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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Merry Christmas to Bloggers, Tweeters and Facebook friends.

Merry Christmas. Love and Peace.  
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, prosperous 2017.

Wishing everyone at Raiders Broadcast a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a 'Rockin' 2016.

Happy Christmas to our producer, Mike Summers, the presenters and friends of Raiders Broadcast. y Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and have a 'Rockin' 2016.

Another fantastic Christmas party.  The 2015 Raiders Christmas bash was at the Exhibit in Balham. The staff were fantastic, the food was super - there was something for every palate - and the gasses were filled, and filled, and filled again, with delicious wine.

Some photographs that Claire took
Nick Miller and our host, Mike Summers

Nick Miller giving Chris Hunter his award at Raiders Party 
Table at The Exhibit

On the left: The table. The bar staff were waiting for
us - and they were charming, so we had a drink first.

Chris Mitchell with his award -
Claire Mendelson and Tony Williams

Guests at the Raiders Christmas Bash


Monday, 23 November 2015

China Blue Book Signing at Hunts Bookshop

It rained and it rained and it poured. It was torrential for more than an hour. So, you can guess that I wasn't inundated readers.  No, it was not a busy book signing. But in many ways it was lovely and it was funny.

Looking surprised? I was.
After hours of rain and deserted streets I was genuinely surprised when someone came through the door.  Oh, but I don't think this man, or the one wandering in behind him are interested in buying a novel.  Two lovely old bookworms entered who told me when they wandered over - out of curiosity - that they didn't read fiction, 'Oh no! tut tut!' but they were happy to come in out of the rain, eat food, drink wine, and tell me what they did like reading. Oh, and entertain my friend Roger who was serving wine. Or was it Roger entertaining them?  Yes, I think it was that way round.

Rugby was a flood.
I expect to see Noah to walk in and volunteer the Ark to take me home.
Photos of empty flooded streets anon. 

Thanks to Theresa and Graham LeFlem I did have people come and buy books, or have the books they already had signed.

Mum's book, but the lovely little boy asked for it to be signed

Catherine, me, Pauline Hunt and Peter.

Food For Thought After Dinner Talk November 2015

Happy memories and photographs of my super evening with the fabulous people of Lilbourne. 
Food For Thought, November 2015.

Graham Le Flem lighting the set. 
I was invited (at the suggestion of Theresa and Graham Le Flem) to be the after dinner speaker at an evening called, Food For Thought.

From the minute I walked through the door everyone was helpful. Genuinely pleased to see the costumes, posters, play scripts that I'd taken, they helped to set up.

Author and friend Theresa Le Flem reading a play script after bringing the costumes in from the car.

If she isn't writing novels and poetry, painting, illustrating, or throwing pots, she's reading.

"Come on Theresa, put the book down."

Right: Setting up costumes that I wore when I played Iras in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.

Left on the rack, an Arab dress, my first night gift from Vanessa Redgrave when we opened in London's West End, Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

The Arab costume was given to Sir Michael Redgrave by D'Aglef when he produced The Fire Bird at Covent Garden in the 1920s.

The table set for the talk. I was given a fabulous flower arrangement. Not easy to see here, but there were three lovely small cards of Foxden Acres, Applause, and China Blue amongst the flowers, which were red white and blue, to depict World War Two.

Lovely arrangement of flowers with cards of  my novels. 

A lovely flower arrangement, which I have since tried to replicate and failed miserably. My mother could make a flower arrangement out of a stick of keck and a dandelion. Me? Not even a half decent arrangement if you gave me a dozen red roses...  Perfer daffodils and tulips - they don't need arranging. Daffs open, stay tall, find their space and fill it. Tulips are fluid, like ballet dancers they bow and lift their heads depending on how warm they are. They look more beautiful every day.

The people were lovely, the meal was delicious, and the audience enjoyed the talk. Well I think they did, because they laughed a lot. xxx

Graham and friends from where he works

Lisa Webb and her mum, looking the wrong way.
David Bailey I am not!

A lovely evening. 
Thank you for inviting me to speak at, Food For Thought.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: FOCUS ON: Leicester Chapter

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: FOCUS ON: Leicester Chapter: This month Lizzie Lamb gives us an insight into the Leicester Chapter and how it functions. To begin with perhaps you could tell us a b...

A super blog post shared from the Romantic Novelists Association.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The secret tunnels of the White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover were the last sight of England for many British servicemen and women when they left our shores to fight in Europe, during World War Two, and the first thing they saw of home, for those who returned.
"Inside the secret tunnels of the White Cliffs of Dover: Network built to help stop Nazi ships during WWII opens to the public after being hidden for 40 years.

The long-forgotten Fan Bay Deep Shelter was carved out of the White Cliffs of Dover in 1940 at behest of Churchill. He ordered their construction to house gun battery teams as they pounded German ships traversing the Channel. Lying 75ft below the Kent coastline, the 3,500 sq ft of interconnecting tunnels once housed up to 185 soldiers. After remaining bricked up for more than 40 years, they will today open to the public for hard hat and torch-lit tours."

Some great photos in this article:…/Secret-network-tunnels-constru….

National Trust Project Manager Jon Barker (left) and volunteer Gordon Wise wear head torches to inspect the underground tunnels at Dover

Built in 1940, the tunnels were home to gun battery teams operating on the coastline during the Second World War. Pictured is Mr Wise - one of hundreds of volunteers who helped restore the tunnels

Located 75ft below the coastline, Mr Wise explores the tunnels as the National Trust prepares to open them to the public today

Lying 75ft below the Kent coastline, the 3,500 sq ft of interconnecting tunnels, which are reinforced with iron girders and metal sheeting, accommodated four officers and up to 185 men during the war.

The shelter - which was personally inspected by Winston Churchill in 1941 - was decommissioned in the 1950s before being filled in with rubble and soil and abandoned during the 1970s.

The shelter was carved out of the chalk by Royal Engineers from the 172nd Tunnelling Company in 1940. Pictured is graffiti dated January 20, 1941

The shelter was carved out of the chalk by Royal Engineers from the 172nd Tunnelling Company and had a hospital, secure store and five large chambers providing bomb-proof accommodation. And behind the heavy security doors and the 125 steps descending to the tunnels lie poignant reminders of the tunnel’s war-time history.

Etched into the chalk inside the tunnels is a large amount of graffiti, including names of military personnel, coarse inscriptions and an intricate 3D face of a young man, possibly a portrait.  Some of the inscriptions are accompanied by the regiment of soldiers, most notably from the Royal Engineers - 1941 is the most popular date which features alongside the signatures.  Written in chalk on a steel shuttering alongside where a bunk bed once stood is the phrase 'Russia bleeds whilst Britain Blancos' - a popular slogan adopted by disaffected soldiers referring to Blanco, a substance they used to clean and colour their equipment.

Other finds included pieces of wire twisted into home-made hooks by soldiers to hang their uniforms, and a Unity Pools football coupon dated February 20, 1943, recording 14 football matches. One of the first discoveries made by volunteers when they entered the tunnels was of a needle and thread, believed to be khaki wool, tucked into the tunnel wall.

There has been no public access to the tunnels for more than 40 years, but starting tomorrow, they will be reopened for tour

Pictured is graffiti found etched into the walls inside the tunnels. Pieces of writing, inscriptions and items offer a rare glimpse into wartime Britain

Pictured is one of two First World War sound mirrors which are also located at the site. Sound mirrors gave advanced notice of approaching enemy aircraft but became obsolete with the invention of radar in the 1930s

Bullets, including British .303 cartridges and American 30 calibre ammunition rounds, were also found throughout the tunnels, often tucked into small gaps in metal sheeting.
Two rare First World War sound mirrors also form part of the site.
Regarded as one of the first early warning devices invented in Britain, sound mirrors gave advanced notice of approaching enemy aircraft but became obsolete with the invention of radar technology in the 1930s.

White Cliffs volunteer Gordon Wise said: 'Seeing the tunnels in their raw state when they were first discovered, handling artefacts and giving tours is like standing in the footsteps of history.
'To be part of the digging team, mirroring the work the Royal Engineers originally took to excavate the shelter, was very special. I can’t wait to see what visitors make of Fan Bay Deep Shelter.'
The tunnels - once manned by troops from the 203rd Coast Battery, Royal Artillery, later becoming the 540th Coast Regiment - lie beneath land bought by the National Trust in 2012 following a £1.2million public appeal.

Guides will lead hard hat and torch-lit tours deep below the White Cliffs of Dover, telling people the story of the tunnels’ creation, use and abandonment in the 1970s.

The National Trust is asking for help in identifying the men from the 172nd Tunnelling Company, the 203rd Coast Battery and 540th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery and asking anyone with information to contact the White Cliffs.


The Fan Bay Deep Shelter extends 75ft underground in the cliffs on the edge of Fan Hole, White Cliffs, Dover.

Despite being more than 60 years old, the tunnels remain in good condition after they were filled in and abandoned in the 1970s.

Following the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk in May and June 1940, Churchill ordered the gun batteries and tunnels to be constructed to not only defend the area against German batteries - located on the nearby French coast at Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Gris Nez - but also to harass enemy shipping that was passing through the English Channel.  At their peak, they could accommodate up to 185 men and four officers, who worked firing shells across the Channel and into Nazi-occupied France.
The site is also home to two sound mirrors - giant relics from the First World War that were once at the forefront of aircraft detection technology. However, with the development of rudimentary radar in the 1930s, they were rendered obsolete by the time the nearby tunnels were constructed during the Second World War. The gun batteries and land were owned by the military until the 1960s, after which it was returned to the original owners who then sold it in 2012 to the National Trust.

This post is Work in progress. To be completed

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Elizabeth Ducie: Author: Elizabeth Chats With...Tina Burton

Elizabeth Ducie: Author: Elizabeth Chats With...Tina Burton: This month's visitor was the first guest on my monthly interview slot back in October 2013. She's a fellow Devonian writer, altho...

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Thirtieth Anniversary of Live Aid Concert - July 13, 1985

The Day The Music Changed The World

It is thirty-years since two rock musicians, Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats, and Midge Ure of Ultravox, put on the greatest concert in history, Live Aid.

The media called it the day Rock ‘n’ Roll changed the world.  So how did the unforgettable day in the summer of 1985 come about? 

Do They Know It’s Christmas
In 1984, Bob Geldof saw Michael Buerk’s news report on the famine in Africa and was so moved by it that he decided to do something to help.  Geldof and and Midge Ure, both singer-songwriters, wrote ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ with ‘Feed The World’ on the B-side.  They enlisted their rock musician friends to record the song under the name of Band Aid, released it on December 7, 1984, and by Christmas it was the UK’s biggest selling single of all time, raising £8 million.
Geldof in Ethiopia

Geldof went to Ethiopia to oversee the distribution of aid and realised that if The Band Aid Organisation owned its own lorries, they could not only transport supplies directly to where they were most needed, they could do it more quickly.  This would cost money, and a lot of it.  It was then that he had the idea for the Live Aid concert. 

As Geldof and Ure had done when they recruited musician friends for the Band Aid single, they sat on the telephone (no mobiles or emails in those days) and telephoned everyone they knew.                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Geldof’s request was more like an order:  Be at Wembley Stadium in London, or JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, on July 10.  The response was huge and in just 10 weeks, the greatest live show on earth was put together. 

Rock stars took time out from recoding records, from their own concerts and tours.  Some came to London for the weekend, some the day, others could only stay for the duration of the concert.  David Bowie, Wham and Dire Straits were flown into Wembley Stadium by helicopter, while Phil Collins, after preforming two songs of his own and a duet with Sting, was flown out of the stadium by helicopter.  Crossing the Atlantic in Concorde, Collins arrived in Philadelphia in time to perform in the JFK stadium later that day.  

The Global Jukebox

The Global Jukebox Poster

Billed as ‘The Global Jukebox’ Live Aid was the biggest live rock event of the twentieth century.  In bright sunshine, the greatest show on earth began at midday with a fanfare for Prince Charles and Princess Diana, followed by Status Quo who opened the concert with ‘Rocking All Over The World.’  

Princess Diana and Prince Charles with Bob Geldof

Sixteen hours of live music was transmitted to 1.5 billion people in 160 countries in what was the biggest broadcast ever known.  As well as donation boxes in every high street bank and shop, call centres were set up to take donations by credit card.  The total amount of money raised, including a £1 million donation from the ruling family in Dubai that Bob Geldof personally took over the telephone, was over £110 million. 

The legendary day

Bands that had not played together for years like, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Crosby Stills and Nash, and Black Sabbath reunited for the day.  American R&B singer, Teddy Pendergrass, who had been paralysed for three years after a motorcar accident was determined to make it to Live Aid, and he did.

The amazing line-up of rock stars and bands was introduced by equally famous comedians, actors and presenters including, Billy Connolly, Jools Holland, Lenny Henry , John Hurt, Bette Midler and Jack Nicholson, to name but a few.  Bob Geldof did a seventeen-minute set with his band, The Boomtown Rats, after which he appeared at regular intervals calling for people to donate saying, “Don’t go down the pub tonight, donate your money to Live Aid instead.”  As the evening went on, his language became less polite.

For an event as big as Live Aid to work, there needed to be armies of back stage staff; producers, electrical and lighting technicians, designers, stage managers, assistants, costume designers,  dressers  and caterers.  Without them, and many more people working behind the scenes, there would not have been a Live Aid concert.  

My Live Aid Experience

I was lucky enough to be one of the 72,000 people packed into Wembley Stadium on that amazing day.  My ticket cost £25 (£20 was donation) and the programme £5. 


          My programme and ticket. 

It was scorching on the field in the mid-day sun, getting hotter as the afternoon wore on, and only cooling when night fell.  My friends and I had a great view of the stage.  We stood in front, but to the right, of the portable sound and recording stand, benefitting from a regular hosing of cold water as lads sprayed the crowd to cool them down.  Close-ups of the musicians, the artists introducing them and those asking for donations, film footage showing the plight of the Ethiopian famine victims and later the concert in Philadelphia, were shown on giant screens on either side of the stage.    

Each band performed for seventeen minutes.  It wouldn’t be fair to say one was better than another, although Queen and the magnificent Freddie Mercury were my favourites.  The last artist to perform, before the entire ensemble gathered, was Paul McCartney at around eleven o’clock.  The audience were exhausted and emotional by then, so when McCartney’s microphone broke at the beginning of ‘Let it Be’ we, the audience, sang it for him until a replacement mic was found.  

Meeting Bob Geldof

I had promised my cousin’s children Live Aid T-shirts.  So, during film footage that I had seen before, I pushed my way through the crowds to the nearest exit, ran up the steps of the seated area, through the archway at the top and down into what they called the tunnel; a covered walkway that ran round the inside the stadium.  Having come out of bright sunshine, I stopped to let my eyes adjust to the darkness.  At the same time, a door opened and to my astonishment, Bob Geldof walked out of it.  He smiled at me and I almost fainted.  I said what a brilliant day it was, and thanked him for what he and Midge Ure were doing for the victims of the famine in Africa and he modestly shook his head and asked me if I was having a good time, if I was enjoying the concert?  I had just said, yes, when all hell broke loose.  Dozens of girls were running towards us.  Well, not us, but to Bob Geldof.  Several bodyguards, built like barn doors, intercepted the girls and a couple of other guards hurried Geldof away.  In the madness, I remember touching his arm and him smiling.  I was so excited I forgot all about the T-shirts and I made my way back to the field to tell my friends.  I had been back ten minutes when one friend asked where the T-shirts were.  I stood open mouthed.  I was so overwhelmed, so excited, that I had spoken to Bob Geldof that I completely forgot to tell my friends that I’d seen him.  Madness or what?

Above, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1985 holding Ivor Novello Awards given to them for writing ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas.’  Below, 30 years after the original Band Aid song, during a press conference before the launch of, BANDAID30, in 2014. 

Bob Geldof and Midge Ure have since raised money for HIV and Aids, with Live Aid 8, and in 2014, with lyric changes, performed by younger, as well as original artists, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ was released again, raising £1 million in the first five minutes of its launch, for victims of the Ebola crisis. 

The Band Aid Organisation is still raising money, and still helping people in crisis all over the world.  Recently, after bootleg copies of the Live Aid concert were sold on the Internet, Bob Geldof released an official DVD of the concert, with all proceeds going to the Band Aid Trust.

The official DVD

Live Aid still holds the record for the most watched television event in history.  The main concerts were held in London and Philadelphia, but there were also shows in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Russia, Japan and Australia.  In every respect, Live Aid was the most amazing concert in the world – and Bob Geldof and Midge Ure two of the most amazing people.   

Some photographs from the day 

Monday, 23 March 2015

A few photographs from the MacMillan charity event at Hunt's Independent Bookshop, Rugby.

I was sorry that Kelvin Hunt wasn't able to attend the MacMillan charity morning at his bookshop in Rugby on Saturday.  Wishing you well very soon, Kelvin.

From left to right:  The lady who works in the bookshop, Kelvin's son, his wife Pauline, and author Theresa LeFlem

Me in the topper, cheap at 10/-6d and Pauline Hunt

Pauline Hunt, Madalyn Morgan, and Theresa LeFlem

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The RoNA Awards at Romantic Novelists Association March 16th 2015

Photographs of fellow writer friends at the Romantic Novelists' Association Awards Ceremony at The Gladstone Library, Whitehall Place, London, March 16, 2015

It was good to see friends from Caerleon, Fishguard and Leicester, as well as others that I only knew on Facebook, including my lovely friend Debbie Viggiano. Debbie kindly offered to beta read Foxden Acres before it was published in 2012. I still refer to her brilliant notes.

Debbie Viggiano talking to Kath McGurl, Madalyn Morgan, and Sally Quilford

Debbie Viggiano and Madalyn Morgan

Kath and Debbie

Madalyn chatting to lovely Sally Quilford

Natalie Klienman, Elaine Roberts, Elaine Everest, Viv Brown & Francesca Capaldi Burgess.
Friends from The Writers' Holiday - Caerleon and Fishguard.

Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell

As I was leaving, I was able to congratulate authors, Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell who were given, Special Achievement awards.  And I was delighted to bump into Carole Blake who was very encouraging about Foxden Acres before it was published, and who introduced me to the amazing Barbara Erskine.

Karen Aldous and Barbara Erskine

Jane Wenham-Jones and Barbara Taylor Bradford

Jane Wenham-Jones and Barbara Taylor Bradford worked well together; Jane telling us which authors and books were short-listed for awards, and Barbara presenting the awards to the winners.

The Winners of the RoNA 2015 Awards (3rd from left Barbara Taylor Bradford)
Left to right: Joss Stirling, winner Young Adult Category and winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year 2015. Hazel Gaynor, winner Historical Category; Barbara Taylor Bradford; Louise Allen, winner RoNA Rose Award; Ella Harper, winner Epic Category; Lucy Dillon, winner Contemporary Category and Lucy-Anne Holmes, winner of the Romantic Comedy Award.

At the end of the presentations, Barbara referred to writing saying, "... writing a great chapter is better than an having an orgasm."  I think every writer in the room related to that - the great chapter that is! Barbara Taylor Bradford was fantastic. A real woman of substance.

Reception of The Gladstone Library

                    Canapes and pink Champagne

The table before we sat down

The London Eye, seen from Embankment Underground station