Birthday Boy in Tunbridge Wells

Trip Start Apr 28, 2007
Trip End Oct 26, 2007

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Sunday, June 24, 2007

 We drove the M25  Jo and Mark's in Tunbridge Wells, but Friday afternoon was not the smartest time to be going.  It's strange to join a motorway when you are coming down the on ramp faster than the traffic already on it.
The M25 is affectionately known as the biggest carpark in England, but we made it to Jo and Mark's in time to take some fortified waters before enjoying one of Jo's legendary dinners.
The weekend was a chance for Jen to introduce Brian to the Young family, otherwise known as "home" in the UK to the Haylocks.  Predictably, because that's how it always is at Jo and Mark's, we drank very good wines, ate VERY good food, and laughed a LOT. 
Less importantly, we also explored some of the beautiful old parts of Tunbridge Wells. We walked around the Pantiles and shopped just a little. Met one of the locals who inject some added interest to the area...Those of you who know Jen, may be surprised/relieved that it was Brian who bought shoes in Tunbridge Wells.  New York may have had the stock exchange, but we discovered that Tunbridge Wells had a corn exchange, now a shopping precinct.
A good retail find in Tunbridge Wells was the wine wholesalers who stock the best selection of Kiwi wines we have ever seen in England. We weren't going to walk past the Quartz Reef Pinot Noir or the Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir- we think they are flagship wines to share with friends here. Comparatively they are better priced than the rather ordinary NZ wines available in the supermarket chains which we think are overpriced.
We had our "it's a small, small world" experience in an Italian deli bistro in Tunbridge Wells.  We wandered in for lunch, and Brian was wearing the Taupo Urban Retreat t-shirt from Chris and Kerry's backpackers. Our waiter had just returned to England that week, after working in the Taupo Urban Retreat for a couple of months, so it was instant brand recognition.  Of course we were talking to the converted.
Mark's elderly Mum also lives with Edward, Charles and Jo and Mark.  She is 98 and seems to be in good form - she still presides over a weekly lunch at her favourite Michelin star restaurant nearby.
Brian was the reluctant Birthday Boy on Sunday - it was the perfect excuse to head to a wonderful country pub near Ticehurst for lunch, to help soften the blow.  Jen had eaten here before and wanted Brian to share the experience. This little pub fulfilled all expectations  - it's way off the highway down a narrow country lane, with flagstone flooring which dates back hundreds of years, and huge wooden beams so low that you need to duck. Sadly Jo couldn't join us as it's not easy to leave Mark's Mum. It was up to the rest of us to embarrass Brian with a rendition of Happy Birthday.
Back to Epsom for the evening and a tasty birthday dinner prepared by Anne.  Surely birthdays can't be all bad?
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