Wednesday, August 29, 2012


A few of our lovely athletes and the torch

Today's trip to London  was like no other.  London's Mayor, Boris Johnson offered excellent hospitality to many guests including Doreen Friend, the Society of Women Writers & Journalists' publicist and me - during our first visit to City Hall, so close to London Bridge.  

The Mayor of London admiring our magazine with Doreen Friend

The occasion was the Mayor's party to welcome the Torch Relay team with the Paralympic Flame to London before tomorrow's start of the Games. They had brought their torches through so many towns, starting at dawn, but all were smiling and posed for us.  We  enjoyed meeting the athletes, the Mayor's special guests and, of course, Mr Johnson himself who happily signed the current edition of The Woman Writer.  Lunch was great, too.  Here is the famous Davy Lamp  torch lighter, made of brass, enclosing the precious flame. Fascinating item guarded by police officers.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Michelle Ward, Presenter at Phoenix 98FM
Kent and Colin Dexter

Always a pleasure to meet up with Michelle Ward at Brentwood's International Centre where Phoenix 98FM has its new studio.  Today, Michelle was presenting Book Club and I was delighted to discuss books on crime.  My favourite crime writer Colin Dexter came to mind and we chatted about his early books that we eventually saw on TV within the Morse series of programmes.  Colin Dexter was one of our speakers at Brentwood Writing Circle a few years ago and I was his guest when  invited to his home near Oxford when researching a magazine feature.

We also chatted about our other favourite crime writers who had links with Essex, Dorothy L Sayers who lived at Witham, Agatha Chrisite who used villages in the county as settings for her thrillers and PD James (Lady James of Holland Park) whose writing style is always inspirational and who supports our Essex Book Festival. Martina Cole who originated from Aveley was on today's book group menu and her new book is top listed by several local reading groups.

Phyllis James (P D James)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


First time delegate Lorna Slade

After so much attention devoted to the Olympics over the last 17 days,  I am concentrating more on business writing.  Lorna  Slade and I turned up at the lovely Marygreen Manor in Brentwood to meet Business Biscotti ambassadors Geeta Dhir and Richard Pond.  Martin Engelman gave a super presentation with lots of hints and help in networking.  This is such an important topic and Martin is an inspiration and an excellent speaker.

Martin Engelman in full flow!

Business Biscotti groups meet all over Britain and the next Brentwood group gathering is on Friday 7 September 10-12 noon at Marygreen Manor. Meetings are free to attend and folk can register on line for free.  For details, phone Geeta Dhir :  07958 981791. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Since Autumn 2010, I've watched the construction of that rather strange spirally red structure we now know as the Orbit.  It looked most odd at the beginning and is still rather strange. The search for a permanent artwork on the Olympic Park was instigated by the Mayor of London’s Office, which invited more than 30 international artists to submit  ideas for a sculpture of up to 180 metres tall. Following a lengthy selection process, the Orbit – designed by artist Anish Kapoor – was chosen. As well as promising a unique moment and experience for visitors, the structure represents both London and the UK, and reflects the five Olympic rings. Construction began in November 2010 and was completed in April this year.  It ended up at 115 metres.

The Orbit experience

The Orbit is more than a work of art – it’s an entire experience. After going through the small, intimate entrance to the Orbit, visitors make their way into an elevator with viewing portholes, which takes just 30 seconds to pass through the Orbit’s twisting form and reach the viewing platform 85 metres high. Once it’s reached the platform, visitors can step outside the lift and experience the Olympic Park in a whole new light – as well as enjoying stunning views of London’s cityscape. It’s also possible to look straight down the centre of the Orbit to the ground below – though this isn’t recommended for the fainthearted! To conclude the experience, visitors are encouraged to stroll down the spiral staircase that twists through the Orbit, enjoying even more amazing sights.

Visiting the Orbit

The Orbit by night
An Orbit ticket alone will not give you access to the Olympic Park. You must only purchase a ticket for the Orbit if you already have a ticket for the Olympic Park or for a sport session in the Olympic Park. Tickets must be purchased in advance at   After the Games, the Orbit will close and re-open in late 2013, when it will give even more visitors the opportunity to experience it.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


Currently making mead - elbow deep in honey at present and trying to perfect my recipe, which hopefully will turn out a medium-dry mead, say a specific gravity of 1010 (for those of you who make their own wine and beer).

The work is in preparation for a new ebook that has been commissioned.  As part of my research, off we travelled to Buckfast Abbey at Buckfastleigh in Devon.   It was here, in 1996 that we met the world-famous Brother Adam, part of the team of Benedictine monks, who was himself perfecting his latest book on the wonderful Queen Bee. He was a penpal of mine and all we wrote about was yeast culture and the best type of honey for Mead.   I had the audacity to bring him some of our Essex honey, which he opened and pronounced as "very good! - think it was rape blossom!

A year or two earlier, I had won the Essex Federation of Amateur Winemakers silver cup for mead-making, so that gave me a little more confidence to visit this legendary monk who had devoted his almost 100 year life to breeding the perfect honeybee.

Father Christopher with Jenni at Buckfast Abbey
Although he is no longer with us, I did manage to meet some of Brother Adam's fellow associates and here is Father Christopher with Jenni.  Father Columba showed us around and brought me up to date on the work going on at this lovely abbey deep in the heart of the Devon countryside.