Having spent the last 10 years in Europe – 7 of those in the depths of cognac country, France, I have come to appreciate that some things in life are worth taking time over. Moving back to Tunbridge Wells means that the shock to the system of re-entering the hustle and bustle of a British town is tempered by the gentility of this unique community.
I start my morning with freshly baked bread and croissants from the exotic Harpal and husband, Chris, at the newly opened La Roche award winning bakery. They have just moved from their chateau in France and the newly opened bakery is the talk of the town. So much so that they sold every last crumb on their opening day and had to stay up all night to bake enough for the next mad rush!
Next I pop round the corner to sit outside Arte Bianca where the charming Gianni will serve the best Italian coffee (listed by the Times as one of the top ten places to have coffee in England!) This is a good spot to pick up olives and Gianni’s delicious homemade pesto, for lunch.
A highlight of the high street for me is Nicky Kinnaird’s Space NK apothecary, where the lovely Raquel recently gave me a complete skin care demonstration followed by make- up advice that I would have screamed in horror at, if I hadn’t been brave enough to put myself in her capable hands. Now with my new look my skin feels great and applying make-up in the morning is actually fun again. As I stood waiting for my debit card to absorb the shock of my wonderfully packaged purchases, a sleek blonde looked on approvingly and said “One just has to have a Nars blush!”
Anyone would tell you that a trip to Tunbridge Wells is not complete without a visit to the Pantiles, where afternoon teas are taken outside and the array of beautifully adorned, tiered cake-stands are enough to make anyone feel the need to stop for sustenance. Before tucking into the scones and cream though I recommend a little look in at Coco where Nicole and Sue share their impeccable taste for clothing in the softest shades and simply dreamy fabrics. They will help you to pick something special from their own selection of Sandwich, Salt, Charli and Nougat (no, I am not talking about the cream teas still – please keep up!)
Last stop on our whistlestop tour is just a couple of doors away to Sue Hill, who designs the most adorable collection of exquisite cashmere baby clothes. So very Tunbridge Wells, these classic designs are not emblazoned with logos across the chest but those ‘in the know’ will know, I assure you! Sue’s customers include Stella McCartney, Geri Halliwell, Charlotte Church, Claudia Winkelman, Amanda Holden, Davina McCall, Sting and Jamie Cullum.
It may seem like I’m boasting here, but you too can share in the delights of this town close to my heart. Mulberry Cottages offer the amazing Birch Pavilion, sleeping 15 and set in the 3,000 acres of Eridge Park, with spectacular views and a lawned tennis court – I can’t think of a better place for a girl to unwind with a perfectly blended Pimms after a hard day. Chin-chin!
Mulberry Cottages are currently looking to expand their portfolio of properties in the Tunbridge Wells area.