Sevenoaks High Street gets the thumbs-up!

Sevenoaks Chronicle front page this week celebrates the success of Sevenoaks High Street.  Bucking the trend of national High Street gloom and doom, Sevenoaks High Street is thriving with a 99% occupancy rate.  

And how?  By appealing to a wide cross-section of the resident population states retail expert, Rebecca Riches, of Ightham-based Hub Marketing Consultancy.  Millennials like the coffee culture and the range of eateries, from casual independents to brand-name chains.  Local shoppers love the mix of quirky independents, leavened with a few high profile names such as M&S.  Local weekly markets also add colour and variety to the retail mix.

Congratulations to Sevenoaks Town Council for working hard on maintaining our High Street.  Retail tourism is important too, so whether visiting friends and relatives or touring historic houses and gardens, a lively and buzzing High Street is an important and economically rewarding lure.

English Wine Week 26 May - 3 June

It's almost here - English Wine Week 2018.  What a great week to celebrate not only English wine but our great Kent wines! 

To celebrate why not visit a Sevenoaks district vineyard, The Mount Vineyard in Shoreham?  Savour a glass of wine in their tasting room, or combine it with a charcuterie or cheese platter or a stone baked pizza for that extra special treat.  Vineyard tours start this weekend too so have a peek at the 2018 harvest!

The highlight of the week is the Food fest, Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd June.  What a lot to celebrate in just one week but the celebration goes on as The Mount Vineyard is open for most weeks of the year.

Step back in time at Hever!

Celebrate half term week by stepping back into the Edwardian era at Hever Castle!  

Enjoy a traditional Punch and Judy show with a Tudor twist (look out for Henry VIII and his six wives!); learn about the study and collection of butterflies and moths from our resident lepidopterist; try your hand at traditional games including a coconut shy, tin-can alley, bean bag race, or croquet.

Meet Hever's very own suffragette who will be on hand to help children colour in a sash in a free craft workshop.

Scour the dressing up box to arrive in Edwardian dress with prizes for the best dressed boy and girl!

Book online to save.  

 


 

Be Medieval at Lullingstone for Bank Holiday Weekend!

Sunday 27 & Bank Holiday Monday 28 May - Medieval Weekend

Lullingstone is transformed into a magical medieval village – step back in time to experience the authentic sights and sounds with 'living history' displays (including live firing of cannons and mock battles!), character dress, campfires, tents and medieval weapons, courtesy of the remarkable Woodvilles medieval re-enactment group. Everyone can get involved with the archery sessions – fun for all the family!

Special Event  – admission charge £10 per adult and children 15 go FREE.

Faber and Faber - stories from a great publishing house

Sevenoaks Bookshop has a summer treat, quite literally, in store. On Tuesday 19 June, 7.30 pm, Toby Faber, grandson of the founder of Faber and Faber, the great British publishing house, will be sharing stories and anecdotes from the Faber archive in a celebration of independent publishing and bookselling. 

Publisher to so many literary giants including Sylvia Plath and TS Eliot, "Faber and Faber: still independent at 90" is a fascinating book and a guaranteed good read.

Tickets £8.50 to include refreshments.

Great Comp Music Festival 2018

No need to travel to the Wigmore Hall or even Sussex, as your very own mini-Glyndbourne is right on your doorstep at Great Comp Garden, near Sevenoaks!

Booking has now opened for this musical gem.  So make sure you book NOW to hear the glories of  BBC Young Musician winner, Laura van der Heijden, ‘cello, as well as Alec Frank-Gemmill, BBC Young Generation Artist and the principal horn of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Both artists grew up locally.

Other performers include The Primavera Chamber Ensemble, The Coull Quarter, Tango Siempre and many more providing a stimulating and tempting offering of classical, tango, piano and string music. 

The intimacy of the Great Comp's Stable auditorium is the perfect backdrop to showcase this dazzling programme of summer music.  A MUST book moment!

Art in June Open Studios 8 - 24 June

This is the time to be inspired, to treat yourself or find that special gift!  Visit the studios of the many talented artists and craftspeople in the Sevenoaks district in Kent.  Open 8 - 24 June, but check for opening hours in the yellow booklet or at www.artinjune.org

Admire painting, ceramics, jewellery and textiles during this fantastic Open Studios fortnight.

Photo: Margate by Lynda Beazleigh

Are you a Harry or a Meghan (or even a Megan)?

If you are entry to Hever Castle is free for the day of the Royal Wedding, Saturday 19 May.  Also watch the wedding service at noon on a large TV in the Moat Restaurant. 

A great way to celebrate with special commemorative elderflower and lemon flavoured cupcake topped with white chocolate mascarpone also on sale in the restaurants based on the flavours of Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake. 

So much better than . . .

. . . a hotel said recent enthusiastic visitors to a Simply Sevenoaks B&B!   What a fantastic accolade of approval, and how true we say!

So come and stay this May Bank Holiday in one of our welcoming guest accommodations and experience for yourself just how much better than a hotel our brilliant B&Bs and self-catering cottages are.  

Relaxed and stylish rooms with individual decor; mouth-watering breakfasts using locally sourced produce; and every little thoughtful extra to make your stay special together with the warmest of welcomes from your hosts is what you'll find if you book a Simply Sevenoaks accommodation.

Don't just feel tempted, be tempted and book now!

 

Festival Fever hits Sevenoaks

Festival fever has hit Sevenoaks with a vengeance!  Whether you're a fan of books, drama or music there's something on offer for you!

Bank Holiday weekend, May 6/7 is the date for the 2018 Chiddingstone Literary Festival, a literary feast with Ian Rankin, Adam Kay, Diana Henry and so many more - all set within the intriguing setting of this quirky Kent country house. 

Celebrating its 35th anniversary season is Hever Festival Theatre. Booking is now open for an eclectic range of music and drama.  There's definitely a treat in store for all the family here. Take a picnic and make it a real occasion.

Sevenoaks itself launches its 2018 Festival Programme on Saturday 23 June. Don't miss out on this annual cornucopia of delights and book now!

 

THE Flowers of Spring!

Bluebells are THE flowers of an English Spring.  The Evening Standard reported recently that Sevenoaks district has some of the best displays of these brilliant massed blooms.

So come and visit to admire the cerulean carpets of this Spring classic! Stunning displays can be seen at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, NT Ightham Mote, Chartwell and Emmetts Garden.  All are within a short drive from Sevenoaks, so why not make a bluebell visit a weekend trip? See www.simplysevenoaks.co.uk for some great accommodation choices.

 

 

SDAF Owners Dine Out

Chiddingstone's The Castle Inn and The Wheatsheaf at Bough Beech hosted some very special visitors recently!  This is what the pubs wrote afterwards:

We have lots of  tourists popping  in to refuel after a day out exploring our stunning countryside or soaking up the local history.

Some of them have been signposted to us by one of the many B&Bs in the area. So, we thought it was high time we said thank you and invite the B&B owners in for dinner. 

They were all members of the Sevenoaks District Accommodation Forum and thanks to its chairman Penny Cracknell, we had a lively group of owners join us for a fun evening, hosted by our very own proprietor, Jo Naismith. 

“Nobody has ever invited us before as a collective so this was a first,” Penny told us. “It was a really super evening. The hospitality was brilliant, the staff were enormously enthusiastic and we enjoyed lovely food.”

New and long-standing members of the SDAF met for the first time and within minutes they were swopping ideas and sharing anecdotes.  Members are all the proud owners of one, two or three bedroom B&Bs or self-catering accommodation within the Sevenoaks area - from contemporary chic to historic, four-poster 16th century homes.

Among the party were Drew and Debra Farish, owners of The Barn at Hildenborough, who told us that they had their very first date here at The Castle Inn.

The evening was a two-venue affair – dinner was at our pub then the party moved to our sister pub, The Wheatsheaf, for dessert and coffee.

“It was a lovely idea to split the dinner, as we didn’t realise how close the two pubs were,” added Penny. “As B&B owners, we often recommend The Castle and The Wheatsheaf to our guests as lovely places to go for food, but now we can say that with complete confidence.”

SDAF would like to thank both The Castle Inn and The Wheatsheaf at Bough Beech for their hospitality.  We are always keen to promote Kent produce and Kent businesses by encouraging our guests to visit and enjoy the many delights on offer throughout the Sevenoaks district.  There is so much to enjoy, that one visit simply isn't enough to sample everything on offer!

Mount Vineyard and Celebratory Bubbles

Lizzie Buxton, Head of Marketing and Event Planning at Mount Vineyard, Shoreham, and a judge for 2018 SimplySevenoaks photo competition, was thrilled to present a bottle of celebratory bubbles to competition winner, Louise Wilden.

Talented amateur photographer and Riverhead resident, Louise has frequent opportunities to practice her skills world-wide as her day job is as a BA long-haul flight attendant.  

Louise said that her early interest in photography came from her father, a professional photographer.  We think that Louise has definitely inherited the family talent as her stunningly atmospheric Kent lavender field photograph shows. 

The winning image can soon be seen on the front cover of the 2018 edition of tourism booklet Spend Time in Sevenoaks, shortly to be found on SDAF's tourist information stands.  If you'd like to see more of Louise's work, visit her website, www.lawildenphotography.com

Race your Pancake for Charity!

Why not join this seasonal fun event, all in aid of charity?  Run fast with your pancake, to benefit Breast Cancer Care.  Tuesday 13th February 9.30 am - noon, on Sevenoaks Vine Gardens.  £1 per entry.

Confirm your entry or find out more information by emailing osl@sevenoakstown.gov.uk.

Living with Nature at Hever Castle - Half-term family fun

Discover more about conservation and local wildlife as part of Hever Castle’s February half-term event, Living with Nature.
 
Following on from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch  and the Big School’s Birdwatch families and individuals are invited to visit the historic castle in Kent between 10 – 18 February to enjoy ‘Living with Nature’ aimed at school aged children.
 
Find out how to create habitats and encourage wildlife into your garden and join the RSPB workshop.
 
Join RSPB volunteers on a stroll around the grounds to learn about natural and manmade habitats or take a self-guided ‘Wildlife Detective’ walk to investigate animal footprints and tracks. Learn about nature throughout history from how fur was used to keep warm to which birds belong to the Queen.
 
Encourage creepy crawlies into your garden by building a bug house* (*additional charge) or buy a bag of bird food (50p per bag) and feed the birds and ducks.
 
For further information please visit the Castle's website or T: 01732 865224.
 

This IS Kent!

We have a winner!  Congratulations to Louise Wilden, whose glorious image will be the front cover of our 2018 edition of Spend Time in Sevenoaks tourism leaflet.

Amateur photographer Louise Wilden's daytime job is as a BA long-haul flight attendant. Louise has travelled the world, and has seen and photographed some stunning landscapes around the globe. We think this prize image shows that the Sevenoaks District in Kent is as beautiful and has just as much wow factor as any far flung corner of the world!

So what more can we say than Visit Kent and especially Visit Sevenoaks!

And thank you Louise for making our beautiful Kent lavender fields look simply stunning! Simply Sevenoaks!

Spring Fever!

There's much to love in February as not only is it St Valentine's month, it's also the month to celebrate the delights of Galanthus Nivalis, the snowdrop, that great harbinger of Spring and spring sunshine.

Celebrate this fabulous spring bulb at Great Comp Garden's Snowdrop Sensation Plant Fair on Sunday 18 February.  The plant fair itself, with its tempting array of those delightful nodding blooms, runs from 10 am to noon.  The gardens, themselves a spring delight, remain open until 4 pm.

An additional attraction is a lecture on spring bulbs by Val Bourne, acclaimed garden writer. photographer and lecturer.  The 1130 am lecture requires advance booking and tickets are limited so book now!

Wishing you Happy Christmas!

SimplySevenoaks and all our SDAF members say "Happy Christmas".

We hope that when you're looking for guest accommodation in Sevenoaks district for 2018, that you'll visit our website www.simplysevenoaks.co.uk where you'll find a fantastic offering of welcoming guest accommodation, be it bed and breakfast or self-catering.

We look forward to greeting you in 2018!

Shop local this Christmas!

Are you struggling to do your Christmas shopping?  Is it a headache?  A nightmare?  Or just plainly (or painfully) stressful?

If so shop local in Sevenoaks!  We have some fantastic shops where you'll be bound to find that very individual gift!

Consider The Chinaman for special Christmas decorations; Sevenoaks Bookshop for a good Christmas read; The Danish Shop for chic interiors; Lovell & Vie at Hollybush for indulgent lingerie; Chic et tralala - well the name says it all for this desirable interiors shop!  Or for gifts with a difference try Lark, at London Road.  Or treat yourself to an early gift from Grace Accessories in central Sevenoaks; buy your loved one a diamond from Francis Jones; a mouthwatering selection of chocolates from The Chocolate Shop and then sneak to The Compact Disc for a CD of carols to put you in the Christmas mood!

And where is all this to be found? In SimplySevenoaks of course!

Happy gift hunting for a happy Christmas!