Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Chris' Film Club: Above the Law

Today's Film Club choice is "Above the Law" (also known as 'Nico').

Seagal’s first film debut, full of kicking butt and taking names, a Chicago cop finds himself within an international conspiracy after a routine drug investigation.

Also stars Pam Grier and Sharon Stone.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Chris' Film Club: Executive Decision

Our next Steven Seagal movie is 'Executive Decision'.

When a plane is taken over by terrorists who want to use it as a makeshift-bomb, Kurt Russell must go on a mission to knock them out.

Stars Seagal, Halle Berry, Oliver Platt and John Leguizamo.

Bake It Easy with Lucy Clark @heavensacupcake

Today the show took a festive turn as Lucy showed us how to bake gingerbread.  These are great for kids to decorate and you can make them into any shape you like!
-Plain flour
-spices- such as ginger and cinnamon (but you can be as creative as you like!)
-brown sugar
-golden syrup

1. Sift the flour and spices together and blend the mixture in a food processor.  If you don't have a food processor you can blend them using a wooden spoon but this method is easier. Blend the mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.
2. Add sugar in and stir it with a wooden spoon.  Then take the eggs and the golden syrup, and add them to the mixture.  Pulse it together until all the lumps are gone.  The mixture should now be dough-like.
3. Knead the dough, and roll it out briefly.  Wrap dough in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Do this so the dough holds its shape when you roll it out.
4.  Roll out dough and use your cutter to cut the shapes out.  When you cut out each individual shape, cut around the shape and roll out the excess again to get as many biscuits from your dough as possible.
5.  In order to ensure the shapes are firm, you could put the biscuits in the fridge for 10 minutes.  This will make sure the shapes hold during baking.
5.  Put the gingerbread in the oven for 12-15 minutes (depending on your oven temperature), until the biscuits are baked through.
6.  When cooled, decorate the biscuits with icing sugar and sprinkles.

To find out more about Lucy's baking, visit her website:

Monday, 28 November 2016

Radio Verulam Science Feature 28/11/2016 with Sam Rolfe

Radio Verulam Science Feature 28/11/2016 with Sam Rolfe

This month I was talking about an scientific phenomena called the Maunder Minimum, due to the complete non-recognition of the phenomena by a radio quiz team... The Maunder Minimum is a period in history where there were relatively few sunspots and it is thought to be a factor in the Little Ice Age that occurred around the same time. The language of the quiz master determining the question to be "tricky" due to the fact that it was a science question lead me to the realisation that scientific facts and knowledge, though no more tricky or specialist than knowing about past football fixtures, music, literature etc. is chastised as a knowledge subject - see below for my full explanation.
Also, what to see in the night sky this month.

Maunder Minimum
The Maunder Minimum is the reported reduced number of sunspots between 1645 and 1715. A lot of the data for these observations came from research conducted by a wife and husband team called Annie and Walter Maunder, hence the name. Walter Maunder published two papers about it at the time but despite passing her Cambridge examinations with honours, being the top mathematician in her class and ranked at a 2:1 level, restrictions at the time meant she was not awarded the degree she had completed and hence was not recognised for her contributions to the solar cycles publicly.
The phenomenon was not widely recognised within the community until 1976 when a paper was published by John Eddy. The Maunder Minimum coincides with relatively cold temperatures known as the Little Ice Age, suggesting a possible contribution to Earth’s climate due to the solar cycle, though there are other factors involved and this potential link to climate is still not well understood.

The Sun goes through a recognised cycle of maxima and minima where it is more or less active, where one cycle is 11 years minimum to minimum. When the Sun is active, there are more sunspots, which appear dark, but they are still very hot, but are relatively cool compared to the surrounding atmosphere of the Sun, hence their dark appearance. If plotted on a diagram, the areas in which the sunspots appear form a butterfly wing effect across the surface with the centre of the wings along the equator.

They occur due to concentrations of magnetic field flux which inhibits convection, and the intense magnetic activity causes secondary phenomena such as solar flares (a release of electromagnetic radiation across the spectrum from gamma rays to radio waves at the speed of light, arrival at Earth: 8 mins) and coronal mass ejections (a release of a plasma of electrons and protons from the Sun, take one to three days to reach the Earth).
During a period of 28 years, though only part of the Maunder Minimum, fewer than 50 sunspots were observed, whereas a similar period in recent times would yield 40,000 – 50,000.

Science as the Outsider
I was recently listening to a radio quiz show, in which the answer to the question was the Maunder Minimum, which when about to announce the question the host preceded it with “I think this is a stinker” and when discussing the possible answer with the contestants said “a complex but quite well known phenomena of climate variance, the words ‘quite well known’ might be disputed”. Furthermore he gave the team a point for their plight at having to answer such a “terrifically hard” question and there is “no shame” in not being able to answer it. He would never have used the same phasing if the team were stuck on a question about football, music or Shakespeare.

Such throw away comments about science and knowledge of science is continually damaging to the subject. It does nothing to lessen the unfortunate and deep rooted feeling in our society that science is out of reach and difficult to understand. No other subject is chastised in such a way, the knowledge of music, literature, sport, pop culture and current affairs etc. is accepted as normal and not difficult or tricky. Knowledge of science should be as normal as any subject, people take the time to learn about all sorts of different things, scientific subjects are no different. I often attend pub quizzes in which there is rarely a whole round based on science, and maybe if I am lucky I get one science question in the general knowledge round but the questions are so very basic that most people on the table will know the answer, so I cannot meaningfully contribute at all. And yet an entire round on sport asking questions on 1970’s football league results, the penalty takers in the 1994 world cup draw between whoever and whoever and something about cricket, though ridiculously obscure as far as I am concerned is acceptable and common. Furthermore, I have been to quizzes before where answers to science questions given by the quiz master are fundamentally incorrect, further propagating problems with the understanding of science within our society. Science is more accessible than ever with the advent of factual websites and videos available online providing explanations to scientific concepts and news, the use of accurate scientific concepts in movies and the mountains of popular science books that are available and yet those who are interested and learn about science are still marginalised and treated as eccentric if their knowledge base is in this area and not other well learned subjects like sports, literature and pop culture.

Night Sky This Month
Mercury can be seen low in the west sky around the 11th December when it is at its greatest elongation, you will need full view of the horizon.
The Geminid meteor shower peaks on the 13th and 14th Decemeber, it can have a rate of 120 meteors per hour, though some of the fainter meteors may not be visible due to the full Moon. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight.
The Full Moon is on 14th Dec.
Winter Solstice is on the 21st Dec, bringing the beginning of longer days.
Visible planets this month: Venus, Mars, Uranus and Neptune in the evening and Jupiter in the morning.


Chris' Film Club: Under Siege

On the Film Club this week Chris looks at the films of action star 'Steven Seagal', beginning with 'Under Siege'.

Former Navy SEAL Casey Ryback (Seagal) is now working as a chef when the ship he’s on is taken over by a band of mercanaries. Bad news for them.

Also stars Gary Busey, Tommy Lee Jones (who would win an Oscar the following year), and Erika Eleniak.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Friday, 25 November 2016

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 25th November 2016

howdy it is chris here and i am a poopy stupid face and i like to pick my nose and i smell like butt and i write bad. SIMON how ever is very hansom and clever and does not smell like butt he smells like cigars and adventure and all things manly and attracktive. he also writes much better than i do and is better looking because i look like i walked into a door with my nose first he he he he heh. SIMON RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, that was a lie, but Simon was in the studio to talk about the UK box office, new releases in the cinema, and his pick of films on TV for the coming week.

Silver Linings Playbook
12.35am – 2.40am
Channel 4

12.20am – 1.45am

1.15pm – 2.50pm

Calamity Jane
3.45pm – 5.50pm

2.25pm – 4.35pm

11.20pm – 1.35am

Starter for Ten
10.00pm – 11.30pm

Young Frankenstein
6.45pm – 9.00pm
Movie Mix

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Chris' Film Club: Trumbo

Chris' final 'Best of 2016' film is 'Trumbo'.

The film tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter who was part of the Hollywood Ten, who were all blacklisted by the House of Un-American Activities Committee for their supposedly communist views. Trumbo couldn’t produce work under his own name, but continued to work, writing such classics as Roman Holiday and Spartacus.

Stars Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis CK and John Goodman.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Chris' Film Club: Deadpool

Next this week, Chris looks at surprise 2016 hit 'Deadpool'.

The R-rated superhero movie stars Ryan Reynolds as a wise-cracking, foul-mouthed mercenary who gains superpowers.

Also featuring are Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller and Gina Carano.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Chris' Film Club: Arrival

Next on Chris' best of 2016 Film Club is 'Arrival'

Based on a short story by Ted Chiang, it sees aliens arrive on Earth, and a leading linguistics expert is picked to try and communicate with them. Why are they here? What do they want?

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, it stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

Interior design feature with Gwendoline Alderton @ga_interiors

Today we talked to Gwendoline Alderton, our interior design correspondent, about Christmas and what that means for interior design.  She talked about colours associated with Christmas, such as red and green.  However this year white has become more popular, with white Christmas trees being sold. However you can use white in many different ways, including white upholstery or white light fittings.  You could also try off-white or cream colours.
In order to add interest to any white things you might use, you could add pastel colours such as blue or pink.  You could also add darker and lighter colours to accent the pastel colours.

Usually there's an animal that is especially popular on the high street around Christmas time- and this year owls are on trend.  You can find owls in many places- including on woolly hats!  Within the world of interior design, however, you can find them on baubles and other tree decorations.

Christmas decorations are usually about attention to detail- you want something which will add a bit of glamour or sparkle.  Add glass or crystal are very quick ways to adding glamour to your home, and you can do this through getting crystal baubles or perhaps through drinking glasses.  Feathers, fur and wool are also really good textures for adding detail.

Gwendoline's website :

Monday, 21 November 2016

Chris' Film Club: Doctor Strange

This week Chris is setting the Film Club theme as 'Best of 2016', and starts with the most recent Marvel Studios production 'Doctor Strange'.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as an arrogant, yet extremely talented surgeon, who after a car accident ruins his career seeks help from a mysterious religious sect.

Directed by Scott Derrickson, it also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, and Mads Mikkelsen.

Breakaway Theatre Company

Our guests tonight on Drivetime were Hannah, Shelley and Abbi from the breakaway Theatre Company who told us about the upcoming production The Good, The Bad And The Absolutely Awful, this is a murder mystery with audience participation. The evening includes a 3 course meal in the ticket price.
More details can be found at the web site

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Friday, 18 November 2016

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 18th November 2016

The man that will one day go down in history as 'Simon the Merciless' was in fine fettle this evening. The idea that a sensible film guide was going to be recorded was thrown out of the window as soon as Simon arrived at the studio dressed as an astronaut, and declared it was his new dream to one day look down on the Earth from space. Simon goes through new dreams quite regularly, and they all have varying degrees of achievability. Last week his dream was to eat a yogurt that was not out of date, but the week before he was aiming to take Brentford FC to the World Cup final.

So while Danny manfully tried to talk all about films, Simon just wanted to talk about what he'd learned about being an astronaut. He learned that it's a naturally occurring silicate mineral, and was used extensively in the 19th and 20th centuries during building, until it was discovered to cause cancer. This disturbed Danny somewhat, as it didn't seem to describe Tim Peake. It soon became clear that Simon had been researching asbestos.

Ok, that was a lie, but Simon was in the studio to talk about the UK box office, new releases in the cinema, and his pick of films on TV for the coming week.

11.00pm – 1.10am

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
8.00pm – 10.00pm

Forever Young
4.00pm – 6.05pm

The Babadook
9.00pm – 10.50pm

9.00pm – 11.15pm

Captain America: the First Avenger
9.00pm – 11.25pm

The Book of Eli
9.00pm – 11.25pm

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Chris' Film Club: Black Hawk Down

Chris concludes the Film Club this week with 'Black Hawk Down'.

Filled with British actors playing Americans, the Film directed by Ridley Soctt tells the story of the disastrous US military operation in Mogadishu in 1993.

Josh Harnett, Eric Bana, and plenty of Brits star (Ewan McGregor, Jason Isaacs, Orlando Bloom, Tom Hardy, Ewan Bremner, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugh Dancy, to name but a few).

Penny Carr: Being thrifty with @BeingMrsC @Hertsbelleswi

Today we spoke to Penny Carr who  discussed about Hertsmere Womens Refuge. Penny is our local thrifty correspondent. She brings in monthly articles about saving money.

Penny was talking about gifts for St Albans and Hertsmere Womens Refuge. In total they have collected over 50 presents and they want to make a huge different to those women and children. They are still collecting gifts, so to get involved you can drop them a message on FB and they can give you an address to drop gifts.  

Please just wrap your gift and attach a label saying who it is best suited for. They have a criteria in which alcohol, candles or anything that could imitate a weapon should not be included.

If you want to get involved then their facebook page is and navigate to Thursday from 5.30pm.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Drivetime sessions with The Papersnakes @ThePapersnakes

Our guests on this week's edition of the Drivetime sessions were the Papersnakes, a local band. We asked the Papersnakes to perform two original songs and one cover. The two original songs which they chose to perform were called "Glimmer of Hope", and "Be Someone" and their cover song was called "Could You Be Loved", originally by Bob Marley.

For the first time ever in West Herts Drivetime history we managed to Facebook Live this recording and you can watch it back at

If you'd like to listen back to this, you can find it on, and then navigate to 5:30 on Wednesday.

The Papersnakes' Links:

Chris' Film Club: The Manchurian Candidate

Chris' next film choice in the 'Brits Playing Americans' week is 1962's 'The Manchurian Candidate'.

During the Korean War US soldiers are captured by Soviet forces. When some are released it appears they may have undergone severe brainwashing, with deadly consequences.

Directed by John Frankenheimer, it stars Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Harvey and Angela Lansbury.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Chris' Film Club: Selma

Next this week, Chris looks at 2014 historical drama 'Selma'.

A film based upon the Selma march of 1965, when Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery.

David Oyelowo (Martin Luther King), Tom Wilkinson (Lyndon B Johnson) and Tim Roth (George Wallace) star.

Bake It Easy with Lucy Clark @heavensacupcake

Today Lucy Clark, our cupcake correspondent, talked to us about making tiffin. You can download this recipe using this link.
Lucy's website is

Monday, 14 November 2016

Chris' Film Club: Sicario

Chris returns to the Film Club this week, setting the topic of 'Brits Playing Americans', and starting with 'Sicario'.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro star in this film about an FBI agent who is dragged into an undercover operation to take down a Mexican drug lord. It quickly becomes apparent not all of the plan is above board.

Consumer Advice

Elizabeth Crampton from the Citizens Advice Bureau joined us tonight giving an update on current consumer issues.
Energy Bills
There are different factors you should consider about energy tariffs to find the right one for you.
For example, you might want:
a flexible tariff that you can get out of at any time
an environmentally-friendly tariff
the cheapest tariff available.

Financial Ombudsman

If you've made a complaint to a company about goods or services but you're not happy with the outcome, you may be able to ask an ombudsman to deal with it. An ombudsman is an independent official appointed to make decisions in disputes between individuals and companies.

Using the ombudsman is free for consumers but traders have to pay.
Digital Legacy
When making your estate plan, consider what you want to happen with your digital legacy —that is, all of your accounts, blogs, social networking identities and digital files that will be left online when you die. Many of these items cannot be left through your will or other estate planning device because you do not actually own them. However, if you know what you’d like to have happen, you can leave meaningful instructions for your executor, who should be able to carry out your wishes.
More on all of these items and much more can be found at

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Friday, 11 November 2016

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 11th November 2016

Chris was back in the studio today for the first time in a while. He'd been waylaid by trivial things such as work and getting married, so really he had no excuse for not being here. In his absence Simon apparently behaved quite well. The studio was not ruined by fire, and Barty, Radio Verulam's pet vulture was kept well fed with, well, no-one really talks about what he's fed with. So all, in all, there's nothing to report.

Oh, no, spoke too soon, Simon's spilled sulphuric acid on the mixing desk.  

Ok, that was a lie, but Simon was in the studio to talk about the UK box office, new releases in the cinema, and his pick of films on TV for the coming week.

FridayThe King’s Speech
9.00pm – 11.20pm


5.30pm – 8.25pm
Channel 5

The Last King of Scotland
11.00pm – 1.30am

I Give it a Year
11.25pm – 1.20am

The Grey
9.00pm – 11.15pm

Date Night
12.25am – 2.10am

9.00pm – 11.25pm

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Sam's Film Club: Housebound

Sam ends her week of Film Club top picks with 'Housebound'

The 2014 horror-comedy with a twist, a would-be thief (Morgana O'Reilly) is remanded to the custody of her estranged mother (Rima Te Wiata), who turns out to be correct in her assertion that evil spirits are active in their family domicile.

Olivia Beech from Kos Refugee Christmas Appeal @kosappeal

On our show today we were heard by Olivia Beech from the Kos Refugee Christmas Appeal.
Olivia and started the Kos Refugee Christmas Appeal in October 2015. After going to Kos in 2015, where she saw  the refugee crisis unfolding, she wanted to help. In 2015 she sent 924 bags, divided up into age groups, of essential items and small gifts to be distributed out to the refugees over the Christmas period. This year's appeal focuses on fundraising to help 3 of the charities who are all volunteers and are working on the front line of the crisis in the camps providing emergency support, teaching, shelter, clothing and medical supplies. You can donate, run a fundraiser on their behalf, donate a prize to their auction, bid on their auction prizes or sponsor our project. There is an online auction where you can donate a prize to it or you can bid on the prizes on their website:
The facebook page for Kos Refugee Christmas Appeal:
if you've got any questions, then Olivia's email is: and navigate to Thursday from 5.30pm.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Sam's Film Club: Kill Bill Vol 2

Sam's next 'Top Pick' for this week's Film Club is the second half of Quentin Tarantino's 'Kill Bill' series.

The Bride picks up where she left off in volume one, on a quest to finish the hit list she has composed of all of the people who have wronged her, including ex-boyfriend Bill who tried to have her killed four years ago during her wedding to another man. We pick up as the Bride finally tracks Bill to Mexico.

Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Parks, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, and Perla Haney-Jardine feature.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Simon Caine and the Toblerone Podcast

Today we asked former West Herts Drivetime assistant, social-media guru and stand up comedian about a petition he started today on to change the shape of Toblerone back to the original.
Simon talked about how he did this in order to call out Toblerone for announcing the shape change on a day when many things are happening in the news. We also released bulldog-like and Jeremy Paxman-like investigative journalist, Harry Derbyshire on Simon.  She asked Simon about whether he felt that he was wasting his life and whether he thought he was misusing the power of democracy that is  He replied: "Yes."
Simon is gigging at the Comedy Store in Manchester and also in Glasgow and Edinburgh.  His social media links are below- as well as the link to the petition.
Twitter: @thismademecool
Podcast: "Ask the Industry"

Sam's Film Club: The Skin I Live In

Next on Sam's top picks is the 2011 thriller "The Skin I Live In".

Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), a skilled plastic surgeon, has tried to develop a new skin that could save the lives of burn victims following the death of his wife in a car crash. Finally, after 12 years, Ledgard has created a skin that guards the body, but is still sensitive to touch. With the aid of his faithful housekeeper (Marisa Paredes), Ledgard tests his creation on Vera (Elena Anaya), who is held prisoner against her will in the doctor's mansion.

Pharmacies; St Albans City Hospital Watford New Road; Flu Jabs

Four Issues in Tonight’s DriveTime

1. Focus on Pharmacies

There is a total of 26 pharmacies in the St Albans District area; up to 9 (a third) of those could close. Government believes there are too many pharmacies; it is cutting the payments made to pharmacies for dispensing our prescriptions. Overall the cuts are 5% in DEC and a further 4% in APR; that’s an average. For individual pharmacies it’s much greater. 16% in DEC and a further 8% in APR. Local independent pharmacies hurt more than pharmacies in supermarkets/ multiple chains.

·        Protected Status – 1 mile; too arbitrary; need to a more holistic approach;

·        Services rather than simply dispensing

·        Essential Local Service

Write to your local MP and to your District Councillor – .

2. New Road to Watford General Hospital

Getting to Watford Hospital has always been a pain; much easier with new road opening NOV 16. Goes from Bushey Arches right up to Hospital Car Parks. Makes it much easier from the south; but does help us here in St Albans. Tommy Sawyer Way; named after Capt Tommy Sawyer who was killed in Afghanistan

3. The Future of St Albans City Hospital

Strategic Review outcome:

·        Renovate and re-build Watford (acute and A&E);

·        Planned care at St Albans;

·        Hemel Hempstead healthcare provision is being re-designed around a new hub.

Decisions made – but little detail on the plan. Date for your diary – NOV 30; 7:00 pm at the Civic Centre; the Future for St Albans City Hospital; in conjunction with the St Albans & District Council.

4. Flu Jabs

A final reminder – Surgeries are running their last flu jab clinics; if you’re eligible get yours done now.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Sam's Film Club: Alien

This week Sam takes charge of the Film Club, setting the theme for this week as "Sam's Top Picks". Up first is Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror classic "Alien".

In deep space, the crew of the starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship, and an organism from inside an egg leaps out and attaches itself to one of the crew.

Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Helen Horton, and Bolaji Badejo all star.


Thrifty Mrs C

Penny Carr our own Mrs Thrifty was our guest tonight giving out the following tips.

Xmas Shopping
Cheaper to do in January /February when prices are low
All the supermarkets have deals and offers on now and use a list to shop to.

Xmas Day Guests 
If you are hosting Xmas day you do not have to supply everything so arrange who is bringing desert, crackers etc and spread the cost.
As a rule under 18's and over 90's get presents, all others do a secret santa.
Make your own and get the children to help, also make your own wrapping paper better than buying the cheap stuff that rips too easily.

A lot of sites from companies have free offers on social media look out for them.

all of this and more can be found at he web site

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Interview with David Widdowson @MaltingsTheatre

Today Danny was joined by actor David Widdowson who is now the chairman for Ovo Theatre, located in the Maltings. David informed us of the succesful evenings the company spent performing 'As You Like It' in the Roman Theatre of Verulamium and travelling many miles to perform at the infamous Minack Theatre in Cornwall.

Coming up at the OVO, on Friday 4th November The Devines and Jimmy Grayburn are playing for Folk night. The following weekend, the one act play 'Regulation 18B' and then the week after Harold Pinters 'Betrayal'.

For Christmas shows there is the jazzy 'Christmas Cracker' on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th,  'Christmas Carol' on Saturday 26th November, and finally 'A Christmas Trifle' on 3rd December.

For further details about these performances and more visit:

Tickets can be purchased next door at the St Albans library.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Drivetime Sessions with @minniebirch

Singer-songwriter Minnie Birch returned to Danny's Drivetime show for an "as live slot" recorded in advance because Minnie is currently in Germany. The two discussed Minnie's travels in Iceland and her prior tour in Germany.

Minnie then treated us to a "beautiful and haunting", as Danny called it, rendition of  'Up and Down'. Minnie was inspired by 'A Midsummer's Night Dream', she wrote the piece for her local Shakespeare group The Company of Players. The second song Minnie played doesn't yet have a name, but the moving lyrics certainly reflect the fact she wrote it while staying in a refugee camp in Calais. Finally Minnie performed a mellow cover of Ellie Goulding's 'Still Falling for You', which was used for the soundtrack of Bridget Jones's Baby.

For more information on Minnie Birch's gigs and her new music check out or go directly to for a listen.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Local Literary Feature with @JulieMayhew

Image result for julie mayhew writers workshops

Marie Kemplay and Danny were joined once again by the acclaimed writer and Berkhamsted local Julie Mayhew. This time the three discussed Julie's latest literary endeavour 'Mother Tongue'. Julie sets her novel in Russia and aligns us with Darya, an eighteen year old left grieving after her hometown Beslan is devastated by a terrorist attack and she loses her sister. Darya moves to Moscow to try to start a new life and Julie evocatively portrays the young woman grappling with her place in the world.

Julie described the process of writing the novel as a 'slow burner', she took her time researching Russian culture and spoke to a range of individuals who lived in Moscow to gain greater insight. Julie further explained that the title 'Mother Tongue' signifies a number of complexities for Darya, her experience speaking two forms of Russian, the challenge of learning English, combined with the difficulties of understanding her bedridden mother's depression.

At the moment, Julie is writing a modern stage adaptation of The Railway Children for Eastern Angles. If you would like to read 'Mother Tongue' or find out more about Julie's artistic pursuits, please visit

Make sure to tune in next month for Marie Kemplay's local literary feature. 

Interior design feature with Gwendoline Alderton @ga_interiors

Yesterday (Monday 31st) Gwendoline talked to us about the autumnal colours which are popular at the moment. Among other colours, 'yellow mellow' is very popular right now. Yellow mellow is a gentle yellow colour which can be used to set off another colour, especially grey, and is very easy to live with. 
Another thing which Gwendoline mentioned is that Asian fabrics are very popular at the moment, because they add to a room without overpowering it. As well as being very beautiful, having a good texture in a room is a very easy way to add to it and to update it. Many Asian fabrics have lots of detail which can blend quite well with the rest of the room.
The final thing which Gwendoline talked about was that elephant motifs are very popular at the moment, because grey is very popular. Of course we knew this already, and it was sort of the elephant in the room.
Gwendoline's website :