Monday, March 31, 2008


Meet Tony and the Mayflower Morris Men on 19th April 2008. See below.


Celebrate St George’s Day (23rd April) with our local superb Mayflower Morris Men who are holding an evening of English song, dance, poetry, prose, music and drama on the nearest Saturday to St George’s Day (Saturday, 19th April), Come to St Mary Magdalen Church in Billericay High Street for a great evening 8-10.30pm and phone Geoff Douglas on 01268 710709 or email for tickets £5.00

Sunday, March 30, 2008


One of the advantages of belonging to the Society of Women Writers & Journalists, is having the opportunity of meeting so many talented writers - of all types. One of them - my friend Joan Moules - lives in Selsey, West Sussex and is one of the most prolific authors I know. One of her first books about the life of Gracie Fields, hit the best seller list and keeps popping up on TV and in films. Her latest books -three of them published over the last year, are all set to be as successful. Here is Joan's comment on her latest trio of books, but you can find out more in the link to her website alongside.

"'It's One Of Ours': Published December 2007. ISBN. 978-0-7090-8362-7
Anna and Joe Putts daughter was born on September 3rd 1939 as the first sirens wailed throughout London. Eight months later Joe was in the army and like so many other young wives and mothers Anna concentrated all her love and attention on her child. A traumatic experience on the one occasion when she did go out for her own pleasure had repercussions she could never have imagined. The Putts lived in Dason Street, along with Queenie and Fred, Rosie and Jim, and Liza and Sid, who ran the newsagents. Sid, too old for the first call-up became the street's air-raid warden and later, he and Liza did their bit by taking in bombed out children. Queenie went to work in a factory. She also made contact again with the love of her life, Paul Tranmer, when he came over from his home in Canada to join up. Meanwhile some of her grandchildren were evacuated to the country and, afraid she might lose the closeness she had always had with them, she learned all she could about life on a farm so she could talk intelligently to them about it. Dason Street's party, held on Saturday 12th May 1945 was one of the largest anyone in the district had experienced. As they ate an aeroplane flew overhead and dozens of tiny heads looked up to watch its progress. "It's all right", a small boy said, "it's one of ours".
More details, infomation and reviews can be found on the It's One of Ours page

The Straw Halter: Published August 2007. ISBN. 978-0-7090-8276-7
In 1820 when Betsy is eighteen years old she is sold in the market place to farmer Daniel Forrester. Since childhood her beauty has sparked jealousy from many quarters, but she is intelligent and ambitious as well as beautiful, and, unlike many in her position has been taught to read and write. Betsy's dream is for women to be accepted as equals to men and never again be forced into submission. Her first husband, who sold her to Daniel, treated her as a servant. Daniel does not do this but he is jealous when a young man comes to work on the farm. Betsy, who always seemed to be the outcast in her family, has been trying to find out about her father, who reputedly died when she was a baby. Her estrangement from Daniel when they quarrel, and her friendship with Rosa and Bill whom she meets while trying to find work at a fair, eventually lead to the truth, not only about her ancestry but also about her relationship with the farmhand.
More details, infomation and reviews can be found on the Straw Halter page

Tin Hats and Gas Masks: Published March 2007. ISBN. 978-0-7090-8235-4
I've been busy promoting this and have received some fantastic feedback. It is being published in large print in February 2008 and in audio in July 2008
More details, information and reviews can be found on the Tin Hats page"

Friday, March 21, 2008


We live in a throwaway society Often - on mere fashion whim - some decide to change their home colour d├ęcor. Others are forced by circumstance to downsize to smaller properties and have to dispose of often-perfect pieces of kitchen appliances or precious pieces of furniture. .

Brentwood-based Brian Darwood knows a thing or two about this problem that is constantly clogging our landfill sites. His pioneering idea to solve it is simple - but clever.

Back in 1994, Brian and several friends from his church began collecting and delivering good quality furniture to homeless people and those in personal crises. The furniture had been donated by the general public. Calling themselves “The Furniture Exchange”, members of this pioneering team were often seen around town on Saturdays towing their box-trailer piled high with furniture, behind a volunteer’s car. Brentwood Council allowed them to store items in lock-up garages around the town.

Successful fund-raising over the decade enabled Brian and colleagues to replace their ancient vehicle with a new Luton Transit van, complete with tail-lift which took the strain off their backs. They became “Lighthouse Furniture Project Limited” a Not-For-Profit scheme. Now with charity status, they are a successful organisation, winning the coveted BT Chairman’s Outstanding Achievement Award. Liaising with Brentwood Borough Councillors and Citizens Voluntary Scheme members, this very ‘green’ project has gone from strength to strength.

“A few years ago we were awarded a grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Community recycling and Economic Development Programme,” said Brian. “This enabled us to move into our current premises on the Hutton Industrial Estate. Here in the warehouse we can display items and offer clients a choice. We operate a two-tier pricing system so those on means-tested benefits are eligible to buy at the lower price. We work in conjunction with several referral agencies including Social Services, Basildon & Chelmsford Women’s Refuge, three local Night Shelters and local churches. We provide a caring, supportive and professional service to people in need, without discrimination nor prejudice. Our service is driven by the needs of our clients and delivered by people with total commitment to community service.”

Lighthouse is open 5 ½ days a week with seven full-time and five part-time staff, plus volunteers and there’s always a steady stream of people milling about in the sales warehouse, which is open to the general public. Brian and his team are members of Faithworks, a national organisation encouraging best practice across faith-based organisations engaged in social action.

So - if you have household goods or furniture in good condition for disposal, contact Lighthouse and they will find a new home for them. Tel: 01277 222050

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Elizabeth's book is still very popular among tourists and her regular readers. Although Elizabeth lives in Denver, Colorado and is lucky enough to see the wonders of the world - on her trips abroad on a regular basis - she still loves the English countryside, as can be seen within the pages of this superb book. She posts some beautiful photographs taken on her travels and details of her books can be found by visiting her web and blogsites at Blog

Sunday, March 16, 2008



My super sister, the author and freelance writer, Elizabeth Wallace and I visited the Tower of London a while back and met Yeoman Derrick Coyle who lives with forty other Yeoman Warder families in the Tower. He has the unique assignment of Raven Master. Derrick does not necessarily believe the legend that if the feathered residents left the Tower, then England would fall. But, on the other hand, he is not taking any chances. “The only time the Tower has been without the ravens" protection was during the blitz of WWII, and London was heavily bombed”, said Derrick.Now we keep at least six ravens at the Tower and a couple in reserve – just be to be sure!”

The ravens at the Tower are known to be particularly mischievious and will swoop down to take a ribbon out of a girl’s hair and then strut around the inner castle walls mimicking the voices of those around them. They are fed extremely well with approximately 6 oz of raw meat a day and a bird formula biscuit soaked in blood.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult to get the ravens into their cages at night, but I have a little trick, said Derrick. “There's a pecking order so to speak, and the dominant raven will challenge me sometimes. I simply get the light behind me, pull out my cloak as though I have wings and the raven thinks I’m a large bird and retreats to his cage” Derrick said with a smile.

There have been some escapees from the Tower. Hugine took advantage one day of a warm, wind updraft and sailed over the Tower walls. He was found walking in the middle of a busy street in London. When shoppers realized it was a raven from the Tower, they completely surrounded the bird until he could be taken back home. This situation obviously caused a tremendous traffic jam, but the motorists in London were wonderful and very understanding. Were they just being kind or were they reminded of the ancient legend and they were not taking any chances?

Friday, March 14, 2008


At the Brentwood Writers' Circle gathering at the Ursuline in Brentwood, Sarah Hall, the Mann-Booker author gave us background and some of her secrets used in writing her best-selling books. Her latest book, The Carhullan Army, is a distopian adventure - slightly scary but worth reading. The whole afternoon - linked as it was in partnership with The Essex Book Festival - was interesting and I noticed several members of local Reading Groups (we have 400 in the county)in the audience. Here we see our chairman, Ena Love with Sarah. Our programme for the forthcoming year at Brentwood Writers' Circle is exceptional and we are looking forward to some fascinating speakers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Among the great novelists, journalists and media folk at Chelmsford Library last Thursday to launch the 2008 Essex Book Festival, met Sarah Banham, whose two best selling books can be found at Waterstone's Bookshops around Essex. They are DICING WITH DANGER and JENNA'S DAD Learn more about Sarah at

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Excellent launch today at Chelmsford Library of the 2008 Essex Book Festival. With the super Ray Clark at BBC Essex and the team, Councillor Gerard McEwen outlined the plan for the next month which brings some of the world's best writers to Essex. Alongside Ray, Angela Lodge was there interviewing many of our home-grown stars of fact and fiction including Barbara Erskine, Jo Jo Moyes, Gilda O'Neill, Martin Newell, Graham Smith. Elizabeth Lord and many more. Relaxed and at ease, it was great to have a cup of tea and a chat with these well known writers, so many living or having an association with our great county. This Book Festival is the eighth and, I reckon, will be the best ever. Do check out the Essex Book Festival website just in case there are any tickets left for the writer events that are taking place through to April. Box Office 01206 573948

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Superb parade today in Brentwood (lst March) to welcome home C (Essex) Company which is part of the lst Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment. The soldiers were involved in engagements in Afghanistan and more than 50 were seriously wounded with nine soldiers losing their lives.