because fakes are getting more like the real thing. Needless to say the fraudster/thief didn't return for the four books I saved for him while he went off "for some lunch" No doubt he went on to some other poor unsuspecting small trader to rip them off instead of me....

The Song of the Paddle....

Why I love canoeing. There are no better words to describe it and no wonder a canoeing enthusiast's web site took its name from this:

“Introduction:- Odysseus ordered his men to plug their ears when they sailed by the island of the Sirens so they would not be lured to their destruction on the offshore rocks by the sea nymphs' irresistible song. In order to hear the song, Odysseus asked his men to lash him to the mast. I know all about this sort of thing because I hear a song like that of the Sirens every spring when the ice on the rivers begins to break up.

Years ago in the heart of Winnipeg, Manitoba, I would be working at my desk in a commercial art studio, hear the song, hand in my two weeks' notice and get my outfit ready. My parents thought I would outgrow it but I never did. If anything, the song is becoming louder and more insistent with the passing years.
Some people hear the song in the quiet mist of a cold morning; others hear it in the middle of a roaring rapids. Sometimes the excitement drowns out the song. The thrills become all that matter as we seek one rapid after another. Sleeping, eating and living outdoors become something we do between rapids. But for other people the song is loudest in the evening when they are sitting in front of the tent, basking in the camp fire's warmth. This is when I hear it loudest, after I have paddled and portaged for many miles to some distant, hidden place." 

From The Song of The Paddle by Bill Mason (Without the kind permission of the web site of the same name- but I'm sure they won't mind!)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Killer Joy....

Walking past the castle about 7 o'clock yesterday evening I noticed that the Killer Queen concert was sold out. I'm not sure how many the castle lawn holds but a couple of thousand I'd have thought or there abouts. That's a lot of people wanting to hang on to a lost era or Radio Gagga, Bohemian Rapsody and, well yes, Killer Queen. Don't get me wrong, Queen were an awesome band in their day but it always amazes me that people will pay good money to see a clichéd poor imitation of the real thing. Some of these tribute bands have been playing the same stuff for twice and three times as long as the original artists themselves. Now there is something rather sad about that fact alone. Freddie Mercury ain't coming back so just let him go!...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

If you must buy books online try Hive....

About us PODStill, sort of, with independent retailer loyalty schemes in mind it's worth pointing out that, in my own business of books, there is a new scheme which is getting a very considerable following which is difficult to find anything wrong with it at all. If there is a catch I have yet to work out what it is. For those of you who insist on buying your books online, and you know who you are, there's a new way to do it and, at the same time, support your local or favourite bookshop. Instead of buying via the well known online book retailer whose name I can no longer bring myself to mention, go to Hive.co.uk and order online. The prices are discounted on thousands of titles and you have the choice of free delivery to your home or the convenience of picking up from your local participating bookshop which then gets a small commission on each sale. It's that simple and can be totally trusted as it was set up and ran by Gardners Books who are the family owned book wholesaler who supply most of the independent bookshops in the South of England and have millions of books listed. In fact Hive.co.uk stock pretty much every book in print and many print on demand titles can be ordered also. You can also order e-books, DVDs, stationary and music on the site. It's a far better experience still to actually go along and browse the books on the shelves at you local book store but, if you really must order online at least give us local indies a bite of the cake!

Even More on Tonbridge Loyalty Card....

The Tonbridge Town Team members responsible for the TLC would do well to read this article on the Guardian website before ploughing ahead with the current scheme being proposed. There are some interesting options which they may not have considered. Personally I'd be more in favour of a gift voucher scheme of the ones mentioned.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More on Tonbridge Loyalty Card....

This letter from Susan Adams of the Tonbridge Town Team tells us everything about how our town is to get some TLC (that's short for Tonbridge Loyalty Card.) Maybe I'm just an old cynic but I'm still not convinced that this initiative will save the town and that it's not all maybe just a bit too old hat. Or does every little help? Might it be worth 50 quid to find out? What do you reckon??
Here's the letter from Mrs. Adams:
Those businesses that opened two Sundays ago for the Taste of Tonbridge day did exceptionally well, with reported crowds in our town centre of over 20,000. 

I was surprised how many shops managed to find window space to advertise a show in Tunbridge Wells that was on at the same time, but not for this event that would keep the public in Tonbridge.


To build on the Taste of Tonbridge success, the Town Team aim to launch a Tonbridge Loyalty Card on 1st October.  A basic overview of the scheme is as follows (N.B.  IT IS NOT A DISCOUNT SCHEME)

  • Cards are given out to shoppers at no cost (available from various locations in the town, from participating traders, shops, businesses)
  • Participating shop, businesses, traders each have a unique Tonbridge rubber stamp
  • Every time someone spends £10, their card is stamped (maximum of 3 cards/18 stamps in any one spend) - if participants collectively felt a £10 spend was not enough, or indeed too much, this could be tweaked
  • Once a card is full (6 stamps in total) shoppers then "post" the completed card into prize boxes - these would be hosted at various town locations.
  • Once a month there will be a prize draw, the owner of the winning card is issued with £50 of Tonbridge vouchers (issued in various denominations) to be redeemed in any of the participating shops and businesses.
  • How the redemption works - for example someone buys a bike from you and has £50 of Tonbridge Loyalty vouchers - you would validate the vouchers and deduct £50 from their spend.  You then return the validated vouchers to the Town Team, who in turn refund you £50.  Therefore even though the vouchers have been redeemed in your shop, you are not at a loss.

That in a nutshell is how the proposed scheme would operate (there would have to be a set of rules and standards, ie any winning card agrees to have their picture in the local press, as a prize draw with no visual winner is not good promotion for the scheme) - it's not a discount scheme and businesses are not actually giving money away to customers, it's all about promoting shopping and using local shops and businesses and a networking means for participants.  There would be advertising in the local paper with a photo of the monthly winner being presented with their vouchers by a participating business, and underneath the article (how this works elsewhere) a list of the participating businesses.


The cost to each participating business would be £50 a year, and for this each would be issued with a unique Tonbridge rubber stamp, cards to go in their window and by the till, and also a number of cards for giving to customers for stamping.  The scheme would run January to December, so anyone joining in the first year would get 15 months for the price of 12 (ie October 2013 to December 2014).


Nothing is set in concrete. The prize draw figures could be altered and if the scheme grew we could then afford to have a number of monthly draws, a bumper month or could decide to say put on a late night shoppers event etc etc  Also this type of scheme is not limited just to High Street shops, we see it including all town trades, shops and businesses in Tonbridge.   


Members of the Town Team will call on you shortly to request your involvement.  Any questions, please do not hesitate to ask them, or email me.


Kind regards

Susan Adams

SARA. She's so 21st Century!...

I see that Slade Area Residents Association who are, in many ways the heart of the town, has finally launched itself into the 21th Century and gone and got a web site. I haven't had a peek yet so let Tonbridge Blog know what you think. Click on SARA

Roped in yet again!....

Sunday was set to be a bit of a dull day what with nothing being planned and the garden looking depressing over grown. That was a job I knew couldn't wait. So obviously I decided to let it wait and went for a bike ride along the Penshurst cycle trail instead. It been quite a while since I'd done it and I fancied a ride out across our beautiful countryside. So off I wobbled on my wife's bike which is a good one but a lady's one nonetheless and they are different you know. I'm not sure quite how, apart from the obvious cross bar missing, but they definite handle differently. Anyway after a very pleasant slowish ride along the river, across fields and through woodland, after a very steep climb I then descended down into the village with the majestic Penshurst Place looming in the foreground. After a little tootle through the village I noticed that the Leicester Arms was closed and up for sale which must be a sign of the times. Then I noticed that the village fete was on so decided to venture in. What a lovely setting for a village fete it is as well so I locked up the bike and headed over for the stalls to have a look. Moments later I was sitting in the shade on a glorious summers day drinking Chiddingstone Cider and watching the world go by and listening to a fairly competent singer who was doing a good job of entertaining the kids centre stage. He did remind me a little too much though of the cabaret singer on that bad but addictive comedy Benidorm; a very decent singer but a bit cliched and hammy. Incidentally they put ice in the glass which worked a treat making a really refreshing drink which I felt I'd earned what with all my cycling activities. I then rounded it off with a succulent burger from the barbe to get some energy for the ride back. Then came the announcement. The Leigh village team are the traditional challengers to the Penshurst team in the Tug Of War and they hadn't turned up so they were looking for volunteer team members. Must have been the effects of the Kent cider but, amazingly, I found myself raising my hand to offer my service. I must have inspired others to have a go because before too long a team of eight reasonably burly blokes was assembled and, do you know what, the scratch team made up of villages and dads who just fancied a go didn't half give the Spotted Dog team a tug for their money. We lost 2 1 but were by no means anihilated. Okay there was some cheating on the leg we won and we may have gained a couple of extra members but no one cared and it was all good, if not clean, fun. Next came the tyre lifting competition which again people seemed reluctant at first to join in the fun. As you can imagine, after the high adrenelin of Tug of War, I was feeling well up for it and managed to lift what must have been a small lorry tyre above my head a full 22 times which ain't bad for an old codger like me. I was pretty pleased with that and, for a time it looked like no one could beat it. Until, that was, the reigning champ traipsed up to the centre and nonchantly did 34 lifts. I almost had my moment of glory and a medal. So close!
So it only goes to show sometimes you're in for a dull day and turns out bright and cheerful....

Anyone else get these letters or is it just me?!..

....and just by way of contrast a very polite young lady, a Miss Dennis, from Ghana in Africa has written to me asking for my help. I'm not sure how she knows me but maybe she just likes booksellers and bloggers or something. Maria Dennis doesn't sound much like an African name come to think of it but who knows. She wants to send me some money which has been locked up in her uncle's bank account I think. What should I do?!

Dearest Beloved!


My name is Miss.Maria Dennis, from Republic of Ghana in West Africa. I am 23 years old and i am the only child of my parents, I lost my parents in a road accident in the year 2004. My father was a successful business man before he died. He had a large estate which he willed all to me but my uncle have  confiscated everything and subjected me into an unbearable pains since the death of my parents.He forced me to live in his house,he treats me like a slave to worsen all my movements and life is being restricted and monitored all day.


But i am glad to discover that he could not trace one of my father's assets which is a consignment deposited in one of the leading security companies in our country. This very CONSIGNMENT contains

($6.800,000,00) My father's lawyer which was my fathers close friend was able to move this CONSIGNMENT to a Finance Company in our neighboring country Togo and have been waiting all this while for me to get to this age before he reviel the infomation to me.


I want to ask you if you are capable to help me on this by receiving this fund in your account and also investing it into any business that can benefit both of us.Long as you we remain honest till we meet to gather.


Also i will connect you to my father's lawyer who will stand on your behalf to facilitate this transaction. Immediately this fund is transferred into your account i will come over to meet with you in your country for the investment of the funds to any tangible business that can benefit both of us.


I look forward to your feedback.


Best regards

Miss.Maria Dennis
PS. In all seriousness, if you don't know it already, never respond to one of these emails. I have spoken to some who have fallen for it and it has cleaned out their bank accounts. Instead talk to me first or, if you have spare cash click on the Donate button to the right and give Tonbridge Blog however much or little you can afford!!

Just Clegg it mate....

Some guy called Nick keeps writing to me on an almost weekly basis. I just can't seem to shake him off. He just will not get the message. I'm not interested in you babbling. It's all hollow lies:

Dear Mark,

Money, jobs and investment dominated the agenda this week. On Wednesday, the chancellor set out details of the Spending Round: the last set of savings we will have to announce in this Parliament. On Thursday, Danny Alexander followed up by announcing massive new investment in our roads, rail, housing and infrastructure.

And the moment he was finished, I rushed down the road to talk with the leaders of some of Britain's biggest cities about the next wave of "city deals", devolving financial and economic power to our great urban and industrial hubs.

Creating jobs. Stopping the build up of Labour's unsustainable debts. Getting the economy back on track. That's the central purpose of this government: it was on the day we started and it will be right through to May 2015.

And what about Labour? For three years their central purpose has been to accuse Liberal Democrats of betrayal for our determination to tackle the deficit and rebalance the economy. And now? They've effectively admitted we were right: they wouldn't reverse a single one of the cuts we have made. They finally accept that the difficult work we've done to set Britain back on the right path has been worth it.

So if you've been on the receiving end of attacks from Labour supporters over the last three years, now's the time to fight back. They're the ones who crashed our economy and racked up unaffordable debts. They don't have a credible economic plan and it's no wonder people don't trust them with their money.

Labour want us to be embarrassed about our record in government, but they couldn't be more wrong. We can be hugely proud of what we're achieving.

Balancing the books and rebalancing the economy isn't easy - especially not for the millions of families still struggling to adjust after the collapse of our financial system in 2008. We haven't relished any of the difficult decisions we have had to take, but we know they were needed. Because even though progress is frustratingly slow sometimes, it is happening.

More than a million new jobs created, and a million apprenticeships started, too.

Tax cuts for every working person, with two million freed from paying any income tax at all. Better protections for pensioners, higher standards in our schools, and help for all those struggling to find work.

We need to get out there and explain that story to everyone we meet. Labour don't have an alternative. They should be apologising to the country for the damage they did to the economy - and apologising to us for the brutal accusations they laid at our door while we were cleaning up their mess.

Liberal Democrats have done the right thing, in the national interest: cut taxes, created jobs and invested in Britain's future. There are just two years until the next election so let's stand up and be proud of what we've done.

Best wishes,


Nick Clegg