I occasionally get odd requests from readers of the blog.  You know, write about the worst pub in the UK, tell us about hopping rates, show us what your in-laws look like*.

Well here you go, this is the Father-in-Law from Tunbridge Wells, England’s most unlikely capital of craft.  There’s a Beavertown amongst those beers below, you know.

Michael at the George

Trips to the in-laws always take the following form;

  • 07:00  retiredmartin wakes at 7am and urges family members to get up quickly
  • 10:30  Leave house
  • 10:35  Return to house to check door
  • 11:30  Stuck in traffic at Dartford Crossing
  • 12.30  Arrive late
  • 13:00  Traditional roast, irrespective of day or weather
  • 13.30  Mrs RM has drunk two gin & tonics and a large glass of red by now
  • 14:00 – 14:30  retiredmartin going stir crazy trying to get out of house
  • 15:00 – 17:00  “Walk” of approx.  0.5 miles and pub visit, often a GBG newbie
  • 17:30   Chocolate cake for tea
  • 18:00   Leave in order to enjoy traffic chaos at Dartford Crossing

It’s a beautiful part of the world, as Paul Bailey will tell you, but I rarely get to see it on our visits. This is the view from Mount Ephraim over the Pantiles.  Compared to Waterbeach, it’s the Alps.


Two new Beer Guide entries in t’Wells to liven our visit, including a tremendously hilly walk from Rusthall into town.

Excitingly, we start from the Toad Rock Retreat in Denny Bottom, proving once again the joy of English place names.

Toad Rock.PNG

Toad Rock 2.PNG

Worryingly, even Mrs RM didn’t seem to have ever been to Toad Rock, despite having kept the pubs in Wells in business single-handedly in her (late) teens if you believe her.

If a pub was based in as distinctive a setting as this in East Anglia, it would be overrun on a sunny lunchtime.



But clearly the Toad Rock loses out a bit to the even more impressive settings at High Rocks and Mount Edgcumbe.

It’s a pleasant and unfussy pub.


With an equally unfussy beer range.


Only a sip for me, just enough to tick the pubs (my rules), but various relations declared the beer very good, so I’ll declare it NBSS 3.  It was certainly well presented.  And no, they didn’t have the Black Sheep.

Perhaps not to the Pub Curmudgeon spec for proper pubs,



But we did find a large area of armchairs for a family chat about ill relatives.  That wasn’t hard, we’d missed the lunch session.


My intention was to walk through Rusthall Common into town, but we found out the hard way  that would have involved both acrobatics and trespass, so we stuck to the A264.


Our locals claimed no knowledge of the George, either, despite a prominent position on the A26 next to the legendary Sankey’s.



Despite more sofas, this was pubbier than the Toad, with a crowd of young professionals who you thought really ought to have been working at 3pm on a weekday.

Chatting to the cheery barman revealed the George is linked to the craft-friendly Ragged Trousers and Sussex Arms that I enjoyed this year.  That cheery barman and melancholy music choice (New Order’s Brotherhood) should have given it away.

A scary beer range, but there’s no shortage of custom round here for good pubs.


Mrs RM’s father had his first Larkins (very good), Mrs RM stuck to the evil keg from Beavertown.  I just got to drive them home for chocolate cake.

*The last one is a complete lie.

24 thoughts on “IN-LAW DRAMA AT TOAD ROCK

  1. When I read the lie I was surprised readers would get that personal! As my brother would say I truly felt like I was in your living room with this post. Really pretty views in this one. I had not thought this area would be this pretty. Nice to see.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have the wrong perception of that area. I was under the impression that Tunbridge Wells was extremely upscale like the Cotswolds. Obviously bad research on my part.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not bad research. A lot of commuters into London, but a normal town as well. Over a 100,000 people in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge, and a fair bit of South London character in some of the older pubs.


      3. I used to have relatives in nearby Sevenoaks (they’ve either moved away or passed away). Some good times in pubs there in the mid 70’s and early 80’s.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Traditional roast, irrespective of day or weather”

    Ahhhh; good old Sunday roast and Yorkshire pudding year round. 🙂

    And love the fact the three beers in the pic of your father in law are all different colours. 😎


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed your all too brief visit to this corner of West Kent Martin, and found both the Toad Rock and the George to your liking. Sounds like you drew the short straw with regard to the driving!

    Those sandstone outcrops at Rusthall, and also on Tunbridge Wells Common, certainly add variety to the local landscape. I’ve never attempted to walk from Rusthall Common into Tunbridge Wells, although I have walked the other way up from Groombridge and through Langton.

    If your American followers fancy a guided tour of the local pubs, tell them to get in touch next time they are over. Cotswold’s indeed??

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s