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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Fairy Tale of York - the 'White' way to a Happy Christmas!

The ceramic-tiled staircase with a warm welcome at the top.

The customers' coffee lounge


I had a magical start to my Christmas this week in the wonderful city of York where the friendliness of the shop staff showed what this time of the year is all about. Entering White Stuff's traditional store in Stonegate, my daughter and I noticed a steep staircase decorated with colourful ceramic tiles .
'Would you mind if I took a photo for my blog,' I asked the assistant.
She smiled and said 'Of course not - everyone does.'
I was soon shown up the stairs through the men's department to a Victorian lounge designed especially for shoppers to relax in and drink coffee 'on the house.'  I learnt the history of some of the antique furniture in the room from another friendly assistant and left feeling like one of the family.
We spent around 20 mins in the shop and called back later to buy my daughter a beautiful matching necklace and bracelet for Christmas.

Congratulations, White Stuff, for the best customer service I've every encountered.

The White Stuff store in York

Wishing a Happy  and peaceful Christmas to you all.

York Minster


Monday, 28 November 2016

WHEN LIPSTICK BECAME A LIFESAVER



When my daughter was on a life support machine in intensive care I used to visit her every day - sometimes even in the middle of the night. Arriving for a 3am visit after she'd been unconscious for two months, the nurse on duty said: You always wear bright lipstick when you arrive - though you know she can't see you. Why is that?'
'Because,' I replied, 'if she wakes up, I want her to see me how she knows me best. Happy and positive. Not with a pale face and fear in my eyes.'
Fourteen years later I am now writing a short story called The Red Lipstick. How lucky am I that she is alive to read it?


Find me at https://www.facebook.com/MarilynChapmanAuthor/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Friday, 18 November 2016

TWO LITTLE GIRLS WHO MELTED THE HEARTS OF A NATION: THE NEW FACES OF WORLD PEACE


Ten-year-old Tyana and 11-year-old Gracie at the new Blackpool Carers' Centre



Two  young sisters, aged just ten and eleven, were asked this week to name three wishes. Tyana and Gracie are day-to-day carers for their mum, Susanne, who has osteoporosis  and is too ill to look after herself.

'I wish every ill person could be made better,' said one sister.

'I wish my mum didn't have to be disabled,' said the other.

And the third wish?

The third wish, they both agreed, was for 'World Peace.'

These two remarkable girls were featured in BBC Television's DIY SOS programme as two near-derelict semi-detached houses in Blackpool, Lancashire,  were transformed into  a brand new carers' centre.
Tyanna, 11, told the Gazette: “My mum can’t move around that well. She can’t wash herself, she can’t cook or walk without support. We’re her carers so we wash her and tidy the house and things like that. The carers centre lets us take time off for a bit and just be kids. My mum can be sat down somewhere and I don’t have to worry about her, and I can go off and play.I think the new centre is really great and I’m amazed how they did it in such a short time. Gracey, 10, said: “I didn’t ever expect to see myself on TV. The carers centre helps us take a break from caring and you can just relax.”


Added their mother:

"It’s been very emotional and a little scary and exciting. As long as we raise the profile of what a young carer is and does I will be happy.... You would never know about my girls as they paint that beautiful smile on their faces"
http://trib.al/hun85TK


A member of the Blackpool Carers team 'holds the front page' of the B;ackpool Gazette.
 Photo courtesy of Blackpool Carers.



'The show served as the big curtain raiser for this year’s Children in Need spectacular. Blackpool Carers’ Centre is one of the groups supported by the annual charity appeal and its ambitious project was chosen out of hundreds for the DIY SOS treatment.The hour-long show was a chance for young carers to tell their own stories and inspire others..'

For me, this was journalism at its best, a much-needed story that proves the world is still full of genuine, good hearted people - and, of course, children.


A final word of congratulations to  former Gazette  features editor Jacqui Morley, now  running her own company Janarchy PR,  who supported the carers every step of the way.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Bonfire or Budloe? Here's to Guy Fawkes...

I love the idea that Guy Fawkes night is called Budloe Night in Guernsey. Here's the reason...





Budloe Night – Guernsey Bonfire Night

Guy Fawkes night in Guernsey, has a much deeper history and stretches back even further than the 17th Century attempt to blow up the English parliament in 1605. Today it’s also known locally as “Budloe Night” and harks back to the island’s Viking heritage.
“Budloe Night” was originally intended to celebrate the end of the year. It was a pagan festival where a Yule log would be burnt. Using fire was an act of cleansing in preparation for the new year. The connection to the Vikings stems from the island’s association with Normandy, which was of course conquered and populated by the Norsemen, from which the term Norman was derived.
The original Budloe festivals would have taken place later on in the year than Guy Fawkes night, around the Winter Solstice (December 21st or 22nd). With the advent of Guy Fawkes night, and given the similarities in how each festival is celebrated, the two became linked and celebrated together on November 5th.
Budloe night originally involved celebrations around a large fire, decorating the house, burning the Yule log along with copious amounts of eating and drinking. Budloe night was still celebrated in it’s own right in Guernsey right up until after the war when there were large cavalcades along with many people dressing up in fancy dress.
Since the war the large scale celebrations have declined and the focus has now become a more standardised bonfire and fireworks party

Some Traditional Guernsey Bonfire Night Dishes

If you want your bonfire party to have a traditional Guernsey flavour then try some of the following recipes for Bean Jar and Gache Melee … yummy
A Traditional Guernsey Bean Jar
Traditional Guernsey Bean Jar

Gache Melee
   

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

HOW TO BE A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE


A Woman of Substance (Emma Harte Series Book 1) by [Bradford, Barbara Taylor]
Book cover courtesy of Amazon.co.uk
















I remember reading up on the career of one of my favourite authors whilst I was still in my twenties. It went something like this: student, café worker, gymnast, market gardener, therapist, athletics coach... long before I got to the end I wondered what this lady had ever done to make her a writer!

Yes, I was very naïve and no, I  hadn't heard of the University of Life. But those days came to mind this week when someone from my past work history appeared out of nowhere.

'I recognise that lady,' said one of my daughter's facebook friends after seeing my author photo online.  'She got me a job almost twenty-years ago, and I'm still here.'

This was someone I'd found a position for in my days as a recruitment consultant in the late nineteen nineties - one of the best jobs I ever had!

Better still, the one-time customer services advisor had now risen through  ranks of the  successful distribution company to become customer services and transport manager.

In my early days of recruitment I interviewed many  graduates looking for their first job after years of studying.  I usually recommended temporary positions in industry to  instil in them the work ethic.  One girl, I remember, told me she had ambitions to work for the Secret Service, but was quite happy to do any temporary work that came her way.  She was one of my best temps and eventually accepted a lucrative position with an international organisation.

Five years later I received a confidential letter from  MI5  asking if I could verify the candidate's work records.  I was happy to do so and, though I never got to hear the outcome, I'd always known this was someone determined to succeed.

Success is not so much about what you do as how you do it.  And that stint working behind the beauty counter in Boots might just come in handy when you're ready build your own cosmetics empire.

So if your children or grandchildren are keen  to learn how to work, try suggesting they work to learn. And for anyone hoping to become  A Woman of Substance just remember that Barbara Taylor Bradford once worked in the typing pool at the Yorkshire Evening Post.





Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Life in an English village - it might not be quite as you think.








A Village Affair
Anthony Horowitz speaking in the Daily Mail
A Village Affair courtesy of Random House

'There is nowhere more evil than an English village,' Anthony Horowitz told a packed audience in Gloucestershire this week.  'It breeds mistrust, suspicion and bitterness.'

Speaking at Cheltenham Literary Festival, the Midsomer Murders screenwriter added: 'I live in Norfolk so I should know.'

Mr Horowitz, who adapted the well-known novels by Caroline Graham for television, said cities weren't a suitable base for the genre.

Attributing the above quote to Sherlock Holmes, the writer said: English villages are special places where hatred and mistrust and suspicion and anger and bitterness have a natural place to grow. In a city, in London, your feelings get dissipated, it's too loud, there are too many people, life is too fast. In an English village it can all fester slowly.'

Hardly surprising that these thoughts come from the man who made small-time murder mysteries fashionable, but the truth is that English villages have  held fascination for writers through the centuries.

One novel that has stood the test of time is Joanne Trollope's A Village Affair - a wonderful observation  of human frailty with characters we can all recognise.

Another of my favourites is Lark Rise to Candleford, Laura Thompson's semi-autobiographical trilogy that transferred so well to the small screen.

Perhaps one of the best-loved chroniclers of British life was Rebecca Shaw who died in 2015 having sold a million copies of her novel The Village Green Affair and many others inspired by her   life in a small Dorset village.

Do you have a favourite novel about village life?


Monday, 3 October 2016

They all collaborated, didn't they?

Jenny Lecoat's story featured in The Times newspaper



What do you do if you want to share a family secret with the world? The answer, for  Jersey girl Jenny Lecoat, is turn it into a film.  Jenny's great aunt, Louisa Gould, was murdered by the Nazis for sheltering an escaped Russian prisoner in her home during thr German Occupation of the Channel Islands.  Another Mother's Son, starring Jenny Seagrove as Louisa,  will be released in March 2017.

A television scriptwriter for thirty years, Jenny  created storylines for high-profile  soaps such as East Enders and Holby City before she realised that she wanted to share her own  family's tragic past. Louisa Gould perished in the gas chambers at Ravensbruck for sheltering a Russian prisoner-of-war during the  Occupation of Jersey. The prisoner was known as Bill.

'She was pretty lax about security - she used to take him into town with her, she used to go to church with him,' Jenny told Simon de Bruxelles in The Times this week. Louisa was a widow who was running the village store in St Ouen in the west of Jersey when the Germans invaded in 1940. At first the Occupation was relatively benign as Hitler harboured hopes of a negotiated settlement with Britain. The Germans brought thousands of Russian prisoners captured on the Eastern Front who were put to work on concrete fortifications that still stand today.

Among them was Feodor Burriyiy, a pilot in in his early twenties, the same age as Louisa's son Edward, who had won a scholarship to Oxford but was killed serving with the Royal Navy. Burriyiy escaped within weeks of arriving but was recaptured. When he escaped again Louisa was asked by a neighbour if she could take him in.

Explained Jenny 'One of Louisa's sons had been killed and the other was in the RAF and she didn't know whether he was still alive and I think she was very lonely. She was a good-hearted person but I think there was a certain degree of naivety there.'

Louisa taught Bill English and altered her son's clothes to fit him. Bob le Seur, now ninety four, who helped to shelter Russian fugitives at the time, said of her 'She was a saintly soul but not as discreet as she should have been.'

When a neighbour sent a 'betrayal' letter to the Gestapo headquarters, Bob hid him in his lavatory until another safe place was found.

Bill was never recaptured. He returned to Russia after the war and kept in touch with his Jersey friends. Louisa, her brother and her sister Ivy Forster, who had also hidden a Russian prisoner-of-war, were tried by the Germans and sent to prison in France. Louisa was transferred to Ravensbruck in Germany and sent to the gas chambers, eight weeks before the camp was liberated.  She was 53.

'When you mention Jersey and the Occupation,' said Jenny, 'people say "They all collaborated, didn't they?" No, they didn't.There were a lot of people like my family who were involved in the so-called resistance. I had written soaps and comedies in the past but found what I really liked was fact-based so I went over in 2012 and spoke to people like Bob Le Seur.'

Jenny sent the screenplay to producer Bill Kenwright in 2014, 'and he was fascinated by the story.' The film had a budget of £2.5 million.

NB I can't wait to see the film.  My new novel, Occupying Love, set in the Occupation of Guernsey, includes a fictitious Guernsey Resistance called GINA based on an underground news service which really existed.









Sunday, 25 September 2016

Brangelina, the Great British 'Break-off' and who stole the Toffee Deluxe...







'What's Brangelina?' asked my favourite uncle.  'Not bloomin' Brexit  all over again?'

'Don't worry,' I shook my head.  That's  yesterday's news. Brad and Ange have moved on. It's The Great British Bakeoff  everyone's talking about  now.'

'Breakoff?' He looked puzzled.  You mean Bacup! It's been in Lancashire for as long as I can remember and that's where it belongs.'

'Do listen. The Great British Bake-Off. They've defected to Channel Four. Well, Hollywood has. The rest are staying with Mary.'

'Hollywood?' Is that where Donald Grump lives?'

Close - but back to Bake-off. The newspapers  are full of it.  Pushy Paul versus Mumsy Mary. And now Channel Four has  a celebrity food programme with no star.'

'Bah - food again. Why IS everyone so interested in cooking these days?

'Because it takes their minds off  what's really happening in the world. Besides, we all love to eat.  Which reminds me. Have you heard the latest on the Toffee Deluxe?'

What about it?'

'It's leaving Quality Street.'

'Good riddance, I say. Never did like that programme. 'Is it time for tea? All this talk of food's making me hungry.


Image result for quality street