Thursday, November 29, 2007

Waterstone's Book Shop, Brentwood, Essex.

Waterstone's Book shops hosted three events for the launch of Christmas Past in Essex. Along with other venues such as BBC Essex, Phoenix Radio, Barleylands, and several newspaper feature pieces, the word is out and the books are selling fast. Tempus Publishing are keeping up with demand by issuing a second print immediately and are hopeful the books will be available by December 1st.

James Shrubb, Billericay's Town Crier appeared to announce the event dressed in his magnificent garb, and Barbara, the manager of Waterstone's in Brentwood, presented a beautiful bouquet of white roses.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Waterways of Norfolk, England

Photograph: Small riverside shop in Acle, Norfolk.

The Norfolk Broads is one of the best kept secrets in England. The Broads offer 125 miles of free waterways with gentle, navigable rivers, dykes and locks. Along the extensive waterways are restaurants and pubs, shops and lodging. It seems that at every turn, there is a new place to be discovered as ducks and geese swim freely and completely undisturbed. The Norfolk Broads is the largest protected wetland and wildlife haven in England, and surely must be a bird watchers paradise.

For more information go to: Norfolk Boards Boat Hire at: or Canal Boating Holidays

Friday, November 09, 2007

Book Review

Photograph is one of more than 60 images and sketches included in Christmas Past in Essex.
Photo courtesy: Sylvia Kent. The Motley Crew: Tony Motley (left) Jim Shrubb (center) Town Crier, and David Smith (right) as Father Christmas.

Book Review by Frances Clamp

Why is Elizabeth Wallace, one of our overseas members living in Denver, Colorado, writing a book about Essex? Well Elizabeth was born and grew in the county and still holds it in great affection.

Christmas Past in Essex is a real gem of a book containing all sorts of well illustrated information about Christmas customs from bygone years. It really stirs up memories of the excitement felt by children as 25th December approached.

Elizabeth records the memories of many who worked in hospitals, entertained with singing, musical instruments and even an actor who took part in one of the many pantomimes enjoyed during the festive season. There is the account of a doctor and his family, all of whom helped to make the patients’ lives better at this time, A Christmas Wedding from 1930 and there is even an interview with Father Christmas himself!

Traditional Christmas recipes are also included and there is even one for own Sylvia Kent’s prize winning mead. And whilst mentioning food and drink, I wonder how many of us still recall the joys of preparing the pudding on Stir-up Sunday or enjoying a slice of Twelfth Night Cake.

This is a small book jammed packed with information and memories. You don’t need to come from Essex to enjoy the many Christmas customs recorded in these pages. It would be a perfect stocking filler for anyone who loves this very special season and all the ancient customs that have become so much a part of the celebrations.

Christmas Past in Essex by Elizabeth Wallace, Published By Tempus Publishing Ltd at £9.99 ISBN: 970-7524-4463

Frances Clamp, Society of Women Writers and Journalists.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Camping at Grand Lake, Colorado

There is nothing like waking up in the morning under canvas in the Rocky Mountains. There is also nothing better than being able to walk to breakfast rather than have to cook it ourselves. The staff at Winding River Resort offer pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee served from their chuck wagons on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The staff wear western style outfits, country western music is played and the tables are decked out in checkered cloths. They also offer an ice cream social on Saturday nights too. One is expected to take their own bowl and spoon and then a large dollop of ice cream is served for $1.00. The children love it!

Winding River Resort has a stable of about 20 horses that take visitors on an excellent ride through the forest and a petting enclosure that contains baby pigs, goats and a small calf.

This is a family camp site, clean and well maintained. They welcome campers but they also have log cabins for rent. For more information go to: Winding River Resort 970-627-3215 or 303-623-1121 fax your request to 970-627-5003 email:

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Remember, Remember the 5th of November

An excerpt from Extraodinary Places...Close to London
Photo: The Leather Bottle Inn, Cobham, Kent.

“Remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.” This ancient rhyme is one that was sung by English children as they prepared an effigy of Guy Fawkes and place him atop a bonfire before setting the fire ablaze. An heir of the de Cobham family was tried for treason because of his supposed involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 - an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and destroy the monarchy.

The village and much of the surrounding countryside were home to the de Cobham family who dominated the village for nearly 400 years. The name of Cobham is considered to be of Anglo-Saxon origin and possibly derived from a personal name such as Cobba. During the period from 1360-70, the village grew in size under the direction of Sir John de Cobham, who rebuilt the parish church of St. Mary and built the College that stands in the rear of the church in the village.

The Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament and destroy King James I was thought by some to be a wicked scheme organized by Jesuit priests in retaliation for the government’s anti-Catholic ruling. To this day, there are suspicions about Robert Cecil’s part in the plan. Some believe it was a plot instigated by Cecil himself to gain appreciation from the king and further secure his political ambitions. In all, thirteen men were accused of treason after torture and a written confession by Guy Fawkes, who was caught red-handed in the cellars of Westminster trying to ignite barrels of gunpowder. The close relationship with William Parker, Lord Monteagle, who was later identified as a prime conspirator in the plot, did not help the clouds of suspicion hanging over Cecil. Cecil’s brother-in-law, Lord Cobham, as well as Cobham’s younger brother George Brooke was implicated in the conspiracy. Cecil and Lord Cobham escaped execution but George did not.