This month SO Magazine chats to Neil Simmons, Managing Director at TN Recruits in Tunbridge Wells about all the places he likes to support locally. Here Neil reveals where he likes to stroll, shop and socialise….
Where do you live?
I live in Crowborough.
How long have you lived there and what made you decide to move there?
I lived in Tunbridge Wells for 15 years and absolutely loved it. When it came to moving to our next home for our family of four plus a dog, we decided we could get a little more for our money by moving out of town. Crowborough has a great vibe for families and it’s a little more out in the country so has different options for dog walks – and it’s not a million miles from the TN Recruits HQ!
What’s your favourite shop locally?
I’m all about Fenwick for clothes as it stocks a wide selection of brands and has very good customer service. The Royal Victoria Place often gets a bad press but I can normally find what I’m looking for in there. I also love Sugarbush Records and even flow and love rummaging through the singles to build a stock of 7-inch records for my jukebox.
Where’s the best place to go for a Sunday stroll?
There are numerous idyllic walks across Ashdown Forest which is a stone’s throw from where we live. If we’re talking Tunbridge Wells, then I like to go to Hargate Forest as it’s peaceful and scenic. But you cannot overlook the splendour of Dunorlan Park. It’s so picturesque and I enjoy bumping into familiar faces and stopping for chat.
In your opinion where’s the best place to get a cup of coffee?
In the summer it’s hard to beat Calverley Park where you can sit and enjoy the hive of activity of families playing and dogs being walked whilst appreciating the beautiful landscape.
Where do you take people when they come to visit?
We love going to Bewl Water which has a certain charm throughout the year. But just how lucky are we to have The Pantiles? The weekend markets offer a real buzz and superb local produce. With its quintessential English feel, there is simply no place quite like it and our visitors love it.
What’s the night life like where you live?
In Tunbridge Wells we are spoilt for choice with an eclectic mix of restaurants available to us. As a big fan of Ska music, I have recently discovered Tyber’s which is solely dedicated to Ska and Reggae, so this offers a really great night out with friends. In the summertime, you can’t beat Jazz on The Pantiles on a Thursday or Soul Train on a Saturday.
Where’s your favourite place to eat locally?
In Tunbridge Wells, I have so many favourite restaurants. The Shuffle House provides a superb level of service and offers a good selection of options including some unique and delicious tapas dishes. Another favourite of mine is Soprano. Having lived in Spain many moons ago, it’s wonderful to be able to indulge in delicious Spanish tapas locally – and the restaurant is beautifully laid out with a fantastic ambience. If we’re talking Crowborough, Raj Poot is my favourite Indian restaurant for both dining in and take away.
Are there any nice views nearby?
Crowborough is often described as a ‘mini-Scotland’, and it’s easy to see why when you experience the delights of the Ashdown Forest, it boasts truly spectacular views.
I also love the views from The Beacon – it’s a great place to enjoy a spot of lunch or an afternoon tipple with family and friends.
If you’re looking to relax and unwind, where’s your favourite place to go?
We are blessed to have two fantastic theatres in Tunbridge Wells. I have seen some spectacular shows at The Assembly Hall over the years, while Trinity offers a great alternative experience. The Christmas shows in 2022 were fantastic and so enjoyable. I love stand-up comedy and both theatres attract big names – there is nothing like a good laugh to unwind.
Where’s the best place to meet friends and socialise?
I love The Forum and have seen a number of artist bands and tribute acts there. It’s a great place for a boogie and a sing along. We’re lucky in Tunbridge Wells as there are a number of venues where you can enjoy so many different types of live music. The Grey Lady regularly hosts a number of diverse and talented local artists.
What do you do when you spend a weekend or day off in the local area?
I still enjoy playing football on a Sunday afternoon with TW Seniors for over-40s. It’s superbly run by Noel Bradbury of St Gregory’s School. He’s brought together a group of old boys who play for fun and in the right way. Sundays at 5pm is one of the highlights of my week!
Why do you love where you live?
I love where I live and work because both Tunbridge Wells and Crowborough have a friendly feel. As someone who has built a life and business locally, I have got to know some great characters over the years. This interview has acted as a great reminder of all the wonderful activities, areas and venues on our doorstep.