Friday, January 29, 2016


February edition of Essex Life - my story on pages 70-73

This current edition is rather special for me as it covers snowdrops - my very favourite bulb, the Hopefield Animal Sanctuary; Maldon one of the most historic of our Essex towns;  my friend the artist James Merriott (who was our guest on last week's Phoenix 98fm's Book Club programme  (yes, he writes books as well as his artistic work);  the latest from the Essex Record Office - wonderful photographs; Andrew Fallan's Essex Wildlife stories and very much more - oh - and my 4-pager on my favourite actor, Mike Edmonds who appeared in some of the original Star Wars movies.  Mike is the star of UNDER THE RADAR which is being edited by award-winning director Simon J Frith who heads Essex-based Red Stable Films. Can't wait for Simon's film to be released - some famous names are on the cast list and, of course, we will learn more about our Mike. and his amazing career both in Essex and worldwide.    

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Artist Grayson Perry
Great excitement growing in the county as we look ahead to the annual Essex Book Festival  to be launched on MONDAY 29 FEBRUARY 2016.  Winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, Grayson Perry will be there to launch our Book Festival at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford, the town (now city) where he was born.  Following the launch, more than 100 writers and artists will be descending on Essex throughout March. Now is the time to book tickets, which are selling rapidly. We have the chance of seeing and listening to some of the UK's best loved authors, artists, politicians, journalists and historians appearing at venues throughout the county at more than 40 events.

Festival highlights include appearances by novelist Louis de Bernieres, ex-Minister Vince Cable, Orange Prize Winning novelist Helen Dunmore and many, many more well-known writers and performers.

Tomorrow, as a Patron of the Festival, I will be talking about this great happening on our monthly Book Club programme at the Phoenix 98fm studio in Brentwood.  So much to include  during the session as we also have another wonderful Essex artist on the show - James (Jim) Merriott who is the guest of presenter Michelle Ward. 

 Hopefully, too, the Phoenix 98fm studio will welcome the EBF Director, Ros Green in March who will be offering her thoughts on this year's Book Festival. To book tickets, please contact the Mercury Theatre in Colchester  01206 573948/ and check out the website which will give all details. Programmes can be found at most libraries in Essex.  Look forward to seeing you there.
With only six weeks to go until the start of this year's Essex Book Festival, our organisers aare pleased to share some of the great events on offer across our county.

Launching with Essex-Icon artist Grayson Perry, the Festival swiftly moves on to a wide range of author events, including Louis de Bernieres, Helen Dunmore and Vince Cable. We also have a variety of creative writing workshops and master-classes for all levels. Plus two very special new events for 2016: our inaugural Ceilidh at Firstsite Gallery in Colchester, and our Classic Golden Age Film Night The Park Inn Palace Hotel in Southend-on-Sea. Read more: all events

Tickets are selling fast – make sure you don’t miss out!

Write It New – Four Creative Writing Laboratories

30 Jan, 6 Feb, 13 Feb & 20 Feb
Essex Book Festival and University of Essex team up for a series of new adventurous creative writing workshops that are open to everyone. Read more

Join us for The Golden Age of Crime Weekend in Southend-on-Sea

Sat 5 & Sun 6 March
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of ‘Golden Age ‘ crime-writer Margery Allingham. Join us for a weekend of international author events, classic films and workshops to celebrate Margery’s life and work. Read more

Brave New Reads. Looking for something brilliant to read?

Tues 8 March
Writers’ Centre Norwich brings its shared reading programme Brave New Reads to Southend Libraries. Chosen by readers, for readers, the project launches with writer-in-exile Hamid Ismailov. Read more

Building a Boat – Essex Book Festival’s inaugural Ceilidh

Sat 19 March
Put on your dancing shoes and join us for a magical evening compeered by Colchester poet Adrian May and award-winning storyteller Glenys Newton. Music by Martin Newell and The Hosepipe Band. Read more

Writing on the Inside: a creative writing project with prisoners

Sun 6 March
Essex Book Festival is delighted to be working with partners and prisoners at Chelmsford Prison on a number of workshops culminating in special event at The Forum in Southend. Read more

Tuesday, January 05, 2016


Thought you might like to see the  front cover of the latest HOME FARMER MAGAZINE, one of my new very favourite journals.  Inside you will learn so much about growing, sowing, cooking, preserving and (of course) making wine. Oh, and if you keep chickens, you will have a complete guide on how to look after them.  

As a keen wine-maker of 40 years (note below funny 'Purdy haircut of the 70s), I've been creating recipes using all the  organically grown fruit and veggies from my garden and allotments donated (plundered) from some very kind friends and family, Sally Kent, in particular. 
 But, of course, you can find many of these ingredients in your local farm shop (mine is Barleylands at Great Burstead, Essex) and even in your local supermarket. Amateur winemaking is a craft - maybe even an art - and, like cookery,  you can achieve great satisfaction and a super wine cellar.  My current feature for Home Farmer(January) outlines which ingredients are available to fermenters in every month of 2016. 

Sunday, January 03, 2016


I've started my New Year with a whole bout of frustrating server problems - hopefully now behind me - but apologies to all my email pals and usual recipients - can now wish you all A VERY HAPPY 2016.

All my work projects seems to be well received and selling well. Beginning research into some pretty interesting projects and features - WATCH THIS SPACE.

Thoroughly enjoyed researching the topic of cinema (120 years since it was introduced) and you can read my double-pager in the current Brentwood/Billericay/Wickford Gazette. Here is a pic showing Adam Adshead at the start of the Christmas showing of 'It's a Wonderful Life' - full house that night in Billericay Library.

Lots of refreshments available during film night