January Newsletter


I hope you all had a good Christmas despite Tier 4 restrictions. Let’s hope the vaccine proves to be effective and 2021 is a better year. Over the Christmas period I received many encouraging messages from members looking forward to the resumption of meetings. Thank you for your continued support.


While reproducing Geoff’s articles on old Tonbridge hostelries I have been doing my own research and have found several additions to include over the next few months.

Now everyone must remember the Station Tavern next door to the library,  but not looking like this:

This photo of the original Station Tavern was taken c1895. The original building was demolished around 1900 and replaced with a new building of the same name. Records indicate that there has been a pub on this site since before 1864. The building has gone under various names. Prior to 1864 it was known as the "Rising Sun". In January 1895 it was referred to as the "Station Inn" when Albert Pearson became landlord. An advert in the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser, Friday 4 April 1902 requested: “A respectable girl wanted for housework and assisting in bar; good references. Mrs. Pearson, ‘Station Tavern’, Tonbridge”. Albert Pearson, who had been landlord for 28 years, died on 24 January 1923, leaving an estate of £273 10s. 11d to his widow, Martha. Mrs Annie Noakes also served a lengthy period as landlady from 1938-61. Apparently it was fondly known as Noakes’ in those days. The Station Tavern closed in the mid 1990’s and remained empty until the 2000’s when it became a café under various owners and then a fish and chip restaurant. Currently it is a kebab and fish and chip shop.

(Acknowledgements: Tonbridge Daily, Dover Kent Archives)


Parsnip Wine, TV Times - Make your own Wine

The perfect wine for making in January when the frost has turned some of the starch into sugar.

3½ lb parsnips                         1 gallon water

3 lb sugar                                Juice of 2 lemons

Yeast                                       Nutrient

Scrub and slice the parsnips, removing any bad parts and boil them in the water until just tender – no longer – or you will have difficulty in clearing the wine later on. Strain carefully through a thick cloth, again being careful not to press the parsnips in any way. Add the sugar and lemon juice and simmer for 45 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool, then add the yeast and nutrient. Strain into a demijohn, fit an air lock and keep at approx. 16ᴼC for 6 months, then rack.


A lovely winter cocktail.

Winter Whiskey Sour

Crushed ice

50ml bourbon

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp fresh orange juice

½ tbsp sugar syrup

2 slices of oranges

Fill a tumbler with crushed ice. Put the bourbon into a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice, orange juice and sugar syrup. Shake and strain into the glass, and serve with the orange slices and a short straw.


An ideal dish for lunch.

Loaded Baked Potatoes, Waitrose Food

4 large baking potatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

200g smoked bacon lardons

1 bunch salad onions, trimmed and finely sliced

15g unsalted butter

100ml soured cream

2 tbsp snipped chives

100g mature cheddar cheese, grated

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Prick the potatoes with a fork, brush with the oil, season and place directly on the top shelf of the oven. Bake for 1 hour, until the skin is crisp and the flesh is soft.

2. Meanwhile, put the lardons in a dry frying pan over a low heat. Cook very slowly for 10 minutes, until the fat begins to run. Turn the heat up to medium, then after 1 minute add the salad onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more, until the lardons have turned golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.

3. Once the potatoes are cooked, hold them with a tea towel, halve lengthways and scoop out most of the flesh, reserving the sturdy shell left behind. Roughly mash the flesh in a bowl with the butter and soured cream, the crisp bacon mixture, ½ the chives and just under ⅔ of the grated cheese. Season and spoon back into the upturned potato skins. Put on a baking sheet.

4. Scatter with the remaining grated cheese. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, until golden. Sprinkle over the remaining chives before serving.

CUTTINGS (Good and bad news this month)

Good news: Wine appreciation improves as we age

Daily Telegraph: Researchers at the Spanish Research Council’s Institute of Food Science have discovered our ability to appreciate wines improves with age. María Ángeles Pozo-Bayón who led the research discovered that as people grow older changes in the composition of production of saliva appear to intensify their perception of aromas. Earlier studies indicated that saliva is less plentiful and more concentrated as people age. To further understand how such changes might influence people’s perceptions, the Institute recruited 11 participants between the ages of 18-35 and 11 people aged over 55 years. They were trained to recognise and rate the intensity of aromas in wine. The team took samples of their saliva and assessed how much of it they could produce, as well as the pH content and the activity of various enzymes. They were then tested on their ability to perceive smoky and peppery aromas in red wine. The older participants were more sensitive to these aromas and rated them more intensely and for a longer period of time than the younger people. Ms Bayón explained that the amount of saliva that they produce could affect the dilution of aromatic compounds with lower volumes. This would result in a greater number of aroma molecules being released into the airflow and coming into contact with the smell receptors in our noses as we exhale. Ms Bayón stated: “We could diversify winemaking to produce more enjoyable wines based on consumers’ physiologies.”

Bad news: Just half a pint affects coordination

Daily Telegraph: A recent study at NASA’s Ames Research Centre has revealed that hand-eye coordination is dramatically more sensitive to alcohol with coordination being impaired by more than 20% at levels as low as 15mg. The ability to process visual motions, which is crucial for hand-eye coordination in driving, is reduced after consuming less than ½ pt of beer for a person weighing 11st 11lbs. The study involved giving volunteers low doses of alcohol to measure eye movement, pupil responses and blood alcohol levels several times during the day while they performed a specific task before and after drinking alcohol. They were required to look at a set of stationary points on a computer screen and then follow with their eyes a dot that moved at random speeds and direction. Terence Tyson, of NASA, said: “Our findings provide a cautionary tale that the subjective experience of drunkenness is often not aligned with objective impairment of sensorimotor coordination. In other words, most people feel they are unimpaired after one drink, yet they are to a significant degree.” A sobering thought!


Christmas Tree Drinks

If your Christmas tree hasn’t been binned with the garden waste, then try this amazing drink:

Wash a small handful of pine needles and place in a clean jar. Top up with a natural vodka and leave to infuse for between 5 days to 2 months, depending upon required strength of flavour. Alternatively, try Geoff’s recipe for a pine gimlet, published in the December 2012 newsletter.   

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05.10 | 15:57

Just to let you know we are up and running again. Our next meeting is on Thursday 7 Oct, a commercial wine tasting. Pls let me know if you would like to come.

05.10 | 15:53

Thank you for visiting our website. We will ask our members at our meeting on Thursday and let you know if anyone is interested.

05.10 | 15:00

Good afternoon. We have a lot of black grapes ready for harvesting. Just wondered whether anyone would like them?
We’re based in Sevenoaks

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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