SO Magazine chats to Siobhan Stirling, Managing Director at Sharp Minds Communications in Tunbridge Wells about all the places she likes to support locally. Here Siobhan reveals where she likes to stroll, shop and socialise…
Where do you live?
I live in Langton Green.
How long have you lived there?
I moved here with my family in 1975 – my parents still live in the same house. I went to Langton Green Primary School and then Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School (TWGGS). After university I travelled for a couple of years and then ended up in the Midlands, working first in PR and then training as a broadcast journalist and joining the BBC. I had my first daughter when we were living near Melton Mowbray.
What made you decide to move back?
When I was pregnant with my second child, the BBC conveniently opened a TV station in Tunbridge Wells, so it was a no brainer to move back in 2001. It ticked all the boxes: great schools, commutable to London, lovely countryside, easy access to the coast and childcare from my wonderful parents. We even built our house in their back garden! My children also went to Langton Primary, with my daughters going onto TWGGS and my son to Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys.
What’s your favourite local shop?
I have three dogs, so I spend a small fortune in Pet’s Fayre in Southborough. Also, we have corporate membership of The TN card to encourage our employees to support local independents.
Where’s the best place to go for a Sunday stroll?
We’re totally spoilt for choice! I love that I can be in the fields within five minutes of leaving my house. I love all the local walks, especially Shadwell Woods and Happy Valley. But I often go for much longer walks across Ashdown Forest and the beautiful High Weald.
The best place to get a cup of coffee?
I’m more of a tea drinker, but anywhere on The Pantiles – we are so lucky to have such a beautiful historic centre to our town. The Daily Bread in Rusthall is also a firm favourite.
Where do you take people when they come to visit?
The Pantiles, of course, as well as any of the lovely local National Trust properties, walks in the countryside or Winnie the Pooh hunting on Ashdown Forest.
What’s the night life like where you live?
The Forum is a brilliant venue, and I love that the 80s nights get all generations, from 18 upwards, dancing together. It’s also fantastic that The Assembly Hall is attracting bigger productions, like Six. My mother was ill when we saw it in London for my birthday a couple of years ago, so I’m really pleased I can take her and my dad to see it locally next month.
Where’s your favourite place to eat in town?
We have quite a big multigenerational family, so I love The Shuffle House – everyone from my three-year-old grandson to my 83-year-old father enjoys playing the shuffleboards together. We’re lucky to have The Hare pub as our local. For brunch, if I’m feeling really lazy then I head to The Brunch Café around the corner from me in Langton Green or Juliet’s on the High Street. In the evening, The Ivy and Coco Retro, or for Thai food it’s Kai’s Kitchen.
Are there any nice views nearby?
For dining with views, you can’t beat The Beacon. As I’m out walking the dogs in all weathers there are just so many amazing views locally!
If you’re looking to relax and unwind, where’s your favourite place to go?
It has to be a massage at Beauté of Royal Tunbridge Wells on Nevill Street.
Where’s the best place to meet friends and socialise?
My teenage haunt was The Duke of York pub on The Pantiles, and I love that I’m still meeting friends there after all this time! It’s also dog friendly and has a lovely fire in the winter. Framptons is a great place to go before heading over to The Forum. But for a quiet drink in a totally unique setting, you can’t beat the battered sofas in the cave at Mount Edgcumbe.
What do you do when you spend a weekend or day off in the local area?
I’ve run four marathons, so it used to be long-distance training runs around the country lanes. But I’ve had complications in the last couple of years, so my running has largely been replaced by walking. The best weekends involve my parents, my children, my grandchildren, my brother and his husband, often with a long family Sunday lunch, either at home – but preferably at my parents’, as my mother is an amazing cook – or somewhere like The Vineyard in Lamberhurst as it has great food, a great location and great cocktails.
Why do you love where you live?
That’s simple, it has it all. The great schools were a key reason for moving back to the area, but it’s also a fantastic town, with the jewel in the crown being The Pantiles. There’s always lots going on and a tremendous community spirit, surrounded by beautiful countryside.