Wednesday, December 31, 2008



Yes! ~ You did see Banana Man, Danger Mouse, Buzz Lightyear and Spiderman
If you were en-route between Chelmsford and Clacton on Saturday 27th December 2008

The sponsored bike ride took place from Chelmsford to Clacton - 42 miles to raise funds for a young girl Leala Milleare who has cancer.

She has undergone a lot of treatment during the last year and can have no more so she is hoping to go to a clinic in Germany in the next week to have some alternative therapy.

Chris and Stu Shrubb from Billericay, Damien Bell and Jy Johnson from Chelmsford along with their support team in cars and motorbike, cycled in fancy dress and completed their run.

Although exhausted and saddle sore, they are thrilled. They were greeted with champagne by Leala’s family and the local pub laid on a buffet for them all.

They hope to have raised over £1000 in sponsorship money. If you would like to support Leala log on to her website your support is appreciated.

More details from the website:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


As Publicity person for the Society of Women Writers & Journalists, may I wish you all the merriest Christmas and peaceful happy New Year!


Christmas Book Signing by Elizabeth Wallace, overseas member of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists.

Her book Christmas Past in Essex is selling well this year, both in the US and England. Here she is at a couple of Borders Bookshops in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She was delighted to see so many people stop by to purchase books and have them personalized and autographed. Her eponymous book about Cororado Springs is also receiving great attention, along with earlier books which can still be obtained via Elizabeth on her website ( or from Amazon. Work never stops for Elizabeth who has just finished yet another book, hopefully to go on the bookshelves next year. As well as being a fine writer, she is also a broadcaster and lecturer.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Billericay resident, Mark Waller’s Christmas cards will carry more than the usual festive greetings this year. Along with his best wishes – Mark‘s family and friends will receive a unique photograph showing a piece of Billericay history. This picture shows the owner of Billericay’s first taxi firm operating from the Railway Hotel yard with Edward Bull at the wheel of his first taxi in 1911.

Mark Waller – joint proprietor of a local taxi firm, loves local history and has learned much about life a century ago. Even before the first locomotive steamed into Billericay Railway’s flag-festooned station on a cold morning on lst January 1889, local folk had experienced huge activity taking place in the area. Many Irish navvies were at the time living and working in the town. With very basic digging equipment, the gangs of workmen had performed the magnificent feat of excavating one of the deepest railway cuttings into the bank, constructing the line that now takes us into London and beyond. Although many local people walked to the station much as they do now, some travellers needed transport and this is where the old horse-brakes came into their own.

With the coming of the railway, came the demolition, in 1885, of the ancient inn, the Dog and Partridge, which had stood roughly half-way across the bridge. It was replaced by the Railway Hotel which opened in 1889, as was The Crown opposite. Both pubs were picking-up point for the carriers, horse-brakes and early taxis waiting for passengers alighting from the trains.

This is where William Bull came in. He used his carrier’s cart, which took passengers, goods and mail to Brentwood in the last century. This business was divided later; the carriers and postal service being taken over by Fred Eales and the passenger service becoming a single taxi run by Edward Bull. Originally, it was the only taxi for miles around, although a rival service at the Crown Hotel was set up later. From 1926 when he began operating his taxi service, William Collier used the garage on the south side of the Railway Hotel.

But to modern times - Mark Waller observed: "Obviously, the town’s population has increased over the years. I’ve lived in the town for more than 25 years so know it like the back of my hand. I’ve seen Billericay transformed from being a sleepy semi-rural High Street during the 1980s to the busy town it is today."

Although Mark enjoys his local history, he’s on the ball when it comes to business. Advanced Taxi's latest development concerns TAXICALL, a group of five independent taxi drivers who can receive bookings directly to their own mobile phone via a dedicated number 01277 888 988. The Company currently operates four 7-seater vehicles and one saloon car and is happy to take on general enquiries, airport bookings, and corporate events. Further details from Mark or phone: 01277 634288with

Friday, December 19, 2008


The Internet has spawned many websites that promise to help new writers, but I can honestly say that is one of the best I’ve found.

No costs involved - it’s free and can I say a very much “stress free” site that offers new and aspiring writers cartloads of help, encouragement and inspiration, all in an easygoing, easily assimilated fashion.

Competition listings for short stories, poetry and other creative avenues are updated regularly, and Mervyn Love, its creator, is constantly adding to the pages for links to other writing sites. He makes me laugh, too, with his dry humour.

There's a comprehensive article archive that has proved very popular, as are the sections on Software for Writers and Writing Courses. If you have any questions about those little computer or Word for Windows problems that pop up with exasperating regularity, there’s a special section where you can find answers to these and other writing head scratchers.

WritersReign also offers a free Article Writing Course. Visit: to sign up.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The 10th Essex Book Festival! The biggest and best ever! Few pics of earlier festivals which include Martin Newell, Gilda O'Neill, some of the BBC Essex folk and a few other friends.

2009 Book Festival programme

The festival patrons are Francis Wheen and Germaine Greer and, for the first time this year, writer and journalist Sylvia Kent and novelist Barbara Erskine.

The full Festival programme will be available in libraries from the end of December. The Box Office opens 5th January 2009. You can book by post using the booking form in the programme, by telephone 01206 573948 or go to:
The Essex Book Festival is the biggest reading festival in the Eastern region. Each year best-selling authors and up-and-coming writers appear at the festival.

In 2009 The Essex Book Festival will celebrate its 10th birthday. With a formidable line-up of writers, poets, journalists and broadcasters we are sure you will get inspiration and awaken your own creative mind.

With over 60 events throughout March and across Essex, there's really something for everyone. You will be able to meet some of the biggest names in writing today, plus the pick of home-grown Essex writers. It's a unique opportunity for readers and writers to meet through readings, discussions and performances.
Some of the top names include:
Broadcaster and writer Melvyn Bragg. Discover unique insights into the life of this prolific author and broadcaster. Melvyn Bragg will talk about writers who draw on their own lives for inspiration, including his own powerful autobiographical novels.

2 March 7.45pm
Civic Theatre
Fairfield Road
Chelmsford CM1 1JG
Tickets £12/£10
Box Office 01245 606500

Joan Bakewell
Meet iconic writer and broadcaster Joan Bakewell, one of Britain's most influential journalists. Joan's first novel, All the Nice Girls, is a sweeping story of love and loss, in which wartime events of 1942 reverberate to the next generation.

6 March 7.30pm
Grignon Hall
Felsted School
Felsted CM6 3LL
Tickets £10/£8

Roy Hattersley
One of the key figures in twentieth century politics and now a successful author and journalist Roy Hattersley shares with us his insightful view of Britain between the wars, from his latest book, Borrowed Time.

10 March 7.30pm
Anglia Ruskin
Bishop Hall Lane
Tickets £10/£8

Alison Weir's book The Lady Elizabeth
Alison Weir Is a popular historian, bringing the past to life in biographies and novels. The Lady Elizabeth is a story of suspense, tragedy and intrigue in the period before Elizabeth became Queen.

18 March 3pm
Wickford Library
Market Road
Tickets £4/£3

Free event
Martin Newell

Broadcaster, songwriter and rock musician Martin Newell presents poetry for people who don't like it and for those who do. Prepare for a lively, humorous evening of Martin's unique take on life.

25 March 7.30pm
Maldon Library
Carmelite House
White Horse Lane
Maldon CM9 5FW
Tickets £6.50/£4.50

Other well-known names appearing are:

* Journalist and writer Justine Picardie
* Crime writers Simon Brett and Essex-based Jonathan Gash
* Acclaimed poet and psychological thriller writer Sophie Hannah
* Louis de Bernieres performing music and words in the Antonius Players
* Essex novelists Barbara Erskine and Jojo Moyes

There will be crime, history, life-style and creative writing events, storytelling events for the whole family, comics workshops and events to celebrate the Jiangsu Festival. And, as ever, Essex writers will be well represented.

If you would like to download the programme please click on the image on the right.
Section Index

* Cultural Essex
* Essex book Festival
* Martin Newell's Essex
* Artists in Essex
* Memory maps
* Essex folklore
* Essex Jiangsu Festival
* River Stort Sculpture Trail

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


What a super Christmas party held in Brentwood's Ursuline last week! This was provided by Chairman of the Brentwood Writers’ Circle, Ena Love and her committee. It was climax time for our members who entered the Circle’s Nancy Meggs’ Competition. This year the theme was “An Essex Disaster” and who should win the silver cup and cheque – Ena herself. Her theme was the Essex Earthquake in 1884. Here we see Ena (holding the cup) and competition runners-up Colleen Cole and Jim Reeve with Frances Clamp, our President. John Roberts was also a runner-up but wasn't around for the photocall. This group of writers goes from strength to strength with more than sixty members and a healthy waiting list. BWC has been growing strongly since 1941 – created locally by Elizabeth Baxter, an author and poet. We have been successful over the ensuing years with half our membership seeing their work published. We provide a warm welcome to visitors.

Monday, December 15, 2008


With thanks to Newsquest Essex Limited

Friday, December 05, 2008


MAKING FRIENDS, MAKING MUSIC is the apt slogan for the Howard Wallace Chorale, the superb choir who will be helping the Billericay 2393 AIR TRAINING CORPS CADETS raise funds on Saturday, 13 December. We are so lucky in having them visit us and providing their wonderful music and singing at the Emmanuel Church in the Laindon Road. Here we see Tim Rhys-Morgan and some of the 90-strong Chorale. Tickets at £8 include refreshment and wine can be obtained by phoning 01277 623013 or from The Story Teller Bookshop in the High Street.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


As many regular expat readers know, small English towns know how to celebrate Christmas in the traditional way. One annual event everyone seems to turn out for is the Grand High Street Christmas Parade which took its important part of Billericay Fun night (courtesy of the town’s Rotarians). Here we have some of our Falabella miniature horses leading the parade, which were followed by Father Christmas in his sleigh – the lovely warm atmosphere contrasted to a freezing cold night. Most of the shops were open and welcoming, mincepies, port and sherry were there for everyone and folk from St Mary Magdalen's Church provided hot drinks to the background of the best of Christmas Carols. Our super Tony Motley, from the famous Billericay Mayflower Morrismen - his hat decorated in true Christmas fashion -was there. This year, he was accompanied by his lovely daughter Danyelle who was showcasing her beautiful range of creative jewellery. For more detail, do email me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008



Irma Kurtz, Melvyn Bragg and Andrew Summers (alongside John Debenham) will be appearing at the Essex Book Festival in March, along with dozens of great writers.

The Essex Book Festival celebrates its tenth birthday in March 2009. The Launch is at Chelmsford Library on Thursday 5 March. A superb list of authors and journalists will be speakers at venues all around Essex. The full Festival Programme will be available within 80 Essex libraries from the end of December. Box Office opens 5th January 2009

So far our top names include the following

* MELVYN BRAGG talking about the authors who inspired his writing
* JOAN BAKEWELL broadcaster and journalist
* ALISON WEIR presenting her best-selling novel THE LADY ELIZABETH
* KATE ATKINSON crime novelist
* JUSTINE PICARDIE talking about her haunting novel DAPHNE
* ADELE PARKS one of Britain’s best women’s fiction writers
* JOHN SUTHERLAND with Magic Moments, the books he loved in his childhood
* JONATHAN GASH whose popular hero Lovely has returned
* SOPHIE HANNAH psychological thriller writer
* JULIA JONES, biographer of Margery Allingham
* IRMA KURTZ talks about getting older with zest
* SIMON HEFFER Essex born journalist
* MARTIN NEWELL national poet
* CHARLES ELTON prize-winning scriptwriter and novelist
* JOJO MOYES super new young author

China figures largely in the Book Festival. We will welcome many Chinese writers such as novelists Chiew Siah Tei and Liu Hong appearing along with Xinran who gives a voice to the people of China in China Witness with performers from China Arts. Caroline Courtauld will be unveiling the secrets of the Forbidden City.

This 10TH ESSEX BOOK FESTIVAL will be the best yet.

Monday, December 01, 2008


The ALCS held their AGM in London last week. It celebrated its thirtieth birthday last year. Writers need all the help they can get and this is one organisation who, with a small governing board - work hard in supporting us all. Many benefits are there - just check out their website www.ALCS

Thursday's original venue was planned to be in the ancient Stationers' Hall, but just a few hours earlier, a power cut at the building forced their team to evacuate to a lovely venue just around the corner which accommodated us all without problem. What a superb evening it turned out to be, with a party and presentation of book awards following the business side. Seven of our members from the Society of Women Writers & Journalists attended and it was great to relax and also meet other authors and journalists. Picture here of our very own member, journalist Sally Ann Voak, well known for her many books connected to good health and dieting. Her work has appeared regularly in the Sun newspaper over many years. She is pictured here with crime writer, Jeremy Cameron whose books, set in East London, enjoy popularity. A happy evening was enjoyed by all.