December Newsletter


Following wine club tradition our Christmas party night was held at the December meeting. Members brought along savoury and sweet items to enjoy while pondering over the questions in Les Bates’ challenging quiz. This year wine related items were the main subject with a few random questions thrown in just to keep us on our toes, such as: “What is a Kentish plover” (wading bird) or “Which extinct animal’s name is the Portuguese for ‘stupid’” (dodo). The winners this year were Chris, Geoff and Cathy. Tom hosted the bumper Christmas raffle and looked the part in his amazing Christmas snow scene hat.   

Thank you, Les for organising the quiz and to members for raffle donations.


My Favourite Christmas 2021 Tipple. Drinks enjoyed over the festive season is the topic for next month’s meeting. A small group of members will be presenting their favourite tipples, but we would really like another couple of people to join them. Please let me know if you can take part.


It appears that Tonbridge had an abundance of pubs well into the mid 20th century.

My most recent find has been the White Horse Inn, which was situated at 162 High Street opposite Alishan Indian restaurant. Records are a little confusing as the White Horse first appears in 1855 as being at 152 High Street. Apparently between 1856 and 1896 some of the High Street buildings were re-numbered. Over the years various landlords are listed in directories and the

Kent and Sussex Courier in 1874 reported that the licence of the White Horse, was transferred from William Brackenbury to Charles Jones. In 1908 the newspaper reported: “Supt. Styles in his annual report to the licensing justices, said the licensees had generally conducted their houses in a satisfactory manner, with the following exceptions: ... Ann Sarah Glover, White Horse Inn, Tonbridge, serving a constable on duty; ...”. Local historian, Mary Barker-Read, records the White Horse as being in business in 1971, but it is believed that the pub closed in the mid 1970’s. For many years a hairdressers occupied the building, however the premises are currently vacant.

NB: If you look carefully between the two windows on the first floor, remains of the brackets for the pub sign are still visible.

(Acknowledgements: Dover Kent Archives, Tonbridge Historical Society,


This is my favourite Christmas cocktail. I make it with homemade ginger wine, but Stones or Crabbies works just as well.

White Christmas

30ml gin                                             

30ml coconut cream

30ml ginger wine

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well.  Strain into a martini or coupe glass. 


These unusual marzipans make an ideal Christmas treat and are so easy to prepare.

Pistachio, Cardamom & Rose Marzipan, Honey & Co

Makes about 20

160g ground pistachios (use a food processor or a spice grinder)

130g icing sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

½ tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp rose water

Juice of ½ - 1 lemon

Chopped pistachios or dried rose petals to decorate

Mix all the marzipan ingredients together using as much lemon juice as needed to combine to a smooth dough. Work it by hand to help the oils come out of the nuts to create the perfect paste.

Tear off pieces of about 15g each and roll into balls. You can roll these in chopped pistachios or rose petals or both, or you can shape them any other way you prefer.


All Aboard the Wine Train

Sunday Times: The implications of Covid, the introduction of customs documentation for EU countries and the shortage of HGV drivers have led to uncertainties on the availability of our favourite tipples on supermarket shelves in the run up to Christmas.  However, fear not, Network Rail have come to the rescue by laying on extra freight trains to bring in imported wine that would normally be picked up by HGV drivers. A weekly “wine train” aims to transport 4.5 million bottles to supermarkets before Christmas. The first service started running in November from the Port of Tilbury and will continue each Sunday until 19 December. It carries 643,000 bottles to a depot in Daventry which are destined for sale at Tesco, Sainsburys and other retailers.

The railway network in general has experienced a reduction in commuters due to Covid and this has led to the withdrawal of a number passenger trains, thus freeing up slots for extra freight services. A couple of months ago Felixstowe, our busiest container port, had to divert some of its vessels away from the UK as the docks were full of containers.  Now the problem is being eased with the addition of three freight trains a day. Network Rail believe that a significant improvement in the supply chain could be through the increase in freight services.

The Royals’ Favourite Tipples

Sunday Times: Last month the queen gave the royal seal of approval to the French aperitif, Dubonnet. She is believed to enjoy a dash mixed into a glass of champagne (ugh!).

Daily Telegraph: The late Queen Mother was known to have an extraordinary capacity for alcohol, from claret and port for lunch, to gin and tonic in the evening and champagne at dinner. Princess Margaret particularly enjoyed gin and whisky. Prince Charles apparently favours a martini in private and has become a connoisseur on whiskies. The Duchess of Cornwall is something of a wine buff, often visiting vineyards on overseas tours. The Duchess of Cambridge is a little more circumspect and only takes a sip of alcohol in public.

An Extra Tipple for the Fittest

Daily Telegraph: A recent study has led researchers to believe that people who are very fit, healthy and active are more likely to be heavy drinkers because they feel their exercising entitles them to an alcoholic reward. Almost 40,000 people aged between 20 and 86 enrolled on a study at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, where each person exercised on a treadmill to assess their cardiorespiratory fitness. They were divided into those with low, moderate and high fitness levels. Questionnaires assessed how much alcohol they consumed per week. Analysis of the data revealed that women with moderate fitness levels were 58% more likely to drink heavily than the most unfit. A moderately fit man was 42% more likely to drink heavily. The most fit women were more than twice as likely as the most unfit to be a heavy drinker. The fittest men were 63% more likely to be big drinkers than the most unfit males. Although the self-reward factor could be the reason for these results, it was also acknowledged that the fittest people tend to have additive personalities, as do some heavy drinkers.


The most expensive Advent Calendar ever

Did anyone feel guilty about splashing out on a £50-£100 drinks filled advent calendar this year? Well there is no need to worry as an advent calendar worth £7.8 million has been designed by a Doncaster artist for someone wishing to make family gifts. The floor-standing calendar, weighing 108 lb, is made from reclaimed materials in the shape of a Christmas tree ornament. It is embellished with platinum leaf, emeralds and diamonds and a Bvlgari necklace. Wow!

Merry Christmas to you all!

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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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