Wednesday, December 26, 2012

AND HERE WE HAVE THE GREAT BOXING DAY SAILING BOAT RACE

The race has just finished - fabulous turnout of home-made sailing boats using some amazing packaging from Christmas gifts - clever stuff here in Billericay.  To find the winner, watch this space, but in the meantime, take a look at what some of our townsfolk created. 

 
 

Monday, December 24, 2012

BOXING DAY'S GREAT LAKE RACE AT BILLERICAY LAKE MEADOWS




Christmas is here and already we've enjoyed seeing many friends, neighbours and family.  Following on the celebrations, we are looking forward to THE GREAT LAKE RACE at our LAKE MEADOWS LAKE a  wonderful place for all including those who like model sail boats - made from Christmas packaging, a bottle, plastic bag for sails and other bits and pieces imaginatively used.  Only home-made boats permission. 

THIS IS YOUR PARK - COME AND JOIN IN at 2.30pm on WEDNESDAY, BOXING DAY.  See website for FRIENDS OF LAKE MEADOWS

Friday, December 21, 2012

THERE'S STILL TIME TO PICK UP BRIAN LYNCH'S NEW BOOK FOR CHRISTMAS

Journalist, author, columnist, poet Brian Lynch has just added a new title to his impressive collection of published books.  Among his backlist is a fantasy, Sherlock and Holmes, all about a funny talking dog detective, a biography of John Bairstow, The Road from Gloster Hill and many others.

I particularly enjoyed his own part-biography Naked Knees and Blakey'd Boots.  As Brian says: "Writing fictional short stories and poetry based on my own life and experiences has, up until now been just a hobby, but now I want to publicise the plight of children starving in Africa."

After finishing a poignant poem about a fictional child (Nkoli), Brian - with his publisher Prestige Press - has gathered together a collection of some of his best stories and verse.  This latest title is NKOLI and its purpose is to swell the donations towards one of the leading charities that help to feed children like Nkoli. Among the wide range of story material, I enjoyed A TIARA FOR CHRISTMAS - so appropriate for this time of year.
Brian Lynch
 

Paperback edition ISBN 978-1-84375-614-9 published by Prestige Press £7.99
For details email:  info@prestige-press.com

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

JOHN INTRODUCES US TO AMY PEPPERCORN

CD cover created by John Brindley
John Brindley in Phoenix 98fm Studio at Brentwood in Essex

Friday was great at Phoenix 98fm when lovely presenter, Michelle Ward welcomed us into the studio  for my twelfth monthly programme.  My theme concentrated on Christmas stocking filler books for children. 

Wonderful to have the great John Brindley with us to tell everyone about Amy Peppercorn, his own creation whose story can be found in STARRY-EYED  & SCREAMING. Amy is a 16-year-old character so the book will be appreciated by 'Young Adults', but I feel it can be enjoyed by all ages.   There's something different with this book, too.  We have a chance to listen to Amy singing on the accompanying CD and what a voice!  Check out John Brindley's website www.amypeppercorn.com and info@amypeppercorn.com

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SAD NEWS

Sir Patrick Moore displaying his new medal

So sad to hear the news of the passing of two lovely men I've interviewed. Met Sir Patrick Moore a year ago and he was delightful during our interview and George Oliver whom I've met many times over the last twenty years and have included his marvellous recollections in some of my books and newspaper columns.  Shall miss them.
Our lovely friend George Oliver

Sunday, December 09, 2012

ESSEX FIRE MUSEUM AT GRAYS, ESSEX

Last Sunday, we enjoyed meeting Roger Pickett and his friend who popped into our Cater Museum.  He met Chris Brewster, our very own curator.  The gentlemen left their booklet which shows some great photographs from their museum.  They offer a warm welcome to visitors, particularly school groups and their is no charge for admission.
The Essex Fire Museum is located at Grays Fire Station. It was opened on 14 June 2007 and is housed in the former Auxiliary Fire Servive garages. Wonderful exhibits and displays are there showing a wide range of firefighting history in Essex.  This museum holds a good selelction of artefacts relating to the wartime activities of the Fire Service. 

Roger Pickett provided personal and professional information to my sister, fellow author, Elizabeth Victoria Wallace when she was researching one of her earlier best-selling books CHRISTMAS PAST IN ESSEX (currently on sale at Waterstones) £9.99 (The History Press).  roger.pickett@essex-fire.gov.uk Tel: 01375 379167

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Billericay Baptist church presented ANGEL SQUADRON

So much local talent on tap this evening at the Billericay Baptist Church when Peter and Corinne White put on ANGEL SQUADRON, a superb two-act Nativity play.  This modern and unusual script, created by Peter White, was cleverly produced, involving angels - supernatural beings, intermediaries and messengers between God and humankind.  We all loved the World War II setting.

These 'heroes of the skies' involving Cadet Astra, an angel flying ace with a certain flair and cadet Celeste, a fabulous singing star with a wonderful voice. Many other angelic characters were in the cast providing energy; fun; and all cleverly blended into a thoughtful production telling the age-old story built around the New Testament framework. We loved the music, settings, costumes and the superb choir - and those little angels were out of this world. 

Peter White - Creator and Director of ANGEL SQUADRON

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

SUPER LOUISE WITH NAUGHTY PIXIE



Today, Pixie our naughty little  cat met, and fell in love with Louise who is one of Billericay's most skilful young mobile hairdressers.  This girl really knows her business and  cuts hair so beautifully.  I ought to know as Vidal Sassoon was one of my first scissormen, but this, of course was way back in the sixties. Will try to find some of my old pics, just to make readers laugh!
Yes, we really did wear false eyelashes 50 years ago!
 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

CHRISTMAS MARKET EVEN BETTER THIS YEAR

So cold in Billericay High Street today but huge warmth from thousands who came to take part in the Christmas celebrations.  Congratulations to Rotary and supporting groups who made it such a success.  Loved this chap who was certainly colder than most of us.Think his name was Jack Frost (aka Chris) and he is certainly a clever chap, along with his youthful juggling companion.

Friday, November 30, 2012

MEETING THE ALCS AT AGM



Sylvia and Maureen Duffy
 
Danuta Kean (far r) and two lovely colleauges at the AGM


 



             Last night's AGM at Clothworkers' Livery Hall, Dunster Court in the City was so interesting. I go when the AGM is held in London and this venue was fascinating. Clothworkers' Hall sounds boring but the Hall itself is very beautiful and ancient (That livery Company is 500 years' old)

Enjoyed learning a little about the mechanics of the ALCS.  Many of us receive royalties collected by them, so it is interesting to meet some of the Board in person as well as seeing them at work at Writers' House.  I like this building in London's Haydon Street where our SWWJ hold Council meetings.

Among many notable names who joined us were Maureen Duffy (leading expert on Aphra Behn), Danuta Kean and many more.  Other folk who attended last night were obviously involved in publishing, but also radio, TV, theatre, as well as RNA and general newspapers/magazines.  It was a lovely evening. I also snapped (badly)  the Monument and Shard as I raced for the tube.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A PERFECT GIFT IDEA FOR CHRISTMAS - LET'S MAKE MUSIC!

To make wonderful music on whatever instrument you choose, is such a great feeling.  Age is no obstacle and from numerous instruments, the ABSOLUTE MUSIC ACADEMY professionals  can teach you in their acoustically engineered studios in Canvey Island, Essex. 
AMA in Canvey Island, Essex
It really is never too late to begin learning an instrument, maybe return to one you began as a child or, indeed, now feel ready to carve out a career in the music industry.  The two professional  musicians Neil Reed and Rob Sigston are there to help you learn on any instruments (except piano).  What a super idea to arrange as a Christmas gift, a set of lessons with these two brilliant music aficionardos in the heart of Essex. 
Tel:  01268 696860 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

VETRO BAR OPENS IN BILLERICAY

Louise Anthony with her security staff
 
Last week was full of new projects.  One invitation was to the opening of VETRO, a new bar in Western Road.  Lovely to meet many of the people who worked on the site to make it such a super venue.  Particularly enjoyed meeting Louise Anthony, the general manager  who was anxious to assure folk that antisocial behaviour will not be tolerated at Vetro. Already we are planning some writers' gatherings for the spring.  

Louise, security and Abby and Jodi Knight
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

YESTERDAY'S DEBUT ON PHOENIX 98FM FOR JAN

Jan takes a break in recording at Phoenix 98FM
 
I particularly enjoyed my eleventh session at Phoenix 98FM's "Bookclub" yesterday when presenter of EAT MY LUNCH,  Michelle Ward, welcomed the well known author and professional story teller JAN WILLIAMS into the studio.  Jan has lived in Essex for thirty-five years following her upbringing and career in Wales.  What a gorgeous voice!

Jan founded and worked with the famous Essex Storytellers in 1993 and her passion and determination have uncovered much of our county's treasure trove of tales, some quite scary, but all fascinating.  Did you know that we harboured six dragons?  Well, read Jan's new book  entitled ESSEX FOLK TALES.  The History Press is her publisher and her book is priced at £9.99, to be found in all good bookshops and on Amazon ISBN 9780752 466002 - a great stocking filler!

Monday, November 19, 2012

JAN WILLIAMS IN THE STUDIO TO TALK ABOUT ESSEX FOLK TALES



Jan Williams  one of Essex's best story tellers and now author
 
Although Jan Williams' new book is scheduled for publication in December, Essex listeners to Phoenix 98FM programme will have a chance of meeting her, courtesy of Michelle Ward, tomorrow.  Michelle will be interviewing Jan on her EAT MY LUNCH programme around midday as part of our regular monthly BOOKCLUB.

Jan is a professional story teller and author and this book ESSEX FOLK TALES is full of wonderful stories linked to the history and landscape of our super county.  Also in town from Denver, Colorado, is Elizabeth Wallace who also writes about aspects of Essex history CHRISTMAS PAST IN ESSEX.  The History Press also publishes some of Elizabeth's books which are selling well in Waterstones and WH Smith bookshops.

Do listen in to Phoenix 98FM tomorrow and learn a little about what some of our home-grown writers have to say about the hidden treasure trove of tales which reflect the wisdom, eccentricities and fun of this fascinating county and its folk.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

ST MARY MAGDALEN - NEWLY UPDATED BOOK

This is the famous 1830 image that gives a flavour of our lovely old High Street
My new Kindlelised book outlining the history of Billericay's beautiful old church, is now on  sale on Amazon Kindle page. You can see a side view of  the church in my latest Sunday posting on this weblog.  My book, which is quite small really, was written to celebrate the refurbishment of St Mary's in 2007 and the book was on sale mainly in the church itself.  Now it is available around the world and I am pleased that so many folk seem to be enjoying Billericay's amazing history. Here are some images from my book and there are many more, so do purchase and support St Mary Magdalen's fundraising.  Cost ranges from £1.80 to £2.26

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BILLERICAY'S SPECIAL SUNDAY

 
 
The Billericay Branch of the Royal British Legion organised another special gathering around the War Memorial at Chequers corner.  All ages and groups contributed and the morning was memorable. Each year the crowd grows larger and parents brought their youngsters today.   

Thursday, November 08, 2012

JUST BACK FROM LONDON'S NEW CAVENDISH CLUB - WONDERFUL VAD CELEBRATION

Excellent gathering at the New Cavendish Club on Thursday 8 November. Pic here of Barbara Hallows and Judith Gowland, Archivist to the VAD Club based at the New Cavendish Club in Great Cumberland Place, Marble Arch.  Guests appreciated a wonderful evening and a chance to see a new play NO WAY BACK written for the Nursing Memorial Appeal by John Drewry. John runs the Virtual Theatre Company which is superb and we are looking forward to seeing them again. Brompton Wines www.bromptonwine.com supplied great wines. 

I was particularly delighted to meet Gwynneth Bridge, a beautiful former VAD nurse who trained from the age of 18 and who retains some vivid and remarkable memories of this honorable team of nurses which was founded almost a century ago. Here she is with yours truly.
Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses  remained a  single sex organisation from 1909 until the end of WWII
Starring actor on Thursday

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

SHIRLEY BOND'S NEW BOOK "HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP?"

What a muddle there is in the weights and measures used today, particularly in the home and more especially in the kitchen and workroom!

Any book published in Britain before the mid to late '60s will have ingredients, oven temperatures and sizes of cooking equipment listed only in Imperial measures.  In the past, our oven temperatures were usually given in degrees Farenheit or Gas mark and some recipes might only suggest 'cook in a moderate oven.' The introduction of metric measures in the '70s confused older people  and still many cannot convert quickly from Imperial to metric.

Today, we have to cope with weights and measures in every sphere of modern business and home  life and it can be difficult to understand abbreviations and symbols we see on our packaging.  Mistakes can easily be made.

Help is at hand.  The author of numerous books, SHIRLEY BOND has made life simpler for us.  She has just launched her brand new book that answers many questions I've asked,  from the simple conversion of grams and kilograms to ounces and pounds,  exactly what are 'E' numbers, quantity guide for snacks at party buffets, exact equivalent area measures, so that we learn about square metres, hectares, and bushels - and EXACTLY how big is your allotment (in rods - still used, by the way) 1 rod equals 16 feet! There is much, much more in her slim book with its ISBN 978-0-9558911-2-0   Do visit Shirley's website and learn more.

For more information, visit Shirley's web site  www.woodlandspublishing.co.uk There's an order form which can be printed and send with a cheque if preferable.  Anyone wishing to buy a copy on line should go to www.ypd-books.com and put ‘How Do You Measure Up’ in the search column and go from there.  Book price is £7.99  + £2.75 postage - a wonderful stocking filler for all.

Friday, November 02, 2012

AMBERLEY'S NEW BOOK COLCHESTER 24

Twenty five years ago, an exhibition was staged in Colchester.  Local photographers - some 20 of them combined their talents to capture life in Colchester during a 24-hour period. The exhibition attracted huge attention at the time, but inevitably closed and the photographs put into storage. 
 Member of Parliament for Colchester Sir Bob Russell writes introduction to COLCHESTER 24
http://www.colchester24.org/
Last year, another team of photographers founded the Colchester 24 Trust and repeated the community project.  With support from the Essex County Standard newspaper, "Colchester 24" was thrown open to the public, inviting them to record life in Colcheser in 2011 to compile a photographic archive for future generations.  The outcome was more than 5,000 electronic images contributed by around 200 photographers including students, schoolchildren, grandparents and amateur photographers.  Thus, this fascinating book COLCHESTER 24 containing 96 pages with 194 colour illustratons recording just one day in the life of England's oldest recorded town, has been published by Amberley of Stroud, Gloucestershire. The two talented authors are Andrew Phillips and Anthony Cody.  Price of the book is £14.99 ISBN 978-1-4456-1056-6 and it is now on sale in bookshops and from Amberley at orders@amberley-books.com

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

OFF TO VISIT TAMWORTH CASTLE IN STAFFORDSHIRE


Enjoyed weekend in Birmingham. The camera became red hot taking photos of the pretty countryside around the Midlands. Had always fancied visiting Tamworth Castle and managed this on Saturday. It's all ready for Halloween.  Cobwebs and spooks everywhere - lots of fun coming up.  Short Youtube will follow later. This is aimed at my Vancouver based on line magazine www.suite101.com
Short Youtube clip here showing the lovely Yeti  the Tamworth Executioner (with permission) Just click on the arrow.  Promised to pay another visit when we next visit the West Midlands.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MUSIC FEST FOR ALL THE FAMILY



Just a reminder for Saturday 27 October to come along to what promises to be a great evening for all the family in Billericay's Emmanuel Church.  There may be some tickets left and so many friends will be there, too.    Have a super time!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

MY FAVOURITE WRITERS


Enjoyed listening to Woman's Hour this morning with P D James who has won Lifetime Award at the Woman of the Year lunch yesterday (should have attended!) as this author is one of my favourites.  Her latest book is Death Comes to Pemberley Currently reading this.   Also enjoy Hilary Mantel - her new Man Booker prize-winning book Bring Up the Bodies is on order.  Lucky to meet and interview so many superb English writers.  Do keep inviting me.

Yours truly and Baroness James of Holland Park
 

Hilary Mantel when she visited Billericay