Tuesday, April 28, 2020


The UK will hold a minute’s silence today in tribute to frontline workers who have died in the fight against coronavirus. At least 90 NHS and social care workers have lost their lives after testing positive for Covid-19. The silence, organised by Unison, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal of College of Nursing, will take place at 11am. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to work this week after his own battle with coronavirus, will also observe the silence. He previously heaped praise on NHS staff who treated him in hospital, stating that he ‘owed them’ his life. A spokesperson for Downing Street said: ‘We will be supporting the minute’s silence. We will be asking everybody who works in the government to take part and we would hope that others will take part nationwide as well.’

Thursday, April 23, 2020


World Book Day UK 

World Book Day UK
The biggest annual celebration of books and reading in the UK & Ireland. Share a Story with us on 4 March 2021. A charity, sponsored by National Book Tokens.
worldbookday.comJoined February 2010

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


With our sadness and anxiety about the worldwide covid-19 pandemic, how ironic that today is World Earth Day?  

Why is coronavirus called Covid-19?

In simple terms-COVID 19 stands for, Corona (CO) Virus (VI) Disease (D) and 19(2019) the year that the virus first hit. It was given this name by the World Health Organisation, who said: "Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising."Experts have said that the name of a disease is instrumental during an outbreak.Before officially being named Covid-19, scientists were calling coronavirus '2019-nCoV', this was based on it being called novel coronavirus.

Celebrated around the world annually on April 22, the plan in 1970 - when it was created - was to demonstrate support for  environmental protection. This spring day now includes events co-ordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 190 countries.
John McConnell
In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, the peace activist John McConnell ((1915-2012-) proposed a day to honour the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.
This day of nature's equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by the Burmese Secretary-General U Thant at the United Nations Congress.  A few weeks later, Gaylord Nelson, United States senator put forward a proposal to hold a nationwide environmental seminar on April 22, 1970. He hired a young activist, Denis Hayes, to be the National Coordinator. Nelson and Hayes renamed the event “Earth Day.” Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in recognition of his work. The first Earth Day was focused on the United States. 

In 1990, Denis Hayes, the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international and organized events in 141 nations. Numerous communities celebrate 'Earth Week' consisting of activities - focusing seven days on environmental issues - currently faced by the world. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020


Charles & Gilbert Lowe in their Barbers' Shop
So the corona virus lockdown continues around the world and hopefully, folk have been observing the stay-at-home rules.  I haven't been out for more than six weeks, but this has not stopped the keyboard working hard. I have been renewing contacts with people whom I interviewed more than twenty years ago.  Many of them posed for pictures then which I included in some of my books and I was able to eventually return some of their voice recordings to their families.

What a joy to catch up with people who spoke about their lives growing up in Essex and for some of them, they began writing their own memory books which were published for their families.

We can still read about them in my regular on-line column entitled ENJOY BRENTWOOD MORE! There are also printed magazines under that title.

Here is the latest edition, which is number 34 in the series and mentions the Lowe brothers, Charles and Gilbert whose grandfather Morris Lowe came to Brentwood at the end of the 19th century and began started a dynasty of hairdressing and barber shops, both in the High Street and the Parade close to Brentwood station.

It was a privilege to interview Mr Lowe's grandsons in the mid-1980s just before the work started on the demolition of their shop and the start of the mighty Kingsgate office complex. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020


Michelle Ward
Although we missed meeting up yesterday for our monthly BOOK CLUB session at the PhoenixFM Studio in Brentwood, it was fun to meet Michelle telephonically and talk about our latest books and the writing life of some of our friends and colleagues. I only expected to talk for around five minutes, but somehow we ended up with half an hour talking words, books, people -  poor Michelle!!!

Although we are in lockdown and trying to obediently adhere to all the rules and regulations, nothing can stop us from thinking and writing, so I am starting yet another short story with a surprise ending (not quite sure how this is going to go yet) but, after six weeks of not moving from this place, I'm about to take my first quick walk out in the sun to post some letters along the way.  

Good luck to many of  our members of SWWJ (www.swwj.co.uk) and Brentwood Writers' Circle www.brentwoodwriterscircle.co.uk who are entering their work in the myriad of writing competitions that are still operating. Such fun if you do win www.sylviakent.blogspot.com 

Sunday, April 12, 2020


Their nightly  poignant 'thankful' howl!
For the third Thursday night last week at 8pm, millions in the UK expressed their gratitude UK for all of our NHS medical and volunteer key workers workers by tremendous mass clapping sessions. Poised on doorsteps, verandas, and hospital forecourts, but, carefully observing the governmental rules on social spacing, we heard an amazing sound! Members of the British public gratefully turned out to give a nationwide round of thankful appreciation.
Then, speaking with our family in Denver, Colorado, we learn that some Americans are taking a moment each night at 8 o’clock to howl as a way of thanking their health care-workers and first responders who are also currently fighting this awful coronavirus pandemic. This nightly howl is an American twist on the balcony applause and singing for besieged health care-workers in Italy and Spain. It’s also become an unusual poignant outlet for those who are cooped up, isolated and anxious to reduce pain and loneliness, show support for the homeless, let out anger and frustration, and even let children yowl back and forth with the friends they can’t play with. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2020


Boris Johnson is the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and has been an MP continuously since 7 May 2015. He currently holds the Government post of Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service. In addition, he is Leader of the Conservative Party.

Some of our  SWWJ members involved in journalism were invited to London's City Hall
(first time I had visited this topsy turvy building). The date was 29 August 2012 and we were in the midst of the Paralympic Games Torch Relay celebrations. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit meeting so many wonderful athletes and the folk with them from around the world. Our then London Mayor was happy to talk to us and leaf through our current SWWJ newsletter - was most welcoming and talkative.  We wish you a speedy recovery, Mr Johnson.

Monday, April 06, 2020


We are in such toxic and worrying times and in the interests of frugality I have just listened to a BBC Radio 4 programme about 'BACK OF THE KITCHEN CUPBOARD' cooking store ingredients.  
Don't laugh, but over 40 years ago, as a enthusiastic, but a rookie cook, I did exactly that - poked around in the cupboard, found some bits and pieces in little tins, cooked a chopped  onion, added this to the mess in the bowl and used this after making some pancakes, rolled them up, made a quick tomato sauce and popped them into a slowish oven. At the time the local rag The Brentwood Gazette was running a cookery competition - on a whim, I sent this recipe to their editor and, hey ho - won this fabulous Kenwood Chef.  This was a lovely surprise and the start of a great interest in the culinary arts.  
Fanny Cradock
A few years later, I was offered my first regular press column writing about food, gardening, making wine and bread and all things domestic, which brought old Fanny Cradock to my kitchen!  Today I am rooting through the "back of the kitchen cupboard" and in this mode will be in touch with my great friend, the writer Piper Terrett (lives in Hertford),who wrote her best-selling book The Frugal Life.  About time, it was re-published, Piper?  Just heard that this book can be  purchased via Amazon.    
Visit me on www.sylviakent.blogspot.com 

Friday, April 03, 2020


In these worrying days, it's difficult to relax and walk a calm and steady path; so what better action than picking up a book that you guess - from glimpsing that colourful front cover - might hold a few chuckles along the way? 

So many writerly friends have  sent me copies of their current books to read and maybe review. However, I have my own quota of writing to do, but picked up my friend Dawn Knox's new creation THE BASILWADE CHRONICLES which started out in publishing life as a series of short stories.

Dawn is an amazing best-selling writer and you may have guessed that I am obviously a fan. Her clever descriptions of the folk included in her tales are brilliant, and her new book kicks off with her protagonist in her first story - the rather odd Derek Carruthers, a socially ineffectual chap who blunders his way through his first speed-dating session. No wonder - with an evening of rude comments offending every woman he has met during this disappointing evening, he eventually leaves the hall without a single date on his follow-up sheet. But then, how very naughty he has been during this, his first speed-dating gig. Somehow, though, he manages to meet, on the bus home, one of his earlier disappointing ladies, Mary Wilson. This character is Dawn's catalyst for the fruits of this clever imaginative collection of fascinating folk, all of whom play their vital part in her humorous book. There are lots of other funny folk in the author's line-up, some of whom the reader will find it hard to forget, including that daft vicar with a penchant for pickled onions, the would-be entrepreneur with an unhealthy inclination to bear a grudge and the elderly couple in the retirement home who were often found in the broom cupboard together. 

I enjoyed reading this book and I'm sure you will, too! 

Dawn's colourful book cover was  created by artist Neill C Woods who initially read the manuscript and took notes about her characters within – their jobs, personalities, quirks and appearances, then he cleverly interpreted them. Once you have read the individual eighteen stories, try identifying the characters on Dawn's front cover. 

Published by Chapeltown Books (Manchester England) 
The Basilwade Chronicles ISBN 978-1-910542-49-1 is also available as an ebook.

Amazon link: 

Thursday, April 02, 2020


A Criminally Good Crime Writing Story Competition

To make up for the disappointment of cancelling this year’s Golden Age of Crime Weekend at the Park Inn Palace Hotel in Southend-on-Sea, Essex Book Festival has decided to run a special crime writing short story competition. After all, who knows if the next Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham or Martina Cole are waiting in the wings!

The prize is a mentoring session with thriller writer Samantha Lee Howe and literary agent Camilla Shestopal plus publication on our Essex Book Festival website.

The deadline is 30th May. To find out more about how to enter, eligibility and rules visit essexbookfestival.org.uk.

Get writing and good luck!

Get Bunting!

To markEssex 2020: A year of Science & Creativity, Essex Book Festival is working with its partners and friends to create a giant snake of bunting.
Why? The bunting will form part of our Manifesto For Essex: a countywide project that offers children and young people a creative platform to express their thoughts and feelings about Climate Change.

Following a number of hugely successful bunting-making workshops in venues across Essex as part of this year’s Essex Book Festival, we are now urging everyone to join in the fun at home.

All you will need is a piece of recycled cardboard (cereal packets are perfect), a ruler, pens, scraps of paper, scissors, and glue sticks.

To find out more about how you can get involved with creating your own bunting visit essexbookfestival.org.uk.

HouseBound 2020:
the world’s first antiviral literary festival

A new online literary festival has been launched bringing authors and readers together online for 7 days of stories and conversation

Monday 27 April to Sunday 3 May 2020

Visit houseboundbooks.co.uk to find out more
HouseBound 2020 is a new, not-for-profit literary festival, bringing authors and book-lovers together online for 7 days of exciting events, including readings, story-times and live author-to-author conversations.