0671/Hadlow tower, Kent UK

Private sale of historic tower restored with £3m of public money is folly, say angry locals

When the 175ft high gothic Hadlow Tower was bought last year for just £425,000, it was an undisputed bargain. More than £3million of taxpayers money had been ploughed into the restoration of the majestic, Grade I-listed folly, considered the tallest of its kind in the world, and the buyer became custodian of a vertiginous landmark. But the historic property near Tonbridge in Kent has been put up for sale for £2million, prompting fears that the public will lose access to the tower and anger that a private individual will reap the financial rewards of a building project brought to fruition by the hard work of a local community group.


Lord Lloyd-Webber is among those to express grave reservations, warning that the sale could undermine everything the tower, in all its majestic glory, represents. “A huge amount of public money was spent on this project,” he said. “If it’s going to be sold, it should be returned to Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It can’t go into the pocket of a private person. “I don’t think the public purse should be used to speculate – this seems to have slipped through the net.” The Save Hadlow Tower Action Group fought relentlessly to get the tower restored after it was severely damaged in the Great Storm of 1987 following years of neglect. Its dedication was recognised when it won two English Heritage Angel Awards, founded by Lord Lloyd-Webber, one of which, voted for by Telegraph readers, celebrated the work of local communities in rescuing important sites. The musician and impresario is not only angry that the tower, which looms over Hadlow village, is being sold at such a vast profit, but he is also concerned at suggestions that any potential purchaser might try to buy their way out of a legal covenant that requires the tower to remain accessible to the public 28 days a year.

When contacted about the sale, James Mackenzie, a director at Strutt & Parker, claimed the vendor, Christian Tym, a banker, had not had to show anyone around the property since he bought it 12 months ago and suggested that the covenant could be broken, at a cost. Lord Lloyd-Webber said if that were to happen, “we may we well stick two fingers up” at the Angel Awards. “Here we are trying to talk about the unsung heroes all over the country, raising money and giving all of their time to get public access for these buildings and this campaign was a huge success. “What we are trying to do with the Angel Awards is to say thank you to those people. With this tower it was the locals who came together and really fought for this. This sort of thing is exactly what we are trying to avoid.”


Built in 1838, the tower was the brainchild of Walter Barton May, a wealthy merchant. It was used as a lookout post during the Second World War, but fell derelict before being rescued by the artist Bernard Hailstone. It changed hands several times before a compulsory purchase order was served by the local council in 2010 and it was sold to the Vivat Trust, a charity that preserved historic buildings, for £1. More than £3 million of public money was then ploughed into the tower, including more than £50,000 raised by community campaigners. The tower action group designed, financed and staffed a visitor centre on the ground floor, and from 2013 it was open to the public weekly in summer. In 2016, the Vivat Trust went into liquidation and Hadlow Tower was put on the market for offers over £1 million, as a four-bedroom home set over five of the tower’s eight storeys. It was eventually sold to Mr Tym, who is married with four sons, who said he was attracted by “the novelty factor”.   “However, the stewards decided to discontinue working there, the visitor centre closed and the number of visitors dwindled to zero.” Caroline Wetton, one of the organisers, said: “We raised a huge amount of money for this project and put in a lot of our own time. We are deeply disappointed it has come to this.” She said that 800 people visited the tower in 2017. Mr Mackenzie insisted it was never Mr Tym’s intention to sell so quickly but he had found the building unsuitable for a large family. He told The Daily Telegraph the owner had “worked quite carefully” to change a lot of the legal covenants attached to the property to make it a more attractive purchase. The Heritage Lottery Fund said Mr Tym was due to report to it later this month with evidence of his compliance with the covenants and said they had no reason to doubt he had not done so.

Mr Tym declined to comment.

0670/Thomas Markle

Thomas Markle claims Duchess of Sussex has cut him off as he says daughter’s mobile phone has been disconnected

m1Thomas Markle, the father of the Duchess of Sussex, has claimed he has not spoken to his daughter for more than ten weeks, and that the number he used to contact her on has been “cut off.” He told The Mail on Sunday: “I’m really hurt that she’s cut me off completely. I used to have a phone number and text number for her personal aides at the Palace, but after I said a few critical words about the Royal Family changing Meghan, they cut me off. “Those numbers were disconnected, they no longer work. I have no way of contacting my daughter.” The 73-year-old said he worries he has been frozen out of the family, and thinks he will not get to meet any children Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have. He said: “What’s sad is that some time in the next year Meghan and Harry will have a baby and I’ll be a grandfather, and if we’re not speaking I won’t see my grandchild.” He believes he has been cut off from the Royal Family because of staged paparazzi photos which emerged in the weeks before the Royal Wedding, and for the Thomas Markle Snr and Meghan Marklestatements he made to the press afterwards. Mr Markle, who lives in Mexico, made headlines around the globe last month when he gave an explosive interview to Good Morning Britain.  He claimed that Prince Harry had once told him to “give Donald Trump a chance”, and also alleged the sixth-in-line to the throne had seemed “open” to the idea of Brexit. Mr Markle used the interview as an opportunity to apologise for his  about his own actions before the wedding, saying:  “I accept full responsibility. I can say I’m sorry for those things for the rest of my life, but I’m paying for those things for the rest of my life. “But as long as they’re happy and have a great life and have some beautiful children and do good things in the world, I’m can’t ask for more.”

0668/Dutch wineyards

Wine from Dutch soil: there are very good ones.

The number of wine companies from Dutch soil is still modest, but due to the experience and the good weather, the quality improves. The Dutch wine sector is not very popular on a global scale: vineyards were planted on 157 hectares of Dutch soil, Statistics Netherlands counted last year. The regional agricultural figures came out yesterday. In comparison, in France, all vineyards cover about 800,000 hectares. Nevertheless, we do not do badly as a mini player. “The quality is getting better and better,” says wine writer and expert Harold Hamersma. According to him, that is mainly because the experience is growing. “The wineproducers work fanatically on small plots, which often have no football field yet. They know the grapes personally, so to speak. Moreover, they often hire consultants for advice. And the climate seems to be better and better. We are starting to become a wine country. “

We come from far, outlines Hamersma. “The Romans took the vines in their hand luggage back then, but Napoleon has ended the viticulture in our country. Now it picks up again. But compared to other countries we are a mini producer. We have fewer than ten companies per province and the total number of bottles produced is 1.2 million. Only 30 million bottles have been made from Lindeman’s Chardonnay. What we do fits in the backyard of an Australian wine company.” Sometimes Hamersma sometimes tastes ‘cold potato juice’. “Then a maker will know that he is not there yet.” “But there are really good wines. In the business class of KLM, travelers get a Zeeland wine. “And not because it is dirty. You have such nice companies. De Linie in Made, Frysling in Friesland, Apostelhoeve in Limburg. ”
His company has a lot of experience, explains Mathieu Hulst from the Apostelhoeve. ,,We are the oldest commercial wine company, that counts.” Another advantage: the location. Limburg has more hills than the rest of the country so that the vines catch more sun. Classic grape varieties such as the Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc do well on that soil. What is in the ground can also help: lime, marl, iron.

Red wine remains difficult in our country, thinks Bernard Nauta of Anderewijn.nl. “Fresh white wine and sometimes rosé.” “That has everything to do with the grape varieties: the classics need a lot of heat, while the new varieties are crossed so that they can withstand the cold better. The Johanniter for example. “Winemakers are becoming increasingly smart to make acceptable wine in this climate.”

Heat waves
Still, the classic grapes will eventually take over, thinks Hulst of the Apostelhoeve. “The turning point came in 1985. From the year after we see more peaks in temperature, more heat waves and day temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius.” This summer is extreme, which could well result in good wine. ,, We will not know until next year, but we are already going to pick on September 10 this year. A month earlier than usual! “” The wines are getting better, “said vinologist Jeroen van Mierlo. “Besides the fact that almost all Dutch wines are ‘technically correct’, we see that more and more progress has been made in recent years on the flavor richness and complexity of Dutch wines. You can say that quality of Dutch wine is getting better. The wines become more interesting, tastier and better used for gastronomy. A nice addition to Dutch regional products. ”

The pride in their own, local products boost sales, Hamersma sees. “There is a growing respect for products from the neighborhood. People like to drink a wine from Noord-Holland with Texel’s lamb and a Zeeland wine with Zeeuwse samphire.” “That enthusiasm does have a solid price tag, because of the small-scale production. “A bottle is often 10 to 20 euros,” says Hamersma. ,,And that does not matter to people easily. There is only one small group that is willing to spend such an amount.”




Edy Jakobs from Elst sent us the photo above. She spotted a dragonfly that is ready for some rest. After a tiring flight, the little beast rests on a flower stick.



Mating butterflies.

A picture of Theo Brink. In his garden he spotted a couple of mating linden-tail-tail butterflies. “A kind of reward for my small wild garden,” he writes.


Apparently frogs like fish as food.

The picture above is from Willy Nijland from Oud-Zevenaar. He spotted a big frog in his own pond, which was fishing at his leisure. “I think this is very special,” he writes.

0664/Less warm and a bit of rain

Four days ago we had temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius during the day. Yesterday the weather changed in a dramatic form: flooded railwaystation at Haarlem, nearly two thousand camping people near the coast had to be evacuated, an occasional thunderstorm. Today we have a comfortable 19 degrees Celsius, bit overcast, but two nice views to share with you:


From a terrace on the Grote Markt: deep blue sky with towering clouds.


From the same spot: the Saint Stephan Church.

0663/Brideshead Revisited


Yesterday, with temperatures over 35C the whole day and a great deal of the evening, there was no soul in the street or gardens. Staying home, with a fan, was the best way to pass the day with watching long British TV-series, like Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Brideshead Revisited with Jeremy Irons. The last one is in eleven parts, the first 10 parts about 50m each and the last part, when Lord Marchmain (Sir Laurence Olivier) returns from Venice to Brideshead Castle to die, lasting 1h 20m. About  an odd 10 hours of a delightful insight in English nobility at home, at college, in the very complicated famly relationships. And this all through the eyes of a “common” young man, Charles Ryder (Jeremy Irons).

Below a quotation of an article by Dirk Musschoot, dated 26 June 2016.

Castle Howard

Castle Howard

I was there a few weeks ago for the umpteenth time and I feel that I can keep returning. Castle Howard in Yorkshire is one of the most beautiful castles I know. When Charles Howard, the third Earl of Carlisle, wanted a residence in 1699 on the edge of the North York Moors (about 30 km north of York), he called in the help of architect John Vanbrugh. He designed Castle Howard, which is amazingly similar to another creation by Vanbrugh: Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill near Woodstock in Oxfordshire.



When writer and politician Horace Walpole visited Castle Howard in 1772, he wrote that it was one of the most beautiful places he had visited in his life. Castle Howard, which is still inhabited today by the Howard family, is still a landmark of size. Stately furnished rooms and halls, art to lick your thumbs and fingers, a heavenly chapel and an incredibly beautiful dome hall (destroyed by fire in 1940 and now completely restored). But perhaps Castle Howard is still the most impressive of the outside. The castle stands in a beautiful landscape garden with, among other things, a large Atlas fountain, here and there a folly, and a mausoleum where the members of the Howard family are buried.

Film and television


There is another reason why you should definitely visit Castle Howard. The castle became world-famous as the backdrop for the television series Brideshead Revisited, after the book by Evelyn Waugh from the same name. The TV series from 1981 with among others Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud in the lead roles, has now reached cult status. In 2008, the film was also made into a cinema film (with, among others, Emma Thompson) and that was also shot at Castle Howard. In the castle an exhibition is devoted to both the TV series and the film.


0662/North Curry GP

MBE for heroic North Curry doctor James Hickman

James Hickman

A HEROIC doctor who rescued a woman who fell 30ft from Wells Cathedraland was first on the scene of the November 2011 M5 crash tragedy has been awarded an MBE. Dr James Hickman, a GP in North Curry and pre-hospital emergency care doctor, was commended for his services to health care, particularly emergency medical care, in Somerset and abroad. As a member of the Somerset Accident Voluntary Emergency Service he has attended hundreds of incidents in support of the ambulance service, including rescuing a patient by amputating his arm high in the roof space of an industrial complex. Dr Hickman said he was “delighted” to receive his MBE, adding that it was “a great honour to be singled out”. He said: “It’s not just for the personal recognition, but also for the charities I work with and the work all our members do in the field of pre-hospital emergency care.” In addition to his 24/7 voluntary work as an emergency on-call doctor in the county, Dr Hickman is a member of the UK International Search and Rescue Team, and was deployed to the 2009 Sumatran earthquake, and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011. In October, 2013, he was elected chairman of the British Association for Immediate Care. He said: “There are so many deserving people out there – I’m touched that somebody, or some people, have thought to put my name forward. “I’m grateful to my colleagues in SAVES and BASICS, the doctors and staff in my practice, my patients for supporting my emergency work, and particularly my long-suffering wife and daughters for all their support in putting up with me disappearing on calls at a moment’s notice and going away for courses and meetings.”

23rd June 2014, Somerset County Gazette.