For reasons too complicated to tell here, I recently had need of a new 3rd string for my cello. (Note the avoidance of the alternative name, for those of a more irreverent turn of mind!) Googling for local suppliers brought up StringWind repairs, at Evegate near Aldington: this seemed like a pleasant trip, so off I went, having phoned in advance to check that the required object was in stock.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a gentleman, later introduced as Paul Manley, holding a beautiful violin, and another in a craftsman’s leather apron, who would, I think, be Derek Himsley, the proprietor. I knew that Derek had become a musical instrument repairer as a change in direction, and discovered that he had been an engineer in a previous life. He now repairs string and wind instruments, and at last I have discovered someone locally who can change the leather on my bow (string players know what I mean!) I cheekily asked Paul if he was going to play the violin, whereupon he played a delightful sonata, and proved himself far above my standard!
To end it all I was given the string I needed, as one of many returned with school instruments passing through for repair. A really nice way to spend a rainy morning!