July Newsletter


Regrettably the AGM scheduled for August has been postponed until September, as the Angel Centre do not have a firm date for re-opening. On 2 July I received the following email from Tim Long, Centre Manager:

At the present time we are still awaiting government guidance on when the facilities can reopen, as soon as we have the details of when we can open and have undertaken all of our risk assessments to ensure public safety through social distancing we will then know what activities we will be able to allow to return to the centre.

As soon as we have this information, we will endeavour to contact all our members and customers to advise.

We may receive further news later this week following the government’s recent announcement. Let’s hope the AGM can take place in September, if not, alas, it will have to be postponed again. We need to have the AGM in order to elect our new committee before we can proceed with our programme.


29 August – to be confirmed.


Tonbridge used to be a really beautiful town with many fine old buildings of tremendous character. Sadly, running this feature on “lost pubs” has filled me with a sense of foreboding for the future: so much has been lost – and the town will continue its inexorable slide into insignificance. I was in the library the other day and, guess what? I saw a presentation on “lost pubs of Tonbridge” produced by the Tonbridge Historical Society who kindly supplied the picture above (ref 9.69). The melancholy figures speak for themselves: past pubs 26; present pubs 18. Yet these statistics make no allowance for the exponential growth in the town’s population. What takes the place of these fine old buildings? Well, we have a mixture of car parks, pound shops and tacky low-grade department stores. Welcome to Tonbridge! This poor old town deserves better! Upon the site of Lidl’s car park once stood the Good Intent. Just look at it – a fine old building with immense charm and quirkiness! In the early years of the 20th century it was managed by Mary and William Manser. Mary was the daughter of William Cheal who managed the Imperial Tavern for much of the 19th century (he died in 1901). What happened to the Imperial? Why – it was demolished! William and Mary Manser’s son, Bill, subsequently took over and managed the Good Intent. The pub was demolished in 1970. WHY?


Tom is making the peach wine from last month’s newsletter and reports that it is fermenting nicely. OG 90, latest reading 10.

My ginger wine has stopped fermenting. To be fined and bottled in November ready for Christmas.

MIXED FRUIT WINE, TV Times - Make your own Wine

Currants, raspberries, plums, gooseberries – whatever is to hand can all go into this wine.

3½ lb mixed fruit                1 gallon water

1 teasp pectic enzyme         2½ lb sugar

Bordeaux yeast                    Nutrient

Wash the fruit and discard stalks, etc. Pour the boiling water over the mashed fruit in a fermenting bin, allow to cool, add the pectic enzyme and cover. 24 hours later stir in the sugar, yeast and nutrient. Leave covered in a warm place for 4 days, stirring twice daily. Strain through a muslin cloth into a demijohn, squeezing gently. Fit an air lock. Ferment and rack in the normal way.


A perfect cocktail for our aviation enthusiasts. It contains some unusual ingredients, but they can all be sourced through Amazon.


60ml gin

15ml maraschino liqueur

10ml crème de violette

20 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cherry or lemon twist to garnish

Combine all the liquid ingredients in a shaker, add ice and shake well until mixed. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve with a cherry or lemon twist.


No apologies, but here is another strawberry tart recipe. It is one of Geoff’s favourites and the rose custard is really delicious. This is an updated version of the recipe which first appeared in a 2012 newsletter.

Strawberry and Rose Petal Tart

Pre-heat the oven to 190ᴼC

For the pastry

12 oz plain flour

6 oz butter

1 oz ground almonds

1 oz caster sugar

Cold water to bind

Make the pastry in the time honoured way and line a 23-24 cm flan case. Prick the base with a fork. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Line the chilled pastry case with greaseproof paper and baking beans. Bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes. Cool and remove from tin.

For the confectioner’s custard

1 vanilla pod                         ¾ pt milk

2 eggs                                   1½ oz cornflour

2 oz caster sugar

2 – 6 (depending on size) highly scented roses – if they aren’t they’ll be no good.

Slit the vanilla pod (don’t forget to extract the black gummy seed mixture with a knife – this delicious stuff contains most of the flavour), soak it in the milk with the rose petals and bring nearly to boiling point. Allow to cool and strain. Whisk the eggs, sugar and cornflour together, add a little of the cooled milk, stir to mix thoroughly then whisk into the rest of the milk. Bring slowly to the boil and whisk thoroughly when it begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Assemble the tart

Hull and halve 1 lb strawberries. Spoon the custard into the flan case then put the strawberries on top.

NB – use roses that haven’t been sprayed. Do not wash the petals – just shake any creepy-crawlies out!



Paper Wine Bottles, another green alternative

Daily Telegraph: It would appear that the wine industry is constantly seeking alternative environmentally friendly methods for distributing their wines. In the March 2019 newsletter, I wrote about the production of flat, plastic wine bottles, which could be efficiently packaged into compact packs to fit through a letterbox (ref Daily Mail).

Recently the Daily Telegraph reported on another type of bottle, this time a paper one, known as the Frugal bottle, manufactured by Frugalpac, Ipswich. The Frugal bottle is made from recyclable paperboard with a plastic lining easily separated from the paper bottle to allow for recycling. It is 5 times lighter than a glass bottle, has a carbon footprint of around 6 times lower and is easy to recycle. The first wine in the range will be from the Cantina Goccia vineyard in Italy. Frugalpac say the Frugal bottle is under “active consideration” by a number of UK supermarkets and will soon be available from retailers in the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Lockdown and the growth of Home Brewing

Daily Telegraph: Home brew sales have risen by almost 500% since the closure of pubs in March. Wilko said its online home brew sales quadrupled in the first week of May compared to the same period last year.

All we need now is for some of these new brewers to join Tonbridge Winemakers!


Found in the “How to be British Collection” by Martyn Ford and Peter Legon:                   

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Betty Thomson | Reply 06.09.2017 20:39

I have a black grape vine ( just turning black now) probably enough to fill a flexitub. I live in Blean Nr Canterbury if anyone is this way and would like them

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Latest comments

19.05 | 14:38

Hi Caroline
Thank you for contacting our Website.
We do not hold virtual meetings, but keep watching our website for notice of the resumption of meetings.

19.05 | 12:57

Hi, once restrictions allow and you are back up and running, we'd be really keen to join. Or now if you are running virtually. Please email me with details.

18.05 | 21:24

Hi John,
Thank you for contacting our website. Unfortunately we do not currently have any members making mead and cannot recommend a good supplier.

18.05 | 20:41

Hello, I’m returning to this hobby after a break of many years. I would like to start by making mead. Where would be a good place to buy enough honey. I would b

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