October Newsletter


Les Maskrey took us on a world wine tour with Waitrose wines.

Austria Grüner Veltliner - vol 12.5%, 2020, £10.49, on offer at £7.49

A pleasant, fresh, yet fruity wine.

Spain Viña Lareira – vol 13%, 2020, £11.99, on offer at £7.99

An excellent example of an albariño with a lovely zing.

Greece Tsantali – vol 14%, 2019, £7.99

A nice wine, rather soft for a cabernet sauvignon, more like a merlot.

South Africa Spier – vol 14%, 2020, £6.99

In comparison with the Tsantali this wine was much more characteristic of a cabernet, with fuller body.

Portugal Gran Passo Classico – vol 14%, 2017, £7.99

A blend of 4 grapes including a syrah. A rich, tannic, inky wine.  Most enjoyable.

Argentina Finca Lalande – vol 14%, 2020, £10.49, on offer at £7.49

A good example of a malbec. Rich in tannin.

Les introduced us to a varied selection of reasonably priced wines and drew our attention to their special characteristics. It was most interesting to hear his personal tales about Portuguese vineyards, including the ones on the coast where the vines are grown among the sand dunes. Many thanks Les for presenting such an informative tasting evening, particularly at short notice.

NB The Chairman’s Selection has been re-scheduled for the 2022-23 programme.


Philip will be presenting the next tasting evening, which will be a comparison of single grape sauvignon blanc wines and sauvignon blanc blends from different regions.


The Star and Garter Inn was situated on a triangular island between London Road and Shipbourne Road.  The first record appears in Kelly’s Directory, 1874, where Leonard Hewitt was listed as the landlord. Later that year the Kent and Sussex Courier reported that “Temporary Authority was granted to Henry Cole to sell at the Star and Garter, Tonbridge, transferred to him by Leonard Hewitt”. From Victorian times until well into the 20th century this area was a thriving community often referred to as the “village”, as it had everything one needed including a baker, a chemist, a grocer, a dairy and two pubs. The first photo shows an interesting structure beside the pub sign. This was a public drinking fountain, with a metal cup on a chain attached to it. What would Health and Safety make of that these days!

Unfortunately many of us remember the Star and Garter as the derelict building, depicted in the middle photo. In the the early 1980’s this pub, along with the bakers, also occupying the triangle, were earmarked for closure as part of a road improvement scheme. Sadly the Star and Garter fell into decline and was boarded up for many years until it was demolished in 2005. Ironically, the road improvement scheme was ditched soon after the demolition had taken place. However, in this instance, the area has benefitted from these changes, as we can now enjoy the greenery of the wildflower meadow and trees flanked by the elegant buildings facing the triangular island. 

(Acknowledgements: Dover Kent Archives, Tonbridge Daily)


A cocktail with a difference, but one which should ensure a good night’s sleep.

Night Cap Cocktail, Knoops Chocolate Recipes, Waitrose Magazine

In a small pan gently heat 200ml whole milk to just below a simmer. Take off the heat and whisk in 40g grated white chocolate and a generous grating of nutmeg until the chocolate has melted. Pour 30ml rum into a mug, then pour over the hot chocolate. Top with more grated nutmeg and serve immediately. Serves one.


Recently one of my American cousins posted on Facebook that she had been making snickerdoodles. I was intrigued and asked her for the recipe. They are fun to make and very morish. The next time I make them I will try to perfect their shape!

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Cookie Dough (for 12 cookies)

115g butter softened

1 tsp vanilla essence

100g caster sugar

40g brown sugar

1 egg

190g plain flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp salt

Cinnamon Sugar Mix

25g caster sugar

1 dessertspoon cinnamon

In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the cinnamon sugar mix. Set aside.

Now make the cookie dough. In a large mixing bowl whip the butter with vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Add the caster and brown sugar and mix until well incorporated. Next add the egg and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Sieve the flour, cream of tartar, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the dough. Combine until evenly mixed.

Cover with cling film and chill.

Preheat the oven to 190˚C.

Using your hands roll dough into ping pong sized balls.

Dip the dough into the cinnamon sugar mixture and roll around covering the dough ball completely.

Place cookie dough on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Allow to cool and serve.

A Hidden Gem

The International Shop occupies the premises which for many years was Nelson Gale, a shoe shop owned by Don Webster. Later the Sue Ryder charity shop occupied the site. Now it is a well-stocked international food store (foods from Japan, China, India, Thailand, Turkey, Africa, Mexico etc), an Aladdin’s cave where you travel further and further into its depths. The majority of items are tinned, packaged or bottled, but you can also purchase unusual fresh produce such as plantains and galangal rhizomes. Definitely well worth a browse.


World’s oldest beer uncovered at Chinese burial site

Daily Telegraph: Drinking vessels believed to be 9,000 years old have been discovered next to bodies at a burial site in southern China according to a US study. They pre-date the oldest known evidence of beer, referred to in 7,000-year-old recipes on Egyptian papyrus scrolls. The drinking vessels are some of the earliest pieces of painted pottery ever discovered.  Chemical analysis of a small drinking mug showed traces of beer fermentation not found in the surrounding soil or anywhere else apart from in the pottery. The researchers from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire believe that beer drinking was part of a funeral ritual honouring the dead. Jiajing Wang, an assistant professor of anthropology at the college and co-author of the study, said that the beer was most likely “a slightly fermented and sweet beverage, which was probably cloudy in colour. Our results revealed that the pottery vessels were used to hold beer, in its most general sense, a fermented beverage made of rice, a grain called Job’s tears and unidentified tubers. The results also showed that phytoliths of rice husks and other plants were also present in the residue from the pots. They may have been added to the beer as a fermentation agent.” The discovery was made during ongoing excavations at Qiaotou, southern China.

Oldest Scotch under the auctioneer’s hammer

Daily Telegraph: The oldest Scotch whisky ever to be bottled will be auctioned this month with an estimated value of up to £140,000. Last month the 80-year-old Glenlivet Distillery oak whisky was displayed at Sotheby’s ahead of its sale in Hong Kong. Sir David Adjaye, an award-winning architect, was commissioned by the whisky company, Gordon and Mac Phail, to design a decanter and case for the bottle on the theme of “artistry in oak”.


The Spa Valley Railway Beer Festival was a successful event with an excellent choice of beers to sample. I hope some of you managed to attend, if not, mark it in your diaries for 2022.

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Latest comments

31.03 | 15:44

Hello, We have some demijohns and fermenting buckets, they are free of charge.If anyone would be interested please contact me.
Thank you

09.11 | 20:18

Thank you for your kind offer of the wine rack. Unfortunately Rainham is rather a long way to travel, as many of us live in Tonbridge.
Best wishes,

09.11 | 19:34

Hello I was a wine maker many years ago and have a 90 bottle wine rack for FREE if anyone can collect from Rainham Kent

09.09 | 18:31

Looks yummy! You list garlic in the ingredients list, but I don’t see where you add it to the recipe. I would guess that you add it to the partially sautéed oni

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