December Newsletter


The annual day trip to France was, as usual, a successful event. The day went according to plan with plenty of time for shopping before enjoying our excellent lunch at Le Blanc Nez. Our meal was very relaxed with time afterwards to order a brandy or stroll across the road to see the sea. Lee Kirk, one of our guests, summed up the day perfectly in an email: “It made a most enjoyable and restful day, good company, good food and some retail therapy, perfect.”


The Christmas party night was a festive occasion, with a good turnout of members. Les Bates’ quiz contained a varied array of questions, some of which really had us fooled, starting with question no 1: In which decade did Bing Crosby’s song “White Christmas” enter the UK charts?  I think the majority of us immediately thought of the film “White Christmas” and gave the answer as the 1940’s or 1950’s, whereas the question was referring to the hit song entering the charts, which was in the 1970’s when it was re-released.  The Tonbridge Whiners were the champions.  Many thanks to everyone for providing food for the delicious buffet supper and to Lin and Sylvia for setting up the table. The evening was concluded with a bumper raffle hosted by Tom and Marjorie. Again, thanks to all of you who donated prizes.


My Favourite Tipple This year we have a very interesting collection of tipples waiting to be tried at our next meeting on Thursday 3 January.



Quarterly: Dry red

(No wine of the evening competitions this month)


Christmas Present

Jan Powis treated us to these delicious clementine segments dipped in chocolate at the Christmas buffet supper. They are really refreshing and so simple to make.

Clementine Segments dipped in Dark Chocolate, Waitrose         

Melt some dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or more) in a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Dip in the clementine segments and leave to set in the fridge.

Christmas Past

My cousin was recently recollecting his teenage years in late 1950’s Leeds when his father would buy a barrel of beer at Christmas time for making orange shandy. I had never heard of orange shandy and asked him for the recipe. Unfortunately I was unable to find any mild beer, which is a popular choice of beer in Yorkshire and have used bitter instead.

Orange Shandy

Half a glass of mild or bitter, small amount of orange squash, then top up with lemonade, cold water or tonic.

It makes quite a pleasant low alcohol drink.



2020 Dates for North Tonbridge HS Open Shows

Spring show: 4 April

Summer show: 20 June

Autumn show: 29 August (liqueur class only)

Spring and summer show classes: Dry White, Dry Red, Sweet White, Sweet Red


A good bargain from Waitrose

Waitrose are offering a bottle of Campbell’s Rutherglen Muscat at £9.99 (37.5 cl) reduced from £12.99 until 2 January. It is recommended in Waitrose Weekend as a perfect sweet wine to drink with Christmas pudding. The wine has caramelised fruit smells and lovely honey notes. On its own there’s dripping barley sugar and ripe spicy fruits and then with the pudding you suddenly get a burst of oranges. I just can’t wait to try our bottle on Christmas day.


Another Surprise Visit from Mr Smith

Daily Mail: In the April 2019 newsletter I included an article about Mr Humphrey Smith, the proprietor of the Samuel Smith pub chain, going into his pubs incognito to check that his staff were enforcing his ban on mobile phones.

This month Bob has given me a cutting from the Daily Mail about Mr Smith visiting the Fox and Goose in Droitwich. The pub had only been open for 7 weeks, but was becoming a popular venue with the locals and then suddenly it was closed down the day after Mr Smith made a surprise visit. Apparently Mr Smith heard a customer using the F-word while telling a joke and subsequently closed the pub as he felt this was lowering the standards that the original Samuel Smith had set when he founded the brewery in 1758. Eric Lowery, the landlord, and his wife are now both homeless and jobless. Tony Haycock, a local, said regulars were “well behaved” and that Mr Smith “seemed happy” when he made his visit. He added: “He’s shut the pub for one swear word.” I just wonder whether there is more to it than meets the eye.

(Article kindly supplied by Bob Dye)

A Glass of Double Fermented Beer is Good for You

Daily Telegraph: The October 2019 newsletter contained an article on red wine being good for you, as it creates a healthier gut microbiota, which helps support the immune system and metabolism. Now we have something for the beer drinker:

Recently it has been discovered that gut-friendly bacteria present in yogurt are also found in some beers. Researchers found that beers that have been fermented twice, once in the brewery and again in the bottle contain probiotic microbes, which provide many health benefits such as combatting obesity and getting a good night’s sleep. These beers include strong Belgium beers such as Hoegaarden, Westmalle Tripel and Echt Kriekenbier. The second fermentation uses a different strain of yeast to traditional brewer’s yeast, converting the sugars in the grain to alcohol, but also making acids that are poisonous to the bacteria that can make us ill. Prof Eric Claassen, a gut bacteria expert from VU Amsterdam University said: “In high concentration, alcohol is bad for the gut, but if you drink just one of these beers every day, it would be very good for you.”

A Wet Dog Bouquet, but what Breed?

Daily Mail: Anthony Barton, a wine producer in France, has commented on the term “wet dog” as a wine odour in a letter to the Daily Mail. Mr Barton questions this term as there are so many dog odours. He pointed out to a prominent person responsible for compiling acceptable terms to describe wine odours that the smell of a wet chinchilla is quite different from that of a Labrador. The compiler thanked Mr Barton and assured him that he would correct this in his next edition. Consequently, there may be an additional 15-20 smells listed – all doggy.

(Article kindly supplied by Jan Powis)


From the committee:

"One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don't clean it up too quickly."

Andy Rooney

A merry Christmas to you all from the committee.

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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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