The Deal Despatch Autumn / Winter 2021

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Autumn/ Winter 2021 FREE Modern-day Seaside Stories

NEARBY NATURE Celebrating the wildlife around us with a local expert


21ST-CENTURY HOODEN HORSE One of Deal’s oldest traditions rediscovered and revered


UTTER MADNESS! The Boxing Day dip is (hopefully) back. Are you game?


deal despatch

2 Contents


Editor Kathryn Reilly

Acting editor-in-chief

Celebrating Deal’s traditions

John Murphy

Founder & Publisher Clare Freeman

Co-founder & Advertising director Jen Brammer

From the Editor

♻ We print on recycled paper

hank you all for your response to our first issue, which flew off the shelves so quickly we had to restock at lightning speed. All 5,000 copies were devoured and the consensus seemed to be that Deal needed the Despatch. Shall we make this a tradition? That’s the (loose) theme of this issue, where we highlight some of our local quirks. We’ve been out and about, talking to people passionate about our town. TV presenter, cameraman and gallery owner Richard Taylor-Jones reminds us of the exceptional countryside we’re lucky enough to have around us, and tells us the best places to experience it (page 11). Discover the creative hub hidden in a little paradise on a hill near Northbourne (page 21) – Mig Kimpton’s seasonal

craft fests are becoming a tradition in themselves (and an excellent place to do some Christmas shopping). Our cover star – the Hooden Horse – continues to divide opinion, centuries after his first appearance. Some revel in his peculiarity, while others find him plain old creepy. We at the Deal Despatch are keen to ensure this bizarre creature doesn’t fade into obscurity. Which is why we gave him a 21st-century makeover courtesy of illustrator Imogen Holliday. Did you know that we don’t look over the Channel but the North Sea (the dividing line is at Dover)? Which just makes it seem much colder somehow. Yet the number of yearround swimmers has rocketed since the start of the pandemic – much to our resident commentator Joe Bangles’ puzzlement (he’s got a few good reasons why he won’t take a dip – see page 9). Those who bravely/ recklessly throw themselves into the sea on Boxing Day every year to raise money for charity (a proper Deal tradition) would have no such qualms. (I did it once. Never again.) Artist Julia Hamilton shares how she adapted her practices in lockdown (page 31). We find out why Deal is important in women’s football (page 25) and discover what’s on in our many venues, restaurants and bars in the run-up to Christmas. I hope you find something of interest within these pages – do let us know what you think.


Issue two



Winter 2021 – October to December

Design director Lizzy Tweedale

Kathryn Reilly

Publishing assistant Esther Ellard

A curated collection of coastal retreats


Writers Fay Franklin Gemma Groombridge Julia Hamilton Joe Harris Larushka Ivan-Zadeh Tom Moggach Kevin Redsull Richard Taylor-Jones

Photographers Sheradon Dublin Natasa Leoni Tom Moggach Barbara Saville Illustrator Imogen Holliday

cover image 21st-century Hooden Horse by Imogen Holliday

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5 The Scoop – a round-up of the new and interesting things afoot in Deal


Bangles’ angle – columnist Joe Bangles shares his unique view of sea swimming

11 Nearby nature – Richard Taylor-Jones

shares the best places around to revel in nature’s bounty

15 Adjuvate Advenas – we follow a charity monitoring the treatment of refugees arriving on our shores

17 The Hooden Horse – just what is this peculiar creature?

21 The theatre of flowers – Mig Kimpton can teach you how to create some fabulous florals

23 Out and about – find out what’s on and where this autumn and winter

25 She shoots, she scores – Deal, the home of women’s football? Who knew?

28 Savouring autumn – the best and tastiest treats around town

32 An arty enclave – Deal’s buzzing art scene continues to grow

35 Utter madness – celebrating another Deal tradition: the craziness that is the Boxing Day dip

37 Curl up by the fire – a round-up of the best Deal-relevant books to hunker down with

38 A Sunny Dealite – meet out second local hero, an ex-miner on a mission

39 Inspiring instas – wintry scenes and cosy corners captured

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Deal’s exclusive florist provides: Floral workshops Bespoke bouquets Wedding flowers find out more...

Cards for Dealers The latest news, projects and celebrations in and around Deal

Every home should have a pack of these – as should every Christmas stocking! Exclusive to the Museum, they include interesting facts and images from its archive, really bring Deal’s history to life. But hurry – it’s only open until the end of October (1-4pm, Friday to Sunday). 22 St George’s Road


Precious ingredients

Thoughtful goods for people, dogs and homes. Handcrafted by us and other independent makers.

132 High Street, Deal, Kent, CT14 6BE. À 07977549689 < barkened_

The Merchant of Relish will be offering its own range of sauces for Christmas as well as a specially sourced selection of goodies in jars. Co-owner Suzy will be peeling, chopping, roasting and puréeing to bring you some special sauces and preserves made from locally grown produce or organic suppliers. “Walmestone Growers is one of our favourite local sources. We especially rate its gorgeous tomatoes, which are grown to organic standards,” she reveals. “We’ve also been busy sourcing delicacies from further afield such as Pickled Wild Garlic Buds, Dam Sloe Chutney and Dandelion Flower Syrup from the wonderful Fruits of the Forage – a company started by two brothers with a love of minimal waste and maximum flavour. “Another favourite, found on a recent visit to Sussex, is Pollyanna’s Kitchen. A must for garlic and/or chilli lovers, Pollyanna’s Garlish and Chillish Oils and their Gubbins and Crush (the solids from the oil making) save cooks time and tears – the uses are endless. We’re looking forward to introducing some exciting spirits produced in Kent. The rather fabulous Greensand Ridge, who make brandies and rums from waste fruit grown locally, is the first carbon-neutral distillery in the UK. We’re also excited to be stocking Copper Rivet Distillery’s gin, whisky and vodka which use grain from within a 20-mile radius of Chatham.” After the success of the Deal mix Sea Mist Sour from Cocktail in a Bottle they will be increasing their range of pre-mixes from award winning local mixologist Karl Wozny – including one created especially for the shop. The Merchant of Relish, 199 High Street

Everyday remembrance

Poems of pilgrimage

The memorial benches that line the seafront can often be unseen – they’re just there. Thanks to the work of the Friends of North Deal, those that seem untended after a decade since the date of death are sanded and painted by volunteers. Now Chris Mansfield has tasked himself with mapping each bench with a W3W address. Launched in 2013 W3W divides the world into a grid of 57 trillion three-by-three-metre squares, each of which has a three-word address. The words assigned are random, never changed and separated with a full stop. The addresses are available in 47 languages. The grid allows greater accuracy when trying to locate landmarks that normal addresses or postcodes don’t always manage. While an address may take you to a particular street, you are often left wondering where precisely No 323 is, for example. As a result it is ideal for delivery drivers and – in this case – memorial plaques and benches.

Alexandra Le Rossignol is an artist living in St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe who has collaborated on an exciting project with Norah Perkins at Work and Turn Press in Deal. “I’ve been part of a group of female artists walking the Augustine Camino very slowly from Rochester to Ramsgate. My aim was to keep an illustrated artist’s journal on the way and produce icons of the Kentish saints. As I wrote up the walks I began to write poems which I exhibited alongside the work during the Canterbury Festival last year. There was a lot of interest and one of my poems was highly commended in the King Lear Poetry prize. I had a vision for a small but beautifully made book but it was not until I bumped into Norah in a garage at the Captain’s Garden that I found an answer.”

Dover District Council suspended the sale of benches in 2020 and are supposedly reviewing a more “eco” way of remembering loved ones. To see Chris’s map, go to Photo by Jason Parsons @thepeckhamlegend

One-off print run of 100 numbered copies, £30 each. Available from



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Deal Music and Arts news

From mid-October, immerse yourself in an indulgent experience with scents, candlelight and music, as the gallery next to the Green and Found becomes a magical “cabinet room”. Inspired by the 17th and 18th-century craze for cabinets of curiosities – or wunderkammers – it will be filled with unique objects that owners Jamie and Adolpho have collected and curated from around the globe. The display will include a collection of miniature “passport masks” from south-west Africa, and sumptuous handwoven, embroidered Anatolian wedding trousseau shawls. The miniature masks, too small to be worn, replicate those worn in performance. Like their larger counterparts they are powerful charms, filled with spirit – with potential for good or evil. But while the full-sized masks are made for display in public ceremonies, these are usually hidden from prying eyes, kept within the home or in a personal shrine. They can be worn on the arm or around the neck as an amulet to protect the owner when he is hunting or going to war. And they are carried when travelling, which explains the name.

In an exciting new development, DMA is launching the inaugural Tony Nandi ARPS Photographic Awards, for which local secondary school and college students will be encouraged to submit new photographic works. Supported by their teachers and our arts practitioners, they will draw on Mussorgsky’s music as well as the joy of dance, movement and light. Their work will be judged by a panel of professionals and the winners will have their work exhibited as part of the 2022 festival. Tony sadly died at the end of 2020. He was one of our country’s foremost photographers of the performing arts and Deal Music and Arts’ official photographer. He photographed the performing arts for almost 40 years, with a special interest in dance. Tony was intrigued by the challenge of the conveyance of a dynamic time-based, three-dimensional, emotionally charged creative production into a static two-dimensional image. His work has appeared at Linden Hall Studio on many occasions. Tony was a real gentleman and always enjoyed discussing the concerns of the day when out walking his beloved dog – Pearl (see left). He is missed by many. Alongside this, a new education project which brings together the arts of music, dance and photography is launching. Earlier this year DMA

The Green and Found, The Captain’s Gardens Stables, Victoria Road,

Welcome to our lifestyle concept store located on Victoria Road, opposite Deal Castle. Our Christmas Shop launches on November 19th with a beautiful selection of original Christmas gifts, apothecary, scents and decorations… Opening Hours : Friday, Saturday 10am - 5pm Sunday 11am -3pm

Follow us on social media for our new Christmas opening hours workshops & special events thegreenandfound |


email: The Green and Found, Victoria Road, Deal CT14 7BA

Hip Hip Hooray! Our wonderful Saturday market celebrates its 322nd birthday on Saturday 16 October. There will be giveaways, special offers and music from the Kellet Gut Shantymen (posing in warmer times, left).

Mellow grooves

was able to film and record Trinity Laban Conservatoire student musicians performing Pictures from an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky (see above). Having slowly emerged from lockdown, the students, who had hardly played together over the previous year due to the pandemic, gave an inspirational performance. The resulting film, which can be viewed on the DMA website, will be used to inspire dancers from a number of secondary schools in East Kent to choreograph new dances for a performance in the 2022 Deal Festival. The Deal Music and Arts’ Music Centre was opened in January 2020 and had gained considerable popularity before the lockdown forced it to close its doors. Based at Goodwin Academy, the aim of the centre is to be a hub for creativity serving the local community. DMA are delighted to announce that the music centre has now reopened and will be open every Tuesday during term time, in partnership with Kent Music and will include a range of groups aimed at children and adults from beginners through to experienced musicians. For more see

Jazz On The Beach is a new weekly two-hour show presented by music industry insider Adam Sieff on Deal Radio. It will feature everything from classic Blue Note 1500 series hard bop to the best new jazz releases. Adam says, “I’ve thought about doing a show like this ever since seeing the Clint Eastwood movie Play Misty For Me. I want to play great jazz music that’s welcoming to new listeners who may not know much about the genre but are curious to try some”. He has spent his whole career involved in different areas of music. He is a regular writer for London Jazz News and consultant at Margate Jazz Festival and still plays guitar. Jazz On The Beach, every Wednesday from 10.00pm - 12.00 midnight on

Just for the fun of it Singing beautiful folk songs from around the world can have an uplifting and energising effect on body and mind – just ask members of the group Singing for Pleasure. The songs are easy and rewarding to learn, and manageable for everyone – no singing experience is necessary and there's no need to be able to read music. Natasha will teach you songs about Deal’s local working history, unearthing stories about hoppicking, coal-mining, fishing and smuggling. Sessions start from 2 November.

Tuesdays 2-3 and 7-8pm at St Andrew’s Church; Wednesdays 2-3pm at Walmer Parish Hall; Thursdays 11-12 noon at St Mary’s Art Centre, Sandwich. Sessions cost £5 each and run in term time only. No need to book, just turn up! For more info, please contact Natasha on 07912184808 or email natasharosedouglas@,

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gl ban

es’ angl


Oh, I do like to be beside the wee-side


Cookery experiences for adults, children and families #inspiringkitchenstories

do love living on the coast. The rhythmic rumble of the tide shuffling shingle on the shore; the salty sea air stinging my nostril hair; the shimmering horizon promising adventure and inspiring hope – and a bloody big gap on my left as I walk into town. Deal is fabulous! Growing up in landlocked Mansfield, my experience of the seaside was severely limited. I was restricted to seven disappointingly grey days in Skegness per year – the odd postcard from creepy Uncle Nigel on his latest sojourn to Turkey or Thailand, and the luminous, leathery, orange skin of Judith Chalmers on Wish You Were Here. So, the mere idea of living in earshot of the crunching “shhwoop, shhwoop” of stones being rolled by waves was fanciful. In truth, the autumnal sun glistening like a carpet of diamonds on that enticing expanse of sea should be calling me to dive in like a porpoise on a promise. However, I must admit, that it’s almost 10 years since I have even dipped the tip of a toe in that murky brown bog that separates us from France. In fact, I remember the last time. I had dived head-first into a mid-life crisis and, for some inexplicable reason, decided that yoga was the missing link from my life. After my first, hamstringstretchingly painful session, the yogi-meister announced that she was holding a 6am session on the beach, literally at the end of my road, that very weekend. I, of course, gratefully declined. But over the next few days I was bombarded with positive messages from the said yogi-lady, with motivational phrases like “embrace it”, “be the power” and “believe”. So, like the weak-willed person I am, I crumbled and agreed to go. Bog-eyed, and on the back of a banana for breakfast, I hiked the 20 yards to the beach at a time of the morning that is normally reserved for mad dog-walkers and milkmen. We stretched and posed and postured for 30 minutes or so before the yogi announced that the second half of the session was to take place in the sea. It was ball-shrinkingly freezing. By the time we had finished this sado-


Joe Bangles



Kathryn Reilly

The man who launched the East Kent Mockery casts his cynical eye seaward

masochistic nightmare, my nipples were on the verge of taking someone’s eye out and my manhood had regressed to that of Barbie’s boyfriend Ken. The other over-enthusiastic participants sprang out sodden and gushing that the experience had been “life-affirming” and “akin to a rebirth”. I reluctantly wheezed and shivered in faux-agreement. With these inspiring sentiments ringing in my waterfilled ears, I rattled home had a strong coffee, a packet of Quavers and a fag. Then I went back to bed for the day. It seems, according to most of my friends and their various social media posts, I am now in the minority when it comes to the dubious pleasures of cold-water swimming. Long gone are the days when a lonely nutter with a bright-yellow Latex head would be seen bobbing and splashing along Deal’s coast in the middle of November. Oh, how we laughed at them! Now, everyone is desperate to dive in, and they are all laughing at me… They extol the health benefits; the improved circulation, the boosted immune system, the enlivening endorphins and the raging libido as a result of their wet-suited exploits. They eulogise about “being at one with nature”. But I wonder if they have seriously considered exactly what type of “nature” they are “at one” with as they dodge the floaters in Deal’s water? Let us consider, for a moment, the raw facts of a daily dip in the enticing North Sea. Firstly, there is

the Port of Dover. The busiest passenger shipping channel in the world with roughly 11.7 million passengers, 2.6 million lorries, 2.2 million cars and 80,000 coaches passing through per year (pre-Brexit). That is one hell of a lot of potential effluence. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember seeing some poor zero-hours cleaning operative on the Pride of Burgundy carrying out Thetford toilet cassettes to dispose of the sloshing excrement ethically. I believe it is dumped en route. Literally. We also have the thorny issue of Southern Water. Now, far be it from me to criticise such a wellrespected company, but they have just been fined a record £90 million for pumping raw human sewage into the tides that lap up onto Kent’s beautiful beaches. To be fair to the utility company (owned by the appropriately named Greensands), they held their hands up, apologised, accepted the fine, raised our bills and then promptly dumped more doo-doo two weeks later. Then, there is nature itself. Do jellyfish need to go for a wee? I’m sure dolphins and seals do, and I distinctly remember the long stringy thing that emanated from the goldfish I won at a fair in 1975; a disturbing image that has stayed with me, as I watched it capsize, lifeless in the plastic bag before I’d even made it home. I don’t think it enjoyed the waltzers as much as me. But, perhaps most disturbingly, is the common spectre of a fully grown child toddling ponderously down our steep, stony beaches and wading up to its waist. As the glass-eyed, mid-distance glaze covers their face in descending concentration they gaze out at that shimmering horizon. Consequently, a pleasant, yet all too brief, pool of tepidity grows around them before the words “I’m finished Mummy” are yelled and they scramble back up to the shore grinning in guilty relief. Remember that the next time you take in an accidental lung-full of good old Blighty’s brine whilst doing the front crawl through that feculent freezing froth. This, my friends, is the reality of your evangelical abeyance to the benefits of sea-swimming. So, if you don’t mind, you can keep your healthy glow and your pious grandeur. I’ll keep on sneering and sniggering at you from the shore, drinking my coffee and puffing away on a rollie, while all the time keeping my pecker dry. Tiddly-om-pom-pom!

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New and pre-loved Jewellery, remade to re-love


Jewellery courses for all levels


Showing a selection of inspired designers reesandreesjewellery 148 High Street, Deal, CT14 6BE

Your Little

Green Shop

Community.Circular.Change An inspiring store environment selling pre-loved, premium quality brands.

Zero Waste Refill Grocery and Eco Home

nearby nature Words and images Richard Taylor-Jones

Sondes Road, Deal CT14 7BN

Wildlife expert Richard Taylor-Jones shares his top five places to enjoy our environment

Christmas gift hampers available to order local and national delivery at @yourlittlegreenshopdeal Your Little Green Shop

26A Addington Street, Ramsgate, CT11 9JJ @positive_retail


s a child growing up in the heart of Deal I must admit to being desperate to get away from the town. This, in part, was fuelled by the burning passion to go and make wildlife films having watched the likes of David Attenborough, Tony Soper and Chris Packham having incredible encounters with nature. What I didn’t perhaps appreciate was that so much wildlife was right on my doorstep. And it was only by getting away and living that dream of being a wildlife filmmaker, that I began to understand the hidden gems that I’d left behind at home. So, after 20 years with the BBC travelling the world, and the length and breadth of Britain, I returned to Deal with a much broader and deeper understanding of our natural world.

▲ Brace of snipe at Worth Marshes

I decided to bring our local landscape to life for BBC viewers and it’s been so much fun to see our local water voles on Springwatch, our owls on Countryfile and peregrines on The One Show. Here’s a guide to some of the best local locations I’ve been filming over the years, so you can explore them too.

1. Sandwich Bay Bird

Observatory and Worth Marshes

This observatory has one of the easiest wildlife sites to visit. Take a short trip down the ancient highway north of Deal (nice and flat for cyclists) and you’ll find a high bank which marks the outskirts of “Rest Harrow Scrape”. The path here will

lead you up to a bird hide which looks out onto a wonderful lake packed with all manner of bird species. Particularly rich in the autumn and winter, you can see the likes of tufted ducks, shovelers, little grebes, herons and snipe. You can also visit the observatory further up the road where many mornings they ring birds, which they often let you release. Do join up and support them. Worth Marshes next door is another great spot for bird life with hundreds of geese descending on the new RSPB wet grassland and pools. And you stand every chance of spotting a hare along the way. Keep your eyes glued to the ditches too, for you might just catch a water vole swimming across them. In summer the dragonflies are everywhere including the emperor – our biggest British dragonfly. ►



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2. The White Cliffs

of Dover

Chalk – that’s what makes the cliffs special. Not just to look at – but for the flora and fauna there too. Chalk grasslands are one of the rarest habitats in the world and we have loads of it right here – rising up from the beach at Kingsdown and stretching seven miles along the coast to Dover. Flowering plants absolutely love the nutrient-poor chalky soil and specialists like orchids abound, national rarities like broomrapes can be found, and in abundance are trefoils, vetches and wild peas. All making for an incredible display of colour. And of course where you have lots of flowering plants you have a heap of insects that feed on them and for me it’s the butterflies that really stand out. Over half of all UK butterfly species have been recorded here and my favourite is the nationally rare but stunningly beautiful adonis blue. They have electric blue wings and are a must see on a walk up there. May to September is when all this flower power kicks off, so you’ll have to make a date in your diary for next year, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see in the winter months. The bird life here is superb with the two main attractions being peregrine falcons – the fastest birds in the world – and ravens. Both birds had been made extinct along the cliffs through human persecution until just a few years ago. Now you’ll be unlucky not to see them on a clifftop wander.

3. Pegwell Bay This country park is just a short drive from Deal and in autumn and winter is an oasis for wading birds. The likes of oyster catchers, curlew and redshank are abundant. Also present can be huge flocks of lapwing and golden plover. Every so often these flocks will launch up into the air en masse providing an incredible aerial display as thousands of feathered bodies swoop and rise as one. It happens as birds are spooked by a passing predator like a merlin or marsh harrier and it’s breathtaking to watch. Pegwell is also home to our local resident colony of common seals. They haul out along the River Stour estuary and it’s here in the summer they have their pups. It will largely be the seals from this colony that you see popping up along Deal seafront. It’s a common misconception that there is one “Sammy the Seal’’ who lives around Deal, but far from it, the colony can number over a 100 individuals at times. Occasionally it won’t be a common seal but a grey seal – these guys hang out on the Goodwin Sands






and are MUCH bigger. Always a treat if you see one of these big brutes passing by. Look for the massive nose of the males – it’s a dead give away that it’s a grey seal.


4. Ham Fen




DOVER ◄ Raven at the White Cliffs of Dover

▲ Female grey seal at Pegwell Bay

A private nature reserve, Ham Fen is owned by the Kent Wildlife Trust. It’s not open access but you can book on one of their yearly guided tours and I thoroughly recommend it. The Fen is home to the very first beavers to be brought back to England in over 400 years, and you can see the awesome dams they build along with the trees they fell to do it. Add in cuckoos, turtle doves and marsh orchids and it’s a trip worth doing. Do join the Kent Wildlife Trust if you can to have the opportunity to visit and of course help them protect our natural history.

5. Royal Cinque Ports

golf course You might be surprised, but the local golf course is my last tip for great wildlife. Over 50% of most ancient courses like this are actually rough – and so great for things like mice and voles. This is ideal food for my highlight here: owls. In the winter months you’re very likely to spot a short-eared owl hunting in the late afternoon. I’ve seen five at once on a particularly good visit. Barn owls also hunt the area and if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of a little owl. Definitely a case of watch the birdie… Yes, Deal is full of history, great restaurants and shops. But don’t forget the nature around the edges. I’d urge you to get out and explore these places, to enjoy the natural wonders they hold. It’s free – and it’s yours.

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ADJUVATE ADVENAS Writer Fay Franklin

Photography Natasa Leoni

Never has Deal’s motto been more relevant than today, as refugees fleeing war and persecution flock to our shores for sanctuary…


Studio Opening Hours: Tuesday - Friday 11am - 4pm Saturday 11am - 1pm or by appointment John Corley Stained Glass Studio 57 West Street, Deal, Kent CT14 6EB Tel: 01304 365160

C o n t emporary Art PA I N T I N G P R I N T S C U L P T U R E Gallery Open: Tues - Sat 10am - 4pm Linden Hall Studio 32 St George’s Road Deal, Kent, CT14 6BA

Tel: 01304 360411

t’s a brief Indian summer’s morning on the Kent coast and, at 7am, the Channel is misted in a heat haze. France, often so clear you feel you could reach out and almost touch it, is invisible. But sunlight on the millpond sea is dazzling. On the clifftop a small group of people has settled in with binoculars, a telescope, folding chairs… and are scanning around them. Birders, perhaps, looking for peregrines? No, this is Channel Rescue, and they’re searching for dinghies. Channel Rescue is a small but expanding grassroots human rights group which aims to observe and document search-and-rescue operations and landings, acting as legal observers should it be necessary, and providing immediate support and comfort (snacks, water, foil blankets) if needed, to those recently arrived. Shore-spotting patrols like this one take place daily, from dawn until about noon (by which time any vessels that left France under cover of darkness are likely to have arrived), at points along the Kent coast from the White Cliffs to Dungeness. The past few days have been busy. Gentle winds and calm seas have seen record numbers attempting the perilous crossing of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. The mighty tankers and container ships that pass through these narrow straits have no way of seeing a tiny inflatable in their path. Yet this morning seems quiet from this particular viewpoint. It’s almost 10:30 before someone says, “Over there!” and all bins are trained on something emerging from the mist. It’s a grey inflatable, loaded with people. Two Border Force jet-skis we noted earlier are soon heading towards it, but it’s the Walmer RNLI lifeboat that



comes out to bring the craft to safety, transferring most of the passengers to their bigger vessel, and we pack up as they set off along the coast. We reach Kingsdown beach just as the lifeboat has unloaded and departed, and the inflatable is being dragged by the Coastguard up onto the beach. Within minutes there are two loud bangs and it deflates in seconds. A combination of the heat and over-inflation… “Imagine if that had happened out at sea,” I hear someone say. Imagine. Those whom it carried this far sit quietly on the shingle. They have nothing but the clothes they wear. Layers of them. Ready for English weather, but not this kind. “Look at them designer hoodies,” a holidaymaker leaning on the rail, pint in hand, says, “they can afford them. Ninety quid, they are.” I venture that they might be some rich kids’ charity cast-offs but this man is having none of it, nor are his friends, who are giving the Channel Rescue volunteers a dressing-down. Eventually the police arrive and soon the beach is clear but for the deflated dinghy and a pile of life jackets. As we get ready to leave, a couple sitting on the sea wall say, “Good for you, everyone’s got a right to live, eh?” I ask if they’re on holiday and they tell me they’re staying at the holiday park for a week, so I ask where they’re from. They laugh and say “Deal – we’re on the ultimate staycation!” It’s comforting to know that Dealites are living up to their town motto, “befriend the stranger”. To find out more about Channel Rescue see their Facebook page

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why the long face?

prep& nursery


Is that supposed to be a horse? Seriously? We delve into the history of one of Deal’s oldest – and oddest – traditions

an outstanding




Writer Kathryn Reilly

Images courtesy of Deal Museum, Barbara Saville, David Skardon

Illustrator Imogen Holliday ▲ Bob Skardon, whose band toured with the Hooden Horse (“played” by Elbridge Bowles). Photographed for Percy Maylam’s book of 1909


f it’s passed you by, the Hooden Horse is an East Kent tradition of uncertain origin that’s still clipclopping on. Or, more accurately, clack-clacking its huge wooden jaw. In truth, the “horse” bears only a passing resemblance to the animal it’s named for (many have more of a crocodile’s jaw). In fact, it looks a like a horse as imagined by a boatman who’d never been to the country. And he has his detractors – some locals still get the shivers when they see his rather sinister silhouette approaching.

So, what’s it all about? In the days when entertainment was something you had to work at, and long before the welfare state was there to help, making money during fallow periods of work was essential. Morris dancers, guisers, mummers and the like would perform – often disguised or with their faces blackened with coal – to earn money from their bosses and other wealthier citizens. Many of these activities tied in with the end of the hop harvest, but the Hooden Horse is a Christmas beast (or a

winter solstice one, pre-Christianity). Traditionally, farm workers were the people hiding underneath the horse blankets. Halliwell’s Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words (1852) describes that practice as “Hodening: A custom formerly prevalent in Kent on Christmas Eve, when a horse’s head was carried in procession.” The Hooden Horse has been roaming our local highways for many centuries. Expert Julia Hall wrote, “Thousands of years before the Egyptians evolved their ►


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many-headed religion, Paleolithic cave-artists were painting pictures of half-men, half-beasts… this corner of Britain has been the invaders’ gateway from time immemorial, and these invaders must have brought their own customs each in their turn.” There is documentation to suggest people were dressing as animals as far back as the fifth century, but then the trail runs cold until much later. An article in the East Kent Mercury in 1974 says: “No one knows how old the tradition is, but as long ago as the seventh century, the Church was condemning those who dressed up as animals at the turn of the year, which suggests the persistence of a pagan custom. Perhaps the word ‘Hooden’ derives from Odin, king of the Norse gods.” We do know that the activity was taking place around these parts from the late 18th

century and has continued through to present times, despite being virtually abandoned in the inter-war years. An early investigator, Percy Maylam, documented hoodening in Deal and surrounding areas in his book of 1909. At this time, as agricultural practices were changing and fewer people working on farms, it was assumed that the practice would soon die out. The horse is used further afield – in Wales, the Mari Lwyd is a monstrous construction made from an actual horse skull – but in other parts of the UK different animals, such as bears, are more common. There might possibly be a link to Germany and Pomerania. In 1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Raleigh’s half brother, wrote in Voyages and Enterprises after discovering Newfoundland: “Besides for solace of our people, and allurement

of the Savages, we were provided of Musike in good variety: not omitting the least toyes, as Morris dancers, Hobby horsse, and Maylike conceits to delight the Savage people.” There is a strong Hoodening tradition over there to this day. Our version, however, has always been stabled within a fairly tight area, delineated by Whitstable to the west, Walmer to the east and encompassing the whole of the Isle of Thanet. After a period of indifference, there was a slight revival around the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and a bumper-sized 14-foot high horse head was made for the Folkestone International Folklore Festival in 1961 (we’d love to see a photo of that!). But generally, it wasn’t until later in the pagan-obsessed 1960s that the ancient midwinter ritual began to take hold yet

d ea l tr a d it io n o Pity the fool wh has to hide hy under that itc sackcloth!

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again. Pre-war horses are few and far between, but more modern examples are always based on the old models, which are all slightly different and sometimes named. St Nicolas at Wade’s main horse is called Dobbin and has carved nostrils and wooden ears; the Walmer horse – now at Deal Museum – has a longer jaw, as did the missing Deal horse, which also had a tail. Now that’s fancy. There are now fewer than 20 groups in the Thanet and East Kent area, and our own Deal Hoodeners is one of them. Like other groups, down the years they dispensed with the rhyming play that would usually accompany the horse’s outing. Instead, they sing traditional songs and carols and play instruments similar to those used by Bob Skardon’s band in the late 19th century (on display with the horses in Deal Museum). Dressed merrily, their interpretation of this particular incarnation of folklore is practised faithfully throughout the year then toured around the pubs and streets of Deal in the run-up to Christmas. The current working Deal horse hails from 1996, so is a veritable whippersnapper, but he keeps the tradition alive and sports the Dealspecific green blanket (some have memories of it once being called the “green horse”) and the horse brasses, ribbons and bells of yore. The horse now collects money for charity in a bucket rather than via his clacking jaws. In the past, the key to the performance was the horse’s ability to open and close its mouth (operated by strings by the person hidden under the sackcloth). You were supposed to “feed” the horse money but his hobnail teeth and the loud “clack, clack” his jaw made when snapping shut didn’t encourage generosity. To encourage people to part with the money, a simple ditty was used:

Why “Hooden”? The jury’s out. Some believe it’s a derivation of wooden, others say it is another word for carolling, still others think it comes from “hooded”. Or does it come from “Woden” – an Anglo Saxon god. Then there’s the word “hoaden” (a type of cloth); or did it come from “Robin Hood”, as he was important in mumming plays throughout history.

A hoodening memory “I remember as a child being taken out on Christmas Eve to the High Street in Deal where the shops would be open very late, and it was the only time Deal children would be allowed out in the evening, as parents were very strict. As we would be looking at the lighted shops, and listening to the people selling their wares, [we would hear] a horrible growl, and a long horse’s face would appear, resting on our shoulder and when one looked round, there would be a long row of teeth snapping at us with its wooden jaws. It was frightening for a child.” Naomi Wiffen, remembering a Christmas after WWI

▲ Walmer, 1907

“If ye the Hooden Horse do feed, Throughout the year, ye shall not need” For fans of this bizarre, spooky and highly British pursuit, here’s one for the diary. Maidstone Museum will be displaying all of the existing Hooden Horses (including Deal’s) from 8 February to 17 June 2023.In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for dates in December when the Deal Hoodeners will perform on the High Street and in local pubs. New members are sought and it is hoped that the next generation will take this nonsensical whimsy and cherish it. What horse-play that would be! Further reading: The Hooden Horse, Percy Maylam Discordant Commicals: The Hooden Horse of East Kent, George Frampton

▲ Hoodeners in Walmer, 1907

To join the Deal Hoodeners, contact them via their Facebook page.


“If ye the Hooden Horse do feed, Throughout the year, ye shall not need”

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It’s a slight obsession, I’m afraid to say,” laughs Mig Kimpton, owner of Beacon Hill cottage and proprietor of Mig Kimpton Flowers, when asked about his chosen medium. “Flowers were always my place to go to escape the stresses of the day-to-day. I can even have an off day but when I get some flowers in my hand, I’m away!” Alongside his palpable passion for posies, it’s not hard to tell that Mig Kimpton has theatrical connections. He is a real character – creative, inventive and encouraging. Which makes his workshops go with a real bang. After three decades working in theatre (organising national and international tours, working with the RSC and running several West End theatres), “I hit a momentous age,” he says. So he decided that his love of flowers should be properly acknowledged. He moved into professional horticulture, running large flowers shows, working with the RHS and the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies. Then – as has happened to so many of us – he started to fall in love with Deal while visiting a friend. Balancing the need to get into London with a desire to live in the countryside, he began to scour the web. Fortuitously, the perfect spot presented itself in Little Mongeham, and within four months he, his husband and their handsome dog Bertie (above, right) had relocated. And what a magical spot it is. Tucked into an old chalk mine, the one-acre plot is idyllic. Wrap-around gardens give him all the room he needs to grow blooms and even stage Shakespearean productions (look out for these next summer – they are magical). “I’ve always been useless at drawing and painting – this is my creative output,” Mig explains. He remembers the moment he found his oeuvre: “I was a chorister at Tewksbury Abbey and I used to help the ladies of the Abbey with the flowers in the summer holidays. One day I was despatched to the Lady Chapel with a big bucket



of flowers and left for a couple of hours.” Despite the head of flowers, “a formidable lady in trusty brogues” ripping it all apart and putting it back in exactly the same way Mig had designed, he knew he had a gift. As well as arranging bespoke boutiques for the discerning flower lover, Mig runs lessons to help you do it yourself. Maybe not quite to his standard (he does boast 12 RHS medals after all) but they will certainly raise your game. And you don’t even need a natural aptitude. “It starts off with me outlining roughly how the day will go (once we’ve had a cup of tea and some cake, of course). Then I do a show and tell to demonstrate what we’re going to make and how,” he explains. It’s an inclusive environment, which encourages participation and a little experimentation – designed to help you reach your potential. Many people begin their journey by making Christmas wreaths. “That’s when people realise it’s relaxing and it’s very good for their wellbeing,” says Mig. And that means people keep coming back. “Anybody can arranges flowers,” Mig believes. You just need the right teacher. Following a year off, Mig is also excited to be returning to the Astor Theatre on Wednesday 8 December to present his Tale of the Golden Goose, an original story written during lockdown. “It’s a modern fairy tale for all ages, festive fun, full of flowers and like nothing else,” he says. Beacon Hill Cottage’s biannual events are becoming a Deal tradition. Craftfest takes place in the summer and the Frost Fair is the winter version. It’s a great place do some Christmas shopping (Saturday 11 December) – there are plenty of stalls selling hand-made, local gifts, plus music and spiced apple juice to warm the cockles. Find out what’s on and book workshops, at WIN! WIN! WIN! To win two tickets to Mig’s Golden Goose show at the Astor, follow Mig Kimpton Flowers on Instagram, using the hashtag #goldengoose. Then tag two friends who you think would enjoy the show. Mig will pick a winner randomly and notify them by 1 December

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autumn & winter to-do list Compiled by Larushka Ivan-Zadeh




An outpouring of generous donations kept the Astor’s lights on during lockdown. Now it’s time for supporters to actually put their bottoms on seats to ensure their beloved community arts centre is here for life – not just this Christmas. As well as the usual, fabulously eclectic mix of tribute bands, history talks and wrestling this season, the pick of local talent is sparklingly represented on 7 November by a “unique evening of music, spoken word and artistic performance”, organised by the Douglas family, in aid of the Deal Food Bank and the Dogs Trust. A strong line-up of Dealites includes violinist Anna Phoebe, local legend Joe Bangles (see page 9), magician Paul Craven and writer/broadcaster/ Celebrity Masterchef finalist Gavin Esler.

They’re back! Deal’s iconic band, Cocos (pronounced “Co-Coss”) Lovers reunite for an all-too-rare live gig at the Lighthouse on 28 October. An organically evolving collective of friends and family, the Cocos channel global influences from Africa to the US Deep South whilst staying faithful to their melodic alt-folk Kentish roots. Their latest incarnation apparently forays into “electric realms”. Let’s hope it’s not Bob Dylan all over again.


Walmer’s premiere Music and Arts venue the Lighthouse adds yet another string to its bow with an all new standup comedy night, launching on 4 November. “Oy Oyster” will be MC-ed by Nick Wilty (hecklers beware) and feature established comics Phil Nicol and Mike Gunn. Sounds like a right laugh.

DOUBLE ENTENDRES AT THE READY Another at the Astor (where else?) and a total Deal tradition, the Marines panto is legendary. This year’s offering is entitled It Is Quite Hot Mother, and won’t be for the faint-hearted or those easily offended. Let’s just say the politically correct enforcers would have their work cut out here. Thursday 6 January to Saturday 15 January

DEAL COMIC CON Calling all geeks… Meet your fellow enthusiasts at Deal’s very own TV/ Film Comic Con on 9 October. Hosted at Deal Welfare Club at Cowdray Square, it’s a chance to get your mitts on some genuine movie props, snap up some toys and, of course, indulge

in a lot of heated fan chat. Special guests include British actors Vas Blackwood and Paul Warren (see if you can recognise Paul without the prosthetics) and art department master Neil Ellis (Harry Potter and Star Wars franchises). Costumes are eagerly encouraged. Funds raised will go to the Martha Trust. See Facebook for details

HALLOWEEN AT THE CASTLE As if the dungeons at Deal Castle weren’t creepy enough, English Heritage will be shivering your timbers with their very own, sitespecific Halloween/Samhain trail over 28 to 31 October. Ghost stories drawn from the Castle, the town and the Goodwin Sands will be recounted and played out by actors as they guide small tours around the castle after dark. We’re told the tales can be so gruesome, this one is strictly for over-18s only. Make it out of that alive and you can also sign up to a Ghost Hunter event on 27 November, led by a crack team of paranormal investigators armed with cutting edge, spectredetecting equipment. The Ghost Hunter at Dover Castle always sells out in a trice, so don’t delay. deal-castle

TRADITIONAL PANTO Christmas just isn’t Christmas without shouting “He’s behind yooooooou!” at a dame in drag. So we’re keeping fingers crossed that Gary Starr Pantomimes will defy the NHS ping odds and return to Deal, for the third year running, with their brand new take on Cinderella from 20 to 24 December. Alternatively, Maddie4Music presents a relaxed and BSL performance of Jack and the Psychedelic Beanstalk on 14 November, as penned by local writer Kevin Mudge-Wood. Looking for something more genteel? A filmed performance of the Royal Opera House’s beloved classical ballet production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, is screening on 12 December.

SPOOKY WALKS Ye olde misty side streets of Deal are crawling with history: a readymade stage for the History Project’s latest, er, project. As well as creating a new “history hub” above Deal Station, tireless Deal historians George and Sharon will be bringing the dark side of Deal to life with a unique series of Spooky Walks around Halloween. See their website for details and to book and also consider donating to their brilliant, non-profit work.


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the LDN WRESTLING Tuesday 26th October | Doors Open 7pm Show Starts 7.30pm The stars of LDN are back in Deal for another rip-roaring professional wrestling match. Featuring the top stars of LDN including the popular champion Travis, the Duke of London Jonathan Hardwick and northern sensation Andy O’Sullivan. This show is the ideal place to celebrate a birthday with the opportunity of VIP backstage passes to meet the stars at the end of the show. Family friendly prices to make this the best value ticket in town. Tickets: Adults £14 | Children (under 16 years) £10 | Family Of Four £44



Sunday 24th October | Doors 6pm | Show Starts 6.30pm

December | Shows at 2.30pm & 7pm Daily

Tom Brace loved his childhood. Roald Dahl, Cluedo and one film in particular from 1985… Join him for a hilarious evening of 1.21 gigawatts of magic as he showcases his unique, incredible and totally pointless abilities in a new show inspired by his past!

Monday 20th December to Friday 24th This Christmas Gary Starr Pantomimes in association with The Astor return for their third year with a brand new magical pantomime adventure- Cinderella! Will Cinderella find true love? Will the Ugly Sisters get their just deserts? One thing is for sure 'This Christmas everyone goes to the Ball'.

Featuring Tom’s unique blend of comedy and magic, the show promises to have a little something for everybody.

Packed full of comedy, music and magic this year's family pantomime promises to be our biggest adventure yet.

Recommended for ages 8+

Tickets: £16 Adults | £13 Child | £50 Family of 4 (2 Adults/ 2 Children)

Tickets: Adults £14 | Children (under 16 yrs) £8 | Family of Four £40

View our full programme of events at Tickets are available to book online, by phone or in person from our Box Office. Email: Call: 01304 370 220 Box Office Opening Hours: 9am to 1pm (Mon-Sat)

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For many years the sport was banned by the FA, deemed “quite unsuitable for females”. But one passionate football fan had other ideas, as Kevin Redsull explains


ever mind “40 years of hurt”, women weren’t able to play on FA pitches for over 50 years in the 20th century. While “underground” games continued throughout this time, it was only late in the “swinging Sixties” that the FA came to its senses. As far as women’s soccer in East Kent is concerned, 2021 will be remembered as the year that Deal Town started running their first ever female team. The fact the Hoops (male) are celebrating their centenary this year makes that even more special but, with due respect to everyone at the Charles Ground, an event of much greater significance in the development of women’s football in the UK also occurred locally 54 years

▲ Deal Women’s Football Club, 1960s. Arthur Dobbs (below) is at the back, right

ago, thanks to a man by the name of Arthur Hobbs who is widely regarded as being the “founding father” of the Women’s Football Association. Originally from Somerset, Arthur had decided to settle in Deal after being posted to Kent while he was serving in the Army during WWII. He had been a decent amateur footballer in his youth, but once his playing days were over he turned his footballing passion towards helping women play the “beautiful game” as well. But that proved to be much easier said than done. Although England’s 1966 World Cup triumph had increased the popularity of soccer among both men and women, organised women’s football still remained banned in this country. The Football Association ►



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Bistro and B&B Ash CT32HH had introduced the ban in 1921 claiming that football was not a ladylike endeavour for women. Yet the sport was hugely popular from the 1890s until WWI, with women’s games gaining larger crowds than men’s. In fact, at the turn of the last century 25,000 fans travelled to France to watch the England Ladies team play. But, according to Arthur’s daughter Jill Martin (now well-known for her food stall in Deal’s Saturday market), who used to watch Deal Town matches with him when she was a young child, he became determined to change what was patently a ridiculous situation after one particular incident at a local school in the winter of 1966-67. Jill says: “Dad spent most of his working life as a carpenter with AA Cavell the builders, and one day he had a job at a school in Sandwich. While he was there he noticed some of the girls playing football in the playground and when he came home that night he said they were really enjoying it and he couldn’t understand why they weren’t allowed to play

“The Kent FA were far from pleased and promptly banned the referees who officiated” in properly organised matches. I think it was that one incident which really triggered his desire to change the situation. My father was a very passionate and determined man who, if he believed in something, he would do his utmost to achieve it.” And so Hobbs came up with the idea of organising a women’s tournament in the summer of 1967. Deal Town, who had previously hosted two low-key under-the-radar women’s matches, were keen to act as hosts. But then the Kent FA stepped in, blocking the use of the Charles Ground for the tournament on the pretext that the infamous 1921 ban on women still remained on the FA’s dusty statute books. Undaunted, Hobbs was backed to the hilt in his quest by David Ennals, later Baron Ennals, the great Labour Party statesman who was the Dover and Deal MP at the time. And East Kent’s mining community came to Hobbs’ rescue, allowing the tournament to take place at Betteshanger Welfare Ground in Cavell Square. All of the eight teams in

the inaugural edition came from local workplaces or youth organisations, with the Dover GPO (general post office) lifting the trophy. The Kent FA were far from pleased, however, and promptly banned the three referees who had officiated at the tournament. Nevertheless Hobbs organised a second tournament a year later which was won by the famous Manchester Corinthians team – getting Corinthians involved was something of a coup for Arthur. The Manchester outfit had drawn big crowds all over the world and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities like Oxfam and the Red Cross. By the 1969 edition over 50 teams were taking part in the Deal tournament including sides from Czechoslovakia and Austria, and Manchester Corinthians retained their trophy by beating Deal Hockey Club in the final. At the end of the tournament, Hobbs and Londoner Patricia Gregory, another pioneer of women’s soccer, triumphantly announced the

formation of “The Ladies Football Association of Great Britain” which subsequently became later that year the “Women’s Football Association”, with Arthur as its first secretary. The 1971 tournament saw Ayrshire side Stewarton Thistle claim the coveted trophy. Meanwhile the FA’s resolve had been gradually weakening, with the result that their ban was finally lifted in 1971 – the year that the first Women’s FA Cup final took place. The Deal tournament meanwhile carried on until the final time in 1972, when 10 teams took part. And, thanks to the hard work of Hobbs and others, Deal Town’s Charles Ground was finally allowed to be the tournament venue. But by now Arthur’s health was failing and he stepped down from the secretary’s post in 1972. He was then made an Honorary Life Member of the WFA Council but sadly died just three years later of a heart attack. His contribution to the liberation and development of women’s football cannot be overestimated. Daughter Jill (right with Arthur and

her mother and brother) adds: “He fought and he fought and he got there eventually, and when I watch women play in tournaments like the World Cup and the Olympics nowadays I know that Dad would be so proud at how far women’s football has come. But his part in its development rarely gets mentioned. It’s such a shame.” Now that Deal Town has their own women’s team, there are plans to resurrect the Deal tournament next summer. What a fitting tribute to Arthur Hobbs that would be.

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savouring autumn Tom Moggach shares what’s new on the Deal food and drink scene this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

▲ © Tom Moggach

Supplies from this fishmonger also feature on the autumn menu at Frog and Scot (above), where new chef Jack Grundon is rustling up dishes such as a monkfish “bourguignon”. Owner Benoit is red hot on local suppliers: feast on pan-fried venison from Stour Valley Game with a juniper-infused sauce; or braised and flaked venison shoulder in a creamy dauphinoise with rosemary and thyme. His rib-eye steaks – dryaged and grass fed – now come from butcher Aubrey Allen, supplier to the Queen.

In the news On the High Street, the inventive menu at Popup Café is now fully vegetarian. Ben and Hetty have also extended their shop by adding a new takeaway space dedicated to their top-notch coffee, baked goods (all made in-house) and takeaway lunch options. There’s a new wheelchairaccessible toilet, too.

Across the road at The Rose, look out for a fresh autumn menu devised by the acclaimed chef Nuno Mendez. He’s a friend of the owners and regularly visits Deal to work on new dishes with their in-house team. Try highly creative dishes that reflect the Kentish countryside, featuring ingredients such as foraged sea beets, locally picked mushrooms and Kentish cobnuts.

At The Black Pig butcher Lizzy (right) and her team deserve huge credit for their nomination in the category of Best Food Producer for the prestigious BBC Food and Farming Awards. The judges (including Angela Hartnett) visited the shop and were impressed by Lizzy’s careful sourcing of local free-range meat and her “nose- to-tail eating and artisanal butchery”. At Jenkins & Son, the fishmonger, the team have been boosting their range of homemade dishes. Latest lines include a swordfish curry and haddock bake. The colder weather ushers in quality shellfish – crab, lobster, mussels and oysters – along with locally caught species such as Dover sole, bass, skate and plaice. Closer to Christmas, place your orders for seafood platters, free-range turkeys, capons, geese and duck. The shop also stocks a wide range of seasonal game at this time of year.

You may have spotted the Sumac takeover of a fridge at Peppers, the health food shop. Jo is the brilliant cook behind this range of Levantine dishes and also caters for supper clubs – both her own or by arrangement for other venues.

© Tom Moggach

Deal Saturday Market’s 322nd birthday party on Saturday 16 October will celebrate with live music and more. Throughout December, there will also be a festive market each week with live music, decorations and special deals. Several of the market traders will offer new products and gifts. Petra from Heatonomy creates

beautiful boxes filled with her spicy condiments, while Authentique mix a mean mulled wine. The Chai Stand have paused market trading for now but their Clarified Chai Punch, available from their online shop (, is simply divine. At The Astor Community Theatre, Dexter and Gosia from Soul Chef Kitchen have won legions of fans with their take on Jamaican cuisine. They will be organising supper clubs in the theatre this autumn and an improved website for online orders has just been launched ( In Walmer, Eva’s is a good bet for gourmet hamper baskets with a strong selection of artisan products from France, Spain and Italy. The wine coffers are stocked with some exceptional finds, too. Along the coast, Chequers Kitchen will host festive cookery classes such as Christmas baking with a Swedish twist. Gift vouchers are also available. A few miles outside of Deal, there’s exciting news from Updown Farm. Ruth Leigh and chef Oliver Brown moved into this 17th-century farmhouse earlier this year. They dream of opening a restaurant and guesthouse on the site, but for now have been hosting a series of sellout supper clubs every Friday – with dates now extended into December. There will be some exciting chef collaborations in the next few months, with food cooked in the farm’s woodfired oven. Ingredients are sourced locally from suppliers including The Black Pig, Jenkins & Son and The Goods Shed over in Canterbury. ►

▲ The Chai Stand

▼ Updown Supper Club

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OUR BRAND NEW AUTUMN MENU IS ON NOW Join us for sea buckthorn margaritas, scallops cooked in hay, wild mushroom pancakes and lobster rice Open everyday. Lunch: midday-2.30pm (excluding Mon and Tues). Dinner 6-9pm. Sunday midday-6pm. Book online or © Nadine Primeau, Unsplash

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Specialising in catering for any occasion: home dining, dinner parties and more. Bespoke menus created for each customer. Find our products in the grab and go Deli at • Peppers, the health food shop • Walmer Court Farm Shop Pop up Dining Events more dates and venues to follow this season FOLLOW US ON: sumaclevantinecuisine @sumaclevantine Or call 07967849050

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You may have met Tunde already – but at the sharp end of a needle. A pharmacist by trade, Tunde has jabbed more than 10,000 people at Clockwork Pharmacy in Deal. But he’s also the driving force behind Suyaman, an exciting new food and drink business celebrating the bold flavours of Nigeria. Tunde immigrated to the UK in 2002 and moved to Deal after spotting an advert for a COVID-19 vaccinator. “I put my bike in an Uber and came to Deal the following day. I came here to save the world – to vaccinate,” he says. Food has always been an obsession.

Tunde started with supper clubs, experimenting with suya, an indigenous Nigerian spice: “I’ve been very obsessed with suya because of its versatility. I’ve been adding it to everything. It’s a blend of roasted peanuts and aromatic spices.” Now he’s collaborating with One Mile End Brewery to create two special beers – available in bars around Deal. Zobo is a pale ale infused with hibiscus; Kakáo an aromatic Nigerian-inspired stout with Madagascan cacao. “I’m a pharmacist by trade and the brewery was something I understood,” Tunde explains. “We started with infusions of indigenous ingredients and decided to mimic African drinks.” The pharmacist adds that black stout is especially popular in West Africa. Guinness is a favourite at

Christmas, often served with small, deep-fried pastries called pof-pofs. “They are so delicious – sweet and savoury at the same time,” he says, wistfully. Tunde’s vaccinator contact has been extended but his future in the town is not yet certain. “I’m getting fond of Deal,” Tunde says. “I’m meeting a lot of nice people and collaborating with good bars and restaurants.” Here’s hoping he stays.

Suyaman beers are stocked at The Bar, The Bohemian, Astor Theatre and Soul Chef Kitchen or via the Hoppily craft beer subscription service @suyamanuk


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A safe port in a terrible storm Artist Julia Hamilton shares her journey from Hackney to Deal, where she sheltered from the pandemic while also finding inspiration and support.

I first came to Deal in 2016. I’d remembered a friend of mine had once said, “If you ever need a break, come and visit Deal! You’ll love it!” They were right. I’d booked myself into a beautiful room overlooking the sea at the Royal Hotel and when I arrived the receptionist said, “Oh, it’s got your name on it!” I smiled and thought they were just being friendly. But when I got to my room, sure enough there was my name on the door in a lovely, swirly, guilded handwriting. “Lady Hamilton” it said. I’m not usually predisposed to believing in

“signs from above”, but this one was a little hard to ignore. I soon found out that the Royal had been where Lady Hamilton (sadly no relation) and Admiral Nelson would meet for their trysts. When I walked into the room and put my suitcase down, I flung open the large French windows and just stared out at the expanse of grey-green sea and felt a huge wave of relief wash over me. Five years later, I’m still here. Not in the Hamilton suite any more, but I’ve got my own house with my name on it. I have a studio in my garden and I’m in there most days.

Deal was an extraordinarily friendly place to land and I’ve met some great people here. The Artist Open House (see page 35) was a great way to find fellow artists. There they were quietly and privately getting on with their work behind closed doors. One of the first people I met was the artist Caroline Yates, who now runs Will and Yates Gallery and Home with her friend Jane Will. Caroline and I decided to approach Linden Hall Studios for a two-woman show. Tableaux opened in 2018 in that beautiful white space. The private view was a packed, sparkling affair with all the great and good of Deal society gathered on a Saturday afternoon. I hope we can all do that kind of thing again – soon. When I first came here it was a quieter place during the week. After the DFLs had swept out of town, it could seem a rather bleak and forlorn town. But someone told me there was a life-drawing class in the Sea Scout Hut on the seafront. It seemed rather an unlikely place to find a nude model. But on one rainy, blowy morning I packed a rucksack with a sketchbook and some charcoal and set off on my bicycle, with the seagulls following me. Inside the chilly wooden hut, up by the fishing boats

“Ju-Ju Gong”, Alan Gouk at Linden Hall

the shows to go to

near Deal Castle, were a bustle of people milling around and arranging chairs into a circle. A young woman in a dressing gown stood waiting by a draped chair and, at 10 o’clock, she disrobed. Drawing with a group of artists is a really great thing. At 11 o’clock the music stopped and the kitchen shutter went up – fresh coffee and chocolate biscuits were served and we mingled and looked at each other’s work. The Secret Drawing Club at the Astor (set up by Louise and Nick Hughes) was another secret I discovered. Inside the dark theatre with its grand red velvet curtains, high up on the stage was a woman dressed in a white Georgian wig with a beauty spot on her cheek wearing silver shoes and scantily draped in white lace. Beside her was an old cake. Here was Miss Haversham (aka Louise), accompanied by the music of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey. We were transported into a decadent world, our imaginations fuelled. During lockdown these sessions thankfully continued via Zoom. In March 2019 I had some ink drawings on display at 81 Beach Street. But, due to the pandemic, I had to take the work away. Not knowing what to do when I got home, I hung a drawing

“Eve’s Bow”, Susan Absolon at Will & Yates


Find something special to hang on your walls as we hunker down for the season

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things that we suddenly had to do, not so long ago. These drawings became a visual diary of those strange times and I now can look back at a total of 561 drawings in three sketchbooks. These will be published in the near future. When lockdown started to ease, my friend – the artist Stephanie Fuller – and I headed to the beach. Sitting two metres apart we drew and painted the boats, the sea and the sky. Artists need company – the lonely artist in the garret is a myth. Deal has been a good place to be during these past 18 months. With the company of my friends it’s been a supportive and kind place to live. And an inspirational one.

▲ Here’s Looking at You Kid, (Paris Hilton and her sunglasses), oil on canvas

“Crack in Everything”, Marika Wenman

in my front window facing the street. I changed the picture every week and I found out later that quite a few people would make a point of diverting to Stanhope Road to see the changing pictures. I recorded this on Instagram and called it #artinmywindow. This was the way some of my work flew off into other homes. At the same time I filled a sketchbook with ink drawings depicting people with masks, lonely figures walking along the seafront with their dogs, people clapping for the NHS, washing food and hanging bags on the washing line. All those

“High Climber”, Ned Kelly at Don’t Walk Walk


Alan Gouk: Recent Small Paintings


Julia Hamilton has exhibited at The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition on numerous occasions and has shown with various other galleries in the UK, including The Threadneedle Prize, The Discerning Eye, Long & Ryle, The Arts Club Dover St, London, and won the Sir Peter Blake Prize for best print in 2008 at the Mall Galleries. Her work can be seen in Stanhope Road, Deal as part of East Kent Open House (EKOH) IG: juliahamiltonartist

“Kingsdown High Tide”, Christine Hodson at Taylor Jones & Son



Winter Group Show

Marika Wenman

Susan Absolon

Mixed Christmas Show


Christine Hodson

1 December to 31 January

28 September to 10 October

16 October to 7 November

14 November to January 2022

Marika studied drawing and painting with Jason Bower, Francis Bowyer and Paul Heywood. Her work has been shown in the Hunting Prize and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and is in private collections throughout the world. Marika's ongoing influences through movement feed into her fascination with the human form and the changing forms of objects as they become personalised within given spaces.

“Influences on my work include Ted Hughes' poems Birthday Letters, Hugo Williams' poems Billy's Rain, Edna O'Brien's The Love Object, Prunella Clough's late paintings, Per Kirkeby, Sonia Delaunay, Phillip Larkin's poem “Aubade”, Bonnard's self-portraits, memories of rainy summers in Scotland, and a current preoccupation with a darkening worldview.”

The Christmas show will have a few pieces from all of the gallery’s regular artists including Rosemary Vanns, Kate Boxer, Michael Weller and Caroline Yates herself.

Convergence, a solo show by Neil (Ned) Kelly, sees his return to the prestigious surroundings of Deal Castle. Ned will be showcasing a mixture of original paintings and drawings and limited editions. The show will be a celebration, and a convergence of his brooding landscapes and ethereal abstracts.

Local ‘outsider’ artist Christine Hodson has seen phenomenal success in the gallery – which is the sole dealer of her work – and her large, bright and bold collages are often pride of place in the window. Christine’s Cliffs series are snapped up as soon as they arrive and the new Boats series is also building momentum.

10 Victoria Rd, CT14 7AP

114 High St, Deal, Kent, CT14 6BB

Onw hundred artists/200 works – a highlight of the gallery’s This show promises to be a exhibition programme, this fascinating look at Gouk’s show is always well attended. expressive paintings. “Free Established and less wellof grandiose or ‘serious’ known artists hang beside each ambitions, these little other in this eclectic pictures attest to my and well-chosen open own mantra – make submission show, a statement, trust which is always what you do, and over-subscribed. e do it more.” Expect in th ace WGS is l p colour and texture 32 St Georges Rd, A ular ht pop rd-foug in abundance. CT14 6BA ha for 28 September to 16 October

l dea on diti tra

104-106 High St, CT14 6EE

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Meet artists in their lairs Georgian Brickwork is a Thanet based team of bricklayers who specialise in the restoration and conservation of brick built period and listed properties. The team work on Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian properties and are highly skilled in all aspects of heritage brickwork, including the use of lime mortar, lime pointing, tuck pointing, repair of gauged arches, and carved brickwork. Georgian Brickwork workmanship is compliant with best practice principles for heritage buildings. Restoration and repairs are completed to the highest standard using traditional materials and methods.

Contact Charlie to discuss the repairs to your home: e: m: 07732 975 349

Pictured above: Ellington Park Bandstand fully restored

Visit the website to see more examples of brickwork:


wenty creatives in Deal will be joining fellow artists all over East Kent when they open their homes, galleries and studios as part of East Kent Artists’ Open Houses 2021. Now in its 21st year, it will be particularly welcome after the creative drought of Covid 19 – a longawaited and inspiring three weekends in October. In Deal, nothing beats wending your way through the beautiful old streets, finding your way down secret alleyways and through garden gates to discover the private homes, galleries and studios we don’t usually get to see. Away from the formality of the gallery you’re able to ask all the questions you’ve been dying to ask. Like “How do you do that?”, “What inspires you?”, or “Can I see your etchings?” (Actually, don’t ask that one, you will be met with an eye roll because – believe it or not – you won’t be the first person to have thought of that joke…) It’s the details that fascinate. No

perfume can compare with the smell of turps and oil paint; and how many brushes does an artist actually need? Then there’s that palette in the corner, encrusted with layers of old paint that looks as good as any Jackson Pollock in the Tate. An artist’s studio is a treat to behold and a privileged place to be invited into. Don’t miss this opportunity to buy some work and to take your own piece of Deal away with you.

Socially distanced and COVIDsafe arrangements will be in place at all venues on the 2021 trail. Brochures available from Astor Community Theatre (Stanhope Road), Landmark Centre (129 High Street), The Lane (15 South Court), The Taphouse (5 South Street), Deal train station, the Royal (Beach Street) 9/10, 16/17 and 23/24 October 11am - 5pm

◄ Work by Ellie Machin

Utter madness

del Renzio & del Renzio Architecture and Interiors

The ultimate winter tradition, this muchanticipated moment of madness is over in minutes

N deal tion t r a d i ip

Image credit: Sue Barr

t icy d The firs place k too k in bac 1981

HoughtonBudd Architects RIBA Chartered Practice


12-14 Cliff Street, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 9HS | | 01843 446 210

ow run by the Deal Rotary Club, who took over the organisation of the event from the Deal Icebreakers in 2019, the event has raised over £100,000 for local good causes. Over 350 people usually brave the water, having enrolled online. And others join in at the last minute, signing up on the day. Fancy dress isn’t mandatory but most people ensure that they look especially silly as they dive in. The event involves gaining permission from DDC to open the pier, and ensuring that the Coast Guard and St John’s Ambulance are on duty. The Mayor of Deal and most of the town will attend to welcome the event back after its cancellation in 2020. Expect a lot of screaming and even more laughter. Go Deal! ◄ Dominic Harper’s epic collage is currently on disply at the Turner Contemporary Open show




MON 18TH OCTOBER 5:30PM - 7:30PM

Kent College Canterbury

Book your place online at or call 01227 763231

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Curl up by the fire The Deal Bookshop’s Gemma Groombridge shares her favourite Deal-related titles to entertain you during the colder months


think one of the loveliest parts of my job has to be the art of recommendation. The thing we’re most often asked for is for tips about “books set in Deal” or “books written by authors from Deal”. Some you will already know the most popular titles for example – Bleak House, War Of The Worlds and, probably most famous of all, Moonraker. Most of these mentions are fleeting, but we are there. So, in that spirit, here’s my latest list of fantastic local authors, and books you may not have realised were set in our beautiful town.

The Rattling Cat by Simon Gregory

Three’s A Crowd by Simon Booker

The Boy With No Shoes by William Horwood

A rip-roaring tale of smuggling in the late 18th century on the coast of Kent. The young hero, Miles, becomes involved with colourful characters and exciting escapades in the cut-throat town of Deale. He has been sent to stay with his uncle, landlord of the Noah’s Ark, a hostelry with a dubious reputation. He is swiftly embroiled in the search for a smugglers’ tunnel that is guarded by a ghostly skeleton. His loyalties are challenged when he befriends the local inhabitants – both saints and sinners – each, in some way, connected with the “wicked trade”.

Harriet is recuperating from a crashand-burn affair with Damian – aka “Cockweasel” – and making ends meet as a barista when she meets two lovely men. Tom is a regular at the café and seems like a nice guy. Smooth-talking DJ Richard is older but a real silver fox. Deciding to take a chance on both, Harriet doesn’t realise at first that she’s dating father and son. By the time everyone finds out, both Tom and Richard are truly, madly, deeply in love with Harriet, and she’s faced with an impossible choice. But as the battle for her affections intensifies, “Cockweasel” makes an unexpected reappearance…

Five-year-old Jimmy Rova is the child of a mother who rejects him, and whose other children bully him. The one thing he can call his own is a pair of shoes, a present from the only person he feels has ever loved him. When they are cruelly taken away, Jimmy spirals down into a state of loneliness and terrible loss from which there seems no recovery. The Boy With No Shoes is William Horwood’s Deal childhood laid bare on every page, written in the most breathtaking prose. I can’t help but wonder how a child with such a harrowing start to life managed to become so accomplished in adulthood? Truly inspirational.

Simon Gregory’s debut children’s book is a romp of a read, filled with excitement and adventure.

The Conrad Press, Paperback, £9.99

This truly hilarious, beautiful, clever novel is filled with heart. Author and Screenwriter Simon Booker lives in Deal with his partner Mel and their adopted fur baby Milo.

Headline Publishing Group, Paperback, £10.99

Simon & Schuster Ltd, Paperback, £8.99 The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she arranged her own funeral. A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own. A reluctant author is drawn into a story he can’t control. What do they have in common? Unexpected death, an unsolved mystery and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new thriller. No, as far as I am aware, Anthony Horowitz does not live in Deal. But The Word is Murder is set in Deal and is a good laugh if you love oddball detectives.

Cornerstone, Paperback, £8.99

The Stars of the Night Sky by Sky Bradford and Illustrated by Natalie Starr

The Little Monsters Book of Wellbeing by Steve “Squidoodle” Turner

On the planet of Star2, the evil Night Owl has risen from 1,000 years of banishment. Not only are the Starnosian people under threat, but so are all living beings in the whole universe. Only one person can save them... Unfortunately, Charlotte Dazzle doesn’t know it yet!

Fun-packed pages for every day of the week encouraging children to record good things on a daily basis – tasks such as the “Emotions Pie Chart”, “Labels of Kindness”, “You Wanna Pizza Me”, “Feed the Worry Monster” and the “Happiness Cup” will remind kids of the good things they’ve experienced, encouraging a positive mindset (gratitude tasks have been scientifically proven to promote happiness). As a bookseller I recommend it, and as a mother I wholeheartedly celebrate this opportunity to support creativity and mental health.

This is the perfect present for any budding authors. Sky Bradford is a name to remember – she’s already writing her next book and is still at school!

Four Peacocks Publishing, Paperback, £7.99

Self Published, Paperback, £6.49

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Dickensian streets, fairy lights aplenty, plus some cosy corners – all captured by locals



The super-modern, home-from-home vets in Eastry share their cutest patients.

Never an architectural quirk unnoted, Charles shares unusual local structures.

A Sunny Dealite Photographer Sheradon Dublin

We talk to Jim Davies who works tirelessly to keep the Betteshanger mining community close and the industry’s history alive


im Davies, 79, has been involved with Betteshanger since he started as a haulage lad in the mine in 1957. And he was one of the last people to leave when it finally closed in1990. But that wasn’t the end of things. After the site lay dormant for a decade, he was involved in the landscaping of the old Foulmead spoil area, which later became Fowlmead and then Betteshanger Park. He now volunteers with others to keep the old Social Club going (he’s also been “temporary” Chair of the Sports Club

for the last two years). With over 1,300 members, it’s fair to say he’s doing a pretty good job. The welfare organisation was at the heart of the mining community, organising leisure and entertainment, sports and more for both old and young, and Jim joined as a youth representative when he first started work. He talks of pantomimes in the winter and galas in the summer. Nowadays there are 11 sections to the organisation, which include the brass band, fishing, cricket, bowls and football. Many other welfare groups around the country have folded – it’s not easy generating camaraderie when the jobs have gone. Jim remembers the heyday of the colliery. “When the mines opened here in the 1920s, there were no locals who could do the job. So people moved from all over the country – Scotland, the North East, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Somerset, Nottinghamshire. My family were from Wales; my father and grandfather were miners,” Jim, who has returned to live in the house he

helped his parents buy in the 1950s, says. “There were such broad accents.” Jim loves Deal for its friendliness. For his generation, he puts this down to there being only one secondary school in Deal in the 50s (“the Central”) where virtually every kid went: “You knew everyone.” He relives the joy of Saturday mornings, the pictures at the Odeon and then playing on the bomb sites in Middle Street. And the “regional” rivalries.“We called the North-enders ‘Sprattwafflers’, they called us from Mill Hill the ‘Ay-Uppers’,” he laughs. “It was all friendly banter.” Jim is still in the thick of things. He’s worked in coalfield regeneration since the demise of the industry and appreciates the sense of community the social and sports clubs create. “We have over 100 people in for our community coffee mornings on a Tuesday,” he says. “We run dance shows, have a sewing group and once a month the Local History Research Group comes in.” But it’s the bowls club that’s largely responsible for

bringing new members in. “We have the only indoor bowls complex in the area – we reckon it’s one of Deal’s best kept secrets – and seven outdoor rinks, which are some of the best in Kent,” he says, proudly. “We’re on the up!” If he’s not up at the social club at Mill Hill, he’s over on the old site volunteering as trustee for the Kent Mining Museum which will finally open next spring. He was awarded a BEM in the New Year’s Honours List a couple years ago for contributions to local mining heritage. In the interim he’s been helping Elvington and Eyethorn, and Aylesham Heritage Centres collect artefacts, recollections and photos. This is a project that many people have been waiting for – various funding issues have meant it stopping and starting. But now Jim and friends are bringing it to life and celebrating mining once more.



Nominated by Sharon Powell.

With a sense for the lovely things in life, Sarah has a great eye.

Nikki is a fearless all-year-round swimmer and yoga and dance teacher.

To nominate your Sunny Dealite, email

To celebrate your favourite Instagram accounts, email



Always capturing quiet moments and beautiful sights with a unique perspective.

Having renovated their seaside home, they’re now capturing the cool and funky.


love local Whether you’re in search of help with household tasks, eager for tasty treats, seeking a gift for someone special, or ready to relax on a yoga mat, you can trust a local, independent business to meet your needs

MAXTEDS has been trading since 1947, and is a family run business open 6 days a week. We supply everything for your pet care needs from food and treats to tanks and cages, to composts, seeds and hanging baskets to maintain your garden. Our marine and tropical fish are worth a visit...

FB: A: 136 High Street, Deal, CT14 6BE

SWANSTITCH is a small, friendly, independent yarn/ needlework/ haberdashery shop of more than 20 years standing on Deal High Street. Our knowledgeable staff will help you choose from our vast array of products.

FB: @shopswanstitch IG: @swanstitchdeal A: 82-84, High Street, Deal, CT14 6EG T: 01304 366915 E: Member of Deal & Walmer Chamber of Trade, Love Local Deal


Beautiful prints of Deal’s brutalist pier. £35. W:


located in an historic building in Margate Old Town. With a weekly schedule of diverse exhibitions, the gallery offers something special for both visitors and artists. Now taking bookings for 2023. IG: @piefactorymargate FB: Pie Factory Margate W:

welcomes you back! Join us for the best new independent films from around the world plus classics, holiday fun and special events.

A: Harbour St, Broadstairs CT10 IET W: IG: @thepalacecinema FB: @PalaceCinemaBroadstairs

Based in Margate, RECOVERED BY OLLIE provides quality bespoke

upholstery services utilising both traditional and modern upholstery techniques for domestic, trade and commercial clients. Please contact via email for a free quotation.


E: IG: @RecoveredByOllie T: 07789 720 477

Subscribe to the Deal Despatch for only £19.95 per year, or all our magazines for £35.95 per year,and get every issue delivered to your door.

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Inspiring (winter) Instas

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Moonshine! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING! A fantastic service from start to finish. We really couldn’t have asked for anything more from you all. JANE MEAD & MARK GEORGE

...we deliver more than the moon! Contact Nigel Colebrook FNAEA or Becky Lead BSC at: | 01304 374071

See ALL our properties on:

FOR FULL DETAILS GO TO: Bright & Bright 29 Victoria Road . Deal . Kent CT14 7AS t: 01304 374071 . e:,

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