SUZANNAH NIKLAS IS THE CREATOR OF THE TONBRIDGE DAILY BLOG, MAKER OF THE HAPPY TONBRIDGE VIDEO AND FOUNDER OF THE TONBRIDGE DAILY CALENDAR . HERE, SHE TELLS US WHY SHE LOVES WHERE SHE LIVES…
Where do you live?
How long have you lived there and what made you decide to move there?
I grew up in Tonbridge. It was the perfect place to spend my childhood with its wide open green spaces, river and sportsground. I left to travel, to study art history at university and to work for a London advertising agency ending up in California for three years. Finally, I came ‘back home’ as it’s such a great place to raise a family, and now live in the Conservation Area in a beautiful Victorian town house.
What’s your favourite shop locally?
It has to be The Gift Box on the High Street. It’s an Aladdin’s cave, stocked with beautiful items and a real gem as is the owner Elisa, and it’s the perfect place to find a fabulous gift for every occasion.
Where’s the best place to go for a Sunday stroll?
We are so lucky to have plenty of waterside and river walks in Tonbridge and our award-winning Barden Lake is probably the best, and most loved by locals, for the beautiful and relaxing place it is. It’s great for watching wildlife too especially our swan families who seem to fascinate us each year with new cygnets. After a stroll, the Cafe in The Park serves the best sausage in a roll on the planet.
The best place to get a cup of coffee?
I can’t make my mind up – Beyond the Grounds where there’s river frontage and a perfect view of the castle, and
65mm Coffee at The Old Fire Station who recently were placed by the industry in the top 36 coffee shops in Europe.
Both serve delicious fresh artisan coffees by competent baristas.
Where do you take people when they come to visit?
First stop has to be Tonbridge Castle. It never fails. Not many towns can boast a castle. Visitors are always fascinated with its history and can explore both outside and inside the castle with an interactive guide. I also always take visitors to see the Chagall windows in nearby Tudeley, and I love telling the story of the images and artist. Right up my street with my art history background.
Where’s your favourite place to eat locally?
Without a doubt Turmeric Gold in Tudeley. They serve the best Indian food I’ve eaten outside India!
Where’s the best place to meet friends and socialise?
Probably The Old Fire Station. It’s the place to meet in the cafe during the day, or drink at the bar later. The pop-ups there have bought some award winning chefs to our town. They also host many events open to the public such as the yearly cider festival. Behind those big red doors it’s a unique place with a laid-back feel, and I love it. Definitely the best thing to happen in Tonbridge for years.
What do you do when you spend a weekend or day off in the local area?
I love to walk and get back to nature. We have such diverse landscapes surrounding the town and I’m always discovering new places off the beaten track. My husband is a fungi expert and used to run the forays at Bedgebury, so we enjoy a spot of wild mushroom hunting during the autumn months. I was also trained to Nordic Walk so I occasionally can be seen pacing the tracks over Ashdown Forest.
Why do you love where you live?
Tonbridge is reinventing itself at present, and it’s going through a bit of a Renaissance with new young families moving to the area. It’s getting a real buzz and vibrancy about it, and it’s our strong sense of community that I love. It’s priceless. We turn out in our thousands to support our town events. It’s the cog on which Tonbridge revolves and that’s what makes us a happy little town and a great place to live. We even have a ‘Happy Tonbridge’ video to prove it.