Pub Chat

Leigh Social 23 March 2022

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A Busman’s Holiday … ?

News has reached us of several bus trips undertaken by branch members recently, and we understand all came home safely !

Report on the West Kent CAMRA Bus Trip on 11 March 2022 to Hook Green,
Lamberhurst and Pembury

Following on from our “out of area” trip last Friday, this week saw us venturing to the southern boundaries of the Branch. Given that there was a CAMRA social in Sevenoaks the previous evening, a good attendance of seven intrepid travellers turned up for this trip. We departed from Tunbridge Wells War Memorial on the Service 256 which runs from Tunbridge Wells to Wadhurst via Hook Green and Lamberhurst. We caught the 11.15 bus and picked up a couple of fellow drinkers at the Railway Station. The bus duly arrived at Hook Green at 11.40 where we had a 20 minute wait until the Elephant’s Head opened at Noon. The 20 minutes went past quite quickly and we were soon sitting around a table with some beer. There was only the one Harvey’s beer available on cask, Sussex Best, and I thought that this was in excellent condition. The landlord explained to us that he normally had one or two of the Harvey’s seasonal cask ales on but currently it was fairly quiet and it only justified the one ale. There was a very pleasant surprise for us when a plate of ham hock terrine and toast was brought out to us with compliments of the chef.

All too quickly it was time for us to start to prepare for the next leg of our journey. The aim was to catch the same 256 service for the short hop from Hook Green to Lamberhurst. We duly assembled at the bus stop five minutes before the 13.14 bus arrived. It started to rain and we waited, and waited and waited. We discussed how we might be stranded and what we might do.
And then at 13.39 the bus arrived. Apparently it had been delayed by an accident near Wadhurst on its previous outward journey and had been trying to catch up time since. There were deep breaths of relief all around until we realised this would now cut out short visit to Lamberhurst to 20 minutes if we were to catch the early bus back in the direction of Tonbridge. There are four pubs in Lamberhurst and we passed them all on our short bus journey to the village. The Vineyard and the Brown Trout were both on the outskirts whilst the George and Dragon and the
Chequers were in the village. Whilst waiting at the bus stop we had discussed which pub we should visit given our limited time. It was decided to go to the Chequers as none of us had visited recently. After a cheery welcome from the girl behind the bar we found Harvey’s Sussex Best and Cellar Head India Pale Ale available on cask. I went for the India Pale Ale as did several others but
unfortunately, it ran out. The landlord, who had appeared to help serve, quickly went to the cellar and it was replaced by Cellar Head Session Pale Ale. Both were in excellent condition. We were
told that at busier times there are three cask ales available and they are all local. They have a policy of sourcing their beers from local breweries, even the lagers. We didn’t have much time for small
talk as we had a bus to catch at 14.13. This was Service 299 which runs on Fridays only between Tonbridge and Tenterden. There is one bus out from Tonbridge in the morning and the one we were
catching which returns to Tonbridge in the afternoon. If we missed this it would have meant waiting for the next 256 which returns to Tunbridge Wells at 17.13. Luckily, the bus was on time, as were we, and we caught the bus back to the King William IV in Pembury. One member of the party from Tonbridge elected to stay on the bus so six of us alighted. The rain had almost stopped and it was a short walk, almost just across the road from the bus stop. Inside we found a welcoming barman and and array of six hand pumps for real ale. We had known that there was a good selection of real ale as one of our party lived in Pembury and was a regular there. After a convivial pint or four and a prospective new member ignoring us, we departed at about 16.30 for a short walk up the road to where we knew we could catch a 208 bus to Tonbridge. Of course, we left our Pembury colleague to stagger home. The bus arrived on time and those who were going to Tunbridge Wells alighted at Tunbridge Wells Hospital to catch a connecting service to the Town. The remainder of us continued to Tonbridge where we called into the Beer Seller for a final pint before going home. The Kent Brewery ALTnative Amber was in excellent condition.

Report on the West Kent CAMRA Bus Trip on 18 February 2022 to the Little
Brown Jug, Chiddingstone Causeway and the Greyhound, Charcott.

Friday 18 February saw the arrival of Storm Eunice. During the morning there was an exchange of emails discussing the merits of the trip going ahead. After confirming that the buses were running, two intrepid members of the group set out on the 210 bus at 11.00 to visit The Little Brown Jug. There they found Larkins Traditional, Tonbridge Golden Rule and Old Dairy Uber Brew.
Unfortunately the Uber Brew was not in good condition and was quickly changed for a Larkins Traditional. The pub has two open fires and they were experiencing problems with the wind blowing smoke back down the chimneys. The pub was almost empty due to many cancellations because of the storm. Meanwhile two more group members were catching the 12.00 bus from Tonbridge and the driver informed us that this would be the last bus as she had been instructed to return to the depot. We decided that there was the possibility of catching a train back so proceeded with the journey. Several branches lying on the road were successfully negotiated by our driver. We arrived at the Greyhound just as the other two members were getting drinks after being “blown” across the footpath from the Little Brown Jug. The pub was fairly empty with just two or three other customers as all of the lunchtime bookings had cancelled because of the storm. A perusal of the hand pumps showed the following beers available. All were in excellent condition as I tried all four. It was our intention to have lunch and we could now do this in a more leisurely fashion whilst discussing the options for returning to Tonbridge. It was during this period we received information that there were now no trains running and we discussed the possibility of getting a taxi. There was no perceived rush as we were enjoying the meal and the beer. Very few more customers came into the pub and the lovely landlady, Fran, said she needed to go out
and would kindly give us a lift in to Tonbridge.

Report on the West Kent CAMRA Bus Trip on 21 January 2022 to the Man of Kent, Little
Mill, East Peckham, the Bell, Golden Green and The Carpenters Arms Tonbridge.

This was our first bus trip of the year. We had originally planned it for late Autumn but had to postpone because there were no buses due to the petrol and diesel shortages, For this trip we took advantage of the Service 208 which runs between Pembury and East Peckham via Tonbridge. Nine people came on the trip, most, if not all were CAMRA members. We caught the bus that runs through Tonbridge just before midday aiming to get to our first port of call, the Man of Kent, about 12.15. Some people intended to eat and had reserved a table and others were there just to sample the beer. On arrival there were one or two people in the pub and a few more drifted in after we arrived. There were four operational handpumps with the following beers available – Harveys Sussex Best, Gun Scaramanga Extra Pale, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Tonbridge Coppernob. All beers were tried by members of the party and they were all in good condition. We had until 13.30 at the pub as we had to catch the 13.37 bus back for the short hop to the Bell at Golden Green. We had an hour at the Bell before we needed to catch the next bus at 14.39 for another short hop to the Carpenters Arms. St Austell Tribute (which was in good condition) was the beer currently available at the Bell and when finished will be changed to a different beer. This could either be another national brand or a local beer depending on their ordering and rotation. They would like to have more real ale available but the current trade only warrants the one beer and ensures there is a fairly quick turnover. After an hour in the Bell it was out to the bus stop for the short hop up the road to the Carpenters Arms. A very kind bus driver allowed us to get off at the pub rather than taking us to the official stop in Hadlow Road. There were three real ales available at the Carpenters Arms. Harveys Sussex Best, Greene King Yardbird and Ruddles Best Bitter. Personally, I was disappointed with the selection, especially the national brands. On previous visits I have seen them championing local breweries. Being close to Hadlow Road meant that we now had the option of catching the Service 7 from Maidstone to Tunbridge Wells. As some of the party wanted to catch a train on arrival in Tonbridge, a few of the party departed after a swift pint. Those who were catching a train went on to Tonbridge Station, whilst the remainder alighted at Bordyke for the short walk down the High Street to Fuggles Beer Cafe. The remainder of the party joined us later to enjoy Fuggles extensive list of both cask and draft beers.

Loyalty card Offers

Several pubs in the region now offer loyalty discounts for regular customers, as well as “Happy Hour” sessions at various times. The offers that we are currently aware of include the following:

Sankey’s, TW have a loyalty card for beer and food that works in both Mount Ephraim and The Pantiles, and they also have a “3-5 Club” offering discounts on beer between 3-5pm Mon-Fri.

The George, Ragged Trousers and Sussex Arms, TW have a long-running loyalty card for real ale that works in all three pubs.

The Beer Seller, Tonbridge also has a loyalty card for real ale.

Fuggles (both pubs) have recently introduced a loyalty card for real ale.

Royal Oak, Prospect Road TW has a “Hoppy Hour” on Monday until 7pm for selected ales

Let us know of any others you know about.

Pub Ramblings and Visits

Toad Rock Retreat at Rusthall

Rusthall Toad Rock Retreat

On entering customers are faced with a double open-sided wood burning fireplace separating the main bar area, featuring parquet flooring and wooden tables and chairs, from a peaceful snug area containing comfy leather seating arranged around the fireside. The dining area to the left includes cosy tables lit by fairy lights intertwined around internal branches attached to the walls.

Alongside the regular Harveys Best, real ale is being promoted with 2-3 guests sourced from local breweries like Old Dairy and Tonbridge through to those from further afield like Adnams, Sharps, Woodfordes and Gales. Nick and Shelley are keen to generate more of an interest in real ales in a pub which formerly didn’t offer much for the real ale drinker, so they need the help of thirsty customers like you!

Diners are well catered-for as they continue to offer the formula of good value home cooked pub fare that was so successful in the Dovecote.

Now that summer is officially here why not enjoy a drink on the outside front terrace or the adjacent raised garden in a rural-feel atmosphere.

Disabled access can be found via the side entrance.

Further details including opening times and food serving times can be found by following this link..

Whatpub Link

Located at the Tunbridge Wells end of Rusthall, the pub is reached by following Harmony Street down from the Rusthall Road and just past the famous rock formation which gives the pub its name. A number of footpaths from Rusthall Road through woodland also lead to the rocks. Bus stops are very conveniently located by Harmony Street and the Arriva bus 281 service from Tunbridge Wells runs very frequently, 4 or 5 buses every hour during the day Monday to Saturday, and half hourly in the evening until late. There is also a half hourly service until early evening on Sundays.

                                  So why not get along there and support a good news story!

Rusthall Toad Rock int 2

Rural Retreats with St.Out and A.B.Out

Chipstead George & Dragon 2

Every now and then my job will send me to the outskirts of the West Kent CAMRA empire there is the necessity to be refreshed.

Take last week for example. Heading back from Dartord I turned off the A25,followed the signs to Chipstead and arrived at The George and Dragon. What else was there to do but to give it a try?

It is a delightful sixteenth-century building and most customers I would image enter from the car park which means you arrive to face the bar with dining seating left and right. From the layout it is obvious that the emphasis is upon eating but not exclusively. It is not a restaurant as there is a substantial area in front of the log fire where drinkers can stand or make use of the sofa.

I was greeted by smiling and friendly staff, eager to help and quick to put me at ease making me feel at home. I was also greeted with two pumps both serving beers from the Westerham Brewery. One pump dispensed George’s Marvellous Medicine’, a house brew which the owner has helped develop. The second was Westerham’s Grass Hopper bitter.

I’ve always been suspicious of brews developed specifically for one pub. If the brew was a tip top winner then surely the brewery would want it to be available for all. How different can these one off brews actually be so how does the customer know what  they are to receive. Suspicious of the possibility to the need to appeal to all and create an indistinctive beer, I opted for the Grass Hopper bitter which was excellent.

Talking of excellence, the menu is not your typical ‘pub grub’. Some pub grub I have found is akin to eating grubs which may well have nutritional content to the warmed up and slopped fare that can be delivered using the disguise of ‘traditional pub fayre’. Here the food was sublime. Not a warmed up frozen delivery but obviously made from fresh ingredients and prepared and cooked in the kitchen. This is reflected in the price but in the view of St Out, well worth the extra pound or two.  There are still traditional favourites on the menu like ’beef burgers’  but it is only the name that bears any resemblance to the product found upon many high streets. Not a beef eater I cannot have to rely upon my companion AB to provide the evidence. My risotto was the best risotto I’ve tasted.

The verdict is that this pub is worth going out of your way to find and although geared up for an upper end eating experience reinforced by the quiet atmosphere. No music, TV or gaming machines here. If you are looking for a quiet pint whilst doing the crossword after work or a lunch time chat with friends this is your place. Will I go there again? I certainly will but next time will take the missus, it’s that type of pub.


The George and Dragon

39 High Street, Chipstead,TN13 2RW

Tel : 01732 779019

email :

The Windmill, Sevenoaks Weald, TN14 6PN. 01732 463330

West Kent Branch is pleased to report a very welcome improvement to our stock of pubs in the form of the refurbished Windmill pub in the village of Sevenoaks Weald.

Formerly a Greene King house, the pub is now an independent free house, which opened for business at the start of October after a period of renovation, and offers the real ale and cider drinker an enticing selection from six hand pumps on the bar. Quality lagers and bottled beers are also available
Local CAMRA members visited recently and were delighted with the range and quality of drinks, working our way through Larkins Traditional and Porter, Hopdaemon Incubus, Skinner’s Betty Stogs (replaced by Goachers Silver Star during our stay) and Harveys Old Ale. Local Chiddingstone Cider was also on hand pump with a further real cider served from a chilled unit behind the bar.

The pub was enjoying a healthy lunch time trade with plenty of diners having booked for Sunday lunch, all in a cosy atmosphere incorporating candlelit tables, wooden barrels and settles and thick bundles of hops hanging from above the bar. There is a separate dining area for those not wanting to eat in the large bar, which also offers plenty of room for eating or drinking. Lots of locals appeared to have dropped in whilst walking their dog on what turned out to be a lovely winters day. Congratulations to the all those involved in setting up and running the Windmill, all of us that visited were very impressed.

How to get there using public transport
Sevenoaks Weald is served, Monday to Saturday, by the Arriva 402 bus route linking Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks.
On Sunday, Sevenoaks Weald is served by Go Coach route 401 linking Westerham, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge.
Bus timetables can be found on TRAVELINE