April 2020

Writing the newsletter during the next few months is going to be a challenging task due to a distinct lack of news. What to report without any meetings, competitions or shows? Each morning I go on a daily walk in the park and the photo above shows trees coming into blossom.

An appeal for news: Please let me know if you have any items that you would like to be included in future newsletters. This would be a great way for us all to keep in touch. In the meantime, I am going to reprint some of Geoff’s popular “Where are they now?” articles from his 2013-14 newsletters. I will also include a few extra recipes.

UPDATES TO OUR PROGRAMME

The AGM has been provisionally postponed until August. A buffet supper will follow the AGM.

The Annual Dinner on 24 April cannot take place as the Rose and Crown is closed until further notice.

Unfortunately, the Open Show had to be cancelled. This would have been a really good show as six national judges were booked.

The North Tonbridge Horticultural Society Spring Show – cancelled, but we await news on the Summer Show due to take place on 20 June.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

The Angel hotel was located where Pound Stretchers now stands on the corner of Vale Road and High Street. Another fine old building with a noble history is now, sadly, a distant memory. Yet there are club members who remember it. Indeed, I was talking to Marcel the other day and he remarked that it “was prone to flooding”. It was demolished shortly after the 1968 floods. This is another glorious testament to the people who are responsible for the destruction of Tonbridge as a town worth visiting. Even in the last century it should have been possible to retro-fit the building with modern materials capable of resisting a little moisture! Instead – the good old Tonbridge solution of pulling down and replacement with cheap tacky eyesore buildings was employed. I wonder, from this, who has managed to profit? In 1906 the Tonbridge Bowling Club used to meet there; it became the headquarters of the Kent County Bowls Association from 1911. I researched one old landlord: William Batchelor. William (1781 - 1856) was listed a publican in the 1841 census. I have a copy of his last will and testament – but it ain’t arf ‘ard reading that old copperplate script!

FOR THE WINEMAKER

Last year I acquired this interesting book published in 1972. Doesn’t the cover picture just give the date away! Over the next few months I will be including a selection of recipes from this book.

Dried Apricot and Raisin Wine

12 oz dried apricots        1 lb raisins

1 gallon water                       2½ lb sugar

1 tsp pectic enzyme       Nutrient                              

All purpose or sauternes yeast

Soak apricots and raisins in some of the water for 8 hours. Chop the fruit and pour over the water, boiling. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool, add the pectic enzyme. Put in a warm place for a day, strain the liquor into a demijohn and add the nutrient and yeast. Leave to ferment in the usual way.

Note: Makes a sweet wine.

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COCKTAIL OF THE MONTH

This cocktail was the signature drink of Burma’s Pegu Club, the social centre for colonial Britons in the 1920’s

Pegu Club

60ml gin

30ml orange liqueur

20ml freshly squeezed lime juice

Dash of orange bitters

Slice of lime

Combine all the liquid ingredients in a shaker, add ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve with a slice of lime.

RECIPE OF THE MONTH

In the April 2012 newsletter Geoff extolled the virtues of wild garlic and gave a recipe for wild garlic risotto. Eight years later I have found another excellent wild garlic recipe.

Wild Garlic and Cheddar Scones, Sunday Times

350g self-raising flour

Pinch cayenne pepper

1½ tsp baking powder

½ tbsp caster sugar

85g chilled butter, cubed

150g mature cheddar, grated

60ml milk

100g buttermilk or natural yoghurt

20g wild garlic leaves, chopped

1 egg, beaten, to glaze

  1. Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour, cayenne pepper, baking powder and ½ tsp salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the cheese and mix until well combined. Chill in the fridge for 5 mins.
  3. Combine the milk, buttermilk and wild garlic leaves with a pinch of sea salt and blitz in a food processor to form a green speckled liquid.
  4. Remove the scone mix from the fridge and pour over the wild garlic mixture, combining and cutting it in with a knife until you can use your hands to bring it together into a smooth dough.
  5. Cover with a tea towel, leave to rest for 15 mins.
  6. Turn onto a floured board and roll out into a circle approx. 3-4cm thick and then cut the scones with a 7cm scone cutter.
  7. Put the scones on a baking tray and rest them for 20 mins. Glaze with the beaten egg.
  8. Bake in the oven for 12-15 mins until well risen and golden brown.
  9. Cool on a wire rack. Serve either warm or cold.

CUTTINGS

Record Sales for Wine Merchants

Sunday Times: Wine merchants report a boom in sales as a result of the closure of pubs and restaurants.  Majestic Wine announced sales for the week ending 21 March 2020 were up 200% on the same time last year. They have employed extra office staff to cope with the increased orders and hired 40 more delivery vans with drivers. The company confirmed that it had ample stocks, but orders may take a few extra days to be delivered.

Ben Revell, founder of the wine club Winebuyers.com, described “absolute chaos” with a surge in demand for both wines and spirits. When bottles of vodka at £30.50 a time sold out, he began to wonder if people were buying them because their 95% alcohol content was being used to make hand sanitiser.  

In contrast pub landlords and staff are sadly facing a time of misery.

Too Warm a Winter for Ice Wine

Daily Telegraph: An unusually mild winter has left Germany without an ice wine harvest for the first time. It is feared after this sweet dessert wine made from grapes frozen while still on the vine could become a rarity. None of Germany’s 13 winemaking regions had the necessary temperatures of 19.4F (-7C) in 2019, one of the world’s warmest years on record.

MUSINGS

Rod Liddle, the Sunday Times ……..

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Latest comments

07.09 | 09:09

would the lady in hildenborough supply me with a demijon i live in hilden borough

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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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01.09 | 16:45

Hi - we have a vine that has produced quite a good few grapes this year.
The grapes are red, small and sweet would anyone be interested in them?
Can send photo

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13.03 | 12:56

anyone interested in 4x 50 litre wine carboys. I stopped making wine about 15 years ago. open to offers.

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