I’m not a huge social media player but understand that it’s vitally important in my line of work. It’s a great tool to let people know what I’m doing and when. On the flip side it’s also a good way for me to keep up to date with what’s going on in the world around me, as well as happenings closer to home in my local area. Having written for the Surrey Comet for over five years, I like to follow the paper on twitter and find lots of interesting stories come up on my feed which keeps me informed. Whether it’s about Richard McChesney walking the distance of the M25 raising thousands for charity or the beer festival that opened this week or even local voting trends.

One story that caught my eye this week was about the Kingston department store, Bentalls, which will be celebrating its 150th year this summer. I was genuinely shocked to read it’s been running for so long when so many renowned shops we remember from our youth have dissolved and are no longer around. I have vivid memories of visiting Bentalls in Ealing when it existed – I used to spend my pocket money there and buy Christmas presents with the money I’d saved throughout the year. Another memory involves my grandparents – they would take us on a special trip to Kingston which would entail jumping on the 65 bus (at that age the journey seemed like forever) ending up at the store in Kingston and we’d be treated to lunch and cake. And now, it’s our favourite local store and we don’t have to travel into central London to get what we need.

I also did a bit of research on the building. Bentalls was established in 1867 by Frank Bentall who purchased a drapery store in Kingston upon Thames. The principal buildings were completed in 1935 and were designed by architect Maurice Webb. The store also appears in a Ladybird book ‘In a Big Store’ and did you know the amazing singer Petula Clark gave her first public performance as a child there? So all that’s left to say is ‘Happy Birthday’ and here’s to the next 150 years!