Wednesday, February 26, 2020

SUPER BRENTWOOD BOOK BUYERS

Once your newly published book hits the shelves in your local bookstore, a great treat is to visit the lovely knowledgeable book brigade and carry out a little signing.  Here you may meet, if you are lucky, one of your readers, and today, it was a great pleasure to say hello to Jilly who told me she has many of my twelve books at home.  She is pictured here during today's visit, courtesy of a kind, charming chap called Denis.  Thanks so much for stopping by, young man!  Much appreciated.  By the way, this particular book is entitled BRENTWOOD IN 50 BUILDINGS published by Amberley of Stroud. 



Friday, February 21, 2020

OUR 21ST ESSEX BOOK FESTIVAL IS APPROACHING - SET ASIDE SOME TIME TO CHOOSE FROM SCORES OF EVENTS DURING MARCH

Let the adventure begin...   and it all kicks off on 28 February when the UK's best selling crime writer Val McDermid launches our special year of Science and Creativity under the banner of Essex 2020.  Our Festival Director Ros Green and the team have chosen Brave New Worlds as the theme for this year's fabulous festival.  The full programme of events can be viewed at www.essexbookfestival.org.uk 


Val McDermid




Sunday, February 16, 2020

FAREWELL TO BRENTWOOD WRITERS' CIRCLE FORMER PRESIDENT


Eileen Huckbody

It was only in November 2019 that we members of Brentwood Writers’ Circle celebrated the centenary of  Eileen Huckbody, our much respected former president.  Sadly, some of our members attended her funeral yesterday in Brentwood, Essex along with her loving family and friends.   We learnt so much more about Eileen’s  fascinating life, not only as a successful author and journalist over many years, but her life working for NATO which involved extensive travelling to India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Iran and Turkey among other places around the globe.

Eileen was honoured by receiving the coveted Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest distinction a nurse can receive. Throughout her life, Eileen had been interested in writing and often used her nursing knowledge in books and articles. During the 1970s, she was a valued Council member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and for years carried out work as their popular Overseas Liaison Officer. 

For many years, Eileen was part of the Ingatestone community in Essex before joining her residential home in Chelmsford for the last three years of her life. She will be greatly missed by her super family and friends.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

A FAVOURITE SPOT IN BILLERICAY HIGH STREET IN WHICH TO READ MY NEW BOOK?

Slipped Discs and Brown Sugar at 57/59 High Street  is one of Billericay's most popular places, established in one of the town's oldest buildings and it is certainly one of my favourites.

Visitors love its relaxed atmosphere, where a great cup of coffee can enjoyed and a chance to listen to some of the best music around. Now, you can also buy a copy of some of our local authors' new books, including my new book title Brentwood in 50 Buildings and Lisa Horner's book Lost Basildon.


And I should add, their reputation for lovely sandwiches and home-made cakes is well known. Why not pop in, relax and enjoy a really pleasant half hour?
Oh, and well-behaved dogs are allowed on the patio around the back of the building. 
Beverley with some of her gorgeous cakes

Lisa Horner celebrating the release of her latest books


Sunday, February 02, 2020

THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN - MEET MY LITTLE GROUNDHOG FRIEND

February 2nd - I love this time of year and usually think about this small creature.  Although I've written much about English folklore in the past, I am fond of this  American/Canadian tradition which has given its name to a film, a book and a play. Groundhog Day is an unofficial holiday that everyone knows is absurd, and yet can't stop observing. So why does a small furry animal that looks like an overstuffed rat hold such sway every February 2nd?

The answer lies shrouded in the shadows of history. Most experts suggest the tradition began when German settlers brought their tradition of Candelmas to North America in the 1700s.

February 2nd is supposed to be the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. According to legend, if the weather was good on that day, the rest of the winter would be stormy and cold. If not, the coldest season of the year would be over soon and farmers could start to think about planting their crops. Eventually a hedgehog - not the more traditional creature used today - was added, and the story of seeing his shadow began.

But Groundhog Day owes its current status not to superstition, but to - what else - commercial reality. A newspaper editor named Clymer Freas came up with the idea in the Punxsutawney Spirit in 1886. It wound up being so popular, the legendary Punxsutawney Phil was born, in an event that's been marked ever since. Knowing a good thing when they saw one, the town of Wiarton, Canada, decided to get in on the act, launching its own prognosticating furball, Willie in 1956. It's been the largest tourist event in the area ever since, and has only overshadowed its more famous American cousin once - in 1999, when Willie was discovered dead minutes before his annual prediction was to be delivered.

Groundhog Day received worldwide attention as a result of the 1993 film of the same name starring Bill Murray which was set in Punxsutawney, Take a look for yourself on the GD website. 

GOODBYE BREXIT - MISSED MY TRIP TO LONDON

Busy this last week interviewing those folk who made the trip to London over the last few days witnessing 'Brexit night' and the media closure of this vexed issue after so many years. The date has gone down in history and certainly won't be forgotten. I was looking forward to hearing Big Ben chiming in the Clock Tower, later renamed The Victoria Tower.  For those not in the know,  Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and is often extended to refer to the clock or the clock tower as well. For those readers unfamiliar with Westminster, Big Ben 
is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. The official name has now been changed to the Elizabeth Tower which, in 2012, marked the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth. 

Here we are, out of breath after climbing those stairs, but what a wonderful view over London.  It was worth it!

May 2009 was the month which celebrated the 150th anniversary (the clock itself started ticking on 31 May 1859), and some interesting events took place. 


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

SADNESS AT HEARING THAT WE HAVE LOST NICHOLAS PARSONS

What sad news to hear of the passing of Nicholas Parsons, at 96, my very favourite presenter of several radio programmes.  I had had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas at Broadcasting House some years ago at a media event and found him interesting and a delight to chat to following one of his famous programmes 'Just a Minute' which he chaired for more than fifty years. He will be much missed on BBC Radio 4.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

STILL ADORE ERIC BLAIR (GEORGE ORWELL) SINCE I DISCOVERED HIM ON 1 JANUARY 1984

Once I discovered the work of novelist George Orwell in the mid-'80s, I began reading and enjoying his collection of books, especially those set in Burma.  Would loved to have met him. We think about him on this 70th year since he died on 21 January, 1950. He was 46. Now, we have his  statue outside the BBC in Portland Pace, London and I am reading Animal Farm, 1984 and soon to start Coming Up for Air.

BRILLIANT MORNING AT PHOENIX FM YESTERDAY WITH OUR SPECIAL BOOK CLUB GUEST DAVID WORSFOLD

Michelle Ward was today joined by journalist, author, trainer, presenter, media consultant and writer, David Worsfold. David talked about his work and also his new book FIGHTING FOR THE EMPIRE. We had a fascinating chat with David about his life and his new book. David is seen here with journalist and author Sylvia Kent.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

AUSTRALIAN BUSH FIRES AND OUR VOLUNTEERING CRAFTERS AROUND THE WORLD

The bush fires affecting Australia in recent weeks have sparked a global crafting effort, as thousands of volunteers have united to knit, crochet and sew shelters for small animals who have been affected by this terrible crisis.
So much land has been burned, killing millions of wild creatures.  As the death toll climbs, many animals have been orphaned or left without homes.
The little marsupials including possums, koalas and wombats must have pouches in which to grow. Without their mothers they rely on hand-stitched products from donors. Other animals such as flying foxes also require pouches to help their recovery, and rescuers say koalas need mittens for their little burnt paws.
                                                            



The Australia-based Animal Rescue Craft Guild put out an SOS call for these products on its Facebook group, which amassed more than 120,000 members in the subsequent weeks. The effort has attracted donors across Europe, Asia, and from more than 40 US states and Puerto Rico, posts in the group show.
The Rescue Collective, based in Queensland, has partnered with the Animal Rescue Craft Guild to distribute donated items to independent animal carers across the country. The collective has been getting an overwhelming number of requests from rescuers around Australia. (information courtesy of The Guardian and the talented UK crafter Jenni Elliott)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

13 JANUARY AND RELEASE DAY FOR 2020 ESSEX BOOK FESTIVAL PROGRAMMES

Lift off!   I've already received my programme outlining details of this year's fabulous ESSEX BOOK FESTIVAL offering 100 events, 40 venues, 300 writers & artists all playing their part in Essex 2020, a year-long county-wide celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) in Essex.  I've been involved with this annual Festival since its first year and have enjoyed being a Patron and meeting many of the guests over its 21 years.

And what a great Festival this is going to be!  With the super crime writer Val McDermid launching the Festival at Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, on 28 February with her new book HOW THE DEAD SPEAK, our Festival promises to be equally exciting and diverse. Do learn more at www.essexbookfestival.org.uk and reserve your tickets. 




Wednesday, January 08, 2020

BRENTWOOD IN 50 BUILDINGS

To celebrate my 25 years working with Essex Life (once the famous Essex Countryside which began in 1952), I was delighted to see a little of my brand new book BRENTWOOD IN 50 BUILDINGS displayed within the January edition of Essex Life magazine.  


Wednesday, January 01, 2020

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO READERS IN MY 15TH YEAR OF BLOGGING AND 350,000 PAGE VIEWS - WHEW!!!

Time seems to pass quickly when delving into historical archives. It was 2007 when my first invitation arrived to attend the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the life and times of Captain Christopher Newport, a Harwich sailor who, in 1607, had been the overall commander of the expedition to Virginia, America.

Mr Michael Macy, the American Cultural Attache at London's American Embassy and Members of the Harwich Society at Ha'penny' Quay Centre plus a group of historians and press, enjoyed learning about this valiant captain who rightly earned an important place in Essex naval history. His  trio of ships – the Godspeed, Discovery and his own flagship, the Susan Constant, reached Chesapeake Bay on 23rd April 1607 and the spot they eventually chose to make landfall – on 14th May was named Jamestown - in honour of King James l.

In May 2007, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth left England on a state visit to Virginia, where she and President Bush took part in similar ceremonies to mark the 400 years of the Virginian landing. 

Today, we start a new decade, and learn that another 400th anniversary is approaching. This time, we shall be commemorating the voyage of the Mayflower with numerous members from Essex on board, among them at least four from our own town of Billericay. Eighteen months ago, Billericay Mayflower Twinning Association created a steering group from representatives from the town’s clubs and societies to co-ordinate a programme of forty commemorative events to run throughout this year, and details of all the participating groups’ leaflets and posters of endorsed events will soon be available.

The complete programme will be printed in the spring and available through  Billericay's Town Crier journal, The Resident, and the Billericay Library, as well as at a launch on 20th June 2020 in our High Street Reading Rooms. In the meantime, as events become finalised, up to date information will be gradually revealed on the popular BMTA’s website: www.billericaytwinning.org.uk and through the Facebook page: Billericay Mayflower 2020.

The members of the Billericay Town Twinning Association have worked hard to include something of interest for everyone – all ages and interests catered for – so that 2020 will be a truly memorable year.

www.billericaytwinning.org.uk  
www.sylviakent.blogspot.com