May 2020

May has been another month with very little news. I am spending my mornings just swanning around in the park. Chris has sent us some amusing tasting notes from Private Eye and I have received further news about Madge.

Madge in Surrey: Madge has moved to Surrey to be closer to her daughter. We will all really miss Madge at our meetings, but wish her every happiness for the future.


AGM provisionally postponed until August.

North Tonbridge Horticultural Society Summer Show: 20 June – to be confirmed.


Homebrew Shops

Elaine Robinson posted this message on Facebook:

“Most purchases these days are made online unless you are lucky enough to have a specialist homebrew shop near to you. Other than homebrew shops, branches of Wilkinson’s sell a limited range of equipment and kits, whilst some pharmacies also have a small homebrew section. There are also the ubiquitous Amazon and eBay of course. The websites of most of the online suppliers are well structured and some also contain helpful information and some recipes. See

PS Elaine also recommends clicking on the recipes link once you have reached the NAWB website.


The times they are a changing... For the ancestral home of Tonbridge Winemakers that is. Wyn lent me [Geoff] a book: Tales of Old Inns – and, guess what? The Rose and Crown is featured on page 15. This book is dated 1929 and celebrates “the history, legend and romance of some of our oldest hostelries”. It’s described as a “Jolly old House” which was once much bigger than it is today. Further, “its unostentatious early 18th century front, of chequered blue and red brick, facing Tonbridge High Street is but the modern mantle of an older house”. The timbers betray a Jacobean, if not an earlier, origin. The book describes the entrance hall – which is shown in the pencil drawing (bottom left) – it says “it contains a few panels of Jacobean oak discovered during modern restoration”. Also, “one of those scarce old coaching, or ‘Act of Parliament’ clocks still keeps good time on the wall on the right”.


This would be a good wine to make now for putting down until Christmas

Ginger Wine (sweet), TV Times - Make your own Wine

  • 2 oz root ginger                      
  • 1 gallon water                         
  • Good pinch of cayenne       
  • 3 lb sugar                               
  • 1 lb raisins    
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • Yeast
  • Nutrient    

Crush the root ginger and bring it to the boil in the water together with the cayenne pepper. Boil for 20 minutes. Pour into a fermenting bin and add the sugar and chopped raisins. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Allow to cool, then add the fruit juices, yeast and nutrient. Keep in a warm place for a week, then strain into a demijohn. Ferment as usual.


A pleasant summer cocktail using readily available ingredients.


50ml tequila

25ml triple sec or Cointreau

Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lime

-       Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker.

-       Strain the mixture into a tumbler filled with ice cubes and enjoy!


A favourite dessert with a Caribbean twist.

Apple & Rum Crumble, Caribbean Food Made Easy

 4 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into medium chunks

 30g butter

 2 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar

 5 tbsp rum

 1 tsp ground ginger

 Good pinch of cinnamon

 1 tbsp plain flour


 200g butter, cut into small pieces, plus 30g for topping

 350g plain flour

 pinch of salt

 100g dark brown muscovado sugar


-       Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

 -       Put the apples into a little simmering water and cook for 5-10 minutes. 

-       Meanwhile, make the crumble topping. Rub the butter into the flour and salt until you have a breadcrumb texture, then stir in the sugar. 

-       Drain the apples. Smear butter around a wide ovenproof dish (approx. the size of a sheet of A4 paper). Put the apples in the dish. Sprinkle over the muscovado sugar, rum, ginger, cinnamon and flour and stir them roughly into the apples. Spread the crumble topping over in an even layer. Dot with the remaining butter. 

-       Put on a baking sheet in the oven for 35–45 minutes, until slightly brown on top, and serve with custard or cream.


A Daily Tipple will help you reach 90

Daily Mail: Scientists have discovered that enjoying your daily tipple could boost your chances of reaching 90.

 Researchers tracked more than 5,000 men and women who were in their 60’s and 70’s to see how many reached the age of 90. The volunteers were quizzed on their drinking habits. 34% of the women and 16% of the men reached that age. When daily drinkers were compared with abstainers, men and women drinking 5 to 10g of alcohol a day were found to be 40% more likely to become a nonagenarian. Any more than 15g of alcohol and the benefits disappeared as larger alcohol intakes led to premature death. (10g of alcohol is roughly equivalent to a small glass of wine, a pub measure of spirit or ½ pint of beer.) Researcher, Dr Piet van den Brandt of Maastricht University, told the journal Age and Ageing: “Wine was associated with women reaching 90 but not men. Instead, intake of gin, brandy and whisky increased their longevity.”

 (Article kindly supplied by Bob Dye)


Champagne to remain on Ice during Lockdown

Daily Telegraph: Champagne producers fear there will be a marked decline in occasions for uncorking a bottle of bubbly due to worldwide lockdown. “We have been cut down since the crisis” said Maxime Toubart, president of the main champagne winemakers syndicate. “The sale of champagne bottles is heading to fall by 50 to 70% in the first quarter” he told Le Monde.


Chris has sent me some tasting notes, but ones with a difference as they are from Private Eye. Here is an extract:

Middlesex Merlot: Grown on the fertile banks of the Regent’s Canal, this musky delight has notes of shopping trolley and dead tramp. Before Brexit I would probably have turned up my nose at this wine, but now I would highly recommend it. Mmmm. English. Magnifique. Oops!

Birmingham Barolo: Grown on the fertile banks of the Brummie Bullring, this fruity treasure has notes of petro-diesel, with a hint of roadkill. Before Brexit I wouldn’t have given it shelf room – but now – a whole crate please. Grazie signore! Whoops!

Further notes to follow in a later newsletter after you have enjoyed these delightful wines. Oops! Whoops!

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Latest comments

02.01 | 17:16

Thank you for contacting our website. I will see if any of our members are interested in your offer. Whereabouts are you located?

02.01 | 17:00

I have 8 clear glass demijohns if anyone wants them.

07.09 | 09:09

would the lady in hildenborough supply me with a demijon i live in hilden borough

02.09 | 11:53

Hi Linda - Thank you for your kind offer. I have contacted our members and will let you know if anyone is interested. Best wishes, Cathy Rishman

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