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mmm Maidstone, Medway Magazine 9

mmm Maidstone, Medway Magazine

Issue 9, October 2012 Complimentary


Calling all brown-eyed girls (and boys), The Man is here


Who says people can’t fly? Now’s your chance to learn


Put your best foot forward on your big day


DRAMA AT THE ABBEY Feast on good food you’ve cooked at home

Dan Stevens returns to our screens in the ever-popular Downton

October 2012

n Fitness n Fashion n Travel n Entertainment n And much, much more

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The Old Rectory Weddings Farleigh Lane Maidstone Kent ME16 9LX Telephone: 01622 727 779

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Our Wedding Venue Maidstone is set in 5 acres of mature grounds. e beautiful 200-year-old Rectory is licensed for Civil Weddings and Civil Partnerships, with our beautiful lounge overlooking the stunning gardens. e house is perfect for an intimate celebration, whilst our luxury marquee on the lawn can accommodate larger parties. We will provide a unique service by offering you exclusivity for the day and total flexibility. Our aim is to offer this stunning venue and make a very special day a truly memorable one.

Welcome I recently found myself talking to an older woman who is an inspirational role model to us all. She was very nicely styled, with good posture, manicured nails and perfectly coiffed hair - even us younger ladies are rarely so well turned out, and seeing her made me pull my shoulders back and think of my own posture. As we talked I then discovered she was 67 years old and still running her own business in the mmm area. She was significantly more years than I’d guessed and proved my long-held belief that if we just take the time to look after ourselves and think about our toilette and dress we can continue looking a million dollars a long time after our twenties have been left behind. This inspirational lady revealed that as well as a busy schedule as a successful business woman in Kent, she is also regularly engaged on trips abroad too. She really is flying high with success, and you could be too if you take a look at our article on learning to pilot a helicopter.

As we continued to discuss the lady’s achievements we moved on to her style and impeccable taste in fashion before she revealed to me her first encounter with this magazine. I won’t repeat her words as they will sound far too self-congratulatory, but she did reveal that she no longer had her copy because she’d put it in her husband’s bag when he set off on a recent business trip. This made me realise just how many people pick up our magazine and look out for each issue as it hits the streets. We often receive requests for the magazine, and so to help meet demand we’ve set up a subscription service. See page 77 for more details about this. And while you’re turning the pages of the magazine don’t forget to look at our preview of musical legend Van Morrison’s visit to the county, the start of the season for Maidstone Symphony Orchestra, and of course a whole variety of other features to keep you entertained as autumn draws in.


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MMM Media Ltd White Cottage 13 Ashford Road Maidstone ME14 5DA Tel: 01622 299035 Publisher Rasa Dregva Editor Tom White

Travel Editor Tricia Lester

Production Michael Pilcher Design Maggie Ashton Sales Emma Hunton Accounts Kerry Head

Photography Gediminas Zilinskas Thomas Richards

Further contribution Evelina Webster

11 Dan Stevens

As the nights draw in the fight for television viewing figures hots up as does the talent called in to appear in the dramas designed to tempt us. Drawing sighs on and off screen, this talented actor is the reason we all watch Downton Abbey.

18 Van Morrison

Calling all brown-eyed girls, the musical legend will soon be among us.

21 Fashion

From gorgeous greys to tempt the smouldering hero


we’ve all been reading about, to rich autumn hues, take a look at the styles available.

28 Halloween



Bored of the stereotypical pumpkin costume for kids? Refuse to do the desperate reveal all for a vamp look? Then we have just the clothes to get you in the mood for the spookiest of all evenings.

32 Weddings

Step out in style with our tips for choosing a bridal shoe fit for Cinderella herself.






36 Travel

Run away to warmer climes when you immerse yourself in winter sun and our appealing travel pages.


40 Food

The nights are darkening, the temeratures dropping, what could be better to get you through the gloom than heating up the kitchen with one of our delicious recipes?

46 History

Hop picking has long been a part of our county’s culture, here we take a look at the glory days.

51 Property

Curl up in a chair, snuggle down under a duvet or get out and about and find your next home - the choice is yours.

66 Motors

Take a peek at the latest wheels to hit the road.

72 Helicopters

You’re sure to be tempted to learn a different way of travelling.

76 Business

We take a look at all the latest goings on in the business world.

80 Technology

Heed our warning file-sharers, it’s time to think again.

All rights reserved. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent from the publisher. © MMM Media Ltd 2012

Maidstone’s independent shopping centre A unique mix of time honoured family emporiums and modern designer shopping Shopping With a superb mix of stylish independent retail outlets, it’s easy to see why the Royal Star has gained a reputation for being Maidstone’s retail gem. The Royal Star is a popular destination for those searching for gifts with originality; you really are spoilt for choice. With this year making us feel very British, with the Jubilee and the Olympics, what better way to celebrate than supporting local independent businesses. When wandering around the shopping centre you will be struck by the range of shopping opportunities. Take a stroll down this Retail Centre and

you will find Independent shops offering everything from men’s wear, gifts, children’s clothing, confectionary, even a place for your child to have a Princess party and lots more. At the end of a great day’s shopping you can relax and unwind in our Royal Star Café, situated on the ground floor. A perfect place to pick up a great coffee and pastry and relax in a distinctly modern shopping environment, but within a charming traditional setting. Or why not book a table at our new Wine Bar/Bistro, Bar10, offering great food and drink in a tranquil setting.

Bar 10 also can also offer you the venue to hold a private function or meeting in a unique setting. The Royal Star is a unique mix of timehonoured family emporiums and ultra modern designer shopping. So next time you are in Maidstone, why not browse around the Royal Star and re-discover the pleasure of shopping. Royal Star Arcade High Street Maidstone Kent ME14 1JL 01622 690395

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HEN it comes to will-they-won'tthey romantic cliffhangers there has been none so compelling in recent TV drama than that which continues to be played out on the small screen amid the lofty surrounds of one of the most instantly recognisable stately homes in the UK. Downton Abbey has become a multi award-winning worldwide smash – the ITV drama combining an established love of period drama with sparky storylines, some of the great social challenges of the early part of the 20th century (the sinking of the Titanic, the human cost of the First World War) and the class divide. It may owe much to the likes of predecessor Upstairs Downstairs, but Downton has captured the imagination like few others; elevating the cast to superstardom on both sides of the Atlantic. And at its very heart, since the opening episode in September 2010, has been the relationship which exists between the exquisite Lady Mary Crawley (played by Michelle Dockery) and the dreamy heir presumptive Matthew Crawley. The man behind Matthew is Dan Stevens – an actor dubbed by one national broadsheet “the nation's premier blue-eyed intellectual heart-throb”. All the more impressive when a little over a decade ago the 29-year-old was finishing his studies at Tonbridge School – one of Kent's foremost public establishments; those plummy tones and foppish style are not just acting skills. Yet he earned his place there not through his parents' wealth, but intelligence, winning him a scholarship which saw a young

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Dan move from his home in Wales' Brecon Beacons to become a boarder at the west Kent school. Despite this success, his childhood was far from trouble-free. His biological mother had given him up for adoption in Croydon as a baby. To this day he does not know her identity. He was raised by adoptive parents, both of whom were teachers. He admits it was a far from an easy period. “At primary school I behaved terribly,” he said. “I was always in trouble, always causing trouble. When I went to Tonbridge I just continued along the same path. Anything I could do to rebel, I would. “I didn’t get on with the other kids, I didn’t fit in. My parents thought it was an amazing opportunity for me, but I felt quite isolated. There were a lot of very rich children there and that did something to me. I spent most of my time running away, causing problems. “I was never very happy at school.” However, it was during his first year at Tonbridge that his life would be put on course for a direction which would make him one of the most recognisable faces in British drama. “At 13, I went up for the part of Macbeth. I was up against the 17- and 18-year-olds, but for some reason I got the part. It made me incredibly unpopular with my peers, but it was the English and drama teachers who stepped in to save me when others wanted me to be kicked out of the school.

“When I look back I have a hell of a lot to thank them for. I think there were a lot of people steering me – including my parents – which I didn’t quite realise at the time because I was pushing against everything.” His English teacher at the school, Jonathan Smith, remembers that Macbeth audition well. Writing in his memoirs, he recalls how he expected the young Stevens to secure one of the smaller parts. Instead, he said “I felt my a

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a hands and neck and back go funny” as Stevens took to the stage “with a voice to die for”. The teacher added: “This young boy was already much better than many professional actors.” His teacher was no stranger to the fame game either. Jonathan Smith's son is the cricketer Ed Smith, the former Kent, Middlesex and England opening batsman. Dan Stevens may have endured his time at the school, but the seed of drama was already sown. Five years later, and already a member of the National Youth Theatre, he enrolled at Cambridge University to read English. While there he found himself a member of Footlights – the famous drama group which over the years has spawned some of the UK's foremost comedians and performers. Among their number at the time were the likes of Simon Bird and Joe Thomas – best known for their roles in Channel 4's smash-hit comedy The Inbetweeners. And making people laugh was a major influence on him as he tried his hand at stand-up. "I'd go out there with terrible material I'd written that afternoon. It's a good way of working on stagecraft and your presence. Of course, it's also absolutely terrifying." It was his dramatic endeavours which would spark the recognition, however. Performing, once more, in Macbeth, he was spotted by the famed director Sir Peter Hall, playing Macbeth to a Lady Macbeth portrayed by Hall's daughter. After winning praise and a major award nomination for his portrayal of Orlando in Hall's production of As You Like It, within 12 months he started securing roles on TV. In 2008 he was cast in the BBC's big-budget adaptation of the ever-popular Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. It was the perfect calling card for writers and the casting team of Downtown Abbey. “I’m incredibly proud to be part of it. I think it’s an amazing a

Picture: ITV

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a series and I also believe that, in its own way, it does have the element of the subversive. “It’s not the average costume drama. It’s not adapted from a 19th-century novel; it’s a period drama written in modern times, which means subjects like Lady Mary’s affair can be explored. “That’s something completely radical.” A global heart-throb now, Dan refuses to allow the stardom to go to his head.

Picture: ITV

“The female attention I have to struggle hardest with,” he reflects, “is from my two-yearold daughter.” Off-screen Dan is settled and happy – a far cry from the lovetorn character we see him portray on Downton Abbey. He met wife-to-be Susie Hariet in 2006 while performing in and around Sheffield. A South African jazz vocalist and teacher, the couple now have two children – a boy and a girl.

They'll certainly have to get used to having a famous father. Downton Abbey, now back on our screens for a third series, is a show at the peak of its fame and with an awful lot of potential to build on its enviable success over the coming years. One thing is certain – the blueeyed Dan Stevens will always be remembered for his role in the ITV drama, regardless of the heights his career has yet to hit. mmm

Picture: ITV

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elcome to the Bromley’s Neverland. This Christmas, we’d love you to join our magical adventure with Peter Pan, Wendy, The Lost Boys and Tinker Bell. But watch out for the infamous Captain Hook and the pirates behind you. This year’s panto Peter Pan stars the beautiful Jennifer Ellison (Dancing On Ice) as Peter Pan, EastEnders’ evil Dr Yusef Khan, otyherwise known as Ace Bhatti, as Captain Hook, Balamory’s PC Plum Andrew Agnew as Smee and CBBC presenter Gemma Hunt as the lovely Tinker Bell. With spectacular sets and costumes, pirate ships, crocodiles, and Captain Hook and Smee to boo and hiss at, Peter Pan is fantastic seasonal fun for everyone aged 3 to 103. “Guaranteed to get even the grumpiest of theatregoers into the Christmas spirit,” wrote The Stage about last year’s pantomime Snow White. Tickets are priced at £15-£26, with premium seats £32. A family ticket offers you £5 off three or more tickets, and under 16s get £3 off the ticket price. To book call the ticket sales hotline on 08448 717 620 (booking fee applies) or the Groups Hotline (10+) on 0844 871 7696. See for more details and to book online (booking fee applies).

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Have I told you lately that I love you? 18 mmm

We take a look at the myths and legends surrounding the ever-popular Van Morrison ahead of his appearance in Kent


O many of his most devoted fans he is known simply, and affectionately, as Van the Man. To the rest of the world, George Ivan 'Van' Morrison remains one of the most respected singer-songwriters of a generation. In a remarkable career which took him from the shipyards of Belfast to headline slots at the likes of Glastonbury and Kent's very own Hop Farm Festival, his reputation has remained untarnished despite his apparent abhorrence of interviews and playing the fame game. One esteemed music journalist once described many of the stories that circulate about Van Morrison as purely “fuelling the legend of his one-man war on the social niceties”. A biographer added that Morrison takes to interviews “like a duck to tarmac”.

And there is a sizeable book to be written compiling the various tales of Morrison's apparent rants and raves throughout his long career. However, his reluctance to open his soul to a public who so often feel entitled to know everything about the performers in whom they invest – both financially and emotionally – has done little to lessen his legendary status. In fact it has added to what Morrison himself derides as “the myth” about him but has ensured him a very special place in popular culture. A defining influence on performers as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, U2, Paolo Nutini and Ed Sheeran, he remains a relative reclusive, keeping his personal life under a veil of secrecy. He has been showered with awards – including an OBE – and has an obsessive fan base who put up with the flack in

exchange for his remarkable voice and melodies. And later this month he returns to Kent to perform a very special show as part of the arts and culture extravaganza that is the Canterbury Festival. It is likely to be a show to remember; a showcase of a career which spans a remarkable six decades, from his days with the band Them – responsible for the classic Gloria (a song which would go on to be covered by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Patti Smith) – and through his hey-day as a solo performer. “Don't think I haven't tried to walk away from it all,” he explained to Uncut magazine in 2005. “I've made a few concerted efforts at walking away. But it's pointless. You have to understand that I don't choose the music; it chooses me. “My love for the music is the

core of it for me. “Maybe there are people who do music for different reasons. Financial reasons or ego reasons. Maybe they can walk away from it. But I can't. Because my connection to the music can't be broken. This is a need. “Let's be clear about this - there is no choice.” It was 1967 which saw the song which remains his best-known and best-loved emerge kicking and screaming into the world. Brown-Eyed Girl was recorded as part of his first sessions as a solo artist for new label Bang Records. A catchy, upbeat number, it rocketed up the charts in both the UK and US and still forms part of his live repertoire. But it was his 1968 album Astral Weeks and 1970's Moondance which define his career and elevated him to superstardom. Yet he has refused to live on past glories, releasing an album

almost every year to date since that impressive debut all those years ago. His best known work includes the likes of Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, Jackie Wilson Said and Whenever God Shines His Light. What's more he tours almost relentlessly, with a band on almost perpetual standby, his current tour has already seen him take a jaunt through Europe and continues deep into November. Which when you consider he is now 67 underlines his selfconfessed workaholic approach to his music. Just don't expect him to be too chatty when he performs his two dates at the Marlowe on October 23 and 24. As he explained during an interview in Q magazine in 1997: “I'm not the sort of performer who has a lot of feedback from the audience.

“What I'm doing up there involves a lot of concentration – there's a lot going on. It looks easy, I suppose, when you're sitting out there. It looks like he can take a breath or tell a few jokes or something. But what's going on up there is very complex and if somebody does something wrong and the concentration goes... “Other performers can do that sort of thing. I don't do that. What I'm doing is putting forth the music, and it's very intense. “Everyone's on their toes all the time, from the minute they walk on stage until they come off it. “I don't play with the audience. I don't have time for that, so whatever the audience gets from it, that's what it is.” Van Morrison performs two shows as part of the Canterbury Festival at the Marlowe Theatre on October 23 and 24. Tickets range from £25 to £60. mmm

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mmm fashion

n On trend styles to keep you cool

n Keeping him hot this autumn n Step forward in style when you walk down the aisle

To promote your business call 01622 299035 or e-mail

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Heritage coat £199, jumper

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£37.50, scarf £19.50, hat

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Future Course Dates 1 to 1, home tuition available for both RYA Day Skipper and Yachtmaster theory Courses. (Please ring for details) £325 + Travel expenses. 7th Oct 2012 RYA Day Skipper theory (Sundays Only – 5 Sundays) £325 per person 15th to 19th Oct 2012 RYA Day Skipper Theory (5 Day Intensive course) £306 per person

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22nd to 27th Oct 2012 RYA Coastal Sipper / Yachtmaster Theory Course (6 Day Intensive) £345 per person Saturday 27th Oct 2012 RYA VHF/DSC short range certificate Radio course £85 per person Sunday 11th Nov 2012 RYA Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Theory Course (Sundays Only – 5 Sundays) £325 per person

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Units 4 & 5 Colt Works, Pluckley Road, Bethersden, Ashford, Kent TN26 3DD Tel: 01233 822276

Saturday 5th Jan 2012 RYA Day Skipper Theory (5 Days over 4 weekends) £345 per person Night school classes are available for all navigational subjects. Subject to numbers. Please call regarding availability and dates.

Excel Yachting 7, Copsewood Way, Bearsted, Maidstone, Kent, ME15 8PJ Tele: 07710 647966 Email:

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If the shoe fits


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t’s a well known fact that the pain of sore feet after that long shoes make or break an walk down the aisle, followed by outfit - few will admit to being endless photos and that all important attracted to a man in loafers, first dance. You may be walking on and the age old debate of air, but you’ll soon crash down with flats over heels for a bump when the blisters start. women always So it’s more important than ever comes back to the that you take at least three weeks question of style preferably more - to properly break or comfort. in your shoes. Whenever you’re at And this home pop on some thin socks, slip question has never into your shoes and walk. Blundeston been more difficult to Up the stairs, around the 9, Dune answer than for your kitchen, round the living heels, £9 wedding day. Sure, room, the more you can your dress may walk before your big drape to the floor, day the more you’ll elegantly brushing be used to your the ground as you shoes when it move, but should your toes happen to counts. And it doesn’t hurt to burn peep out from under the folders of off a few extra calories walking luscious fabric, you hardly want to be around the house a little more wearing something to make your than usual. guests stare. And if you’re still unsure Our advice? When it comes to style about those six inch heels you simply have to choose something for a full day - slip a pair of flats into a you like that matches the colour of day bag with one of your dress - combining ivory, cream your bridesmaids, by the or white should be saved for the experts. However this can limit your reception the champagne will have heel height, and there’s the rub. flowed enough that none of your No one likes a grumpy bride, but guests will notice what’s peeping out there’s nothing more distracting than from under your dress. mmm

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FOOD mmm chosen recipes from your local restaurants

Ballotine of leek, goat’s cheese and pickled shallots Serves 6-8

Ingredients 180gm Golden cross goat’s cheese, crumbled 6 leeks 2 bay leaves Small bunch of thyme, tied 20 white peppercorns French vinaigrette Maldon sea salt 1 Banana shallot Method For the ballotine Trim the root off the leeks, remove the outer layer, trim 3cm from the green end and then cut in half. The leeks will

need to be 15cm long once they have been cut. Place in a deep bowl and wash thoroughly to remove any soil. Have a deep saucepan of boiling water ready, add salt, bay leaf, thyme bundle and peppercorns. Place the washed leeks into the boiling water, weigh them down with a side plate or saucer and simmer for 15 minutes or until the leeks are tender. Remove from the water. Place into a clean tea towel whilst still warm and squeeze

out any remaining water. Take a roll of clingfilm and lay out a sheet onto a work surface (don’t tear the cling film from the roll, leave attached), line the first 3 leeks side by side on the cling film alternating the white and green ends. Place the remaining leeks in the same way on top of the first layer, repeat with the remaining leeks. Roll the leeks into a large sausage shape, keeping the cling film tight so that the ballotine forms, then roll 4 more times, stretching the cling film

Ingredients 2 whole eggs 2 egg yolks 135g caster sugar 50g plain flour 100g Valhrona chocolate 100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes For lining the moulds 50g soft unsalted butter Valrhona cocoa powder Method First job is to get your moulds ready. Evenly brush the soft butter all over the inside of the pudding moulds, then add a spoonful of cocoa powder. Tip the mould so the powder coats the butter. Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water,

add the butter and chocolate and slowly melt. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail. Sift the flour into the eggs and beat. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition, make sure the chocolate is evenly mixed. Divide between the moulds. Chill for at least 20 minutes, the fondants can be kept for up to 2 days in the fridge. Heat an oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the fondants

on a baking tray evenly spaced apart, then cook for 10-12 minutes until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the moulds. Remove from the oven, then leave to sit for 1 min before turning out. Loosen the fondants by moving the tops gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds. Serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream.

Valrhona chocolate fondant Serves 7

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Chapel Down cider cocktail Serves 4

as you do this. Twist the ends and tie a knot in each. The ballotine needs to be as tightly compressed as possible, that way it will set nicely in the fridge and not fall apart when slicing. Place in the fridge overnight. For the pickled shallots 1 x banana shallot, thinly sliced into rings 100ml water 100ml white wine vinegar 75g caster sugar Method Place the water, vinegar & sugar into a small sauce pan.Boil for 1 minute, remove from the heat and then drop in the sliced shallots and leave to cool. Once cool drain the liquid. To serve Cut your ballotine into 2cm slices, place onto the plate, add a pinch of Maldon sea salt on top. Next crumble the goats cheese around the plate, add the pickled, sliced shallots. To finish, dress with a simple French vinaigrette. Serve with fresh baguette. If you have any queries about these two recipes please contact The Swan at West Malling.

Ingredients 2 litres locally sourced cider 1.5 litres apple juice Quarter bottle Courvoisier brandy Quarter bottle Cointreau 100g white sugar Half a dessert spoon cinnamon cinnamon stick 2 fresh Kentish apples, quartered, cored but un-skinned Apple slices and cinnamon stick to garnish

Method Put all ingredients apart from the cinnamon stick and apple slices in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for one hour. Taste and add more sugar if required. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving into wine glasses. Garnish with apple slices and cinnamon stick. If you have any queries please contact the Swan, English Restaurant at Chapel Down Winery.

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FOOD mmm chosen recipes from your local restaurants Roasted duck breast with plum sauce and cream mash potato Serves 2 Ingredients 2 duck breasts 1 thyme sprig 1 star anise 25g butter For plum sauce 1 shallot, finely chopped 1 tbsp olive oil 250g dark red plums, halved, stoned and cut into small wedges 50g demerara sugar 50ml red wine 300ml beef stock Method For the sauce Fry the shallot in the oil for 5 minutes or until softened but not coloured. Add the plums

and sugar, stirring for a few mins until the sugar has dissolved. Add the red wine and stock, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly thickened. Keep warm or leave at room temperature for up to a day before reheating to serve. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Score the skin of the duck breasts and season well with salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick frying pan and place the duck breasts in, skin-side

mmm Maidstone, Medway Magazine

down. Fry for 6-7 minutes, then turn and add the thyme, star anise and butter. Allow to melt, basting the duck with the juices, then transfer to a small roasting tin and finish in the oven for 5-6 minutess for pink or 10-12 minutes for well done. When the duck is ready, baste again with the juices, then rest for 5 minutes while you finish everything else. If you have any queries please contact The Bridges restaurant at Maidstone.

179 Capstone Road, Chatham ME5 7PP 01634 400800 An independent, family run, family friendly, Pub/Restaurant

Do you have any recipes to share with our readers? Write to us at MMM Media Ltd, White Cottage, 13 Ashford Road, Maidstone, ME14 5DA, e-mail or call us on 01622 299035.

Emma and her team are here to offer you a warm and friendly welcome. Why not pay them a visit!

! ns io r d at fo rio r v en p e se ak s Re w t tma no hris C

e th

Pad Thai

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A Unique Experience At West Malling

T: 01732 870 000 15 HIGH STREET, WEST MALLING, KENT ME19 6QH

Open 7 Days A Week

12 noon - 2.30pm & 6pm - Midnight (inc Bank Holidays)

14 London Road Maidstone ME16 8QL Book Now on

01622 763360 or 01622 763770

Air conditioned and spacious restaurant. We cater for party bookings with seating for up to 100 people. We have up to 80 free car parking spaces available at the rear of the restaurant.

We are proud to announce that we have been highly commended in the prestigious Tiffin Cup 2012, The Festival of Curry Contest at the House of Commons, London

Wine bar serving English modern cuisine in our downstairs restaurant Food served all day 11.00am-10.00pm (last orders) Fine A la Carte Restaurant upstairs

Christmas Menu Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve

The Broadway, Maidstone, Kent ME16 8PB 01622 753700 - 01622 751738

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With magnificent views over the Kent Weald, join us this Christmas in the beautiful setting of Chapel Down vineyard to dine on our delicious Christmas menu. Our exclusive chefs table seats up to 20 where you can enjoy private access to the chefs in action whilst being served by your own dedicated waiter. Larger parties up to 150 can reserve an area or even the whole restaurant subject to availability. Drinks packages, DJ’s, canapés and bowl food are all available. All of our ingredients are prepared freshly every day using prime ingredients sourced no further than a 25-mile radius of the winery. Our Garden Christmas menu starts from £23.50 for 2 courses & £27.50 for three courses or enjoy our luxurious private chefs table, with prices starting from £38.00 per person for a Christmas Feast.

December Opening Times: Monday 10-5pm, Tuesday – Saturday 10am-11pm Sunday 10am-5pm Christmas Eve – 10am-11pm, Christmas Day – 12pm-3pm Boxing Day and Thursday 27th - Closed New Years Eve – 5pm- late. Sumptuous tasting menu, live music and Chapel Down sparkling and canapés at midnight. For further information and our Christmas package, please call 01580 761717 or email Twitter: @swanchapeldown

Swan English Restaurant Chapel Down winery, Small Hythe, Kent TN30 7NG

Holidays in the hop fields

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HE harsh reality of the economies of the UK and further afield dictate that much of the fruit and vegetable harvest of recent years is gathered in by an army of immigrant workers. They are hard-worked and frequently poorly paid, but in the Garden of England, the fruit of the land remains one of its most endearing financial backbones. Indeed it is common today to see little communities of caravans crop up in the corner of orchards and farms, housing those who will work

long and hard hours in pursuit of an honest wage; the local population frequently turning its nose up at agricultural work in today's modern environment. Yet just 50 years ago, rather than the flood gates being opened for those from Eastern Europe seeking employment, the fields were swamped by tens of thousands of Londoners and poorer families seeking a way to raise extra money. And at the heart of this swarm was the humble hop. At its peak between the 1920s and 1950s, it is estimated some 200,000 people – primarily from the East End of London, and most frequently women and children – would descend on the county in September to take part in the annual hop-picking extravaganza. [

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The harvest was essential to the county, and the country, and the vast scale of the operation required a labour force which could be moved in – and out again – in the space of a four to six weeks. For many, it provided an opportunity for a holiday of sorts – fresh country air, and a very different environment to the smoke and smog which floated on the air of the capital. “The smell of hops always reminds me of my childhood,” explains Jill Thomson, 64. She grew up in Tunbridge Wells, and remembers vividly the sights and smells of the

George Orwell

hop-picking excursion to nearby Penshurst she would experience each year. “My mother used to take my brothers and sisters and I to pick hops every September. She needed the money to help pay for our school uniforms. We were a big family living in a poor area, so it made a real difference. “The work was hard, but for us children it was our holiday and I have only fond memories of it. Everyone seemed to get on, and for poor families the financial boost was essential.” Families were paid by the bushel –

a total of eight gallons in volume – and during the 1920s and 1930s a family working hard could look to make some £40 over the space of four weeks on the farm. To put that in context, that was often the equivalent of ten weeks of the man in the family's main wage. It was certainly not to be sniffed at. Explains a spokesman at the Museum of Kent Life in Cobtree: “Every day the family's hops would be put into a bin. A measurer would then come along and empty the bins using a basket called a bushel. “They would then record how many

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bushels each family had picked. “The family would then be paid at the end of the hop-picking season for whatever they collected. However, they could take out an advance on their wages if needed.” The author George Orwell famously kept a diary of his family's experience hop-picking in Kent in 1931. He wrote: “Two or three times a day the hops are measured and you are due a certain sum (in our case twopence) for each bushel you have picked. “A good vine yields about half a bushel of hops, and a good picker can strip a vine in about ten minutes, so that theoretically one might earn about 30 shillings by a 60-hour week. “But in practice this is quite impossible. To begin with, the hops vary enormously. On some vines they are as large as small pears, and on others hardly bigger than peas; the bad vines take rather longer to strip than the good ones they are generally more tangled and sometimes it needs five or six of them to make a bushel. “Then there are all kinds of delays, and the pickers get no compensation for lost time. Sometimes it rains (if it rains hard the hops get too slippery to pick) and one is kept waiting when changing from field to field, so that an hour or two is wasted every day. “And above all there is the question of measurement. Hops are soft things like sponges, and it is easy for the measurer to crush a bushel of them into a quart if he

chooses. Some days he merely scoops the hops out, but on other days he has orders from the farmer to "take them heavy", and then he crams them tight into the basket, so that instead of getting 20 bushels for a full bin, one gets only twelve or fourteen – in other words a shilling or so less.” Yet despite the hard work, getting the job was one much in demand. Melanie McGrath is the author of Hopping, a book examining the impact of hop-picking on families in the East End. She explains: “My mother's generation still speak of the thrilling clatter of hop cards through the letterboxes of tiny two-up, twodown terraces in early August. Each card allocated a place for a family on a particular hop farm and they were so fiercely fought over that a black market developed in stolen and forged cards - an early form of identity theft. “Most farmers would invite the same families each year and whole streets would decamp en masse and set themselves up in rows of 'hop huts' in the same configuration as in their London terraces. “Preparations carried on through August, as women saved cans of

corned beef and soup, shopped in jumble sales for warm clothes and set aside the old cooking pots and blankets. All this would be stuffed into the rickety contraptions stuck together by their men from old prams and tea chests which passed for their hop carts.” With hops covering much of the county's agricultural land, hoppers would work the length and breadth of Kent – from the west of the county where so many of the distinctive oast houses used for drying the hops strike such a powerful image on the landscape to this day, albeit now as indemand housing – to the east where Faversham still marks the annual pilgrimage with its annual Hop Festival in the first weekend of September. Hop-picking's days became numbered during the 1950s – unable to combat a boom in imported hops, the uptake of machinery which could pick the hops in a fraction of the time – and at a fraction of the cost – and a disease which ripped through the Kentish hop-fields. By the 1960s it effectively came to an end. Gone, but all these years later, certainly not forgotten. mmm

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n Nest in style with our living room furniture n From beds to bedding, it’s all about keeping warm on those long, dark nights

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Bogart chair £799, Hemingway leather trunk £729, Tripod floor lamp £250, Knitted cushion in plum £30, Felt floral cushion in grey £35, White stag head £20, Purple glass pear £12, Purple glass apple £12, Linea Homespun at House of Fraser, Fremlin Walk

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Looking good from all angles – the new Woven panel from Jacksons Certain types of inter-woven fencing panels have been around for years. These have traditionally been constructed of inter-woven slats of timber sandwiched between horizontal and vertical battens, holding them all in place. Although these can be reasonably attractive to look at, this isn’t the strongest way of making a sturdy fence panel, and they can be prone to coming un-ravelled, and falling apart if they suffer minor damage to any of the key components that are holding them together once the timber softens and degrades, which can happen very easily if the timber isn’t treated correctly. Enter the new Jacksons Woven panel, it’s like an old style inter-woven panel “dreaming.” – it’s a modern, high quality panel, with old style inter woven panels in mind, but there the resemblance ends. As with all Jacksons panels it’s constructed of Jakcured pressure treated softwood, framed for use with slotted Jakposts. The woven parts aren’t thin slats, but substantial pieces of Jakcured treated softwood that will stay strong, maintaining the structural integrity of the panel. And there are no unsightly rails to ruin the appearance on one side of the panel, so the neighbours and you are both winners. One more very big benefit of this super looking semi-solid panel is you get amazing light and shade effects when sun shines through the panel, and also wind resistance is lowered, as it is with other semi-solid panels, but the additional benefit is you cant see through it, even if you press your face right up against it. For more information log on to or call 01233 750393.

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Blackberry Farm Bobbing


lackberry Farm lies in open countryside between Sittingbourne and Rainham and the estuary of the River Medway. Originally a small farmhouse, the property has been extended and modernised and has been maintained to a high standard by the current vendors. The property is conveniently positioned and gives access to the town centres of Rainham and Sittingbourne, both with mainline railway stations, along with great links to the M2/M20 motorways. Blackberry Farm is situated on a

country lane with far reaching views, and close by is the village of Lower Halstow and Newington with the latter also having a railway station and a selection of shops. The property also has the benefit of bridleways and cycle routes. There are also golf courses close by together with schools and Murston Nature Reserve can be found just north of Sittingbourne. The property consists of 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 reception rooms, downstairs cloakroom and a country-style kitchen/breakfast room. Approximately 7.9 acres, tack room/garage, barn, 5 stables and

surrounding countryside views. It is close to all amenities and has an enormous amount of potential. For more details please telephone 01732 617227.

Artificial Grass

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he Well House is a totally unique property. The Grade II listed property is the oldest house in the ancient Hamlet of Grove Green and is situated in a large country garden measuring approximately 2⠄3 of an acre. The property and grounds are situated within a totally secluded and completely private Conservation area, totally hidden from the outside world. Yet this timeless hidden propety is located within walking distance of established local shops, all necessary services and a major supermarket. The house consists of three bedrooms, en-suite to master bedroom, two reception rooms, grand Inglenook fireplace and a modern kitchen with Rayburn cooker. It has excellent transport links and close to all amenities. The original house dates back to the 9th century, and there is reference to the property in the historic parish of Boxley (one of the most ancient in the country). The property comprises a wellproportioned dining room with an attractive fireplace as well as a

The Well House Maidstone double aspect lounge with an inglenook fireplace with an oak bressummer and copper canopy. If you wish to find the peace and tranquillity of the deep counryside in a suburban environment, this property provides the best of both worlds.

For more details please telephone 01732 617227

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Confused about market conditions and house prices? I can offer you an honest, free, no obligation valuation

Boughton Monchelsea ÂŁ425,000

Sympathetically extended 3 bedroom detached Victorian cottage with garage and off road parking.

This home was built in 1840 and has been extended and restored whilst retaining the character of this property. The front door leads into a parlour with open fire, door to dining room with oak flooring and beams and sitting room with an open fireplace. The kitchen has a vaulted ceiling with bespoke oak units, Indian stone flooring and granite worksurfaces. There is also a conservatory and dry cellar. A single garage, with off road parking for 2 cars.

Boughton Monchelsea ÂŁ499,950

Detached Ragstone Victorian family home located within the heart of this popular village The property has been well maintained throughout. Accommodation provides three reception rooms, kitchen/breakfast room, pantry, sun room and a very useful cellar. The first floor provides a master bedroom with shower and w.c. facilities, double bedroom with Victorian fireplace, two further double bedrooms and a family bathroom. Attic bedroom with distant views. There is a pretty garden to rear with pond and ample paved terracing.

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Rural Boughton Monchelsea £650,000

Grade II listed 4 bedroom detached house, located along a country lane, set in approx 2.25 acres Full of character features, this country home originally dates from the 15th century, built as a single hall. Set at the top of Wierton Hill, this tranquil rural location is perfect for children and pets. With 3 reception rooms each having a logburner and 3 staircases adding to the quirky charm. 2.25 acres of gardens, vegetable garden with fruiting trees and paddock, garage and parking.

Lenham £675,000

Charming 3 bedroom detached barn conversion found in an elevated rural location with gardens and grounds of 3 acres This property provides character accommodation with an abundance of beams and an inglenook fireplace. One of the many features is the rural views from all windows and a vaulted and beamed kitchen/dining room with country styled units and oil fired Aga. Access to the barn is gained through metal gates and a long gravel drive with lots of parking leading to a detached double garage with room above. The overall plot is approx 3 acres.

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Ecuador and


Jemma Storey goes on a journey of distinction to the islands made famous by Charles Darwin Kirsty Keeling-Jones, Branch Manager, Baldwins Travel Agency, Maidstone 01622 762141

Travel tips from your Local Award Winning Travel Agency

Before you go on holiday……..

n Get a good guidebook and find out about your destination. Make sure you know about local laws and customs

n Tell family and friends where you are going and leave them your contact details, insurance policy details, and your itinerary n Make sure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy and check that it covers all the activities you plan to undertake Ensure your passport is still valid. Some airlines and cruise operators may require you to have a minimum of 6 months validity in your passport at return date. Make a note of the passport number and consider taking a photocopy with you

n Make a note of the nearest British Embassy or Consulate. In the event of any major crisis, they provide advice and travel updates on

n Foreign Currency & Travellers Cheques – Make sure you have enough to cover emergencies. Find out if travellers cheques are appropriate for your destination and keep a separate record of their numbers. Baldwins Travel can offer advice on all the above and provide Foreign Exchange in all our branches. Call us for further information.

e travelled via Madrid with Iberia Airlines, the connection worked in Madrid and we all ended up with our baggage in Quito, which was a bonus. Business Class was tired and old fashioned but the seats are comfortable and still spacious, they are not lie flat beds though on this service. Quito can be notorious for delays due to the weather, so it’s vital you allow at least one night’s stay before going on a cruise to Galapagos as delays do happen and you would not want to miss your departure. In Quito we stayed at the Casa Gangotena on San Francisco Square; this is an ideal location right in the heart of the old city. There is a lovely roof terrace, where we took in the views of the old city, when weather permits guests can even dine on the terrace. There is also a main restaurant, serving various cuisines, including the specialities of Ecuador, cheese and potato soup or pork frittata served with boiled popcorn. There is a delicious soup called cervina. It is a cold fish and prawn soup, laden with coriander and vegetables, to which you add popcorn and plantain, it sounds strange but I can certainly recommend it. Quito is the second highest capital in the world, so some of us experienced signs of altitude sickness, mostly just shortness of breath when walking around or climbing stairs, though the views are certainly worth the climbs. We visited the presidential palace and the monastery of San Francisco, we then headed into the hills to the Equator Monument at latitude 0, where we were able to

straddle both the northern and southern hemispheres. Also worth a visit is the famous Cotopaxi National Park, which is home to Mount Cotopaxi, the largest active volcano in the world. We also visited Santiago de Guayaquil, the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador, with around 3.8 million residents in the city and nearly 4.1 million in the metropolitan area, as well as the nation's main port. This city is much more cosmopolitan than Quito and is the centre of Ecuador’s business and manufacturing industries. It is the ideal place to pick up some souvenirs in the markets. There is also a good waterfront with a selection of art, historical monuments and restaurants for tourists to enjoy. The hotel our tour was based on was the Hilton, which is closer to the airport, but taxis can be arranged into the city. There are some beautiful churches to visit and a park with resident land iguanas roaming freely is certainly worth a look. Hidden deep in the jungle a new bio-diverse ‘hotspot’ has been built in the form of the Mashpi Rainforest Reserve and Lodge. We almost thought that we had to trek or abseil into this resort, but luckily with a skilled driver we managed to negotiate the jungle road in. The new Mashpi Lodge combines

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a remarkable jungle experience with contemporary luxury. You can view the diverse tropical wildlife through the huge windows. There is also a choice of 12 nature trails accompanied by a naturalist guide and two guides to assist you on your treks. The hotel only opened in April, so it is still establishing the routes and areas, I would recommend a visit later this year or early next year to be able to enjoy all the benefits it will be able to offer. They are currently building a butterfly farm; we saw numerous species just on our four treks. They are also installing a cable car that will be the main way of entering the resort; it will certainly provide amazing views and a fantastic way to enter the hotel. The resort has sighted pumas and various types of birds, rodents, insects and also many rare species of flowers. There are 17 camera traps to spot species such as the puma, which only appear at night. Guests also have a Jacuzzi area to relax in after a day’s trekking and a library area to learn more about the various wildlife they spot during their stay. The beauty and magic of the Galapagos Islands are only truly grasped by visiting and admiring its biological diversity. The National Park has established visitor sites on each of the islands,

according to particular highlights such as wildlife, landscapes and activities. To respect and preserve the islands and the wildlife there are new laws in place that each exhibition cruise cannot repeat visits to the islands within a 14-day period. This reduces the number of visitors and the impact of tourism on the environment. The Isabella II vessel is widely

regarded as one of the most luxurious motor yachts cruising the Galapagos archipelago and it combines attentive service with a team of naturalists who will explain all about the natural wonders and wildlife you encounter. She has just 21 cabins to accommodate a maximum of 40 guests. There are two cabins which can take a maximum of two adults and one child in each. There were three naturalist guides on board in addition to a crew of 27.

We visited just four of the islands in five days; we flew in to Santa and visited the Charles Darwin research station, home to the famous Lonesome George, the last tortoise of his kind and a symbol of the need to conserve wildlife. We then boarded the Isabella II from here, sailing onto Santa Maria, Espanola and ending in San Cristobal. The Galapagos Islands are the summits of giant submarine volcanoes that four million years ago broke the surface and turned into islands. A voyage here is like going back in time. The scenery is beautiful and unspoilt; the animals rule the islands and are inquisitive of humans. It is a case of preserving and protecting the islands to ensure they continue to stay the way they are without being spolit by humans. Each island houses different species of wildlife and conversation is set up to preserve these. Each day we arrived at the islands and went on treks in search of wildlife. In the afternoons we snorkelled and kayaked to experience the marine species and reefs. If you are thinking of travelling to this wonderful part of the world then please call Jemma for travel advice and holiday ideas on 01732 458255 – Sevenoaks Travel (part of the Baldwins Travel Group). mmm

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Challenging times THE all-new Mazda6 revs up onto forecourts across the UK early next year after it was unveiled for the first time at the Moscow Motor Show in August. Expected to tackle the likes of the VW Passat in its class, expectations are high with some even suggesting it could muscle in on territory previously held by the likes of the BMW 3-series.

Certainly it impressed when it was unveiled, boasting Mazda's SkyActiv tecnology design save weight, and thus fuel. “In developing the thirdgeneration Mazda6, we pursued Mazda’s intrinsic core value: ‘driving pleasure’,” explains Hiroshi Kajiyama, programme manager for the Mazda6. “We wanted to create a car that reacts and behaves exactly as you expect it to. “In short, the new Mazda6 offers the ‘joy of driving’ that people have come to expect from a Mazda, but now the experience starts even

before you get behind the wheel and lingers long after the drive is over. I can’t wait to see the look on the faces of people getting out of the car after their first time behind the wheel of the new Mazda6.” The two-litre petrol version will pack 165bhp with prices set to start at around the £20,000 mark. The 2.2 diesel version will start at £21,000 for the 148bhp version and another £5,000 for the 173bh version. Exact details of the UK release are still to be confirmed but expect to see it on sale early in 2013.

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GTI is designed for ‘demanding individuals’

HAVING launched the new 208 in June, Peugeot is now confidently expecting the 208 GTI to follow suit and allow it to grab more of the allimportant supermini market as we put our foot down towards the end of the year. Peugeot says the GTI is designed for “demanding individuals” - in short, those for whom a car is as much as a status symbol as a mode of transport. Wheels hug the arches, wings are extended, there are halogen headlamps and LED indicators. There's a gloss black grille with flash

of chrome. The dashboard houses a high-mounted instrument panel with an innovative and distinctive light signature. Echoing the LED functions of the headlamps, the dials are surrounded with satin chrome beads backlit by LEDs, whereas the needles move on a brushed aluminium background. Peugeot remain determined to ensure the GTI performs in the marketplace. Explains Marie Beaumont, dynamics manager for the model: “The 208 was an excellent base for developing a sports

hatchback. We have worked with particular attention on the steering response, the chassis dynamics and the rigidity of the suspension. The 208 GTi successfully combines performance, safety and driving pleasure.” The 209 GTI has the potential moving from 0-62mph in less than seven seconds, with the 208 GTi accelerating from 50 to 75mph in less than 7.0 seconds in fifth gear. Few would back against the GTI following in the footsteps of the 208 and 9,000 orders made so far.

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Debut for 4x4 THE end of September saw the new Fiat Panda 4x4 made is debut at the international Paris Motor Show – and in doing so became the only four-wheel drive model in this sector. The successor to a best seller which first appeared almost 30 years ago, today’s thirdgeneration four-wheel drive Panda promises to be ready to tackle mountain mule tracks and the urban jungle in the same assured manner.

In addition to standard equipment the new Panda 4x4 has been further improved to reassert its capacity to compete with off-road vehicles of much greater dimensions and higher prices. The Panda 4x4 is equipped with a torque-on-demand transmission system with two differentials and an electronically controlled coupling. This is a permanent four-wheel drive system managed by an electronic control unit which, by analysing vehicle signals, distributes traction on the front and rear axle according to road grip conditions. The advantages of

this system are that it is entirely automatic in operation and requires no maintenance. The Panda 4x4 features an ESC (Electronic Stability Control) system with an ELD (Electronic Locking Differential) function as standard. This system provides additional assistance while driving and setting-off uphill on slippery terrain. Two engine versions of the Fiat Panda 4x4 will become available; the new 85 HP 0.9 TwinAir Turbo and the 75 HP 1.3 MultiJet II diesel. Full prices and details to follow.

Come fly with me F

ounded as a training school more than 20 years ago, Thurston Helicopters is proud to educated hundreds of students in the art of flying. Founded by managing director and head of training James Tuke in 1989, the business is now co-owned and run with Gerald Hodges. Since 1989 they have trained more than 200 people for their PPL(H), many of whom have gone on to gain their commercial licence and now work within the industry. The firm pride themselves on high standards and personal service and keep in close touch with all their

students once they have completed their training - many of whom have become friends. Headcorn offers largely free airspace up to 3,500 feet and is therefore ideal for helicopter training. The firm have two R22 BIIs and 2 R44s, one of which is a Clipper II with floats which allows for comfortable flying to the Thames or across the Channel. All their machines are immaculately maintained and equipped with the latest in avionics. The firm is committed to helping its students achieve and enjoy gaining their helicopter pilot’s licence. They also offer introductory lessons and

scenic trial lessons - a perfect gift for a birthday or special occasion. For those considering gaining their PPL(H) a trial lesson is ideal, helping to make sure it is something they wish to pursue. Thurston Helicopters enjoy their work as much as their customers enjoy the experience of flying one of their well-equipped helicopters. Once students gain their licence they can then continue to hire aircraft from the firm by the hour, day or week if required. Many find that taking their friends and clients by helicopter to a fine hotel creates a memorable impression. The company have often found

that training business people provokes an amazing reaction once they have completed the course. “Doing this has given me a greater sense of satisfaction than anything else I’ve done in my business career,” is a common response from successful flying students. Thurston Helicopters is situated at Headcorn Aerodrome in Kent. This centrally located spot in the Garden of England is in an idyllic setting which has been home to an aerodrome since before the Second World War. It is a delightfully quaint place and ideal for flight training, as it offers a lot of beautiful countryside over which to fly. mmm

The Private Pilot Licence (Helicopter) is based on a minimum of 45 hours and the achievement of a required standard. Currently the rate for training in the Robinson R22 helicopter is £269* per hour and the rate for learning on the Robinson R44 is £436* per hour. Trial lessons start from £189 for 30 minutes (VAT included).

We can’t mention any names but of course transport by helicopter is the ultimate way to travel and favoured by a number celebrities because of the comfort and halved journey times. We have some lovely hotels and restaurants who welcome guests by helicopter, so once you have gained your PPL(H ) you can enjoy a little piece of the celebrity lifestyle.

*Price exludes VAT

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Immerse yourself in music


ou don’t need to travel all the way to London to experience the pleasure of live classical music – it’s available right here on your doorstep in Maidstone.

Maidstone Symphony Orchestra promise you a warm welcome at their concerts and you don’t even have to dress up (although it’s fine if you do). The orchestra are back to start their 102nd season of concerts this

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month on Saturday, 13 October. Brian Wright will conduct a stunning concert of Shostakovich and Mahler (Symphony No.1) plus the superbly popular Rodrigo Guitar Concerto featuring Carlos Bonnell as soloist (pictured top). The concerts take place at Mote Hall in Maidstone Leisure Centre, where there is plentiful free parking and a licensed bar which sells snacks. The concerts start at 7.30pm, although there is always an amusing and interesting pre-concert talk by one of the orchestra’s French Horn players – Steve Migden. If you can’t make the October concert, then the orchestra’s next performance will be 1st December, featuring the superbly popular Dvorak Cello Concerto with Guy Johnston as soloist (main picture). These talks start at 6.45pm and are free to all ticket holders. Programmes are available on the evening priced at £2 and there is a full listing of the season’s concerts on the website Tickets start at £10 for individual concerts, with season tickets for five concerts costing £100, £80 and £40. Tickets are free to under 18s accompanied by an adult. Take a look at the orchestra’s website at for details of other offers and discoutns available. Alternatively, contact the ticket secretary Alan Veal on 01622 735830 or simply turn up on the evening, although booking is recommended as concerts regularly prove to be very popular. mmm

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Major restructuring Job losses

IT'S been a familiar site in towns and roadsides but Travelodge has failed to escape the squeeze of the economic climate. In September, creditors agreed a major restructuring of the firm, the centre of which is agreeing to enter a Company Voluntary Agreement, a legal process which is designed to give a struggling business the chance to restructure payments to creditors. It is hoped it should allow Travelodge time to get its house in order. The nine sites it runs across Kent all escaped being sold off as part of its restructuring. Nearly 50 of its hotels are being touted to other operators in a bid to ease cash flows. However, outlets at the Moto Services on the M2 in Medway and that in Tunbridge Wells, have confirmed they will only be able to continue to operate by reducing their rental

costs by a quarter. Nearly 110 Travelodge hotels out of the total 505 it operates are undergoing similar changes. The landlords at both sites have agreed to the changes. However, there is some light on the horizon as it battles to reduce its total debt from £625m to £329m. It says at least £75m of new money will be injected into the company, with a major refurbishment and a bank debt of £235m written off and another £71m repaid. Other Travelodge outlets in Kent include hotels in Maidstone, Canterbury, Ashford, Whitstable, Dunkirk (near Canterbury), Dartford and Ramsgate. Meanwhile, there was bad news for Kaslers Solicitors after it decided last month to cease operations. The firm, which has outlets at Kings Hill, Snodland and in Canary Wharf, London, blamed tough trading conditions and the current economic outlook. Some 30 staff have lost their jobs.

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Future job promises

by 2020, with a further 3,000 ten years later. Within 20 years, all the homes should be built, a process which should provide an enormous jobs injection during a period haunted in recent years by decline and uncertainty. Also included will be strengthening transport links, including the A2 at Ebbsfleet and the busy Bean junction, as well as Dartford town centre. Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council said: “Getting this significant development under way and built signals our continued intent to increase construction activity in Kent. “We have real growth ambitions and this site signifies our intent to unlock the potential of the Thames Gateway."


UP to 60,000 jobs are being promised after a major housing redevelopment was finally given the thumbs up. The Kent Thameside project at Ebbsfleet has been in the planning stage for over a decade, but was recently finally given the nod, paving the way for 22,600 new homes. The deal was agreed by government ministers, Gravesham and Dartford councils, Kent County Council and developers Land Securities. Assuming all now goes to plan, the first 1,500 homes will be ready



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Exhibition and Conference Gravesend

ONLY the brave would suggest 2012 has been a vintage year for businesses big or small, but there's a chance to inject a little optimism into your dealings in November when a major free exhibition and conference takes place.

North Kent B2B 2012 takes place at the Woodville in Gravesend on November 6 and will feature keynote speakers, workshops and the chance for all important networking with suppliers, buyers and decision-makers. Appealing to everyone from start-up businesses to established operations, speakers include Brad Burton, a man who went from delivering pizzas to keep his start-up afloat to building the world's fastest growing business network, which is now a

multi-million pound international business. Ashley Lawrence will also lend his advice and expert in-sight, having built and sold four businesses over the last 38 years, becoming a millionaire in the process. A fully qualified business and sports psychologist, he now works with business owners and elite sportsmen and women. The event is free to attend and runs from 9am to 4.30pm. It is organised by the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.

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GADGETS Microsoft Halo 4

FEW things are certain in the ever-evolving world of video gaming, but you can be pretty certain this Christmas will see one name appear on a million 'wish-lists' from young and old alike. While Microsoft's Xbox360 maybe in its twilight years, its penetration as the principle or additional games console of choice will mean that the return of perhaps its most famous character is certain to send pulse rates racing. Halo 4 is due to hit the shelves in the coming weeks – November


6 is the date touted and only the very brave would expect it not to top the best-seller lists for the 360 faithful. Previews so far have set tongues wagging and critics tastebuds tingling, with a more sophisticated and darker tone to that experienced in previous outings. But it is pure brand clout which will send sales soaring. As the main launch title for the original Xbox all those years ago, Halo has captured the imagination and sends cash-tills ringing in its wake. Where once it was all Sonic, Mario or Lara Croft, now Halo sits on that top table of characters who have a following capable of securing a number one slot. What's more, it is to herald a whole new trilogy, meaning we can expect to see the Halo brand once again dominate over the coming 18 months. There's a new development team behind it this time – Bungie has moved over and 343 Industries are now behind it – which means there is some apprehension over whether it will be able to deliver on former glories. Yet the appetite, now over a wide age group, will ensure someone you know will be spending Christmas Day ready to go into battle with Halo 4. You have been warned.

Windows Phone 8

WHEN mobile phones took the world by storm it was Nokia which emerged as the main brand. It took the lead in a fiercely

competitive emerging market. It's security going forward was surely a foregone conclusion. Yet a little over a decade since reigning supreme, it has long been overtaken by the likes of Apple and a new breed of super sophisticated hand-held devices which have taken the humble phone to become instead a highpowered computer capable of many of the tasks we once relied on our desktops for. Earlier this year Nokia's troubles were highlighted further by a £1.1bn loss in its last earning quarter. But could salvation finally be at hand? In September it unveiled its first handsets powered by Microsoft's much-trumpeted Windows Phone 8 operating system. Microsoft hopes the system will provide a genuine competitor to

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EVER find yourself occasionally dipping a toe in the murky waters of internet file-sharing? Then according to research by a top UK university, the chances are your details have been logged by the authorities. In what will send a shiver down the spine of the thousands who download the latest music or movies via BitTorrent sites, the University of Birmingham has found the monitoring of online file-sharing is more prevalent than previously thought, with those accessing the most popular product being logged within three hours. The research was presented at a conference in Padua, Italy, in September. The three-year study will be music to the ears of copyright owners who have grown increasingly frustrated at the free exchange of digital files of the biggest titles over the internet. However, they may not be celebrating

Apple's all conquering OS and muscle out the likes of Google. But it is Nokia which is most in need of a sales hit. It will be relying on the Lumia 920 model to be the flagship – offering innovations such as wireless charging (simply place the device on a charge station and power will flow into it) and an on-board PureView camera which it boasts allows more light, thus delivering better images than top-of-the-range rivals. It's no slouch when it comes to processing power either – with 32Gb of storage allowing ample space for movies and music, HD screen resolution and a swift 1.6GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor. Quite whether the mass market is prepared to switch from its Apple or

quite yet, as the Download university's research monitoring confirmed despite the enormous scale of file-sharing monitoring, it is unlikely to be admissible in court. Dr Tom Chothia, researcher at the University of Birmingham’s school of computer science, said: “This work reveals the full scale of the monitoring of illegal file sharers. Almost everyone that shares popular films and music illegally will be connected to by a monitor and will have their IP address logged. What is done with this information in the long term only time will tell. “All the monitors observed during the study would connect to file sharers believed to be sharing illegal content and verify that they were running the BitTorrent software, however they would not actually collect any of the files being shared. Therefore, it is questionable whether the monitors observed would actually have evidence of file sharing that would stand up in court.” Although, at this stage, the fear it will send the casual – and heavy – user who thought they were evading capture (it reveals even devices to hide users' tracks are frequently pointless) will be worth its weight in gold. Because it is the threat of huge fines and jail which continues to be the main incentive against filesharing.

Android devices awaits to be seen – one thing that Nokia can be certain of, is that for it to win back that all important market share it needs, the fight is going to need to be long and vicious. Ultimately, as Apple have demonstrated, the winners will be those with the most intuitive devices. Whether the Windows brand still carries innovation as a brand value to the general public is the big question. Full prices and details of the new Nokia were not available at the time of going to press.

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