Monday, July 25, 2011


Super welcome at Brentwood last week meeting librarians and staff, all prepared for the Great Summer Read.  Paul Messin has left Billericay Library and is now in charge of Brentwood.  Have received super response from my feature in the Brentwood Weekly News on Thursday.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


The definitive Visual Guide.

From the pile of new books received over the last few months, it was a huge pleasure to start reading and reviewing this latest superb chronicle. Thankfully, history is now being chosen as an option by the young, after being sidelined by students for a decade or so and there could be no better exemplar than this latest issue from the publisher Dorling Kindersley.

Readers are taken on a journey from the first pre-historic settlements and Viking invasions, through to the age of Victorian age of Charles Dickens, right up to the modern oil crisis of the 21st century. This amazing book vividly brings to life some of the key events, turning points and people who have shaped British history.

Each chapter starts with a timeline, giving a comprehensive overview of the key events of the period. Fabulous illustrations detail the major political, cultural and military episodes of each era with topic boxes and mini biographies. I particularly love the double-page features describing key events such as the Great Fire of London, while detailed profile pages take a look at some of the most popular movers and shakers in British history, including Elizabeth l, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and bang up to date David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

The History of Britain and Ireland is a book like no other, packed with a wealth of articles, illustrations and super photography, perfect for dipping into, or reading from cover to cover (which I am hoping to do). For more information, contact or purchase from Amazon and good bookshops. ISBN 978-1-4053-6428-7. Price £25

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Birthday Girl Jenni

Sally and Julie

This is the quickest way of sharing some of the photographs taken last weekend in Paignton at a beautiful girl's special birthday, Jenni Kent. Great to see so many of her friends who made the journey from around the UK.  Very happy birthday, Jenni!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Ena and Mervyn Love
Such an honour to be invited to contribute to Mervyn Love's very special website.  This is a site that has everything for aspiring authors and journalists.  Both Mervyn and his wife Ena have done so much for the Brentwood Writers' Circle and now he has created a special website for them, too. Do pay a visit

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Always a smile and brilliant reception when I go into Phoenix 98FM radio studio in Brentwood, Essex.  This morning was no exception and the presenter of Eat My Lunch 11.00-2pm, the  lovely Michelle was keen to find out what our local writers' group had been up to recently.  Told her and the listeners about the BWC anniversary celebrations last month and she wanted to know about my latest book   THE WOMAN WRITER.  Young as she is, she knew of Joyce Grenfell, who appears on front cover.  I managed to enlighten Michelle about our international  Society of Women Writers & Journalists, of which Joyce was President for 22 years.  The book is selling well now and copies can be found in all Waterstone's, independent bookshops and of course on Amazon.   

Did I mention in earlier posts that Michelle has a great voice and has made DVDs, sings at weddings, gigs and everywhere.  If you nip on to her site, you can hear her super voice - some of my favourite songs - and learn much more about her.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Have just finished  reading the latest book THE JOURNAL OF DORA DAMAGE - what a fabulous tale, with  Victorian London as a backdrop.  The author Belinda Starling set her debut novel against a book-binding business in a poverty-stricken part of London, circa 1860.  With the family almost ready for the workhouse due to Dora's husband's terrible illness, she illicitly takes over his business, only to find herself lured into binding expensive volumes of pornography for the upper classes.  Dora's indefatigable spirit carries her through this rude awakening as she contends with horrible debt collectors, an epileptic daughter, ghastly doctors and a constant stream of wealthy dilettantes.   When poor Dora is forced to offer a job to a mysterious, fugitive American slave, Dora realises she has entered an illegal trade of money, sex and deceit.

The Journal of Dora Damage provides a vision of London, then  the largest city in the world, grappling with the filth produced by a rapidly  growing population. Against a clever curtain of politics and power,  conservatism and abolitionism, Belinda Starling explores the problems of class, gender and race, the ties of family and love, and the price of freedom in this fascinating tale. Quite a packet!

Huge success followed Belinda's debut novel in 2006 but tragically this lovely girl from Wivenhoe, Essex, died in August 2006. Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 978 0 7475 8522 0. £12.99

Thursday, July 07, 2011


There is barely a month goes by when yet another book comes on to the market - many of them self-published.   The latest is ESSEX AT WAR written by Michael Foley and published under Amberley Publishing Plc. Stroud.  Having read several of this author's earlier books, I enjoy his relaxed style, although the subject of the book is rather serious.

Essex has been at the centre of conflict since the earliest days of recorded history.  Foley's carefully selected images and factual captions take the reader through the turbulent times of the Romans, when the Iceni tribe slaughtered the invaders at Colchester, through to the period of William the Conqueror and to the later gathering of troops at Tilbury to fight the Spanish Armada and the war with Napoleon.

Warley, Colchester, Purfleet and other locations are all involved, being tented, temporary camps as well as sturdy barracks, many of which were to last until the last century.  These buildings housed the brave military men of Essex who, throughout the ages, have helped to protect the country both at home and around the world.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Billericay's Cater Musum Curator, Chris Brewster, is never short of ideas when it comes to attracting visitors.   Her upcoming Textile Exhibition starting 9th to 25 July will certainly be of interest to people of all ages, particularly those with a love of history. 

On Saturday 16 July from noon until 5pm, Chris is inviting children of all ages to "Have a Go" and see how simple it is to create the most wonderful braids and pieces of woven material from Inkle Looms and Lucets.   People dressed in period costume will be in the Museum that day and we will also be honoured by the presence of Mr Peter Brierley who most certainly knows a thing or two about weaving and associated crafts.

Also on display, as ever,  is our beautiful garden with so many unusual plants and herbs, many dating back to the Elizabethan period.   Do come!

Sunday, July 03, 2011


Councillor Pam Went took us on a super trip around Billericay today.  Learned lots more about the town and details have been posted on our special history  site with some images.   Dave Went took some of the photos - will pop more on when I get a mo. The top image shows little Annabel Crease with Janet Saunders who very kindly allowed us to see the boardroom at the once famous Billericay Workhouse (now beautifully rebuilt). Note the renovated diapered brickwork created originally by the notable architect  George Gilbert Scott in 1840.

You can find details of the other Town Walks scheduled for this summer on  the dedicated website:

Friday, July 01, 2011


This poor pooch looks as if he won't get his dinner tonight!