Thursday, June 28, 2012


STOP PRESS  due to unusual June weather and very bad muddy conditions on the farm, unfortunately tomorrow's Open Day at REMUS HORSE SANCTUARY plus a FUN DOG SHOW will not now take place.

HOWEVER - do keep an eye on the REMUS WEBSITE which will advertise their next OPEN DAY on 15 July 2012.

For full details and background and history of this fascinating farm check out
Open Days at The Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary, Little Farm, Buttsbury Road, Near Ingatestone, Essex, CM4 9NZ. Registered Charity: 1134951
Sunday l July 2012     1:00pm - 5:00pm
Sunday 1st July - Open Day and Dog Show, 1pm - 5pm

This is going to be a great fun day for all the family and the dog too!

Dog show £1.50 per class, 19 classes and rosettes to 6th place.

So much to see and do. Come and visit the rescued animals at the sanctuary.
There will also be stalls, refreshments and BBQ as well as the Fun Dog Show with ring-side parking and AJAX Dog Agility Team display.

For more information contact the Sanctuary on 01277 356 191 for more details.


Stroud based Amberley Publishing has launched yet another interesting book set in our county.  The authors, David Scanlan and Paul Robins have produced  PARANORMAL ESSEX, a fascinating book outlining the spooky shenanigans that seem to have taken place around the county.
Both authors are acclaimed paranormal investigators and they have done their homework well.  Some of the anecdotes are familiar, particularly the ghostly tales from my own towns of Brentwood and Billericay, but many were  new, such as the odd goings-on at the Coachman Inn at Earls Colne when a customer  announced that a spectre seen regularly in the bar, was indeed his dead brother.

It appears that Southend pier still has its share of apparitions, even though it is now most definitely in the 21st century, but still those more sensitive day-trippers could very well bump into a phantom or two if they are not careful.

I enjoyed this book and appreciated the many photographs and illustrations which added to the 50 or so Essex haunting grounds.
ISBN 978-1-84868-460-7  £12.99

Monday, June 25, 2012


Fed up with the platform, he jumps on the train. He seemed quite at home
Strutting up and down, looking for someone! Who?

Obviously fed up with the passengers, he gets off to find someone more interesting!

Is the birdworld trying to tell me something?  On Saturday I tried to stop local pigeons eating my newly planted cabbages.  Yesterday, a largish pigeon came down the chimney terrifying Pixie, our cat, and bringing wet soot and debris with it.  Managed to capture the poor bird and release it.  Then in London tonight a much smaller bird tried to peck my shoes and jumped on the tube with me, strutting up and down the carriage until the train reached the next stop and off it jumped. Strange!


A colleague could find no collective group name for writers.  I know that Facebook, Twitter and Linked In members will have some ideas!  Keri from the Quill Writers on the web supplied this list and some are apt and amusing.  We are a funny breed, I'm sure you will agree.  Not sure yet which one I would choose! Twaddle maybe, or what about a vanity! Let me know if you can think of others.

  • An address of writers
  • An advance of writers
  • An allegory of writers
  • An alliteration of writers
  • An ambiance of writers
  • An ambiguity of writers
  • An analogy of writers
  • An annotation of writers
  • An anthology
  • An assignment
  • A babble of writers
  • A balderdash of writers
  • A bibliography of writers
  • A block of writers
  • A blurb of writers
  • A canon of writers
  • A caption of writers
  • A cast of writers
  • A count of writers
  • A cover of writers
  • A creation of writers
  • A deadline of writers
  • A dedication of writers
  • A denotation of writers
  • A diction of writers
  • A dispatch of writers
  • A draft of writers
  • An edit of writers
  • An elegy of writers
  • An epigram of writers
  • A fabrication of writers
  • A fib of writers
  • A fiction of writers
  • A foolishness of writers
  • A foreshadowing of writers
  • A formatting of writers
  • A frontlist of writers
  • A galley of writers
  • A genre of writers
  • A gibberish of writers
  • A hogwash of writers
  • A hook of writers
  • A hyperbole of writers
  • An idea of writers
  • An imagery of writers
  • An imagination of writers
  • An imprint of writers
  • An inscription of writers
  • An inspiration of writers
  • An invoice of writers
  • An irony of writers
  • A jargon of writers
  • A jot of writers
  • A journal of writers
  • A limerick of writers
  • A line of writers
  • A logline of writers
  • A lyric of writers
  • A madness of writers
  • A manuscription of writers
  • A meter of writers
  • A motif of writers
  • A myth of writers
  • A narrative of writers
  • A novel of writers
  • An outline of writers
  • An oxymoron of writers
  • A page of writers
  • A pace of writers
  • A palindrome of writers
  • A parable of writers
  • A paradox of writers
  • A paraphrase of writers
  • A parody of writers
  • A persona of writers
  • A personification of writers
  • A pitch of writers
  • A plagiarism of writers
  • A plot of writers
  • A prattle of writers
  • A prefix of writers
  • A premise of writers
  • A pretense of writers
  • A procrastination of writers
  • A proof of writers
  • A proposal of writers
  • A pseudonym of writers
  • A pun of writers
  • A query of writers
  • A quibbling of writers
  • A ranting of writers
  • A rejection of writers
  • A revision of writers
  • A scrawl of writers
  • A scribble of writers
  • A script of writers
  • A sentence of writers
  • A serial of writers
  • A setting of writers
  • A slant of writers
  • A slush of writers
  • A soliloquy of writers
  • A sonnet of writers
  • A stanza of writers
  • A stress of writers
  • A storytelling of writers
  • A style of writers
  • A subject of writers
  • A subplot of writers
  • A suffix of writers
  • A summary of writers
  • A symbol of writers
  • A synonym of writers
  • A synopsis of writers
  • A syntax of writers
  • A tagline of writers
  • A tale of writers
  • A theme of writers
  • A tomfoolery of writers
  • A tone of writers
  • A topic of writers
  • A twaddle of writers
  • An understatement of writers
  • A vanity of writers
  • A verse of writers
  • A voice of writers
  • A withdrawal of writers
  • A zine of writers

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Friday's weather was not the best for the Summer Open Evening, but this didn't matter.  Always well attended, this annual event is always such fun set out on the Sexton's lawn among the colourful shrubs.  We had a chance to meet up with Curators, John and Yvonne Fryer and their team and, as we were under cover in their gazebo, the  rain was irrelevant.   Lovely food and interesting company, plus a chance to see the latest displays inside this beautiful little museum. Well worth a visit:

Some of the team at Brentwood Museum taken on an earlier visit.

Brentwood Museum

Kitchen, Brentwood MuseumLorne Road CM14 5HH
Brentwood Museum is housed in a picturesque 19th century building once a sexton's cottage. Although small, it offers a fascinating insight into Brentwood life in the early part of this century, with an exciting collection of social and domestic objects dating from around 1840-1950.
In 1993, the Museum was granted formal registration with the Museums and galleries Commission, one of just a handful of Essex Museums to gain such recognition, and all the more remarkable since it is staffed entirely by volunteers.
Combine your visit with Lorne Road Nature Reserve adjacent to the museum, a peaceful and now disused cemetery where the graves are an interesting and varied collection, some maintained under the auspices of the War Graves Commission bearing witness to the enormous number of troop movements that passed through Brentwood during the First World War.
The museum is open on the first FULL WEEKEND of each month from April to October. Opening times: Saturday and Sunday 2:30pm-4:30pm. Monday 10:30am - 12:30pm. Car parking is free. For further information, please see the Brentwood Museum leaflet.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Although I don't  write poetry, I do appreciate some of the modern poets.    Earlier this year I met Seamus Heaney at King's Place in London and a few others who appeared  at the Essex Book Festival this March.  Many were at Chelsea Flower Show last month herre I saw  Roger McGough, the Liverpool poet..  Loved his red trousers and counted at least another dozen men also sporting red trousers - quite the thing in London at present.  Fashion is a strange animal. 
By the way, Roger's distinctive voice can be heard in so many TV voice-over commercials these days. So here's my snap of his scarlet trews! 

Nice snap of Seamus, too, met him in London's King's Place.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I'm preparing reading matter for a couple of local radio programmes and have returned to Jim Reeve's last book (pictured).  Jim and Joan Reeve travelled to Cornwall to do their research and this book can be bought in many Cornish bookshops, as well as nationals such as Waterstones and W H Smith.

Jim shares memories with readers  of his own evacuation from war-torn London to places like Newquay, St Ives and Redruth.  His pictures are unique and so poignant.

This is such a fascinating book.  £12.99 ISBN 978-0-7524-5540-2 published by THE HISTORY PRESS

Monday, June 18, 2012


Enjoyed an excellent dinner on Friday at Stock Brook Country Club - courtesy of our Member of Parliament, John Baron.  We ate roast beef and Yorkshires - lovely.  Good company at the Basildon & Billericay Conservative Annual Dinner, a chance to chat with Borough Cllr Paul and Town Cllr Tina Arnold pictured here. A very nice, relaxed evening!


Well into my current wave of wine-making, Elderflower, May blossom and Rose Petal, all with a good white wine concentrate as a base.  I've just discovered the  Homebrew centre in Holland-on-Sea, Essex,  run by Lynda Lane whose father started the shop years ago.  Sounds great to me.  Do not throw demi-johns away as they are happy to receive them for the growing numbers of home winemakers who're taking up this fascinating hobby. I used to write a weekly column called Fascinating Fermentations for the Essex Courier - sounds a bit naff now, but twenty years ago, we had a good following.

I will ensure that the shop have the redundant winemaking equipment given to me recently. Lynda's store is also a valuable centre of information to learn about preserving food and veg from your allotments and gardens.  They also stock the essential equipment including kilner jars, plus advice on preserving. Their URL is: Follow Lynda on Twitter!/brewshop
Some of my wine recipes can be seen at


Saturday, June 16, 2012


Today we celebrated the annual gathering of Brentwood's Writing Circle with the addition of some special guests from the Society of Women Writers.  Guest speakers were Mary Redman former theatre critic and drama journalist at the Essex Chronicle and the award-winning children's author, Anne Cassidy.  Both speakers were excellent and our members came away with some great ideas for forthcoming work.   Colin Taylor, chairman, pictured with Mary Redman. Lower pic showing Anne Cassidy with committee member Elizabeth Lord, also a best selling local author. More details at

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Lucky folk in Chelmsford area have a chance to listen to young author, Piper Terrett when she arrives at the Police Museum tomorrow evening (Thursday 14 June) to talk about her best selling book VICTIM SUPPORT  launched at Christmas.  Piper's novel is set in Billericay and her thrilling murder mystery certainly kept me guessing the outcome  until the end.  Piper is a successful journalist and a great speaker and I am sorry I can't make her talk, but many will enjoy a great evening.  Starts at 7.30pm - venue Essex Police Museum contact: Essex Police Headquarters Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6DA   Phone the Curator Rebecca on  01245 457150

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


For those who love Tudor history, Kentwell Hall is the place for you (and me) in Suffolk, This picture is of Mistress Angharad, the great cook at the Hall who is a mine of historic knowhow.

Meet her at Kentwell's most spectacular event: for three-weeks from 17th June the entire estate goes back in time to the year 1556.  Kentwell will be full of 250 plus Tudors living and breathing Tudor England.

On the first full weekend (23rd- 24th June) join in their midsummer celebrations with the burning of a wicker man. On the second weekend (30 June-1st July) come and enjoy the Pageant featuring betrothals and the Battle of Agincourt. The last weekend (Friday 6th-8th July) rounds off the fun with a Tudor Fair with games, music and dancing.

At the end of July the grounds will echo with our open-air
Shakespeare and Glenn Miller concert. Will definitely make time to get there.

Call now to book: 01787 310 207

Kentwell Hall
Long Melford
CO10 9BA

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Last year's Writers' line-up at the Brentwood Writers' Circle's Special Writers' Day - courtesy of Peter Elgar, Brentwood photographer commissioned by the Brentwood Gazette.    This year's event is on Saturday, 16 June from 10.00am till 4, with a rather special children's author, Anne Cassidy who will be talking about her latest best selling book Dead Time which received a superb critique in The Mail yesterday. Reviewer, Sally Morris.

Also the theatre critic and journalist, Mary Redman will be with us and a Forum will end the day.  A lovely lunch will be served as is usual on our special events. Details below.

Brentwood Writers Circle
Writers' Day
June 16th 2012 10.00am to 4.00pm
Buffet Lunch & Refreshments Included in the ticket price.
£20 each or £15 Concession
Guest Speakers:
Mary Redman and Anne Cassidy
Venue: Ursuline High School, Queens Road, Brentwood, Essex CM14 4EX
Please send your payment to:
Ena Love, 1 Delta Road, Brentwood, Essex CM13 1NG
Making your cheque payable to Brentwood Writers Circle.


Photo: Oh, the power of social media.  Thanks to so many folk interested in litttle old Billericay - media traffic very high this morning - probably friends in the Colonies!  it's fun to include tiny YouTubes. Should reach my 80 thousandth hit on fairly soon.

Loved Jane Bennett's (MD of Bennetts) idea of awarding a "most deserving woman to be treated like royalty, for a day".  In Billericay, Nikki Barrett was the winner.  She was sponsored by her own daughter, 11-year-old Ellie who accompanied mum on a flying trip around Billericay, in a Rolls-Royce, and enjoyed a shopping spree, dinner at the Magic Mushroom and a super new hair-do. Here we see Nikki with our supersonic Town Crier, Jim Shrubb, her son,Alfie, John Buchanan, Town Council chairman and Jane (who also carried out a similar event in nearby Brentwood). Oh, and our queen also visited our gem of a museum - the Cater where she was shown around by our Curator, Chris Brewster.  Hope they visit us again.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Click on that little 'forward' arrow.  Hundreds of Jubilee beacons were set up around Britain.  We had fun and games on Monday evening at Billericay's Sun Corner where the permanent Jubilee Beacon was lit at 10pm.  Hope readers (and expats who requested this)  can see the moment of enlightenment! 30-second film clip.

Below we can see part of the three choirs who made wonderful music on this rather special occasion.  John Buchanan, Chairman of Billericay Town Council is pictured here, too.

Monday, June 04, 2012


Wonderful party in London and locally in Billericay. More pictures coming tomorrow.

Sunday, June 03, 2012


What a shame about today's weather for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee - it's been so hot here over the last week.  Maybe it will brighten up later for the Queen's jubilation  trip down the Thames. More than one thousand sailing craft trailing behind.

Even yesterday at  Brentwood's Strawberry Fair we enjoyed a diamond feel with stalls so well decorated.  Warm atmosphere in the Phoenix 98FM marquee even so early, but had a chance to meet the new Mayor of Brentwood, Councillor Ann Coe and family.  Lovely to meet a brand new newly-wed couple on Shenfield Common - rather a large chair, though!

Friday, June 01, 2012


Met a new friend from BBC Essex, the Broadcast Journalist Thomas Magill, who was interested in Billericay's 'Church in the High Street' St Mary Magdalen with its beautiful clock. This clock is dedicated to Queen Victoria's 60th Jubilee in 1897.

Thomas was presented with a history booklet written especially for the celebration of the 2007 rebuilding of this lovely church.  This morning's High Street was virtually empty as it was just 7am, and we managed to take some photographs, especially for our overseas visitors who often mention St Mary's when they contact our Cater Museum, just up the road a little.

Celebrationss all round as the bunting is starting to adorn the front of pubs and shops.