Friday, July 28, 2017

MEETING THE CREAM OF TELEVISION GARDENERS

I love gardening as my Dad and most of my family have since we were small. Dad particularly enjoyed watching Percy Thrower, one of Britain's most famous horticulturalists who appeared regularly on television, and who introduced Gardeners World 1967. I believe this was even before colour TV came to our screens. What a huge pleasure it was for me some years later to meet Mr Thrower at Chelsea Flower Show and ask him to sign one of his books.


Around that time, too, I met Roy Lancaster who was on tonight's anniversary programme BBC 2. As a writer on this topic in years past, I enjoyed attending the Chelsea Flower Show every third week in May, particularly on VIP Monday and meeting so many of the top horticulturists and Britain's favourite presenters. These included Monty Don, Alan Titchmarsh and the whole tribe.  Most of them were caught on my camera over the past fifteen years and I can't remember one who refused to give me a grin!  Gardening folk are probably the best and kindest of all the different groups of people I know.


The Chelsea RHS media room, although packed, was full of journos and photographers from all over the world and I enjoyed their friendliness and sometimes being allowed to use some of their more sophisticated images to illustrate my own features.
 


Monday, July 24, 2017

BRUSHES WITH CELEBRITY - FROM BLYTON TO BENJAMIN

As well as being the current archivist to the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, I've started updating my personal collection of photographs, features and of course memories covering many years of meeting and greeting hundreds of  fascinating folk. This work is going to take time as it covers a lifetime starting with my favourite writer Enid Blyton whom I met when I was a Brownie aged seven and received my own writer’s badge at London’s Central Hall. I remember climbing the dusty steps onto the stage, it was certainly a mind-blowing event to shake  hands with my heroine, author of the Magic Faraway Tree, Sunny Stories and so many other books available to us in those early days.

Sixty years later and still keen on writing and meeting other authors and journalists, it was a pleasure to meet, chat to and photograph Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE at a recent gathering in London.  As we all know, Floella Benjamin appeared on our television screens in the 1970s presenting Play Away and Play School,  but she was already a published author and concentrates on books for children - some twenty of them at the last count. Perhaps the most memorable is Coming to England which is a great read and is now part of the academic curriculum - a tremendous literary success.








 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A FOND FAREWELL TO A SPECIAL FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE - BRIAN LYNCH


Columnists Brian Lynch, Sylvia Kent and Editor Nev Wilson
So very sad to learn of the death of my old friend and colleague, Brian Lynch. My personal connection goes back more than thirty years when he was editor of a local Brentwood-based newspaper. I've had dozens of editors, but none like Brian who was always a joy to talk to and someone who, like me, loved words and their derivation. 
 
Brian wrote thousands of words for several newspapers including the Brentwood Gazette under his Lynch Lines columns and turned later to write books, poetry and humour.  He was kind enough to contribute a couple of chapters to some of my early books, and again, I was so grateful for his funny take on life. He gave our local Writers' Circle some interesting talks and I have never met any journalist who didn't have a soft spot for 'our Brian'.  We shall all miss this lovely man and send our condolences to Elizabeth and Brian's family. 

 

 

 

 

Friday, July 14, 2017

SANDRA HOWARD'S NEW NOVEL HAS NOW BEEN LAUNCHED IN LONDON

Congratulations to our super SWWJ Patron Sandra Howard whose new novel was launched last night in London. The Consequence of Love is published by Simon & Schuster and has already received some excellent reviews. Wishing you great success with this new book.  ISBN 13-97814-71111396 
Sandra Howard and Pamela Birley





 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

THE REITH LECTURES - THE FIFTH AND LAST OF HILARY MANTEL'S LECTURE SERIES

 
 
 
Could it be eight years or so since Hilary Mantel paid a visit to Billericay? She was a guest of our Reading Group - her recent Reith Lectures have been fascinating.  Hope she comes back to us one day. By the way, our own Billericay Readers' Group (which meets today) was formed in 2000 and what a great team of bibliophiles we are!    www.sylviakent.blogspot.com  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Since last week's AGM. there's such a lot of activity and positive plans going forward in our Society.  We are delighted to welcome Janice Grande as our new Secretary and Rebecca Harding who will help with our marketing. 
Janice Grande - new SWWJ Secretary

Chairman Barbara and Marketing Co-ordinator Rebecca

Thursday, July 06, 2017

BRENTWOOD'S FIRST MEMORY CLUB CIRCA 1995

 


Back: Jim Reddell, Joe Ellis, , Norman Gunby  Geoff Perrior, Cyril Giachardi, Edward Clack
 Front Row Jack Bartlett  and Terry Parsons
Now that memory groups and a multitude of books on the past are currently so popular, it is lovely to look back to the time I started my own Memory Club in Brentwood in the mid-1990s. Word soon got around and old soldiers, sailors and Royal Air Force veterans turned up for lunch and a good natter to share their stories of World War Two. 

Some of the boys were writing their own memory books and others were happy to tell their personal stories which appeared on paper, film or were happy for me to record them for posterity.  Some of the gentlemen above actually published their reminiscences and it was lovely to attend their book signings at local and regional bookshops.  I was writing a regular newspaper column at the time and my new friends certainly enjoyed seeing their stories in print.

Here is a snap of just a few of our friends who enjoyed each other's company (ttere were more than twenty members) and gave me some of their personal recollections.  Oh - and eventually, we did attract some lovely ladies - Land Army Girls, WRENS and Bletchley Park veterans - but that's another story.    


Monday, July 03, 2017

THE CATER MUSEUM GARDEN ON 1 JULY

We are proud of our pretty garden at the rear of 74 High Street - the home of the Cater Museum, Billericay. Each season new flowers appear and we hope to increase the varieties and introduce new herbaceous plants and herbs. We would love you to pay a visit - open most afternoons except Sunday. times: 2-5 (Saturday 1-4pm)
Katie's snap of her little blue tit  friend learning to fly
The ancient wall at the Cater Museum, Billericay High Street

Sunday, July 02, 2017

TALENT ABOUNDS - STUART WALLACE'S GREAT NEW GALLERY DISPLAY

I do have a vested interest in Evergreen Colorado  and the fabulous paintings - forty of them - created by my nephew STUART WALLACE  which are currently on display - through July 2017. Stuart's paintings are located within the Theatre Gallery, part of the same building as WHERE THE BOOKS GO in Evergreen, Colorado, 27888 Meadow Drive.

To purchase these or any of the other paintings currently displayed, contact Padma Thornlyre at 303-674-1857 or padmathornlyre@yahoo.com to make an appointment. Padma should also be contacted for any questions or inquiries related to future Visual Arts exhibits or the Literary and Performance Arts events held at the same location.​