Friday, September 30, 2011


A special day for all writers on 1 October when author Andrew Summers is the speaker at the Brentwood Writers' Circle.  Andrew has in the past, been one of the presenters of his superb collection of books for both adults and children at the Essex Book Festival and is a great advocate of Essex history and people.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Although my interest in collecting  stamps has dimmed somewhat over the years (I once owned a great collection), I'm still interested in the historical aspect of philately.   I was delighted to receive a set of commemorative stamps linked to 1661 and can tell you that the recent release of these special King Charles 11 stamps  has created huge interest among stamp buffs. We are now celebrating  the 350th anniversary of the creation of the Crown Jewels.

The Crown Jewels formed part of a new set of Regalia made for King Charles II’s coronation in 1661 and this stamp issue features some of the most important and iconic pieces from this fabulous collection, which takes pride of place in the Tower of London and is guarded by our famous Yeomen Warders.  The powers that be have inserted some images from the Tower Of London with the Warders themselves.  These are certainly some of the most sparkling stamps they have issued.

For all the latest information on all Royal Mail Special Stamps launches and news, please follow RoyalMailStamps on Twitter at:  Select stamp launch information and videos can be viewed on Royal Mail Special Stamps’ YouTube Channel at: Stamps and stamp products are available at all Post Offices, or online at and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

John W Roberts' new book - A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Brentwood Writers' Circle is proud of its many members who are regularly seeing their books published around the world.  The latest to celebrate his new book is John Roberts, whose latest book A SIMPLE SOLUTION is an intriguing contemporary thriller. 

The anti-animal experiments group (Free All Animal Now) has been desperately fighting to close down the local chemical company for more than six years, but despite constant picketing and harassing their employees, has been unsuccessful.  When the picketers trick their way into the laboratory, drastic action ensues and John's story takes on a menacing turn. 

John's  book carries ISBN 978-1-908248-83-1 and the publisher is Lighting Sources UK Limited.  An exciting read; lots of luck to John for his third book and massive sales ahead! For a copy of John's book email him at

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


What is success? It's a difficult topic to define. I learned a little more about it at the House of Lords last week when Chris Norton, managing director and owner of the Mentor Group, based in Hertfordshire, launched his new book - THE DNA OF SUCCESS. Chris is also chairman of Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust.  Part of the proceeds from his book will be donated to the Trust.

The day was a dazzling affair with some of the leading figures from politics, business, military, sport and the arts - in fact many of the book's contributors came along to toast Chris Norton's success. Lord MacLaurin of Knebworth wrote the foreword to Chris' book and sponsored our lovely day in the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace in the Lords.

Here are a few pictures giving a flavour of the launch with Carol Baker, MD of Credit Control Journal alongside Chris Norton and other guests on the Lords' Terrace.

Key contributors to this excellent book THE DNA OF SUCCESS published by Hothivebooks ISBN 978-1-906316-66-2 £15.00 are: Lord MacLaurin, Vince Cable, Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, Greg Dyke, Frederick Forsyth, Penny Hughes, Mahan Khalsa, Sir Peter Squire and Graham Taylor.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Picture of Roy and Carol Dyer who created the Essex Working Dogs Team, famous throughout the land. More information coming.


Despite winds and a sprinkling of rain over the weekend, nothing marred the fun and super atmosphere of Barleylands Country Show - their 25th great event.   My visit was on Sunday and I  picked the better day to meet up with so many craftspeople I've known and written about over the years. Traditional steam engines were demonstrated - always fascinating and the veteran cars were out in full force.  I learned more about coppicing, thatching, bodging and could have stayed for hours.  Lovely to meet up with the Philpot family and many other friends. Here are a few photos taken on the day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Fingers crossed for fair weather at the great Essex Country Fair at Barleylands near Billericay, Essex this weekend.  Joanna, Peter and Chris Pilpot are celebrating this, their 25th Show at their farm and are expecting forty thousand visitors over this weekend.  Shaun Young and Nichola Larkin are enthusiasic about the events and craftsmen who are making the journey from around Britain (and a few from overseas) to converge on this fabulous part of Essex. Picture here of  the Philpot family with grandchildren, anticipating a great weekend.  10am to 5pm each day and a very full programme promised.  Full details can be found at

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


For our many Ralph Vaughan Williams' lovers, here is my current feature which appeared by courtesy of Newsquest's Weekly News series. Double click to increase text.

Monday, September 05, 2011


Having worked in public relations and advertising way back in my career, I know the value of communication:  using websites, blogs and social links in all their many forms.  When it comes to publicising your latest book, do think about radio, whether national, regional or local, people love to listen in - so why not give them a treat.

My friend, Ian McGregor tells me:  "If you're a published author or expert, your local talk radio station will LOVE to hear from you. Radio talk show producers are constantly on the look out for interesting local people with a tale to tale or who's story connects with current issues in the news - if you've published a book on phone hacking, you will be very popular at the moment! If you get interviewed, don't forget to mention your blog or website so that listeners can find out more about you and get hold of your book if they want to."

 Ian McGregor is a brilliant media relations expert and former BBC local radio talk show host. You can find him @theprbloke on Twitter.  He has a super voice (hugely important) and he could be of huge help in your quest for fame and fortune!  Contact him via

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Not since I read Jock of the Bushveld, the true story set in the 1880s by South African author James Percy Fitzpatrick, have I re-visited this part of the world, so was delighted recently to be given a copy of Candi Miller's Kalahari Passage.

In her new novel, Miller tells us of a  people hunted and harried to near-extinction.  Her heroine is Koba, a San bushman who has lived most of her life as the adopted daughter of a white farming family. When news of her love affair with their son, Mannie, is discovered, Koba is arrested and sent for repatriation to the lands of the Kalahari Desert.

Her life thereafter in the hands of a vindictive Boer who murdered her parents and is intent on killing her too, means that the girl must escape and flee across the barren South West African sandveld.   Koba survives by remembering her San hunter wiles to find her nomadic tribe. But will she stay alive long enough to succeed after years of living among whites?

Miller’s powerful and evocative tale of displacement, love and longing has many wonderful moments, and as always, I've added much to my knowledge of African life. I do recommend this  searching  book.