Love Where You Live

Richard Burrow

This month SO magazine sits down with Richard Burrow, owner of iconic independent jewellers Walsh Bros on Mount Pleasant Road, to chat about the places he likes to support locally. Here, Richard reveals where he likes to stroll, shop and socialise…

Whereabouts do you live in the Borough of Tunbridge Wells and how long have you lived there?

I live on the Rusthall/Speldhurst border and have been there for over 20 years now – I love it.

What made you decide to move to the area?

I grew up in Tonbridge so I knew the area well. I love the combination of town living with the countryside on our doorstep – it’s great that I walk into the town centre in 20 minutes.

Are there any nice views or walks near to your home?

I am fortunate that we have quite a few lovely walks near us – Shadwell Woods is fantastic, especially when the floor turns into a bluebell carpet each year. A walk along Happy Valley is a popular one with the stunning views across the weald. We also often walk to Toad Rock and Harrison Rocks.

When you are in town where’s your favourite place to go shopping – and do you have any specific retailers you like to support?

Walsh Bros is fortunate to be located next door to Hoopers which I consider to be a great, and important, shop for Royal Tunbridge Wells. Although we read in the press about many department stores being on the decline, I think it continues to be successful because it’s so central. They have a great range of clothing and the beauty and hair salons are very popular. I think it is vital that we support local, privately-owned businesses. My other go-to is Bailey’s on Mount Pleasant Road. This is a true gents outfitter with a very traditional approach, and I love the customer service you receive. I buy many of my work shirts from them.

Where do you like to grab a tea, coffee or a slice of cake?

The Casa Café on Castle Street is my go-to. Put simply – the food is fantastic and they serve great coffee. The owner, who is from Madeira, also makes the most amazing Portuguese Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts), they are definitely my guilty pleasure!

Do you have a preferred restaurant you like to dine in regularly?

Coco Retro on Vale Road is a favourite for nights with friends or special occasions and we also love Blue India in Langton Green. For quick lunches I tend to go to Casa Café (did I mention the Pasteis de Nata?). Kai’s Kitchen, which is literally next door to Walsh Bros, is also a firm favourite – the quality and flavours are quite exceptional.

Which places do you take people when they come to visit?

I don’t think you can go wrong with a visit to The Pantiles markets, supporting local traders and wandering along the colonnade is very popular with visitors. Scotney Castle and its stunning gardens is also a favourite.

Where’s the best spot to go for a Sunday stroll in the area?

We truly are spoilt for choice here but that’s no bad thing – we often stroll along The Pantiles, over to Dunorlan Park, Wellington Rocks and The Common.

If you’re looking to relax and unwind, where’s your favourite place to go?

I don’t think you can beat a sunny day on The Common, watching the cricket and having a catch-up with friends.

Where do you like to meet friends and socialise?

I like The Claremont on Grove Hill Road which has a lovely garden, Sopranos on the High Street for social tapas is fun and Zorba on Grosvenor Road is good for a big group and the service is excellent.

What do you like to do when you spend a weekend or day off in the local area?

The Forum is definitely at the top of my list, we are so lucky to have this grassroots venue on our doorstep. There is nothing better than watching live music.

Why do you love where you live?

I think it’s because it gives me a little bit of everything. I love the people I meet through my work, many of our customers have been with us through their whole life journey – engagement, weddings, families, special events – and I feel privileged to have been on the journey with them. I also really enjoy getting to know other independent businesses and I like that on the whole, we are all supporting local wherever we can. Location is a factor too, we are so central and it’s so easy to get everywhere; we live in one of the major towns in the county, the coast is only 40 minutes away, as is London, and I can step out of my backdoor straight into glorious countryside.

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