Friday, July 30, 2010


As promised, here is author Frances Clamp with the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP and Michelle Constable, Manager at the BTIO who made everyone welcome at this morning's signing of Frances' new book BRENTWOOD OUR HERITAGE. Had some fun and met lots of friends and colleagues. Congrats to Frances.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Friday, 30 July will be a big day both for author Frances Clamp and for Brentwood. The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP will be joining Frances at the Brentwood Information Centre at 44 High Street to help launch her new book BRENTWOOD OUR HERITAGE which is so different from other local history books. My 'People & Places' column in The Brentwood Weekly News last week is entitled A NEW LOOK AT THE OLD TOWN and it is indeed a great read. Frances has found so many fascinating stories of this important ancient town that haven't been told before and her chapter (with a nod to Geoffrey Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales) where she interviewed current local residents on the part they play in the town's affairs, is fascinating. Frances is being interviewed on radio and in local journals. Friday's signing is at 11.00am - pop in to meet Frances (the blue balloons will give you a clue - appropriately the Information centre is opposite Waterstone's) and say hello to our author and to Mr Pickles.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


With lovely weather, an enthusiastic crowd of well-wishers to welcome the Mayor and Mayoress of Chelmsford, the brand new RSPCA shop in Moulsham Street was opened yesterday. Sparkling wine and cake were offered to all who attended this happy ceremony.

The National RSPCA deals with welfare of animals including those involved in cruelty and neglect. Numerous branches were formed to deal with the stray and unwanted animals in their area. Each branch is run by a team of Trustees who have financial and legal responsibilities for the branch affairs. Because of this every RSPCA branch is autonomous, depending upon what their Trustees have managed to provide for their areas.

The Mid Essex branch that serves the Chelmsford area includes a veterinary clinic which was set up from a legacy. On site is a veterinary surgeon who, alongside a manager and part time receptionists, carries out splendid work. Open five days a week, they see stray and unwanted animals brought in from the Inspectorate and provide boarding and treatment until they animals are re-homed. They need more help from animal-lovers who could spare time to help the Mid-Essex Branch by perhaps becoming a Trustee, or helping in the new shop (the only animal charity shop in Chelmsford) and in other ways. Do check out their website or phone 01245 263001 for further information.

Friday, July 16, 2010


It’s a universal truth that this country is a nation of animal lovers. Wikipedia tells us that at the last count, there were around 7 million cats and the same number of dogs living in around 75% of homes in England.

Alongside the above, many people own gerbils, tortoises, rabbits and even the odd slithery snake, oh – and parrots are popular, too. Remarkably, the organisation that is so vital with regard to animals is, of course, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the term ‘Rescue’ seems to pop up when families consider bringing a pet into their home.

Our brand new baby cat, Pixie, came to us as a rescue cat – one with no home – but we knew she had been looked after by a foster family. The RSPCA need foster families as well as permanent homes for some of the animals that are brought into their centres. I’m now particularly interested in the Mid Essex RSPCA - they are a lovely bunch, especially their vet, manager and voluntary helpers. Look out for my article in the Chelmsford Weekly News this week announcing the opening of a brand new RSPCA charity shop at 178 Moulsham Street, Chelmsford – our county town. Chelmsford’s Mayor, Councillor Allan Arnot will be there on Saturday 24 July at 11.00am to cut the ribbon.

The shop will have special offers to celebrate the opening. The charity is also holding a Pet Picture Competition to celebrate 'Our Pets' and award prizes for a range of categories. Opening hours after 24th July: Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4pm, Friday and Saturday 9.30am to 4.30pm. For further information, call 01245 263001 or visit

Monday, July 12, 2010


What a superb day for the girls of Essex (and their families) at Hylands on Saturday! I've said I can't be impressed, but this building has changed my mind. It's wonderful. Vice Lord Lieutenant George Courtauld and Daphne Field's team of ESSEX WOMEN'S ADVISORY GROUP were truly professional in each and every aspect of their organisation and the day was unforgettable. Our Essex Olympiad Fatima Whitbread came along with her son, Ryan and presented the art prize. The Girl Guides - perfect as always - showed us what they are up to these days (they are celebrating their 100th year). Young Essex models strutted their stuff in the most breathtaking clothes and hats, the stalls were full of amazing products set out among Donna's gorgeous flowers. The hot air balloon took to the skies as did the helicopters. My fellow authors (pictured here Clare Mulley, Dee Gordon, yours truly, Sarah Banham and Karen Bowman) enjoyed the coolness of the elegant room off the sumptuous entrance hall, where we were able to meet our readers and visitors who wanted to learn more about the books of Essex.

A huge treat was listening to some of the Veterans from the Dagenham Girl Pipers who came along. They are very such an epitome of the Essex Girl. What a treat also to listen to Ester who played the bagpipes so memorably. She is such a great ambassador for the Dagenham Girl Pipers and someone I simply must interview.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Just this morning received a copy of Karen Bowman's ESSEX GIRLS to review (published by Amberley Publishing PLC) ISBN978-1-84868-895-7. So excited by this book as it fits so beautifully into Saturday (July 10) GIRLS SPECIAL DAY at the prestigious Essex mansion, Hylands House. Built in 1730, this is a perfect background for our special day. Thousands are expected and I know that Karen will be joining other Essex authors at the 'Literary Desk' at Hylands. We can have a good chat about our county history which is rich and vibrant. We do know that many readers and lovers of Essex history are coming to meet their favourite authors and have their latest books signed. It's going to be a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Enjoyed tonight's super interview with Pam and Philip from Gulf Radio Services. Their programmes reach six million and their topics are fabulously random - and always fascinating. I've recently discovered they travel the country with their own variety singing programmes, so am hoping they come one day to the South East.

Pam and Philip were interested in our forthcoming Day for the Girls of Essex on Saturday 10 July 11-5pm. This is an event for the whole family embracing dress design, scrap sculpture, poetry, painting, drawing and music alongside stalls and exhibitions promoting businesses owned or managed by Essex women. There'll be something of interest for everyone, plus a hot air balloon (subject to weather). One of my lovely friends and a role model for our young sportswomen, the Olympiad Fatima Whitbread, will be presenting prizes on Saturday to young winners of the art competition. It will be great to meet up with her again, along with her son Ryan. Many more famous people will be mingling among the crowds (we are expecting 5,000) along with Essex authors, who will be happy to sign their new books and talk about writing. For more detail and tickets, £5 (concessions £4) children free. Contact 01206 230770

Thursday, July 01, 2010



Most of my adult friends and colleagues can read fluently. For many people, reading is not merely a pleasure, it can become an obsession. Where would most journalists be without the love and interest in the written word? But when did we start learning to read? By what method and can we remember how we developed our skill in this all-important ability in being able to read and absorb anything? Some colleagues read in their own and in several other languages too – now that is impressive!

Learning to read is often considered a chore by children, and experts agree it is not achieved quickly. So how do we teach children to read without putting them off books and reading in general? It is an age-old problem.

My Society of Women Writers & Journalists’ colleague, author Susan Elkin has tackled the subject in her excellent new book (her 25th) entitled UNLOCKING THE READER IN EVERY CHILD. Susan is an education journalist, former secondary school English teacher, freelance journalist, and lecturer and has worked for many years in promoting and developing pupils’ reading at all levels. Her book is essential for teachers, special needs co-ordinators and all those who support children in schools.

UNLOCKING THE READER IN EVERY CHILD is published by Ransom Publishing Limited ISBN 978 184167 970 9 Price £19.99