Commissions welcomed! We are available for Radio and TV work, Event Compering, PR and Media Consultancy, Ghostwriting
- also foreign language translation and interpreting in French, German, Italian, Spanish and a bit of Dutch and Czech....

Saturday, 19 December 2015

North West Counties Football League: Cammell Laird 1907 FC 0 - Padiham FC 3

Following the postponement of last Saturday's home game against Squired Gate, the Cammell Laird ground staff obviously worked very hard to make sure that this game went ahead as scheduled.

Unfortunately, while the pitch was up to the job, the Cammell Laird team found it difficult to rise to the occasion and found no way through a plucky Padiham side who started the 18th in the NWCFL Premier Division table and some 9 points behind their hosts.

To be fair, the playing conditions probably favoured the visitors as we have seen Padiham play on numerous occasions when we used to live in East Lancashire and every single time we have been there for match it has absolutely poured with rain. We also know their manager Steve Wilkes of old from when he managed Darwen all the way to the final of the Lancashire Cup - narrowly losing to then-Conference side Morecambe on penalties - so, although we enjoyed the afternoon along with the Padiham travelling faithful, it wasn't such a good day to be a Cammell Laird fan.

In all honesty this game was very entertaining to watch with lost of end to end action and was a lot more closely contested than the final scoreline suggests. But while the home side were unable to put any of their own chances away, Padiham had no such difficulty.

Cammell Laird have the chance to get back to winning ways on Boxing Day when they entertain Ashton Athletic at their St Peters Road ground in a 3pm kick off. If you haven't been to a NWCFL game before, maybe it would be nice festive treat to go as a family and enjoy a pleasant afternoon of grass roots football...?

You can find out more about Cammell Laird 1907 FC and their various teams HERE

or find out about your own local NWCFL team at

Friday, 18 December 2015

GB Pair to Guest in Widnes Festive Charity Game

The first of the guest players who will be turning out in the charity match at Silver Blades Widnes on 27th December have been unveiled.

The game is between Widnes Wild who compete in the Laidler Conference of the National Ice Hockey League and Widnes based Riverside Raiders who are a recreational team – albeit with some very good players of their own.

In order to help bridge the gap in standards between the two teams, it has been agreed that Widnes Wild’s top scorer this season so far – player coach and former Elite league player Scott McKenzie will not play but will run the Wild’s bench for the game and the Raiders team will also be boosted by 5 guest players.   

Three of the 5 guest players have been announced so far with the other two names to follow in the next few days. 

Those named to date are:

1) Former Widnes Wild netminder Nicole Jackson (in main photo). Nicole is a GB women’s international player and currently plays for the Bradford Bulldogs (men’s senior team) in the Laidler Conference. As was as having played previously for Widnes, she has also played – among others - for the Kingston Diamonds women’s team, Manchester Minotaurs and Newcastle Vipers, with whom she won the ENL North 2 title in the 2009/10 season.

Mikey Gilbert

2) 18 year old Mikey Gilbert who plays as a forward for the Altrincham Aces in the Laidler Conference. He has come up through the Manchester / Trafford junior development system and played for Manchester Minotaurs in NIHL North 1 last season. He has represented England and has scored 3 goals and 9 assists for the Aces so far this season. 

3) Also turning out for the Riverside Raiders is Sarah Hutchinson who is another Team GB women’s international.  She plays for Bradford Bulldogs and has previously played for Manchester Minotaurs and the Kingston Diamonds and Sheffield Shadows women’s teams.

The game faces off at 5.30pm on Sunday 27th December at the Silver Blades ice rink at Widnes WA8 0TA. Admission is £6 for adults and £3 for children. 

Sarah Hutchinson
Photo by Rob Hutchinson
For anybody who hasn’t been to an ice hockey match before, the charity game at the Silver Blades ice rink in Widnes on the day after Boxing Day would be a nice occasion for the whole family to go out and do something together and support a good cause at the same time.

The other two guest players will be announced here shortly and, in the meantime, you can find out more about the Widnes Wild ice hockey team at

You can find out more about English league NIHL ice hockey in general by looking here:

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Widnes Charity Ice Hockey Match In Aid of Ronald McDonald Houses Charity - 27th December 2015

Here’s a great way of having a good family fun night out over the Christmas period and supporting a really good cause at the same time.

Widnes Wild and Riverside Raiders will be staging a charity ice hockey match at the Silver Blades Ice Rink in Widnes (WA8 0TA) on Sunday 27th December 2015 in aid of the Ronald McDonald Houses.

The game will be the first in what will become an annual challenge for the “Antony Morris Memorial Cup” which has been donated in memory of the Widnes player who died recently after an accident (more info HERE ).

The game faces off at 5.30pm the day after boxing day with doors opening at 4.45.  Admission is £6 for adults and £3 for children.

If you haven’t been to an ice hockey match before, this would be a great opportunity to give it a try!

The Ronald McDonald  Houses provide free accommodation for families while their child is in hospital and enable parents to stay as close as possible to the children's ward, greatly reducing the need to travel and all of its associated stresses and costs at such a difficult time.

You can find out more about the Ronald McDonald Houses charity here:

To find out more about Widnes Wild ice hockey team click HERE and to find out more about Riverside Raiders look HERE .

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Forty Not Out - The Ice Hockey Annual 2015/16 Edited by Stewart Roberts

Well, I said it last year and I’ll say it again even more forcefully this year, having spent most of my own summer putting together the Ice Hockey Review NIHL Yearbook I am probably one of the few people in the world - who is not related to him – who knows exactly how much work Stewart Roberts puts into producing the absolutely excellent “Ice Hockey Annual” every year. 

And he has been doing it for 40 years now. That is longer than most of the players featured in it have been on this earth and certainly longer than I knew that such a thing as British ice hockey even existed.    So hats off to Stewart Roberts – and may he continue doing it for another 40 years!

Most people just look at the finished article and think “oh yeah - great book…” – but if you actually look at all the different things that are in there and how much work has been put into gathering all that information together from numerous different sources and then putting it into a workable format, that really is a Herculean effort in itself. 

But the trick then is to make it so that the book is attractive to the eye and easy to read for the casual fan while remaining highly useful and informative for the statistician and hockey journalist.

Now, I do not follow the NHL and I am not overly enamoured of the Elite League in its present set-up but I find myself being captivated reading the quotes of the year from the various personalities and how the season unfolded in both the Elite and English Premier Leagues. So I would definitely recommend buying this.

In his own words, Stewart describes the Annual as follows:

“It has been dubbed by the fans as ‘the bible' of the sport as it contains reports, statistics and photos for every major club and competition.   Much of this information is not available anywhere else, not even on the internet.

This year’s book - the record busting 40th edition! - is another colourful package, full of information about the UK game, laced with international events like the World Championships and the European Champions League.  This has been made possible thanks to our major sponsor, Canadian Spa Company, and our other generous backers."

Among the great features this time are –
* An in-depth look at the amazing and unique career of our own Great One, Tony Hand MBE
* Complete coverage of the leading clubs in statistics and end-of-term reports, plus team pics.
* How Britain's men and women won silver medals in the World Championships.
* Biographies of some of the game’s best players and personalities.
* Latest news of the new rinks in Bristol, Cambridge and Cardiff Bay.
* Our ever popular Quotes of the Year.
* 176 pages in colour.

The Annual is on sale, price £9.95, at all major ice rinks, or post free direct from the website at

And, of course, it makes a great Christmas present!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Sweet Alsace, French Bistrot in Liscard, Wirral, CH45 4LA

We were very pleased to find a delightful, authentic French Bistrot called Sweet Alsace in Liscard, which is a lovely town on the Wirral Peninsular.

Sweet Alsace is run by Pierre Ballet from Mulhouse – a town near Strasbourg, where I used to live.. I always enjoyed the Alsatian cuisine and Sweet Alsace has some fantastic dishes on offer, such as Tarte a l’Oignon and Tarte Flambe.  For those with a sweet tooth there is a special cake from Alsace too – Kugelhof (if I remember the spelling correctly!).

Sweet Alsace also organise dining evenings – the next one is on 25th November – booking essential.

 Definitely worth going out of your way to find Sweet Alsace.

 Sweet Alsace,
44 Sea View Road,
Liscard, Wallasey
CH45 4LA.

Follow Sweet Alsace on

Saturday, 14 November 2015

NWCFL: Cammell Laird 1907 FC 0 - West Didsbury & Chorlton 1

Cammell Laird 1907 FC were kept goalless at home for the since early August in this NWCFL Premier Division game at home to West Didsbury and Chorlton who they had already beaten 2-3 away a month ago.

Following a week of atrocious weather and on day when many other matches across the northwest had to be postponed, the club did very well to get this game on at all but the whole of the first half was played through a damp and drizzly scotch mist.

Both sides looked very well matched and it was a closely fought contest throughout. The only goal of the game came from a West Didsbury penalty mid-way through the first half. 
Although Cammell Laird fought back, they could do nothing to pull themselves back into the game.  Even an improvement in the weather for the second half was unable to do the trick and a sending off late in the game was typical of the home side’s fortunes throughout.

One bright note in an otherwise gloomy afternoon in Rock Ferry was the match programme – which we have bought several times this season when going to watch Cammell Lairds and have enjoyed immensely.

It is packed full of interesting information and statistics and one interesting feature is where they look at which other football teams around the world play in all blue as Cammell Laird do.  This week the focus was on Rumelange in Luxembourg which was very interesting for us as we used to live in Luxembourg in the late 1990s – and while we never actually got to see Rumelange play, we do at least know where it is!

You can find out more about Cammell Laird 1907 FC at
And more about the North West Counties League at

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Italian Wine Tasting Dinner 10th December 2015 Jacks Restaurant and Wine Bar, St. Annes on the Sea, Lancashire

The lovely Jacks Restaurant on Wood Street in St. Annes-on-the-Sea in Lancashire is well worth a visit.  They are the nearest restaurant to the recently-opened Travel Lodge Hotel.

On Thursday, 10th December 2015 Jacks are organising an Italian Wine and Dine experience that looks amazing.  For £49.95 per person, there are 5 courses from Canapes through to Dessert with Prosecco to start with and Lemoncello to finish with - white and red wines in between - and a really delicious selection of dishes to accompany the wines.

Jacks are open from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m on weekdays and serve wonderful food.  They have the most comprehensive Breakfast Menu we have ever seen from full English breakfast, to pancakes with maple syrup, continental style pastries and croissants and lots more innovative breakfast dishes.

They serve drinks, lunch and dinner and snacks and have lots of tables outside if the weather is fine.  Check out their website for live music and special events.

Jacks Restaurant and Wine Bar
54 Wood Street
St. Annes on the Sea

Tel.:  01253 780990

Thursday, 5 November 2015

A Portuguese Deli in West Kirby, Wirral - 1386 - another reason to visit the Wirral Peninsula

We read about Deli 1386 in Grange Road, West Kirby (near the railway station) when we were having breakfast in The Tee Room in Banks Road.  Along with daily national newspapers, there is a table in the Tee Room for local brochures, etc. and we found a copy of "Local Food Matters".

1386 is a Portuguese Deli offering authentic food and wine.  They have a good selection of cheese and meats and those wonderful Portuguese Tarts.

Deli 1386
27 Grange Road
West Kirby
CH48 4DZ
Tel.:  0151 345 6906
Twitter: @deli1386

By a strange coincidence, when we popped in to Honest to Goodness in Hoylake on our way back (Honest to Goodness is an amazing store selling a wide range of healthy option foods and organic produce) Paul is learning Portuguese.

Monday, 19 October 2015

A new CD from Richard Shelton - 'An Englishman in Love in LA'

Perhaps best known in the UK for playing the role of Dr. Adam Forsythe in ‘Emmerdale Farm’, Richard Shelton is not only an actor but also a very talented singer.   Richard, who now lives in LA in America, has played several roles in films and was nominated for an award for his interpretation of Frank Sinatra in ‘Rat Pack Confidential’ in London.

If you have never heard Richard sing, now is your chance as there is a taster of his latest CD ‘An Englishman in Love in LA’ on his website
We were fortunate enough to meet up with Richard Shelton when he travelled to Blackpool to sing at The Sands Venue on the Promenade and were extremely impressed.  Not only does Richard have a wonderful voice but he is also a true gentleman.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

NWCFL Premier Division: Cammell Laird FC 2 - Abbey Hey 3

In a thoroughly entertaining end to end match, Cammell Laird lost 2 -3 to Abbey Hey in the Premier Division of the North West Counties Football League.

More to follow....

The Tee Room, West Kirby, Wirral

For anyone planning an autumn break, The Wirral Peninsula in England's north west is a lovely place.  There are some wonderful stretches of coast and the Peninsula is bordered by the estuaries of the Rivers Mersey and Dee and the Irish Sea.

One of the nicest cafes we have found is The Tee Room at 172 Banks Road, West Kirby, Wirral, CH48 0RH, where you will find wonderful, home-cooked food and a warm welcome.  

The café is owned and run by Iain Lomax who is also, as you can probably guess from the name of the café, a golf enthusiast.  Instead of table numbers you will find details of some of the most famous golf links and courses in the UK and America.  An excellent menu from breakfast to lunch and (my favourite) afternoon tea.

For further information, please see the Tee Room website

And if you are looking for somewhere to stay on The Wirral Peninsula, check out The Sherwood Guest House in New Brighton

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Ice Hockey Review 2015 NIHL Yearbook - Available Now!

Ice Hockey Review 2015 NIHL Yearbook - Sponsored by Red Hockey

182 pages - 47 full colour pages   

The ideal "early Christmas present" for every NIHL ice hockey player and fan
Team by team and league by league stats and reports for all NIHL North and South teams in Divisions 1 and 2 from the 2014/15 season. Fascinating interviews, features and great photos through out
Just £8.50 including free UK P&P

Order link: HERE
Full List Of Contents:

Moralee Conference Season Review, Moralee Awards & All Star Teams, Moralee Conference Play Offs
Billingham Stars, Blackburn Hawks, Manchester Minotaurs, Sheffield Spartans, Solway Sharks, Sutton Sting, Whitley Warriors

Laidler Conference Season Review, Laidler Conference Play Offs,  NIHL North Promotion Play Off
Blackburn Eagles, Bradford Bulldogs, Coventry Blaze, Deeside Dragons, Hull Jets, Nottingham Lions, Sheffield Senators, Solihull Barons, Telford Tigers, Widnes Wild

South 1 Season Review, South 1 Awards & All Star Teams,  South 1 Cup, South 1 Play Offs
Bracknell Hornets, Cardiff Devils, Chelmsford Chieftains, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Milton Keynes Thunder, Oxford City Stars, Solent Devils, Streatham Redskins , Wightlink Raiders

South 2 West Season Review,
Basingstoke Buffalo, Bristol Pitbulls, Cardiff Devils, Swindon Wildcats, Wightlink Tigers
South 2 East Season Review
Chelmsford Warriors, Invicta Mustangs, Lee Valley Lions, Peterborough Islanders, Slough Jets
South 2 Play Offs, South 2 Cup

English Challenge Cup Nth / Sth

Interviews / Features:
All Change At Hillheads, Imports in NIHL North, Hull’s Bonner Goes Stateside, The Rise And Rise Of Red Hockey, Retiring Raider Damon Larter, Saving Ryde Arena, Retiring Or Returning? Alan Armour, Meet The Ref: Stephen Matthews, Nostalgia: Peterborough Ravens, Blackburn Legends Match, Super Seagulls Soar Again, Cleveleys Ice Arena, Ice Hockey Down Under, Fun & Games With Facebook

Bulk discounts and back editions also available from

Saturday, 19 September 2015

NWCFL Premier Division: Cammell Laird 1907 FC 3 - Nelson FC 0

An excellent all round performance saw 12th place Cammell Laird beat 3rd place Nelson 3-0 in the Premier Division of the NWCFL.

Report to follow...

More info from

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Pre- Season Friendly: Asville 3 - Woodchurch 0

Ashville FC rounded off their pre-season programme with an entertaining 3-0 defeat of Woodchurch FC.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Ashville FC v Buckley Town Double Header

Anyone who wasn’t there missed a feast of football this afternoon at Ashville Football Club in Wallasey as they hosted a double header encounter with Buckley Town of the Cymru Alliance.

The first game saw a 3-1 win for Ashville, which was closely fought and highly entertaining throughout. There was a penalty in each half and the result was only made certain by a late goal for Ashville in the dying minutes.

The second game was not quite so close but still well contested by both sides.  The visitors came away with a 0-4 win with two goals in each half.  The achievement was all the more creditable as they played with only 10 men for much of the game, having had a player sent off midway through the first half due to an unsavoury incident.

 Ashville FC are at home again on Tuesday evening with a friendly game against Welsh Premier League side Nomads FC  from Connahs Quay and then again on Saturday 1st August when they play Llay Welfare FC from Wrexham who play in the Welsh National League.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Book Review: Reality Check: Travels In The Australian Ice Hockey League by Will Brodie

Reality Check: Travels In The Australian Ice Hockey League by Will Brodie
Published by Combiner Publishing – 326 Pages
ISBN: 978-06469320-4-0

Here’s an interesting book about our favourite sport – ice hockey – in Australia. Yes - they do play it down under and I knew that already as Team GB has played Australia in the past in World Championships.

Also the Peterborough Pirates (that’s Peterborough, England – not Peterborough, Victoria or Peterborough, South Australia, by the way..) once had a player called John Oddy who had come over from the Adelaide Avalanche club and, after a quick flick through the index of Reality Check, I discover that there is a Greg Oddy who is the current captain of the modern day Adelaide Adrenaline club - so there must be some sort of family connection there.

What Will Brodie sets out to in this book is to follow the Australian Ice Hockey League through a complete season and it starts in January 2014 just as preparations for the new campaign are getting under way (more about this in a bit..).

I haven’t read all of this book as yet as it is quite a substantial read and I am currently trying to get the 2015 Ice Hockey Review NIHL Yearbook ready for publication but the bits that I have read so far have been fascinating.   

For example, matches in the AIHL are played over 2x 15 minute period and 1 x 20 minute period.  Apparently, this is to save costs on ice time although as every drawn game in decided by a penalty shootout at the end, I would have thought that the time taken to do that would negate any times saved by having shorter periods. Anyway, it’s their league…!

Another interesting fact is that NOBODY GETS PAID in the AIHL – not players, not coaches, not administrators, nobody. There are sponsorship deals and such things that help with accommodation, cars etc. for major players but apart from that, everything is done on  apart time voluntary basis and that means that games are played purely at weekends.

Despite the fact that the AIHL is not awash with cash, the league still manages to attract a decent level of overseas player to play there – and many of them just go for the love of the game and the opportunity of spending some time in Australia. The other bonus is that the Aussie season runs from April to September (that’s their winter…) so it coincides almost exactly with the close season of the semi-pro leagues in North America.  Therefore players can go and play for a season in Oz thus helping their keep up their fitness levels and match sharpness.

It is written in the form of a diary and Will travels across the country covering the various AIHL clubs and talking to all sorts of fascinating people on the way.  Now: if you are looking for book full of stats and figures, this is not it – but if you’d like a leisurely read through how they run and play ice hockey on another continent, then this book is definitely for you.

And to bring the story up to date, Will Brodie will be contributing an article on the 2015 AIHL season to this year’s Ice Hockey Review Yearbook as well.

In the meantime, you can keep up with Will’s various projects on his own website at and you can buy Reality Check: Travels in the Australian Ice Hockey League by following the link   HERE 



Monday, 8 June 2015

Wirral Open Studio Tour 2015

For the sixth year running, artists of all genres will be displaying their work at The Wirral Open Studio Tour to be held over the weekend of 14th - 15th June 2015.   From 10am - 5 pm on the Saturday and 11 am till 5 pm on the Sunday, in 29 locations throughout the Wirral Peninsula you will find displays of artistic work.

Wirral Art is a community group founded in 2009 to create an arts trail on the Peninsula with the aim of bringing together professional and semi-professional artists and helping them to showcase their work.

To find out more and for a map of where to find which artists over the weekend, please see

Sponsors include:  The Rathbone Studio, Pottery and Art Gallery of Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead, Jo Smith Jeweller of Hoylake and Stacks Art, Gifts and Coffee shop of West Kirby.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Afternoon Tea at Aquitania Restaurant, Cunard Building, Liverpool

You can't actually go to this now as it was a special "pop up" restaurant operated by students from the City of Liverpool College catering school to complement the 3 Queens On the Mersey event but, as we like having afternoon tea - and, of course, LOVE telling you all about it - we just HAD to give this a mention.

Those enterprising people at the City of Liverpool College Catering Department hit upon a fantastic way of celebrating the 175th Anniversary of the first Cunard Trans-Atlantic crossing.  During the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May, they took over the ground floor of the Cunard Building (see photo below) that was previously the Headquarters of the shipping line and organised carvery lunches, afternoon teas and gourmet dinners.

We went along on Tuesday, 26th May to sample the afternoon tea and it was a delightful experience - beautifully presented with a variety of sandwiches, scones, jam and cream, cakes and a syllabub with tea or coffee and all served at table by the efficient and attentive students under the watchful eye of their course supervisors.   Had we wanted it there was also an option of a champagne tea.   The room is elegant and harks back to the opulent age of sea travel and the tables were beautifully decorated with flowers or potted Rosemary (for remembrance).
We enquired as we left whether the College has a facility for refreshmnent at other times and were given a card with their 'Bread & More' at St. George's Hall address.  So why not find out what you are missing at the café in another of Liverpool's beautiful old buildings - St. George's Hall, St. George's Place, Liverpool L1 1JJ - contact phone no. 0151 707 8512

You can find out more about the College's award winning Academy Restaurant, Patisserie, Café and bakery on the website:

Cunard's Three Queens On The Mersey

This isn't really a secret but we thought we'd share our experiences of seeing the 3 cruise liners - the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 on the Mersey on Bank Holiday Monday.
One of the vantage points was the Promenade at New Brighton which leads into Magazine Brow and you can walk all the way alongside the River Mersey to Woodside.  If you look carefully at the street photograph, or click on it, you can see PREZZO right in the middle.  Prezzo is a superb Mediterranean Restaurant at  Marine Point, New Brighton.  Incidentally there are quite a few nice cafes and restaurants in New Brighton as well as lots of fun things to do and an award winning ice cream parlour/coffee shop so if you haven't been we suggest you go and have a look as soon as you can.  Further reviews to follow.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

'The Three Queens' visit to the River Mersey over the end of May Bank Holiday weekend

The Wirral Peninsula, nestling between the Rivers Dee and Mersey in the north west of England, is surely one of the UK’s best kept secrets.   Over the end of May Bank Holiday weekend 2015 the River Mersey will be host to the Cunard ships known as the ‘Three Queens’ – Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.  The ships will meet up on the River Mersey near New Brighton on Monday around 10.45 am on Monday 25th May and sail together along the river to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the shipping line Cunard.  Cunard’s headquarters were originally in Liverpool.

If you are planning to visit The Wirral or indeed Liverpool to see this spectacular event, please check your travel arrangements carefully as over a million people are expected.   Special arrangements are in place which you can see on   You can also call the Traveline on 0151 236 7676 or 0871 200 22 33 and follow @Merseytravel on Twitter.

For Merseyrail travel arrangements see - six trains every hour will run between 7 am and 7 pm on the New Brighton Line on Monday, 25th May.

New Brighton has been redeveloped recently and now has a beautiful Promenade with a cinema, some wonderful coffee shops and restaurants and a superb ice cream parlour called Caffe Cream.  Further along the promenade towards Seacombe you will find the pirate ship ‘The Black Pearl’ which is made out of driftwood.

Liverpool has a full programme of events planned for the summer beginning with the International Mersey River Festival.  For the latest programme of events follow @MCLpool on Twitter and One Magnificent City on Facebook or see


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Wirral's Mallory & Irvine Story to aid Nepal Earthquake Fund

A multi-media E-book telling the story of iconic Everest mountaineers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine has been published in aid of victims of the Nepal earthquake which also claimed the lives of several climbers on Mount Everest.

Ice Picks and Violets is available on Kindle, and along with the story's text, it features links to an audio narration and songs and video, making it one of the first digital mixed media books.

Based on the new stage production of the same name, all royalties will be given in aid of the Community Action Nepal's Earthquake Appeal set up by mountaineer Doug Scott, the first ever Brit to summit Mount Everest, and a champion of theHimalayan people. He will be providing narration to the show later this year.

Ice Picks and Violets writer Dean Johnson says, “I have been speaking to Doug about the project, and he has been very supportive and hopes to be involved. Now that this terrible disaster has struck in the heart of the Everest region, I felt it appropriate to doing anything I could to help.”

There will be readings and music from the book, plus refreshments when it is launched at 3pm on Monday 11th May at The Wilfred Owen Story Museum, Birkenhead. Entrance is by way of a donation of any amount to the CAN Earthquake Fund.

For more information on Community Action Nepal, go to

Ice Picks and Violets is available via Kindle.

Monday 11th May 2015 – 3pm
The Wilfred Owen Story
34 Argyle Street
CH41 6AE

For more information, contact Dean Johnson – 07539 371925

Photo:  Mallory and Irvine 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Book Review: "Images of the Great War" by Lawrence Dunn, published by Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd., London, 2015

Lawrence Dunn, an artist from Sunderland, guides us through a brief history of the First World War featuring a selection of images by some of the British and Empire artists, cartoonists, poets, photographers and sculptors of the time -  paintings, drawings, illustrations and photographs, many of which are from the author's own collection.  With the skill that only an artist has, Lawrence encourages us to have a closer look at some of those works and in so doing brings the conflict to life as never before. In many instances, Lawrence also invites the reader to compare the styles of artists who have painted the same view or person.  

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  I already knew some of the names that Lawrence has included but there were many that were new to me.  I was interested to see that Lawrence has dedicated the book to his second cousin, Corporal Michael Davison of the Northumberland Fusiliers (1st Tyneside Irish).  Michael was an underground putter at Ryhope Colliery when he enlisted in 1914 and was killed on the first day of the Battle of Arras - Easter Monday, 9th April 1917.  My great-uncle James Yule was a Private in the Northumberland Fusiliers, 23rd (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion and he too was killed on 9th April 1917, as were the poets R.E. Vernède and Edward Thomas,  

Beginning with Lady Elizabeth Butler, both male and female WW1 artists of all disciplines are represented in the book - Sir David Muirhead Bone, Francis Edgar Dodd, Sir William Orpen, Charles Sergeant Jagger, Christopher R.W. Nevinson, Paul and John Nash, Bruce Bairnsfather, Arthur Leonard Smith, Wyndham Lewis, David Bomberg, William Patrick Roberts, Colin Unwin Gill, Harold Sandys Williamson, Augustus Edwin John, John Singer Sargent, Henry Tonks, James Francis Hurley OBE, Olive Edis, Eric Henri Kennington, George Clausen, Sir John Lavery, Austin Osman Spare, Gilbert Rogers MBE, Adrian Ketih Graham Hill, Sir Jacob Epstein, Mark Gertler, Joyce Dennys, Olive Mudie-Cooke, Flora Lion, Anna Airy, Lucy Kemp-Welch, Norah Neilson-Gray, Clare Atwood, Dorothy Josephine Coke, Frederick Horseman Varley, Stanley Spencer, David Michael Jones, Robert Doublas Strachan.

But this book is not just about the artists and the pictures of WW1, Lawrence goes into detail about some of the battles and includes personal stories about the artists and the areas and subjects depicted.   On page 137 you will find paintings by the artist William Patrick Roberts, who was at the Battle of Arras on 9th April 1917 and is therefore of special interest to me.

Lawrence has also included poems by both male and female poets - Laurence Binyon, Rupert Brooke, Beatrix Brice Miller, Jessie Pope, John McCrae, Lucy Foster Whitmell, Charles Sorley, Alan Seeger, Vera Brittain, Thomas Kettle, Lady Margaret Sackville, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Francis Ledwidge, Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, Iris Tree, Winifred Mabel Letts, May Wedderburn Cannan, Anna Gordon Keown, Alice Meynell, Katharine Tynan, Elinor Jenkins, Muriel Elsie Graham, Edmund Blunden, May Hershel-Clarke, Mary H.J. Henderson, Eileen Newton, Emily Orr, Doprothy Una Ratcliffe, Edward Thomas.

I also very much enjoyed reading about the photographs taken during the First World War in the section about James Francis Hurley OBE, a photographer from Sydney, Australia.   Lawrence explains that many of the photographs taken during the 1914 - 1919 period were not fake but 'composites' as photographers were still experimenting with the medium.

With a map of the Western Front showing some of the worst battles of the war, a comprehensive Index and Bibliography and a final poem written by the UK's current Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy, this is a superb book which I would highly recommend.

Jasper's Family Fundraising Day, Southport Bank Holiday Sunday 3rd May 2015

Jasper's Alley Cats Family FUNdraising Day, Southport, 3rd May 2015

JASPERS FUNdraising Day will take place at the Southport Scouts Headquarters, Waterside Lodge, on Marine Drive, Southport, Lancashire PR8 1RY

Time:  From 11am till 4pm
Date:  Sunday, 3rd May 2015.

Visitors can enjoy a day of fun for all the family, lots of lovely bargains, a jewellery stall, new cat related products, craft stalls, tombola stalls, raffles, children’s games, children’s entertainment, refreshments and food…

In short, a place to meet old and new friends, chat, bag a bargain and have some fun and raise some funds for Jaspers. Everybody welcome. parking available.

For further information about Jasper's Alley Cats, the charity that helps the alley cats of Southport

Friday, 10 April 2015

Rae Morris - Then & Now

Rae Morris "Now" - on BBC Radio 2
Hearing Rae Morris sing live on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 this morning  took us right back to when we first saw her sing live – doing a guest spot at the “Parks” Art Deco café in Blackpool’s Stanley Park at one of their Sunday lunchtime swing sessions in 2010.

She was back there again in September of that same year playing at the café’s coffee morning in aid of the Macmillan cancer charity and, once again, she made a huge impression on everybody who heard her perform that day.    

In this modern day and age where names can be made or broken on the fickle judgements of TV “experts”, and five minute wonders come and go in – well - five minutes, actually… it is especially gratifying to see that a young singer songwriter can still make their way in the music business persevering with their own excellent material and working their way up round the various festivals and other opportunities that come along.

Rae Morris "Then" - at the Parks café in 2010
(Photo by Paul Breeze)
By the time that Rae performed at the Blackpool Fashion Show in February 2011,   she was already very much on the up as a star and we were very pleased to be able to feature some of her early recordings in our “Lancashire Songwriters” Showcase programmes on 103.2 Preston FM.

One of the most striking things about her when you meet her is how small she is in build  – except for her hair, that is - and how quietly spoken and unassuming she is.  However, once she starts to sing, the most amazing powerful sounds come out of that small person and she really is incredible to listen to. It is great to see that this Blackpool-born songwriting talent has enjoyed so much success in these intervening years.      

Since then she has done it all – Jools Holland, Glastonbury, the Burberry adverts, numerous national radio appearances and recently – a colour glossy spread in “You” magazine. Then her debut album on Atlantic records “Unguarded” broke into the top 10 of the album charts. 

She is now embarking on a European tour and is set to headline at the Lytham Festival in August as well as appearing at the Liverpool International Music Festival.

You can find out more about Rae’s music and all her latest news on her website at  where there are also sales links to buy her “Unguarded” album.

Early Rae Morris news items here on “Best Kept Secrets”:

Rae Morris at the Blackpool Fashion Show in Feb 2011
(Photo by Anthony Baldwin Photography).


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Laidler Play Off Weekend Details Announced

The Laidler Conference Play Offs will be held over Easter Weekend at Solihull Ice Rink.

Semi final 1 will be played on Saturday 4th April between  Solihull Barons and Widnes Wild and Semi Final 2 will be on Sunday 5th April between  Telford Tigers and Sheffield Senators.

The two semi final winners will meet in the final on Easter Monday. All matches face off at 6.30pm.
Ticket Prices are as follows:
Single Match:   Adults £10-00 Child/Concessions £5.00 Family £25.00
Special Week End Offer:  Adults £25.00 Child/Concessions £12.50 Family £60.00...

Weekend tickets are only available until 31st March.  

Various sponsorship and advertising packages are also available. 

To order tickets or discuss sponsorships options, contact John Butler by email at    or  telephone on 0121 770 8000 (business hours only)

Follow all the Laidler Play Off news on the dedicated Facebook page HERE 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Book Review: "Female Tommies The Frontline Women of the First World War" by Elisabeth Shipton,The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2014

I have been researching the involvement of women in the First World War for some time now for a series of commemorative exhibitions, so quite a lot of the material in "Female Tommies" was already familiar to me.  As Shipton explains in the Foreword to her book, these days we are used to women war correspondents and women in the armed forces.  Television reporters like Kate Adie have brought front line news to our television screens for years but the women who wanted to help in the danger zones of WW1 had first to overcome centuries of prejudice, so their determination and sacrifices are all the more to be admired. 

Shipton draws on an immense volume of written and audio information relating to the role of women in The First World War and has produced an outstanding, very readable book.   With a detailed Bibliography and Index, extensive notes to each chapter and some wonderful photographs, the book has ten chapters covering women nurses, doctors, orderlies, spies, pilots and soldiers, ambulance drivers, telephonists, clerks, coders, de-coders, telegraphists, waitresses and cooks, plus civilian volunteers and entertainers.   She goes into detail about the founding of the various organisations set up by women and directly involved in the conflict and gives us the history of the formation of the women's branches of the British and American Armed Forces.   

"Female Tommies" also explains in detail the historical background to events, making the book comprehensive and an invaluable source for anyone genuinely interested in the role of women in WW1.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, found it extremely well written and full of interesting and entertaining information.  It was definitely one of those "couldn't put it down" books, that you finish with a feeling of regret at leaving old friends.

"Female Tommies  The Frontline Women of the First World War" by Elisabeth Shipton, dedicated bo her grandmother who served in the WAAF during The Second World War and published by The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2014

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Exhibition of Female Poets of the First World War, Lytham Heritage Centre, Lytham, Lancs until 28th February 2015

An exhibition of female poets is currently on display as part of the "Lancashire in WW1" Exhibition at The Heritage Centre in Lytham, Lancashire from today until 28th February 2015. Open from 10 am until 4 pm Tuesdays - Sundays, the Centre is run entirely by volunteers.  Entry is free but all donations are gratefully accepted.

Lytham Heritage Centre,
2 Henry Street
Lancashire FY8 5LE
Tel.:  01253 730787

Photo:  Ceramic Artist Marie Kershaw with some of the ceramic poppies she designed and made which are now on display at the Heritage Centre.  Photo by P. Breeze.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Ice Hockey: Blackburn Hawks Touching Tribute

Blackburn Hawks ice hockey team had a minutes' silence before their home game against Whitley Warriors in the NIHL Moralee Conference on Saturday night in memory of the team's General Manager Alan Amos who died during the week after a short illness.

The league leaders broke with the normal match protocol and wore their black away shirts for the evening as a mark of respect and the visiting team - Whitley Warriors - accommodated this by wearing their white "home" shirts.  A book of remembrance was available for people to sign on the night and the Hawks extended their lead at the top of the table with a 9-4 victory.

You can find all the latest NIHL ice hockey news on

This poignant photograph of the Hawks minute's silence was taken by John Milton and you can see more of his excellent photos at         

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Local Football Round Up - 31st January 2015

In our match of the day, Blackpool Wren Rovers ended up with only 9 men on the field in a tempestuous encounter that saw them lose 1-3 to Longridge Town.  With other games being postponed due to the weather, that result hoists Longridge up into 3rd place, 9 points behind Wrens but with 3 games in hand.

Wrens remain in second place in the West Lancashire League Premier Division, 4 points behind league leaders Charnock Richard and having played two games more.

Wrens Reserves game away at Charnock Richard was postponed.
More info:

Monday, 26 January 2015

Book Review: "Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War"

Review of "Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War" by Tad Fitch and Michael Poirier published by The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2014.

"Go wild in Brazil" screamed the headline in the holiday supplement of the newspaper on the first weekend of  2015.    Travel is so easy these days and more affordable than it was in the early part of the 20th Century, when travel to somewhere on the other side of the world to where you lived was just for the very rich.  And yet many people did undertake those journeys to answer the call of their Motherland during the First World War.   With the advent of submarine warfare and mines, sea travel, however, was hazardous and it was the only way to go as air passenger travel was in its infancy.   

"Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War" is the only book I have found which is full of details about those hazardous sea journeys.  I was absolutely thrilled to find out it was in preparation and couldn't wait to get a copy as it really does answer many of the questions I had during the course of my research into the role of women during WW1. I was particularly  interested in knowing of the journey women like the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox and the entertainer Elsie Janis would have made to reach the Western Front where they entertained American troops and this book has the answers.

But "Into the Danger Zone" is not just a book about shipping in WW1.  I love the way the book gives a step-by-step chronicle of the events from the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in June 1914 to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in Paris in June 1919 and beyond.  There are maps and photographs of the ships, U-boats and their passengers and crew and quotes from letters written by survivors and indeed before sailing by those who perished.  I particularly like the photographs of the ships, having been brought up near Liverpool in England at a time when beautiful liners were still regular visitors to the port.

The Cunard Liner RMS Carpathia is one of the many ships featured that stood out for me because one of the Female Poets of the First World War featured in my exhibition project is American poet Moina Belle Michael. Moina was the person who got us all wearing poppies in remembrance of the conflict in 1919. She was on a teaching tour of Italy when war broke out in 1914 but managed to secure a safe passage home to America on the RMS Carpathia, which was the ship that rescued survivors from RMS Titanic when she hit an iceberg and sank in 1912.  Many passenger liners of the era were pressed into service as troopships or hospital ships.  Carpathia served as a troopship during WW1 but was again a passenger ship when she was torpedoed on 17th July 1918 (pp.366 - 370).

With a foreword by Hugh Brewster, author, "Into the Danger Zone" is full of eye-witness accounts of the sinking of many passenger ships, troopships and hospital ships during WW1 and illustrated with photographs from the impressive private collection of the authors.  It is a large book with over 400 pages packed with fascinating details and statistics that take us through the early days of WW1, when ships going to America were full but those going to Europe were almost empty, and finishing with an Epilogue chapter about 1919, when the American and Canadian troops returned across the Atlantic.   A photograph on page 367 shows us what conditions were like for the troops who crossed the Atlantic in WW1.

It must have taken Tad and Michael years to gather together all the information in this amazing book.  I should like to thank them and to recommend this book highly to anyone interested in the First World War.  If you only have time to read one book about the First World War please make it "Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War."

"Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War" by Tad Fitch and Michael Poirier
published by The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2014.