Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Christmas Poetry pamphlets from Candlestick Press

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Ten Poems about Snow Selected and Introduced by Carole Bromley

 

Summary:

The appeal of snow must have something to do with childhood – the excitement of waking up to a white world and placing our wellies into cold crunchiness. As adults we still feel the magic of snow’s hushed calm, which for a few days can slow down our hectic lives.

This mini anthology takes us on an enchanted journey through worlds of snow until we arrive, of course, in Robert Frost’s mysterious snowy woods. You’ll also find poems published here for the first time – winners and runners-up in our snow poem competition. Each offers a delightfully unexpected response:

“And I stood at the window and held the cat warm and purring
Heart to heart with me as we watched the snow fall

 My Review:

My childhood memories of snow are some of the happiest. Crazy snowball fights and dashing out of bed at the sight of morning snow to build a snowman. These memories we carry through our lives and we recall them when you need them most. Just reeased are two Christmas poetry pamphlets in time for the festive period that make the ideal christmas card.

Ten Poems about Snow selected and introduced by Carole Bromley we are seo reminded of those cold snowy winter days. From playing in the snow to those glitery winter snow globes. What is about waking to find snowfall and the world suddelny falls quiet. Is it me that just thinks that? Ten Poems that take us on a journey through the world of snow as seen and experienced through many eyes.

In Snow Day by Lucy Jeynes we are reminded that in one cubic foot of snow there are a billion snowflakes and each one unique. All is quiet and no sound of cars on the road. In When it Snowed by Kerry Darbishire there is Wordsworth skating in his black coat.

Each poem is a reminder of the beauty of snow and it changes the landscape. Don’t ask me to select a favourite as they are all just beautiful. This is just the perfect Christmas Card.

 

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Christmas Spirit – Ten Poems to Warm the Heart

 

Summary:

These ten specially commissioned poems celebrate the joy of Christmas in all its variety. Some evoke the bustle of untangling fairy lights, of shopping and cooking and opening presents, while others celebrate our more ancient seasonal traditions, such as collecting holly and ivy to bring into the house. And then, of course, there’s the mistletoe:

“I want to cry out, as Frigga did,
to the air and birds and new-found tenderness of
the world…
…Come, stand with me beneath these white berries of love.
Let me hold you, kiss you.

from ‘The Golden Bough’ by Rosie Jackson

The poems remind us that amid the inevitable hurly burly there’s always time to pause and savour quiet moments. This joyful and heart-warming selection is guaranteed to add a sprinkle of beauty and delight to every Christmas.

 My Review

What does Christmas mean to you? It means different things to everyone of course. In Christmas Spirit: Ten Poems to Warm the Heart the poems celebrate the pure joy of christmas period.

We all know how busy we are at this time of year trying to find the perfect gifts for family and friends, celebrations with family and friends and yet with the year now old we are really supposed to be slowing down to enjoy Christmas but here are ten poems to just make us stop and remember how chirstmas should be. I love bringing the outside in with Holly and Mistletoe to decorate the living room. Each poem has been specially commissioned for the pamphlet to help us just remember this special time of year and to make us pause amid the rushing around the shops and enjoy just some quiet moments and realise what christmas should be about. Think of it as a little christmas sprinkle in a card.

Thank you to Candlestick Press for the review copies of Ten Poems About Snow and also Christmas Spirit. Both Now available to order through their website: Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press are a small independent publisher based in Nottingham and were founded in 2008. The team consists of four dedicated people in Di Slaney (Publisher), Kathy Towers (Assistant Editor) and two admin assistants. Their aim is simple to spread the joy of poetry to adults and children alike who love poetry and or may be just beginning their journey in to enjoying poetry. These small pamphlets are just ideal for bedtime reading or like I have been doing and that is enjoying them on journeys.

They have published so many of these beautiful pamphlets on a wide range of topics from Christmas to Cricket, from Dogs to Sheep and even Clouds and walking and even breakfast. These wonderful poetry pamphlets make the ideal gift to send to friends and loved ones. For more information, please visit the Candlestick Press website: Candlestick Press

100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith.

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100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith

Summary:

Arthur Smith’s first book for many years, 100 Things I Meant to Tell You brings together 100 stories, poems and articles gathered over a colourful lifetime making a living on the
comedy circuit.

In 2005 Arthur turned down a Perrier Award for Lifetime Achievement, saying “They wanted to tell me I was old and cool; well, I know that already.” Currently the popular host of BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Comedy Club, he has travelled all over the British Isles and the rest of the world perform-ing and reporting on a range of subjects as diverse as Flotsam and Jetsom in Holland (in a series for BBC 1’s The One Show) and more recently, goat yoga in Ipswich, but never before has he corralled all these wonderful stories into book form.

Some humorous, some anecdotal, some nostalgic and some extremely poignant, the stories include the time Arthur was arrested for ‘breach of the peace and possession of a megaphone’, the time he hitched a lift from a nun and heard his own voice (imitating Leonard Cohen) playing on her car radio, the fight he had with Billy Connolly, his flight in a Tiger Moth, and – in verse – his hatred of Teletubbies.

Covering a huge range of subjects and emotions, tales of hilarious, chaotic antics are juxtaposed with gentle, bittersweet stories about love affairs that ended badly and his mother’s journey into dementia, making this a cornucopia of delight for Arthur Smith fans everywhere.

My Review:

What can I say about Arthur Smith? He is one of my favourite comedians. Anyone who has seen and loved the BBC series Grumpy Old Men will know just how funny Arthur Smith really is. Now just released is 100 Things I Meant to Tell you. (AA Publishing).

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After studying at the University of East Anglia Arthur became a dustman and even starred in a rock band before eventually becoming a full-time entertainer and one of our best loved ones at that. Arthur Smith is a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival now for over 40 years. Not to mention that he has travelled the world performing he comedy act as well as performing in plays.

In 100 Things I Meant to Tell You the legend that is Arthur Smith brings us his own unique great humour and there are here many things that you will have never previously known of before that even I at times gasped at while reading. This can only be described as a rip-roaring memoir. But really I think it is more than just a memoir. A lesson in life perhaps from one of the great grumpy old men. His humour is my humour just plain dry.

This is Arthur’s life through his very own eyes. It is gags galore but there are also moments when he tells his story with great humility as he talks about his near death experiences.

With Christmas coming up it is just the perfect gift for anyone who is a fan of the great man and entertainer Arthur Smith.

288 Pages.

 Thank you Vanessa Oboagye (Midas PR) for the review copy of 100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith.

100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith was published by AA Publishing on 31st October 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem

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Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem

Summary:

Mudlark (/’mAdla;k/) noun A person who scavenges for usable debris in the mud of a river or harbour

Lara Maiklem has scoured the banks of the Thames for over fifteen years, in pursuit of the objects that the river unearths: from Neolithic flints to Roman hair pins, medieval buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes to Victorian toys. These objects tell her about London and its lost ways of life.

Moving from the river’s tidal origins in the west of the city to the point where it meets the sea in the east, Mudlarking is a search for urban solitude and history on the River Thames, which Lara calls the longest archaeological site in England.

As she has discovered, it is often the tiniest objects that tell the greatest stories.

My Review:

Before I settled down to write this review I Googled ‘What is a mudlark’ and it say they are people who scavenge along river beds for items of value. But there is so much more to Mudlarking than just looking for items of value. The River Thames is tidal and is really an archaeological site all of its own. Just stop and think about the history of the Thames. Now Lara Maiklem in Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames (Bloomsbury) gives us an insight to the items she has found and that each one has a story.

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As the tide recedes then history is just waiting to be discovered. the Thames is the main artery of London. Would London even exist if the Thames was not there? Where there is a main river then towns and cities are built and with it comes items that are discarded into the river all just waiting to be discovered by Lara Maiklem. For Maiklem she has been walking the Thames now for about fifteen years and every item she finds is of historical value. Each has a story back in years gone by. From the many clay pipes that are discovered daily to items of incredible value and even ordnance dropped by German aircraft in WWII as London went through the blitz.

Of course you just cannot turn up at the banks of the Thames and start searching for items, being a Mudlark is not that simple. You have to apply for a permit and you have to be a member of the Society of Mudlarks and even then you have then needed to have held a standard permit for over two years and then it is still not that simple. This is a society surrounded in mystery. There is so much history to the Thames. I lived in London for over thirteen years and was fascinated by the river.

There are those of course who see the river as a bit of a goldmine just waiting to discover the next item of value with their metal detectors, but not for Lara. Each item she finds is carefully examined and cleaned and then researched. From early man to the Romans through to the period of the Great Fire of London when people hurled their belongings into the river rather than seeing them being consumed by the fire that spread along the river bank.

There is so much history just beneath the mud on the banks of the Thames and each time Lara makes a visit as the tide drops she looks and finds. Just turn over that rock and there is another piece of history just waiting to be found.

What I loved about Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames was that it read so easily and Lara’s care and also interest in the items she has found. Lost items are just waiting to be found it may take a few hundred years but someone else will be find our lost items. Some years ago I tossed an engagement ring into the Thames from London Bridge after a relationship ended. I would like to think that in a few hundred years-time a Mudlark scouring the riverbank will find that very ring. That in itself is a romantic thought. A wonderful read and highly recommended.

336 Pages.

Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem was published by Bloomsbury and was published on 18th August 2019 and is available to through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Ring the Hill by Tom Cox

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Ring the Hill by Tom Cox

 

Summary:

It is a book written around, and about, hills: it includes a northern hill, a European hill, some hills from East Anglia that can barely be called hills at all. Each chapter takes a type of hill whether it be knoll, cap, cliff, tor, bump or even mere hillock as a starting point for one of Cox’s characteristically unpredictable and wide-ranging explorations.

These can lead to an account of an intimate relationship with a beach, a journey into Cox’s past or a lesson from an expert in what goes into the mapping of hills themselves. Because a good walk in the hills is never just about the hills: you never know where it might take you.

My Review:

Over recent years I have become a bit of a fan of Tom Cox’s writing, I pick up one of his books and I am lost for the entire day. Now just released by Unbound is his latest offering. Ring the Hill. This is a book about hills! So for someone like me who loves hills and mountains (though mountains are not included in the book) the first thing I did when a copy of Ring the Hill arrived was to Google: What constitutes a hill? The answer is really quite simple according to the National Geographic. A hill is a piece of land that rises higher than everything around it. So there you have it. Armed with this I settled down to what turned out to be a real gem of a read.

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So what is Ring the Hill all about. In Tom’s own words A knoll, cap, cliff, tor or even just a bump, Tom is going to take you the reader on a trip across the country and even a European hill.

The first thing that I have to say is what a glorious cover design and Glastonbury Tor on the cover. I was sold straight away and talking of Glastonbury and its Tor, it does take centre stage for me in the book as Tom takes us around the mystical town and surrounding parts of Somerset that have mystery just around every corner. I hold Glastonbury Tor very close to my heart it is a very special place but I just don’t know why. It has history of course as the last About of Glastonbury Abbey, Richard Whiting was hanged, drawn and quartered along with two of his Monks on the 15th November 1539.

There is so much to rejoice in Tom’s writing as he makes it look so easy (I am sure he would argue with me over that) and it is a real pleasure to read as he takes us across the land to hills and bumps and Knolls. And there is great humour in Tom’s writing while on his adventure to discover the hills and the towns around them.

Ring the Hill is the sort of book you want to pack in your rucksack and head off to climb a few hills one Sunday and them find a cosy pub with a log fire and settle down with your favourite tipple and I promise you time will just disappear while you read this joyous book.

Now get your walking boots on! Highly recommended.

#RingTheHill     @cox_tom     @unbounders

340 Pages.

Thank you to Unbound and also Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Ring the Hill by Tom Cox.

Ring the Hill by Tom Cox was published by Unbound and was published on 3rd October 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare – Paperback release

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The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare

Paperback release

Summary:

As November stubs out the glow of autumn and the days tighten into shorter hours, winter’s occupation begins. Preparing for winter has its own rhythms, as old as our exchanges with the land. Of all the seasons, it draws us together. But winter can be tough.

It is a time of introspection, of looking inwards. Seasonal sadness; winter blues; depression – such feelings are widespread in the darker months. But by looking outwards, by being in and observing nature, we can appreciate its rhythms. Mountains make sense in any weather. The voices of a wood always speak consolation. A brush of frost; subtle colours; days as bright as a magpie’s cackle. We can learn to see and celebrate winter in all its shadows and lights.

In this moving and lyrical evocation of a British winter and the feelings it inspires, Horatio Clare raises a torch against the darkness, illuminating the blackest corners of the season, and delving into memory and myth to explore the powerful hold that winter has on us. By learning to see, we can find the magic, the light that burns bright at the heart of winter: spring will come again.

My Review:

Released on 3rd October is The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal (Elliott & Thompson) in Paperback. Written in the form of a diary that starts in October and works its way through from autumn through the winter months. This is a repost of my review for the hardback edition which was released in November 2018.

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I am someone who loves the outdoors and all things nature, the dark winter months trapped in an office has often left me feeling tired and exhausted and then come the weekend I cherish every moment of the hours of daylight.

Here in Horatio Clare’s excellent diary, he talks openly of how he to suffers as we move from kicking our way through the autumn leaves and then as the days grow shorter and then into November one of the darkest months of the year. I really found Horatio’s open and honest account to be very reassuring. Many of us suffer in silence especially in the workplace.

The excitement of Christmas comes to Horatio Clare and his family, with memories of childhood and now with his own family. But silently he suffers knowing that there is a tax bill and other debts to be paid and how he is going to find the money to pay all this. It is during the winter months he becomes more or less withdrawn to save money. At times there is a little tension in the household.

Seasonal depression is not something anyone should suffer in silence with (all except me apparently). Nature too shuts down but there is joy to be found in nature during the darkest months. The joy of chilly frosty morning walks at the weekend. There is so much we can enjoy about winter but we have to appreciate its beauty. The Light in the Dark is a moving and poetic look at this time of year and one book I rejoice in. This is a torch to guide us through the dark winter days until Spring’s first rays of light warm us. I am delighted to highly recommend The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal.

#TheLightInTheDark @HoratioClare @eandtbooks

224 Pages.

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival The 70th Anniversary 4th – 13th October 2019

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The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2019

The 70th Anniversary

4th – 13th October 2019

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Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina

I am delighted as part of The Times and Sunday Times 70th Anniversary Cheltenham Literature to bring you a little taste of Russia. For my part on the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Cheltenham Literature Festival I am bringing to the Blog Tour a Russian recipe from Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina. Alissa will be appearing at the Festival on Thursday 10th October. Details can be found below on how to purchase tickets. My grateful thanks to Charlotte Cooper at Midas PR for this guest post by Alissa Timoshkina.

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I don’t know about you but I love to experiment with recipes from different parts of the world, but I have to admit I have not tried any from Russia.

Alissa has selected one of the recipes from her book to share with you a little taste of Russia. I hope this inspires you to have a look at the book (details below) and may be try some of these in your own kitchen.

Borsch

Borsch to Eastern Europe and Russia is like hummus to the Middle

East. We all eat it, we all love it, yet we simply can’t imagine that

any other country owns the rights to it. It has its origin in a hogweed

soup commonly consumed by the Slavs from the 15th–16th century

in territories occupied today by Poland, Ukraine and Russia. There

are so many variations of the soup, not only in each country but in

different regions within those countries, that borsch often becomes

synonymous with Eastern European soup. As much as I love a good

traditional borsch, and to me this means a passionately red beetroot

soup, cooked with a soffritto base as my Jewish–Ukrainian greatgrandma

would do, I sometimes struggle eating a plateful of chunky

discoloured vegetables that have given all their best to the broth.

So here I am taking a bit (okay, a lot) of creative licence, offering my

own take on the iconic dish, which consists of a rich red broth, raw

sauerkraut, roasted vegetables and baked red kidney beans. Lovers of

traditional borsch recipes look away – this one is pretty iconoclastic!

If you can make the broth 24 hours in advance, you will be

rewarded with an even better tasting soup, but a few hours of resting will also do the trick.

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SERVES 4

unrefined sunflower oil,

for frying and roasting

1 large onion, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and grated

6 raw red beetroots

2 red peppers

2 tablespoons tomato purée

2 litres cold water

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon black

peppercorns

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

4 garlic cloves, peeled

bunch of dill

small bunch of flat leaf parsley

2 garlic cloves, grated

500g Red Sauerkraut

with Garlic & Chilli

(see page 159)

2 tablespoons pomegranate

molasses

1 red onion

1 tablespoon brown sugar

400g can red kidney beans

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

4 tablespoons soured cream

salt

Heat up a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a large pan and fry the

onion and carrot for about 8 minutes until golden. Meanwhile, peel

and grate 2 of the beetroots and core, deseed and thinly slice 1 red

pepper. Add the vegetables to the pan together with the tomato

purée and a splash of water. Season with salt to taste and fry for a

further 5–8 minutes.

Top with the measured cold water, add the bay leaves along with

the peppercorns and all the seeds, whole garlic cloves and half the

bunches of dill and parsley. Season with a tablespoon of salt and

bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the grated garlic and half the

sauerkraut with its brine and simmer, covered, over a low heat for

40 minutes–1 hour.

Turn off the heat and let the borsch rest for another hour, while

you prepare the rest of the elements.

So far, so good, but here is where the recipe starts to deviate

from the norm quite a lot: to prepare the vegetables that will grace

the plate and also add extra flavour and texture to the soup, you will

need to do a bit of roasting.

Start by preheating the oven to 160°C fan/Gas Mark 4.

Peel the remaining 4 beetroots, cut into wedges and dress with oil, salt and

the pomegranate molasses. Peel the red onion, cut into wedges and season

with salt and the brown sugar to bring out their sweetness and promote

caramelization. Place on a roasting tray with the beetroot and roast together

for 30 minutes. Drain the kidney beans, then dress them with salt, oil and the

smoked paprika. Core and deseed the remaining red pepper, then cut into thin

strips and dress with salt and oil. Roast the beans and pepper together, as they

will need only 10–15 minutes.

When ready to serve, strain the broth through a sieve or a muslin cloth,

discarding the solids. All we need is that rich broth! Reheat again if necessary.

Next, create layers of texture and flavour in each bowl by adding a heaped

tablespoon of the remaining sauerkraut to each, as well as a handful of roasted

beetroot, onion, kidney beans and red pepper. Top each bowl with the hot broth

and add a dollop of soured cream and a generous sprinkle of the remaining dill

and parsley, chopped. The intensity of the flavours and textures of this dish is

beyond words, while the look of the bowl will seduce the eye without a doubt.

212 Pages.

Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen (Mitchell Beazley) by Alissa Timoshkina is on sale in your local bookshop or to order through Waterstones: Here or via Amazon: Here

Alissa Timoshkina will be appearing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Thursday 10th October between 12 and 2pm. Tickets are still available at £30.00 plus a booking fee that include a two course lunch and a glass of wine. For further details: Flavours of Russia

Tickets for the 70th Anniversary Cheltenham Literature Festival are now on sale. But be quick some of the events are selling out fast. Cheltenham Literature Festival

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Dave Thomas: Guiding Me Home & Away. The Autobiography by Dave Thomas

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Dave Thomas: Guiding Me Home & Away. The Autobiography by Dave Thomas

Summary:

Socks rolled down and minus shin pads, Dave Thomas was the winger Don Revie once referred to as ‘the most exciting prospect in British soccer.’ Dave’s speed and crossing ability entertained fans of Burnley, QPR, Everton, Wolves, Vancouver Whitecaps, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth. After a fascinating career which included eight England caps, Dave lost a good deal of his confidence and independence when he was registered blind in his 50s. This is the uplifting and emotional story of how he regained control over his life again when paired with his faithful guide dog, Hannah.

 

My Review:

I am very grateful to Midas PR for the copy of Guiding Me Home and Away (Hornet Books) by Dave Thomas. His autobiography. Being a massive football fan in my young days I had the real privilege of seeing Dave Thomas play when he came up against my team. I also recall collecting football cards and swapping them in the school playground. Somewhere in my loft I still have these and among them will be Dave Thomas himself. This is his story and how it all began.

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Even in his very young days the promise being showed by Dave Thomas was clear to see. He was signed by Burnley as a junior but it was Leeds United and especially Don Revie who saw what Thomas was capable of. Even to the point of meeting Dave Thomas’s parents and then the following day a Rolls Royce arrived at the family home and it was Review and the owner of Leeds United, they were determined to get their man even to the point of offering them cash there and then. But his father was a proud and honest man. He kept his word to Burnley and that was that.

Thomas made his league debut for Burnley during the 1966/67 season but it was an 8-1 defeat. But Thomas was not going to let this get him down and he went on to make 157 appearances scoring 19 goals for Burnley. Thomas then signed for Queens Park Rangers in 1972. It was the 1975/76 season that Thomas and QPR very nearly won the First Division Championship, losing out to Liverpool by just one point after leading the First Division for most of the season.

Dave Thomas went on to represent England (1974/1975) playing eight times for the Three Lions. He went on to play for Everton and then Wolverhampton Wanderers, then a short spell playing a single summer season with Vancouver Whitecaps, then home again to play for Middlesbrough and finally Portsmouth. Dave’s playing career came to end in in 1984. A career to look back on with real pride.

Fast forward to 2008 and Dave Thomas is now registered blind after progressive sight loss. Now with the help of his guide dog Hannah and also his wife Brenda. This is just a wonderful read and an insight to a footballer I recall from my younger days and also an inspirational story. Written with David Roberts (Hornet Books) after many face to face interviews. All his royalties from this book will be donated to Guide Dogs and Dave Thomas has already raised over £72,000 for the charity.

240 Pages.

Thank you to the Amber Choudhary (Midas PR) for the review copy of Dave Thomas: Guiding Me Home & Away by Dave Thomas.

Dave Thomas: Guiding Me Home & Away by Dave Thomas was published by Imperial War Museum and was published on 5th September 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Arnhem: The Complete Story of Operation Market Garden 17-25 September 1944 – by William F. Buckingham

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Arnhem: The Complete Story of Operation Market Garden 17-25 September 1944 by William F. Buckingham

 

Summary:

On 21 August 1944 German Army Group B was destroyed in Normandy and Allied troops began pressing east from the beachhead they had occupied since the D-Day landings. Within days British troops had liberated Brussels and reached the Dutch border. Encouraged by seeming total German collapse, the Allies gambled their overstretched resources on a high-risk strategy aimed at opening the way into Germany itself crossing the Rhine river.

On the afternoon of Sunday 17 September British tanks advanced into Holland in concert with 1,534 transport aircraft and 491 gliders. Their objective was a series of bridges across the Rhine, possession of which would allow the Allies to advance into Germany. In the event the operation was dogged by bad weather, flawed planning, tardiness and overconfidence, and ended with the Arnhem crossing still in German hands despite an epic nine-day battle that cost the British 1st Airborne Division over two thirds of its men killed, wounded or captured.

Arnhem, the Battle of the Bridges combines analysis and new research by a leading authority on Operation MARKET GARDEN with the words of the men who were there, and provides the most comprehensive account of the battle to date.

My Review:

With the German army driven out of France and Belgium, the allied forces decided on a bold and brave risk. To take the bridges at Arnhem and thus pave the way into Germany which could prove decisive and shorten the war. 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden. I have held back from publishing my review of Arnhem: The Complete Story of Operation Market Garden 17th – 25th September 1944. By William F. Buckingham (Amberley Publishing) until now to coincide with the anniversary.

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British Paratroppers on their way to Arnhem

It was Sunday 17th September 1944 and the first British tanks started to make the journey into Holland along with over 1500 aircraft and nearly 500 gliders the race was on to capture and hold the bridges over the Rhine which would give the allies a foothold into Germany. This was a bold and brave gamble by General Montgomery his idea of a ‘Single Thrust’ into Germany.

Everything about Operation Market Garden was based on split second timing and there could be no mistakes no delays. Take the bridges and hold until relieved. Not everyone in the Allied Command HQ backed Monty’s plan indeed everything was put into Operation Market Garden including nearly all the fuel was re-directed for the effort. Such a huge operation was fraught with danger and possible failure. In the end it was an epic battle but one of great heroism by the men who fought at Arnhem.

Three major airborne divisions were to take part in Operation Market Garden, from the US the 101st and 82 and from the British the 82nd. They would pave the way for the armoured division of the Guards to race ahead. Everything depended on split second timing and the superior German forces along with SS Panzer divisions practically destroyed the 1st Airborne division. The who operation was sadly doomed to failure. There are many reasons as to why Operation Market Garden failed and military historians for years have written pieces on how and why it failed. Allied Casualties were close to 18,000 as well as around 500 civilians.

Operation Market Garden was a complete failure with around 2,500 British trooped managing to escape back across the river. Many were captured along with the wounded who could not be evacuated. It would be another four months before the allies would cross the Rhine to defeat Germany and bring the war to an end.

I have read many accounts of Operation Market Garden since my younger days but Buckingham’s account is nothing short of meticulous. Absolutely nothing is left out. It is a hefty book at 624 pages but if you want to know everything there is to know about Operation Market Garden then this is the book you want. It is an epic account. The research is astonishing as well as the memories of those who fought an in the battle for the bridges and the civilians who witnessed the battle. There are also many photographs from Operation Market Garden. My thoughts are with the many brave men who fought bravely and never came home. Highly Recommended.

 288 Pages.

My thanks to Amberley Publishing for a copy of Arnhem: The Complete Story of Operation Market Garden 17-25 September 1944 by William F. Buckingham. Released in Hardback on 15th March 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2019

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The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

4 – 13 October 2019

It is that time of year again when the full line-up for The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival line-up is announced and with 2019 being its 70th anniversary year the full line-up is just breath-taking.

With thanks from Phoebe Swinburn and the Midas PR team who have kindly let me have a copy of the full scheduled line-up. There are so many highlights for this year’s programme that you would need to book the two weeks off and move to Cheltenham. I was lucky enough to attend two years ago to interview and American writer while at the festival.

I am not sure where to start as there is so much for everyone whether you are attending on your own or as a family. There is a pop-up bookshop and plenty of places to eat and drink and just relax and enjoy the festival.

This is just a small selection of the highlights of the 70th anniversary festival.

COLM TÓIBÍN | CELESTE NG | DAVID CAMERON | TAN FRANCE | NADIYA HUSSAIN | IAN MCEWAN

BERNARDINE EVARISTO | CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS | DAVID LAMMY | TOM KERRIDGE | ESTHER FREUD

HELENA BONHAM CARTER | ALI SMITH | ROB BRYDON | CHIMENE SULEYMAN | ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER DAVID BADDIEL | BELLA MACKIE | JORDAN STEPHENS | SCARLETT CURTIS | SEBASTIAN FAULKS

SAM WARBUTON | TAI SHANI | RICHARD DAWKINS | TOM HOLLAND | DOM JOLY | STEVE BACKSHALL

CRESSIDA COWELL | MALORIE BLACKMAN | KONNIE HUQ | PAUL WHITEHOUSE | BOB MORTIMER

ANDREW RIDGELEY | LOUIS THEROUX | DAVID SUCHET | ALASTAIR COOK | ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH

KATY BRAND | PAUL MERTON | KERRY HUDSON | TRACY CHEVALIER | ROBERT HARRIS | MARY BEARD

HERMAN KOCH | HOWARD JACOBSON | JACKIE KAY | ROB AUTON | PAUL MULDOON | THERESA LOLA

EMILY MAITLIS | GINA MARTIN | JOHN HUMPHRYS | SIMON SCHAMA | RORY STEWART | JESS PHILLIPS

SOPHIA JANSSON | CARRIE GRACIE | CAROLINE CRIADO PEREZ | VALENTINE WARNER | YASMIN KHAN LEVISON WOOD | HANNAH WITTON | CANDY GOURLAY | DOUGIE POYNTER | DANNY WALLACE

KES GRAY & JIM FIELD | JUNO DAWSON | HOLLY BOURNE | MICHAEL ROSEN | DERMOT O’LEARY

With Guest Curators: MAX PORTER, YOMI ADEGOKE & ELIZABETH UVIEBINENÉ | DOMINIC SANDBROOK

TESSA HADLEY | ANTHONY ANAXAGOROU | LESLIE VINJAMURI | ROBIN STEVENS

Photo-credit-stillmovingmedia.co_

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is delighted to announce the unmissable line up for 2019, marking the 70th anniversary of the world’s oldest literature festival, which is leading the way in engendering a love of reading in young people.

The Festival will bring more than 900 of the best writers, thinkers and performers of our time to the vibrant Regency town, setting the scene for once-in-a-lifetime conversations to take place over ten extraordinary days of unique experiences, critical debate and literary revelry.

From 4 – 13 October, the Festival Village will host an unparalleled literary line-up including this year’s recipient of The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, Colm Tóibín, the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, the highly anticipated Booker shortlist, as well as the most exciting emerging talent on the scene. Dynamic debut novelists include Candice Carty-Williams, Ronan Hession, Elizabeth Macneal, Jessica Andrews and Season Butler as well as the Festival’s showcases of the best new writing in Fiction at 7, Debuts and Cocktails and Proof Parties.

As part of the ‘Seven at Seventy’ anniversary celebrations the Festival welcomes Chris Tse, Kanako Nishi and a raft of international authors to the Cheltenham stage, as well as showcasing unearthed archive audio content, introducing a literary audio trail of Cheltenham, and street art courtesy of Cheltenham Paint Festival on the theme ‘Hurrah for Books’.

There will be up-to-the-minute political analysis fresh from the party conference season courtesy of David Cameron and David Lammy, with The Times debate – joined by Jess Phillips and Rory Stewart – questioning the future of our political parties, and The Sunday Times considering White House contenders with Adam Boulton and Sarah Baxter.

From current affairs to food, history to fashion, sport to art, science to travel, the Festival guarantees something for everyone with the fun extending long after dark with the eclectic Off The Page series of curated events, including a Game of Thrones quiz night, US story-telling sensation The Moth, jazz and poetry fusion group Tongue Fu, an evening celebrating the music of Joni Mitchell and a vibrant spoken word strand. And for one night only the irreverent Lit Crawl returns to take over the streets, pubs and bars of Cheltenham.

The perfect family day out, this year’s Festival includes a packed programme of world class authors and illustrators to inspire toddlers to teens, with The Woodland Trust Wild Wood filled with beloved characters, storytellers and activities, plus a Secret Seven Mystery Trail celebrating 70 years of the world’s favourite detective club. The Festival’s year-round education programmes, inspiring a love of reading and creative writing, also culminates in October with 9,000 school children on site taking part in Literature for Schools.

New partner Sky Arts will broadcast across the final week with live coverage, interviews and events from a bespoke Sky Arts Studio on site. The venue will be a free pop-in space where festival attendees can be part of the filming and take part in other creative activities. Elsewhere on site there will be free events for all ages around the Festival village, The Huddle, hosting an array of talks and brains teasers, including Daily Crossword, Cheltenham Writes and Very Short Introductions, and The Chatterbox, where guests can become secret agents by decoding mysterious messages around the Festival.

Booking for the Literature Festival opens to Cheltenham Festivals Members at 10am on Wednesday 28 August and general booking opens at 10am on Wednesday 4 September.

On a personal basis if you are thinking of attending then one book talk to attend is Joanna Cannon Breaking and Mending (Profile Books) who will be giving a talk on Monday 7th October on stage with Molly Case and Leah Hazard as part of Life on the NHS Frontline. They will share some hilarious stories but also some of the heartbreaking stories from the NHS.

Many of us remember the late 1970’s and Debbie Harry and Blondie, I was a huge fan then years later I got to interview Debbie Harry and imagine how nervous I was. Debbie Harry will be coming to the festival this year to talk about her memoir Face It (Harper Collins) on Sunday 13th October.

On Friday 4th October there is a discussion: The Holocaust: Tales of Survival. The Costa Book of the Year winner Bart van Es author of The Cut Out Girl (Penguin) along with Jeremy Dronfield author of The Boy Who Followed his Father into Auschwitz (Michael Joseph) who will be joined as part of the panel by surviving sibling Kurt Kleinmann.

Then for fans of Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer and the hit BBC series Gone Fishing now in its second series will be on stage talking life, health and all things fishing, this event will be a must attend and they will be on stage on Sunday 6th October at 6.45pm.

Fans of poetry and current affairs as well as lifestyle and cooking will be dlighted with the line-up this year and then there is the fiction line-up. Just a few names that I am looking forward to are: Elif Shafak, Louise Candlish, Louise Doughty, Patricia Cornwell, Tracy Chevalier, Elizabeth Macneal, Damian Barr just to name a few.

For further information visit the official website:

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Twitter: @CheltLitFest

Festival Brochure:

COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS

70th ANNNIVERSARY
This year marks 70 years since Cheltenham Town Hall hosted the world’s first literature festival and started a global, cultural phenomenon. As part of ‘Seven at Seventy’ celebrations, the Festival welcomes Guest Curators Max Porter, Yomi Adegoke & Elizabeth Uviebinené, Dominic Sandbrook, Tessa Hadley, Anthony Anaxagorou, Leslie Vinjamuri; and Robin Stevens. Lending their unique voices and wealth of expertise to the programme, events include Sandbrook’s selection of the seven most influential British novels of the last 70 years, Anaxagorou’s rising stars in poetry and spoken word, a series of mystery events by Stevens, and a curated acoustic portrait of our complex and troubled country today from Max Porter.

Seven high profile authors will be reflecting on their breakout book in a special series of Cheltenham trademark ‘Celebrate With…’ events: Howard Jacobson on The Finkler Question; Robert Harris on Fatherland; Jessie Burton on The Miniaturist; Herman Koch on The Dinner; Tracy Chevalier on The Girl With a Pearl Earring; Alexander McCall Smith on The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency; and Jung Chang on Wild Swans. There will also be seven showcases celebrating new writing talent, including Jessica Andrews and Ronan Hession, as well as looking ahead to the breakout names for 2020 such as Deepa Anappara and Evie Wyld.

Literature festivals around the world have joined the celebration bringing their leading authors to Cheltenham including Chris Tse, Wana Udobang, Kanako Nishi, Esme Wang, Nicole Flattery, Sarah Henstra and Hernán Ronsino. The celebration of international literature continues with 70 global book festivals recommending one title they would like Cheltenham audiences to add to their bookshelves to form a ‘Reading the World’ reading list.

Building on last year’s inaugural ‘Podcast in Residence’ role, Literary Friction take on the 2019 residency and there will be seven unique podcasts featuring archive audio content from the past seventy years, as well as partnerships with seven further bookish podcasts.

FICTION
Fiction fans will be spoilt for choice with a stellar line-up of literary superstars including Colm Tóibín, Ian McEwan, David Nicholls, Jung Chang, Ali Smith, Elif Shafak, Jojo Moyes, and Bernardine Evaristo. The Cheltenham audience will enjoy a celebration of the biggest books of the year such as Candice Carty-Williams (Queenie), Elizabeth Macneal (The Doll Factory), Bridget Collins (The Binding) and Damian Barr (You Will Be Safe Here) as well as new reads from Howard Jacobson, Victoria Hislop, Kevin Barry, Jessie Burton. George Alagiah, Tom Bradby and Peter Hanington will draw upon their frontline experience to share fiction as thrilling as their day jobs, Richard Roper and Beth O’Leary celebrate feel-good fiction, Deborah Moggach and Jenny Éclair examine the baggage of inheritance and family ties, Chris Power and Sarah Hall will reveal the art of the short story, plus last year’s Guest Curator Sebastian Faulks becomes our latest literary castaway as he returns with ‘Desert Island Reads’. There will also be the opportunity to hear from The Times and The Sunday Times Literary Editors, Robbie Millen and Andrew Holgate.

The Festival welcomes a host of killer women at the top of the crime and thriller genre including Patricia Cornwell, Louise Doughty, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Denise Mina and Erin Kelly, with Jessica Fellowes and Kate Weinberg discussing the secrets to plot a thrilling mystery. For further suspense, Alex North and CJ Tudor explore the dark side of human nature; Herman Koch and Louise Candlish discuss the appeal of writing toxic characters; the husband and wife writing duos behind pseudonyms Nicci French and Ambrose Parry will be revealed, and masters of the genre Mark Billingham, Christopher Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Stewart Neville and Luca Veste discuss the future of the crime writing.

There is also plenty for historical fiction fans, including Philippa Gregory on her period page-turner Tidelands, Tracy Chevalier on her beautifully orchestrated new book, A Single Thread, set between the two Great Wars; as well as Robert Harris (The Second Sleep), Stacey Halls (The Familiars) and Diane Setterfield (The Thirteenth Tale).

CLASSIC LITERATURE
From George Eliot to Orwell, Chaucer to the Moomins, we are celebrating some of our most-loved classics as well as revealing the answers to burning questions such as: who are literature’s worst parents, which dystopian thrillers are most relevant now, and can words still pack a punch in the age of Twitter with Simon Schama. BBC Radio 2’s Book Club with Mariella Frostrup and guests will be exploring how novels have always been a revolutionary agent of social change ahead of the 300th anniversary of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and Tessa Hadley, Colm Tóibín and Bernardine Evaristo are explaining the pleasures and motivations of re-reading.

Acclaimed actors Christopher Eccleston and Sheila Hancock will be joining Allie Esiri to celebrate Shakespeare’s dazzling body of work, actress Maureen Lipman remembers the inimitable Joyce Grenfell and her Hurrah for Books performance at the first ever Cheltenham Literature Festival in 1949, Kathy O’Shaughnessy, Juliette Atkinson and Rebecca Mead mark George Eliot’s bicentenary by delving into her fascinating life and work, plus Tove Jansson’s niece Sophia Jansson will share readings from the intimate letters of the beloved Moomins creator. Lara Prescott is joined by Boris Pasternak’s great niece Anna Pasternak to discuss the startling true story behind one of literature’s most memorable love stories Doctor Zhivago, and the Festival celebrates the life and writing of the much-loved literary figure Patrick O’Brian with his step-son Nikolai Tolstoy.

STAGE & SCREEN
The Festival is thrilled to welcome a multitude of music superstars including the masterful Andrew Lloyd Webber, Blondie legend Debbie Harry, Status Quo front-man and founder Francis Rossi and WHAM’s Andrew Ridgeley who will reflect on his life-long friendship with George Michael. Mark Radcliffe shares how music can transform our lives, Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis reveals the untold stories from the festival and there will be an evening of musical magic to celebrate Joni Mitchell.

Screen icon Helena Bonham Carter will discuss her exceptional and singular career, and there will be secrets from behind the scenes with Richard Curtis discussing his love of The Beatles, Oscar-winning Dustin Lance Black on his deeply personal story of coming out to his Mormon mother, plus screenwriter Julian Fellowes and producer Gareth Neame on the much-loved Downton Abbey. Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, creators of beloved comedies Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet will look back on their long careers, Daisy May and Charlie Cooper will discuss the BAFTA winning success of This Country, David Suchet will reflect on a career spent behind the camera, and beloved documentary maker Louis Theroux will share his strangest times in television. Comic Relief co-founder Lenny Henry will be leading the laughs, with more to come from the likes of David Mitchell, Richard Ayoade, Katy Brand and Paul Merton.

POETRY, SPOKEN WORK & OFF THE PAGE
In an exclusive Festival commission, Guest Curator Max Porter brings together Kerry Hudson, Niven Govinden, Momtaza Mehri and Rachael Allen with musicians Alula Down to create an acoustic portrait of our complex and troubled country today. Guest Curator, poet and Out-Spoken founder Anthony Anaxagorou presents his Dream Team of Mona Arshi, Jack Underwood, Caroline Bird, Wayne Holloway-Smith and Kei Miller. The Cheltenham audience will hear from further vibrant voices in the poetry and spoken work scene including Rob Auton, Matt Abbott, Ben Norris, Rachel Nwokoro, Young People’s Laureate for London Theresa Lola, alongside Chris Tse, Paul Muldoon, Brian Bilston, Pam Ayres, Julia Copus, Joe Dunthorne, new Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, and Scottish Makar Jackie Kay will be selecting her top ten of the most exciting BAME writers working in the UK today. The literary revelry continues after dark with a Game of Thrones Quiz Night, music from the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, some wonderfully and wildly misinformed insight from character comedian Christopher Bliss, and more from the much-lauded Bang Said The Gun, Tongue Fu and The Moth.

CURRENT AFFAIRS
David Cameron will appear in the first event for his memoir For the Record, discussing his life, career and perspectives on the EU referendum and the future of Britain’s place in the light of Brexit. Joining Cameron on the exceptional Current Affairs line-up is David Lammy, Jess Phillips, Caroline Criado-Perez, James O’Brien, Gina Martin, Laura Bates, Nimko Ali, The Times editor John Witherow, The Times and The Sunday Times journalists Daniel Finkelstein, Rachel Sylvester, Matt Chorley, Sarah Baxter and Phillip Collins, with a glimpse behind the broadcast scenes from Emily Maitlis, John Humphrys, Nick Robinson and Ed Stourton.

The Festival looks outwards to Erdogan’s Turkey with Hannah Lucinda Smith and novelist Elif Shafak, to Trump’s America and his approach to global affairs with Chatham House’s Leslie Vinjamuri, to China and opportunities for women with Carrie Grace, the challenges India faces with Robin Niblett and Champa Patel; and to Putin’s Russia with Mark Galeotti, Peter Pomeranstev, and BBC Newsnight International Editor Gabriel Gatehouse.

Mostly Lit podcast host Derek Owusu and Jeffrey Boakye consider the experience of black men in Britain today, and Guest Curators Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené explore how it feels to be a black woman in a predominantly white space. Anthony Anaxagorou is joined by Mariam Khan and Chimene Suleyman to discuss how art and activism can be best combined to create positive social change, Jérôme Tubiana, David Constantine and Hashi Mohamed explore astounding accounts of human endurance and faith against overwhelming odds and terrible injustice, and Aeham Ahmad will be playing the piano on stage as he shares memories of performing in the streets of war-torn Syria.

HISTORY & ANCIENT WORLD
Moving individual stories of the Windrush generation will be shared from Colin Grant and Amelia Gentleman, literary critic Bart Van Es and biographer and historian Jeremy Dronfield will chronicle how the trauma of the holocaust gave rise to astonishing stories of courage and survival, plus there will be further historical insight from Guest Curator Dominic Sandbrook, William Dalrymple, Giles Milton with Anthony Seldon and polling expert Deborah Mattinson asking who was the most disastrous prime minister in British history. Virginia Nicholson considers the experience of women in the 60s, The Favourite author Ophelia Field and Anne Somerset explore Queen Anne’s life, and the relationship between Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth II is given a fresh take by author, historian and television presenter Kate Williams, plus novelist Katie Hickman will reveal the extraordinary lives of the British women who made their way to India and changed history. For ancient history aficionados, Mary Beard and Llewellyn Morgan will join author and classicist Peter Stothard to celebrate the power of Roman poetry on lifestyle and philosophy, whilst Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Daisy Johnson and Natalie Haynes will explore how we relate to myths in the modern life.

FOOD & DRINK
Cheltenham’s famous Art Deco restaurant The Daffodil will be transformed into a mecca of global foodie delights. Audiences will be transported around the world with mouth-watering Middle Eastern recipes from Yasmin Khan, sumptuous Moorish cooking courtesy of Ben Tish, Dishoom chef Naved Nasir and co-founder Shamil Thakrar cooking up a feast of Indian delight, and native Russian flavours from Alissa Timoshkina. Festival favourite Tom Kerridge will be sharing his foodie tips for a happier lifestyle and Valentine Warner records his journey through grief told in recipes of love and memories. There will be flavour mash-ups from Bake Off’s Liam Charles, Rukmini Iyer (The Quick Roasting Tin) will demonstrate the art of hassle-free cooking, Pam Corbin shares her pioneering jams, pickles and preserves and there will vegan delights from Rachel Ama (Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats) plus Henry Firth and Ian Theasby Johnson (BOSH). Plus, Jancis Robinson (The World Atlas of Wine) will be revealing the art of pairing a delicious three-course meal with matched wines.

LIFESTYLE
Queer Eye will meet Bake Off with Tan France and Nadiya Hussain discussing their upbringings and new memoirs and Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer will talk life, friendship and the joys of fishing. Comedian Jen Brister (The Other Mother), Christine Armstrong (The Mother of All Jobs) and Matt Coyne (Man Vs Toddler) will share hilarious anecdotes and chart the ups and downs of sharing life with tiny humans.

Emily Dean and confirmed cat lover David Baddiel will be discussing tales of grief and recovery, The Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen will share tales from the farm, and Jordan Stephens, Clementine Inti Chavez Perez and Capser Walsh will discuss what it means to be a man in society today Tom Bradby, Marina Benjamin and sleep scientist Nicola Barclay will anatomise the cause, consequence and potential cures for insomnia, plus Guest Curators and authors Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené (Slay in Your Lane), vegan chef Rachel Ama, pilates and wellness coach Isa-Welly and Amy Thomson will help the audience strike the perfect balance in our busy lives, ranging from our approaches to digital health, to what we eat.

There will be gardening tips galore from Anne Chambers, Vanessa Berridge, Clare Foster, Rowan Blossom and Caroline Donald, and the doyenne of English interior design, Nina Campbell, will impart her wisdom. Lovers of classic fashion will be taken on a beautifully illustrated tour through the V+A’s blockbuster DIOR exhibition by curator Oriole Cullen and Condé Nast chairman Nicholas Coleridge will reflect upon his thirty-year career. There will be an exploration of feminist art and fashion from V&A curator Jenny Lister and drag queen Crystal Rasmussen and drag king Daisy Hale will explain how the art of pushing gender boundaries has taken hold of pop culture. The Times Fashion Editor Anna Murphy advises on how not to wear black and three of the country’s top names in beauty – facialist Alexandra Soveral, make-up artist Hannah Martin and hair stylist Kiki Koh – will be on hand.

SPORT
A host of sporting legends will grace the stages of Cheltenham this year kicking off with Welsh rugby titan Sam Warburton, and for cricket fans there will be England’s greatest batsman Alastair Cook, plus Prashant Kidambi and Philip Collins. The Festival will celebrate inspirational women who have pushed themselves to the limits of their endurance, including record-breaking ultra-running phenomenon Mimi Anderson, the first woman to complete the infamous Transcontinental Race, Emily Chappell and Lara Prior-Palmer, the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win The Mongol Derby.

ART & DESIGN
This year’s Art & Design series explores everything from the architecture to illustration, including a very special discussion about Lucian Freud with his daughter Esther Freud, revered British illustrator Charlie Mackesy on his favourite pieces, Turner Prize-nominated artist Tai Shani celebrates rebel female muses, and ‘Cold War Steve’ Chris Spencer explains why we need satirical art now more than ever. Grant Wilson and Naomi Wood will examine the Bauhaus movement’s cast of characters in its centenary year, Andrew Hill and Emilie Taylor take a look at Ruskin’s contemporary legacy, and Jason Webster and Claudia Hopkins show how Spanish art is inescapably intertwined with the country’s turbulent history. Kate Bryan shares the dazzling and explosive stories behind some of art’s most influential romantic relationships, Ossian Ward illuminates the Old Masters as well as the dramatic vibrancy of contemporary art, Marit Paasche and Clare Hunter recognise the political and protest power of sewing, Jackie Bennett studies the intimate relationship between artist and garden, plus Angela Summerfield and Christiana Payne look at the role of trees in inspiring some of our greatest artworks.

FAITH & PHILOSOPHY
The Cheltenham audience will find enlightenment and fascination in all schools of philosophical thought, with Richard Dawkins expanding further on atheism in Outgrowing God, Peter Stanford exploring the reasons behind why so many of us still believe in angels, and historian Tom Holland describes Christianity’s transformative legacy on Western thought. Author Karen Armstrong will argue the importance of rediscovering global scriptures, and A.C Grayling will take the audience through the epic journey’s and traditions of Western and Eastern philosophy – from Buddha, Confucius and Socrates to Mill, Nietzsche and Sartre.

SCIENCE
In this year’s Science line-up, Martin Rees offers a provocative and inspiring look at the future of humanity, and Arthur I. Miller contemplates on what it means to have original thought, creativity and consciousness in the age of machines. Rick Edwards and Michael Brooks will explore the science of death and mass destruction through some of our best-loved Hollywood blockbusters, and Angela Gallop, one of the world’s most eminent forensic scientists, will discuss her ability to reconstruct violent events and how she solved so many intractable cases. David Nott shares his extraordinary experience as a trauma surgeon in the world’s most dangerous war zones, Christie Watson reflects on twenty years in nursing, and Nicci Gerrard alongside Wendy Mitchell ask important questions about how we love, care for and value those who suffering from dementia.

NATURE, TRAVEL & ADVENTURE
An inspirational list of speakers will share their unique journeys including Sue Perkins on the Mekong, Adam Weymouth on his solo canoe odyssey along the Yukon River, Raynor Winn will revisit her 630-mile walk on the South West Coastal path, comedian Dom Joly will trace his hike across Lebanon, and Monisha Rajesh will recount her 45,000-mile adventure on the world’s most remarkable railways. Great historical adventures will be retraced by travel writer Alastair Humphreys who reflects on Laurie Lee’s iconic journey from the Cotswolds through Spain, and author and filmmaker Jacki Hill-Murphy recounts the achievements of early female explorers including Victorian nurse Kate Marsden’s epic trip across Siberia.

BAFTA winning naturalist, writer and television presenter Steve Backshall will share his exploration of undiscovered worlds and former British Army Officer and explorer Levison Wood will whisk the audience through the heart of Middle East. Writer Luke Turner and journalist Emma Mitchell will demonstrate the healing power of nature, editor Clare Gogerty and explorer Erling Kagge will show us how to travel in a way that enhances your connection to the world, adventurers Mark Boyle and Ben Fogle will explore the joys without modern technology, plus writers Philip Marsden and Dan Richards will discuss fulfilling life-long travel ambitions and why we remain drawn to the wild, and The Sunday Times travel team, including Susan D’Arcy, will be sharing their expert knowledge.

PSYCHOLOGY
Activist, journalist and curator Scarlett Curtis will be joined by an exciting line-up of inspirational contributors from her new anthology It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and other lies) to discuss what their mental health means to them; Chief Survival Instructor to the British Military, John Hudson, gives lessons for everyday life taken from the first-hand accounts of near disaster experiences; Matthew Syed shares his radical blueprint for creative problem-solving; Ella Risbridger and Bella Mackie share how alternative therapies of cooking and jogging helped them in their mental health recoveries; and YouTubers Hannah Witton, Khalaf and Instagram star Megan Jayne Crabbe encourage discussions about body image, imperfections and being confident in your own skin.

FAMILY
The packed Family programme has more selection on offer than ever including the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, with a world of mythical creatures and a special event with festival friends revealing what lies inside their notebook pages. The incredible programme also welcomes the legendary Malorie Blackman and her highly anticipated new Noughts & Crosses novel, presenter Dermot O’Leary and illustrator Nick East with the latest escapades of Toto the Ninja Cat, and some horrendously horrid fun with Francesca Simon. There will be crime capers with Guest Curator Robin Stevens, adventures galore with Helen Skelton, Abi Elphinstone and Candy Gourlay, plus much more from the likes of Danny Wallace, Dougie Poynter and Konnie Huq.

For littles ones there will be family fun with multi-award winning Oi Puppies! duo Kes Gray and Jim Field, and the Festival will be marking the birthdays of some famous characters including Kipper, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Elmer, as well as the 30th anniversary of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with the great Michael Rosen There will be family shows I Believe in Unicorns, The Rainbow Fish, The Greatest Comic-Making Show On Earth and Maisy Mouse, for spoken word and music lovers the Tongue Fu for Kids band will be performing, while Mark Llewelyn Evans introduces the thrilling story of opera.

Budding young creatives can take top tips from the best in the business with workshops on everything from fairy-tale animation to writing adventures and detective move making. Plus the Festival is hosting its first ever ‘Big Family Book Quiz’ to challenge book knowledge, creativity and nonsense know-how! And if that’s not enough for YA fans Juno Dawson, Holly Bourne, Matt Abbott, Jenny Downham and Dean Atta will be taking to the Cheltenham stage.

EDUCATION & YEAR-ROUND OUTREACH
This year’s extraordinary ‘Literature for Schools’ programme includes Cressida Cowell, Francesca Simon, Chris Riddell, Hilary McKay, Kit De Waal, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Anthony Anaxagorou amongst many others, including Guest Curator Robin Stevens leading a series of mystery events. Spoken word artist Sophia Thakur will be performing with students from the Festivals’ year-round outreach programmes – Beyond Words, Write Now and Amnesty’s Words that Burn – in the Young Writers’ Showcase, and authors taking part in Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils – the Festival’s flagship education project supporting teachers with a national network of free reading groups – will be igniting creativity with workshops from Vashti Hardy, Joe Todd-Stanton and Emma Carroll. Plus the first of the new books selected for the 2019/20 programme will be revealed during the Festival!

FESTIVAL PARTNERS
Title Partners: The Times and The Sunday Times
Principal Partners: Baillie Gifford; Cunard; Sky Arts; Thirty Percy, University of Gloucestershire; Waterstones. Woodland Trust.

 

From Bean to Bar: A Chocolate Lovers Guide to Britain – Andrew Baker

from-bean-to-bar-cover.jpg

From Bean to Bar: A Chocolate Lovers Guide to Britain – Andrew Baker

Summary:

Chocolate… dark, white or milk; smooth, plain and creamy or bursting with flavours and textures, it’s guaranteed to get the pulses racing. And with chocolate-making now one of the most exciting areas of Britain’s artisan food scene, this book takes you on a tantalising tasting tour of the country’s sweet spots that helps you explore chunks of Britain while enjoying the country’s best and most authentic chocolate. Whether they’re based in the Highlands of Scotland or the mountains of Wales; a shed in Cleethorpes or in the shadow of Winchester Cathedral, we seek out the rising stars of the chocolate industry, try their mouthwatering products and explore towns and cities where the bean-to-bar magic takes place. Among the people and places included are Duffy Sheardown, a former Formula One racing engineer who makes bars of chocolate in a shed in Cleethorpes that are prized by chocolate connoisseurs all over the world; Willie Harcourt-Cooze, a glamorous globetrotter who grows cocoa in Venezuala and makes chocolate in Uff culme, Devon (sold in Waitrose); and the passionate young women of Dormouse, who from tiny premises in Manchester are winning international accolades.

AUTHOR

I love chocolate of that I can happily admit to. I have to have my daily fix and suddenly everything I the world is fine. I love chocolate so much that some years ago while in the Caribbean I visited a cocoa plantation and toured the factory as the pods were then turned into almost anything including bathing in chocolate. Yes, I did. It really hits our sensual points.

Cocoa pod on a dark wooden table.

I was delighted to have received a copy of From Bean to Bar: A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Britain (AA Publishing) by Andrew Baker. Published on 22nd August. This really is a chocolate lover’s tour of Britain, looking at the various chocolate-making places across the country.

Many of us have visited Cadbury World in Birmingham but I for one was not that impressed just a large consumer driven operation designed to get people to spend money on products that actually are not chocolate, well chocolate as we know it anyway. What Andrew does best is that he takes us on a tour far and wide that will tickle your taste buds. It is a chocoholics dream book. This is a travelogue packed full of aromas that if you could scratch and sniff the pages I doubt you would leave your home. It is intoxicating. I love cooking and experimenting with food and From Bean to Bar has really wetted my appetite to experiment more with chocolate. Just a stone’s throw away from where I live is one of the chocolate makers in the book that is Willie Harcourt-Cooze factory near Wellington in Somerset. Willie was the star of a TV Series as it followed him and his family as he tried to get his chocolate factory set up and accepted. It is so good to see him doing so well.

There is plenty of history in the books as well as Andrew takes a step back to look at chocolate in Britain in the days gone by and there is plenty of history there. Andrew Baker is a journalist and also an international chocolate judge so he is well placed to take us from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall on a chocolate adventure like no other and we see the process from Bean to Bar talking to the artisan chocolate makers that are now creating a real name for themselves and finding out their secrets (though not all I am guessing).

If like me, you love that dark sensual taste that is real chocolate then From Bean to Bar by Andrew Baker is a book that really will make you salivate. Best read with your favourite bar of good chocolate.

272 Pages.

Thank you to Vanessa Boagye (Midas PR) for the review copy of From Bean to Bar by Andrew Baker

From Bean to Bar by Andrew Baker was published by AA Publishing and will be published on 22nd August 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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