Saturday, 30 July 2011

Blackwood - A Tale of Two Writers

This evening I had the pleasure of being in the company of young brilliance. As I walked through St Albans town centre to a venue I have never been to before, the evening sun was beaming brightly and there was an air of anticipation as I was heading towards an evening of entertainment courtesy of Mr Blackwood.

Blackwood is a play devised by four students from St Albans school for their A-level drama exam. The story focuses on two writers, Frank and Alf, as they struggle to break into the New York film scene.

The play was sent in the 1930s and upon entering the auditorium one was immersed in the music and feel of 1930s New York. The stage was simply laid out with just the one location but the use of the staging was imaginatively thought through.

The cast comprised of three characters; Alf & Frank, the two struggling writers and Mr Blackwood - their dark, Dickensian creation. These parts were convincingly portrayed by Freddie Sawyer and Johnny Bennett as Alf and Frank and Cameron Epstein as the title character Mr Blackwood. All three performances were mesmerising and exemplary though it seems that young Mr Epstein was having the most fun with his colourful portrayal of a Victorian psychopath. This was a mixture of Bill Sykes and Russell Brand blended together with an East End Bohemian dandy!

As impressive as the story and performances, were the production values. Alex Campbell did an amazing job directing and designing this play, with clever use of music, lighting and video. The way the video screen interacted with the performance was truly imaginative and original.

All in all, this was a fantastic use of theatre, combining passionate performances with first rate storytelling. I am normally one of the first to spot a plot twist but I didn't anticipate the twist in this tale until moments before it occurred. Full marks to the team for pulling that off.

This is what happens when young people's talents are encouraged and supported. The four young men involved in this production are fine ambassadors of both their age group and their city - well done lads!

Blackwood is on from the 5th - 13th August at Zoo Southside, Nicholson Street, Edinburgh. For more information go to

Thursday, 28 July 2011

This evening we heard from Liz Bloom of Fleetville Diaries

Fleetville Diaries was formed in April 2010 and is run by a group of enthusiastic local residents to....

provide a forum for everyone interested in the history of Fleetville.
create an archive of local oral histories, documents and memorabilia.
build a network of people who can contribute to a variety of local history projects.
support schools in their local history projects.
encourage the following groups to participate in local history projects: Seniors, Ethnic groups, Disabled,Families.
share information about local history projects with the public.
participate in national initiatives such as the Mass Observation Communities Online project (MOCO).
liaise with local and county heritage projects.
further its members’ knowledge and skills through attendance at relevant history conferences and courses.

Fleetville Diaries grew from a project put together in 2009 for the Fleetville Festival, an event held in March by local musicians, featuring the Fleetville Orchestra and Choir. Before the event, senior residents of Fleetville were interviewed about wartime experiences. The subsequent display at the Festival attracted much attention..... and so Fleetville Diaries was born.

With the support of Mike Neighbour, local historian and author, the group meets on the last Thursday of each month at Fleetville Community Centre at 7.30pm.

Most meetings feature a local guest and we exchange information about aspects of the area such as the air-raid shelters under the recreation ground.

There is an ongoing project involving oral histories which are being captured on video and transcribed.

We are also gathering an archive of Fleetville photographs and interesting publications such as summer fete programmes.

For more details the web site is

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Interview with Jean Hutton, founder of the Green Ribbon Luncheon Club for Ladies

On West Herts Drivetime tonight Danny was on the phone with Jean Hutton, the founder of the Green Ribbon Luncheon Club for Ladies which are an organisation that raises money for charity through the running of lunch meetings for local women.

Jean started the club in 1994 and by the end of September Jean and her friends will have raised a total of £72,000 for charity. Jean says that she needs to raise £100,000 before she will be happy to retire!

The Green Ribbon Ladies meet every second Monday of the month (except August) at the Noke Hotel in Chiswell Green. The often have a special speaker and have had Lord Runcie, The Chief Constable of Hertfordshire and Jemima Khan speak at their meetings. If you wish to find out more or possibly get involved then ring Jean at 01727 862245.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

New Feature! Faff Free Cooking with Jackie Johnson

Tuesday Recipe Spot – Faff-Free Cooking with Jackie
My motto has always been 'Never trust a skinny cook!' I do like to share recipes that I know work for me. They are not necessarily of my invention – but I will always give you the origin and maybe the story behind them! These recipes are relatively easy to make – hence the title, Faff-Free Cookery. I have given quantities in ounces as well for those of you who still like to know stuff 'in old money!'
So, today’s treat is Banana, Walnut and Maple Teabread.
A lovely treat for any time you fancy a little something with a cup of tea.......
3 good sized bananas – can be a bit ripe
50g/2oz margarine or butter
150g/5oz caster sugar
2 large eggs
225g/8oz self raising flour
50g/2oz chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
Pinch of salt
  1. Mash the bananas but do leave some nice sized lumps of 'nana - add the maple syrup and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the margarine (or butter) and caster sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. You could also use an electric hand beater for this task.
  3. Then beat in the eggs one by one. There again, you could use an electric hand beater for this. The mixture will be quite liquid.
  4. Add the flour and the salt. Then you can add the walnuts, mashed banana and maple syrup.
  5. Mix well and then put the mixture in a greased 2lb loaf tin and level the top.
  6. Bake in the middle of your oven at Gas 5, 375 F or 190 C for an hour, until the loaf is golden brown and springy to the touch.
  7. Turn the loaf out on to a wire rack to cool.

Slice, butter thinly and enjoy! Yum!

Interior Design feature with Gwendoline Alderton of G.A. Interiors

Today on WHD we spoke with Gwendoline Alderton of G.A. Interiors and the subject was Home Holiday Souvenirs!

We often go on holiday and come back with something for the home and then think... why did we buy that?! The beautiful rugs that you see in places like Morocco can seem so tempting. But you have to think - will the item go with the colourway in your house? Could it be too big and where will it go?

Forward planning is a good idea if you want to bring items back. Items like ceramic plates can be displayed on walls and always wrap items safely in your luggage. Be selective - you don't have to keep everything you are given too!

Look out for items on your travels such as - old french lace from Paris and Murano glass from Italy. Above all - happy shopping!

Monday, 25 July 2011

WHD Regular Business Feature - With Roma Bhowmick

Today on WHD, Danny spoke with our Business Correspondent - Roma Bhowmick from Business Link. The topic today was - Employing Older Workers.

The law on retirement changed in April 2011 and post April this year, employees can continue to be employed after the age of retirement, if they are fit and able - workers now have the right to carry on working after the age of 65. Statistics say that people are working and living longer and by early 2020 people aged 50-64 will make up a third of the workforce.

Roma then highlighted managing an older workforce.

- Treat workers equally - regardless of age etc
- Older workers generally have a lower level of staff turnover.
- Older workers will not block opportunities for younger workers
- A broad skills set and ideas often comes with life experience.
- Older workers are still as productive and often more focused.
- Less likely to take 'sickies'
- Are ideal candidates to mentor and become involved in training other workers.

So employers, think less about age and more about maturity!

For details and advice on the new rules, please refer to the following websites
and of course contact your local CAB.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Regular WHD feature - Verulam Writers Circle with Mark Clementson

Today Danny Smith spoke with Mark Clementson of the Verulam Writers Circle. Mark told us about a recent launch of an anthology of short stories, poems and essays by local authors at Waterstones St Albans and this event was very well attended. He also introduced us to a member of the VWC - Danielle Scrivener - a talented creative writer and her blog can be found on - well worth a read!

A date for your diary - a writing conference will be held at the University of Herts on 11 February 2012. Details can be found on

The Verulam Writers Circle meet every Wednesday at 8pm in the White Hart Pub on Holywell Hill in the upstairs room. Everybody with a budding interest in writing are welcome and they have members that range in age from 18 - 80 and cover all genres of writing.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

WHD Interview with Cameron, Alex, Johnny and Freddy

Tonight Danny was joined in the studio by four young men who have taken their A-Level drama project a bit further than their school drama studio. They're going all the way to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with their self-devised piece 'Blackwood'. Before that though they will be performing the show over five nights from the 26th of July until the 30th of July at New Place on Romeland Hill in St. Albans.

The show is about two struggling writers in New York who create a ficitional Dickensian psychopath called Mr Blackwood. However, when some grisly events take place, the two men start to wonder about just how fictional their character is...

The play is written and performed by Cameron, Alex, Johnny and Freddy and if you want to come along then call Mrs. H. Sawyer at 01727 753737. Doors open at 19:30 and there is a licensed bar!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

WHD Interview with Catherine Rose of Sweetcheeks

Also on WHD today, Danny Smith spoke with local entrepreneur, Catherine Rose who has launched a fantastic answer to cake and treat lovers who are either coeliac, like Catherine herself, or vegan.

Her company – Sweetcheeks - is the answer for a Coeliac or a Vegan’s sweet tooth!

Catherine says 'Sweetcheeks products are healthier than traditional baked goods and thanks to our unique recipe, they taste just as good. You can serve our cupcakes at every event, party and gathering safe in the knowledge that everyone can eat and enjoy them. Cupcakes come in the most tempting flavours such as raspberry and white chocolate, honey and lavender and even mojito!

We make delicious, beautiful and moist cupcakes and baked goodies for anyone, regardless of dietary requirements. We offer bespoke designs and can cater to any demands. Sweetcheeks also provide cake decorating parties.

Saturdays we are at Cabbages and Frocks market on Marylebone High Street in London and the 3rd Sunday of every month we are at the Radlett Farmers Market in Hertfordshire'

For more details visit


Special WHD feature - Polo For Heroes - Danny speaks to Steve Collins

Today on West Herts Drivetime, Danny Smith went toe-to-two with the man known as 'The Celtic Warrior' – former WBO World Middleweight boxer champion – Steve Collins!

This was of course, all in a good cause as Danny spoke with Steve (who will be the captain of a team) for St Albans Polo Club about their forthcoming charity event – Polo for Heroes – which is being held at St Albans Polo Club on Saturday 23rd July.

The idea for Polo for Heroes, was hatched between Tristan Welch head chef of Launceston Place and one of Britain’s rising stars, polo fanatic Clare Dingwall and members of St Albans Polo Club when they all met at the highly successful ‘Chef’s for Heroes’ fundraising event last year.

The aim is to raise money for ‘Help for Heroes’, a charity that supports members of Britain’s Armed Forces who have been wounded serving their country.

Polo is a supreme test of horse and rider and requires nerve and skill to drive a small white ball into the opposing team’s goal using a long wooden mallet. For spectators it’s a fun, buzzy and hugely exciting experience watching two teams of four players contesting chukkas at high speeds across a wide, open space. Polo is not an elite sport – far from it. It’s open to everyone, both as participants and spectators and attracts people from all walks of life. If you don’t know the rules of polo, don’t worry, everything will be explained.

Spectators will be treated to thrilling edge-of-the-seat action as teams, which include celebrities from the world of sport and entertainment take on the might of the military polo teams – a real clash of the Titans!

Doors open at 1pm, with the polo tournament taking place mid-afternoon, dinner served early evening and carriages at midnight. VIP guests will enjoy a champagne reception and a three-course gourmet dinner prepared by Tristan Welch, which includes a glass of wine.

There will also be an auction and a raffle followed by an evening of entertainment.

All this for just £100 per person, so why not get a group of family and friends together and book a table of 10? Alternatively, come along on the day to enjoy the polo and bring a picnic or take advantage of our onsite catering stalls. Entrance payable on the gate at £5 per person.

Contact Clare Dingwall at to secure your place at this fabulous, worthy event.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Monthly Feature - With Michelle Hart From The CVS

Today we welcomed Michelle Hart from the CVS for her monthly update on the world of volunteering! Michelle spoke to West Herts Drivetime about how organisations can talk to the CVS about finding volunteers. The CVS deal with approx 1500 enquires a year from people wanting to volunteer and of course, this time of year there are many students wanting volunteer work.

One-off volunteering opportunities are available too, such as an event at Hatfield House on the 23rd July - a Battle Proms Event run by a community recycling group called Complete Wasters! Details on how to help at this event can be found on their website or search from the volunteer centres postcode for 'complete wasters'.

Michelle spoke about Good Practice in working with volunteers, by way of the 6 Point Plan and details can be found on and this has a link to the National Volunteering website, or you can call on 01727 852657.

Playlist w/c 18th July 2011

Hi Drivetimers

Here is our new music playlist for the forthcoming week:

Adele - Set Fire To The Rain
Beady Eye - The Beat Goes On
Blondie - What I heard
Brooke Fraser - Betty
Caro Emerald - That Man
CocknBullKid - Yellow
Darius Rucker - This
Darren Hayes - Talk Talk Talk
Dionne Bromfield - Foolin'
Duane Eddy - Twango
Elbow - Lippy Kids
James Vincent McMorrow - Sparrow & The Wolf
Jon Allen - Sweet Defeat
Joshua Radin - I Missed You
Joss Stone - Somehow
Juan Zelada - Breakfast in Spitalfields
Kenny Wayne Shepherd - Never Lookin Back
Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger (ft Christina Aguilera)
Miss 600 - Twist
Noah & The Whale - Life Is Life
Ruby Turner - Leaves In The Wind
Sam Gray - Cartwheel Queen
Scouting For Girls - Love How It Hurts
Simon Lynge - If You Go
Stevie Nicks - Secret Love
The Pierces - It Will Not Be Forgotten
Whitesnake - One Of These Days

Items in BOLD are new additions

My featured track for the week is

Friday, 15 July 2011

Interview with Ruby Turner

Today we were joined on the phone by British soul legend Ruby Turner. We discussed her new album and her experiences as both a singer and actress. You will be able to listen to the interview again very soon.

For more information on Ruby herself then visit her website at

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Interview with Bo Powell

We were joined in the studio today by local publican Bo Powell who had us all enraptured with stories about his impressive feats of endurance, all in for a wonderful cause. Throughout July Bo will be taking part in five bike rides of varying lengths to raise money for Brain Tumour UK. Bo is supporting this charity in memory of Alex Robinson, a family friend who tragically died from a brain tumour at the age of 19.

Bo has already completed 2 of the 5 races and his next one is from London to Southend. He is being ably helped in his endevour by his wife and his two bikes, Jennifer (the Mountain Bike) and Clarissa (the Road Bike). By the end of the last race he will have completed about 330 miles. To find out more about Bo's remarkable challenge then go to his Facebook page, which can be found here. If you want to donate to his cause then go to his JustGiving page here.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Monthly Travel Feature with Andy Jarosz

Today we had our travel correspondent, Andy Jarosz, drop on by with tips on how to ensure your holiday runs smoothly.

With the not so sturdy pound and last years volcano fears still presen,t most of us English folk are staying within the British Isles. So make sure you are prepared for all types of weather, and plan your activities accordingly. If you have not booked your summer hols yet, why not look into camping or activity holidays, where you will stay entertained come rain or shine and at no extra cost.

For more information and to join in conversations on related subjects visit

Andy will be back with us again next month with more top tips and ideas.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Wildlife Feature with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust on WHD

Today we welcomed Sarah Buckingham from Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Sarah's theme for this month was - People and Wildlife. She told us about two big projects and how people can get involved with wildlife. You can do this by helping restore the woodland in South Herts by improving access, conservation etc and they want people to be involved!

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust want to recruit 100 volunteers over the next three years. The tasks involved are, surveying different species and running events, but to name a few. Details of how to volunteer can be found on

Sarah also spoke about the Colne Valley project whose aim is to show people the wildlife on their doorstep and to encourage people to use the park more.

Also, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust are running a competition for budding photographers for their 2012 calendar. You can enter your photos of people and wildlife and the 12 best photos will be featured in the calendar! Send your entries to or see the website on for information on this and all events, including their Batwalk at Catherine Park on July 29th.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Interview with Elizabeth Crampton from the CAB

This afternoon we were joined in the studio by Elizabeth Crampton from the Citizens Advice Bureau to discuss the important business of financial security. The main focus of the discussion was a new website that has been set up by the government that will give you advice about how to best look after your hard earned cash. 'The Money Advice Service' has information about all sorts of financial issues such as savings, pensions and divorces and can give you a 'financial health check' which takes mere minutes to complete and will give you suggestions as to how you can better prepare yourself for any financial difficulties that may occur.

Tax issues came up in the conversation as well as the touchy subject of car insurance (touchy if you're a 17 year-old male who really wants a new car or are a parent of said young male).

The Money Advice Service can be found here:

The Citizens Advice Bureau can be found here: and if you want to contact them by phone then you can do so by phoning 08444 111 444 (if you're in England) and 0844 477 2020 (if you're in Wales)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Interview with Les Middlewood from The South Herts branch of CAMRA

On todays show we were joined by Les Middlewood from the South Herts branch of CAMRA.

Les talked to us about the very important Pub Of The Year Award, a competition that has been operating successfully since 1986. Now this award is not just based on beer, but also food, quality of bar staff, and atmosphere. The winner of the South Herts branch then goes onto compete against the whole of Hertfordshire.

Another terrific event that CAMRA promotes, and one to put into your diaries, is the St Albans Beer Festival at the Alban Arena between Wednesday 28th September - Saturday 1st October. This year is the festival's 16th year and it will be proudly displaying, ready for consumption, 350 British ales, 50 ciders and 100 foreign beers. Tickets do not need to be booked in advance, and the event is open 11am-11pm.

For any further information please visit the below websites:

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Today on WHD - Adam Richman star of Man v Food and Abbie Alter from Slimming World

Today on West Herts Drivetime were were delighted to interview the legend that is Adam Richman - star of Man v Food! Adam is a US actor, TV personality, food fanatic and host of the hugely popular Man v Food, which follows his eating adventures and challenges across America.

The self-educated culinary expert learned the ropes of the restaurant business while being mentored in some of the best food outlets in the Eastern US. Since 1995, he has kept a diary of every restaurant he has visited and noted anything he may have learned while visiting there. With extensive food expertise, Adam is quite the chef himself. However, he is perfectly happy to find, describe, and share with us, the best places to eat through the TV series.

Man v Food is not the only television exposure Adam has had. In 2004, he played the role of "Butcher God" in Joan of Arcadia as well as "Andy" in All My Children. Then in 2006, he appeared as a "cafe patron" in My Ex Life. Roles in Law & Order: Trial by Jury and the Guiding Light followed.

Man v Food: Carnivore Chronicles
(TX: Weeknights at 9pm from Monday 4 July, Good Food)

On Man v Food: Carnivore Chronicles, Adam Richman takes us on a culinary quest to find the meatiest meals the United States has to offer. Adam gives viewers an insider's look at the food, the chefs and their cities. The Carnivore Chronicles serves up a hearty portion of never-before-seen footage sure to make your mouth water. In the battle between Man v Food, Adam is determined to win, but will these massive mounds of food be too much even for him?

Man v Food: Carnivore Chronicles is new to Good Food, weeknights at 9pm from Monday 4 July (Sky / HD 249, Virgin 260)

On the other side of the coin, we spoke with Abbie Alter, a consultant with Slimming World and she explained their approach to weight loss, as follows........

Slimming World’s modern and highly effective approach to weight loss is empowering and enabling. We provide a support system– online and in group – is based on a deep understanding of how you feel and a passionate desire to help you achieve your personal weight loss goals – and maintain them for life! Success isn’t achieved by setting impossible standards or through humiliation it’s achieved through caring, compassion and respect for you. You decide what size you want to be and we’ll help you get there, where you want to be. At Slimming World we work together to help you look and feel great – body, mind and soul.

For more information on joining Slimming World and your nearest meeting see

Playlist w/c 4th July 2011

Hi Drivetimers

Here is our new music playlist for the forthcoming week:

Adele - Set Fire To The Rain
Asa - Dreamer Girl
Barry Manilow - Now It’s For Real
Beady Eye - The Beat Goes On
Brooke Fraser - Betty
Caro Emerald - That Man
Cee-Lo Green - I Want You
Coldplay - Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall
Dionne Bromfield - Foolin'
Duane Eddy - Twango
Fleet Foxes - Lorelai
James Blunt - I'll Be Your Man
James Vincent McMorrow - Sparrow & The Wolf
Jonathan Jeremiah - Heart Of Stone
Joshua Radin - I Missed You
Joss Stone - Somehow

Juan Zelada - Breakfast in Spitalfields
Miss 600 - Twist
Patrick Wolf - House
Plain White T’s - Boomerang
Rumer - Take Me As I Am
Sam Gray - Cartwheel Queen
Scouting For Girls - Love How It Hurts
Stevie Nicks - Secret Love
Sunrise Avenue - Hollywood Hills
Teddy Thompson - Delilah
The Overtones - Gambling Man

Items in BOLD are new additions.

Our featured track for this week is I Missed You by Joshua Radin:

Friday, 1 July 2011

Radio Verulam film guide

This week Danny Smith and Ian Rogers looked at the top 10 UK cinema box office , and discussed Transformers 3, The Conspirator and Larry Crowne.

The following are Ians film choices for the week ahead on free to air TV

The Living Daylights

Saturday 02 July
3:45pm - 6:15pm
ITV1 London

A Clockwork Orange

Sunday 03 July
10:45pm - 1:15am
ITV1 London

The Odessa File

Sunday 03 July
2:30pm - 5:00pm
Channel 5

Anger Management

Sunday 03 July
10:00pm - 12:10am
Channel 5

Operation Pacific

Monday 04 July
1:00pm - 3:10pm
Channel 4

Malta Story

Wednesday 06 July
1:10pm - 3:10pm
Channel 4

The Thin Red Line

Wednesday 06 July
9:00pm - 12:15am