Thursday, 13 July 2017

A Secret Sisterhood

A Secret Sisterhood
Hungerford Bookshop
15th June
Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

Writing tends to be a solitary activity. When you think of literary greats such as Jane Austen and George Eliot, it’s often a mental image of them writing industriously in splendid isolation.

However, a new book A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney has uncovered the hidden literary friendships of the world's most respected female authors. Inspired by their own friendship and encouragement for each other, Sweeney and Midorkikawa embarked on research into previously unpublished letters and diaries, proving that everyone needs support and someone to bounce ideas around with.

The pair talked to a full Hungerford Bookshop on Thursday evening about their new book and why these female friendships are not as well-known as male ones such as Byron and Shelley or Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

The talk revealed Jane Austen's bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp and why the Austen family were keen to keep this quiet. Sharp was the governess of Jane Austen’s niece but does not appear in any biographies even though she was one of a select list of first people to receive presentation copies of her novels.

The pair also explored the friendships of Charlotte Bronte, who was a friend of feminist writer Mary Taylor despite their first meeting when Taylor announced that she found Bronte “very ugly” at boarding school. However, they were brought together by the love of a good political argument and their differing views helped each other see the world from opposing standpoints. They encouraged each other to make a living from their writing and Mary’s feedback on Jane Eyre was that it was not radical enough and gave such frank advice that her next novel Shirley was more openly political.

Midorikawa and Sweeney also spoke on the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, who never actually met in real life. Their correspondence had never been published to date and Sweeney and Midorikawa found a number of letters that showed a unique insight between the two who were the most famous writers of their time on either side of the Atlantic.

Lastly, they discussed the relationship between Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf, a fantastically complex relationship which Sweeney and Midorikawa nearly dismissed believing them to be enemies. Woolf accused Mansfield of ‘stinking like a civet cat that has taken to street walking’ which doesn’t sound like the language of close friends but belied a ‘robust’ friendship that was so strong that Woolf struggled to continue writing when Mansfield died at the age of 33.

With these literary heroines’ achievements and relationships downplayed in the past, it’s reassuring to know that women have always sought strength and support from others throughout history. Sweeney summed up saying: “The truth is that intelligent, creative women have always collaborated and we feel that this is surely the moment to pass that on to our daughters.”

The book is on sale at the Hungerford Bookshop and other outlets, with a preface by Margaret Atwood.


(First appeared in the Newbury Weekly News)



Saturday, 10 June 2017

WORLD GIN DAY

I often shake my head at these awareness days, but World Gin Day is one I can get on board with, although I might wait until after lunch!

If you don't drink, then don't forget that you can enjoy all the loveliness of gin in a fudge format; here's the piece that appeared in Good Housekeeping Magazine that we wrote about Buttermilk Fudge who have collaborated with Southwestern Distillery to create gin fudge.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

Dairy free Easter eggs

More coverage for our Easter client in New! and Mother and Baby magazine!




Monday, 10 April 2017

Hello Magazine!

http://www.hellomagazine.com/cuisine/gallery/2017040637956/dairy-free-easter-eggs-2017/1/

Friday, 7 April 2017

Turning an old lodge house into a modern home

These renovation pieces really appeal to the Kirstie Allsopp in me! This is the piece that appeared in this month's Out and About magazine!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Thursday, 9 March 2017

CHEAM SCHOOL RAISES £7,643.14 FOR DAISY’S DREAM






Enterprising children at Cheam School in Headley presented an incredible £7,643.14 to local bereavement charity Daisy’s Dream this week.

The money was raised at the school’s successful Christmas Fair in December and presented to Daisy’s Dream fundraiser Gemma Gittins.

Jacqui Marriott, head of pre-prep at Cheam School said: “We decided to support Daisy’s Dream because we know what a devastating impact bereavement or long-term illness can have on a child.

“Dealing with such issues is never straightforward and is different for each individual. Daisy’s Dream provides such a fantastic support network not only for the children affected but also for their families, carers and schools. We believe that this is crucial for ensuring that each child is able to cope with their circumstances whether at home or at school and always has someone to turn to should they need it.”

“The Cheam Christmas Fair was a great success this year and everyone had such a fun time visiting Father Christmas, playing pin the tail on Rudolph, feeding the live reindeer, delving into the lucky dip and shopping for presents. We had such an amazing team of volunteers and want to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped us to raise this fantastic sum in aid of Daisy’s Dream.”

Gemma Gittins from Daisy’s Dream added: “To raise such a great amount at a Christmas fair is nothing short of amazing and we are extremely grateful to everyone at the school who contributed.

“The money raised could help us support as many as ten families across the area for a whole year. With increasing demand for our services, we are so indebted to Cheam School for their generosity.”

Daisy’s Dream is a professional support service which responds to the needs of children and families across Berkshire affected by life threatening illness or bereavement.

http://www.basingstokeobserver.co.uk/school-raises-thousands-for-charity

Monday, 20 February 2017

County Knowledge

If you're new to the area, be sure to check out www.countyknowledge.co.uk for trusted recommendations on everything from schools to gyms to tradesmen!

Thank you also for the nice words!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

TABLES AVAILABLE FOR WEST BERKSHIRE MENCAP RACEDAY ON FRIDAY 3rd MARCH



The last few tables are still up for grabs at West Berkshire Mencap’s annual Charity Race Day at Newbury Racecourse on Friday, 3rd March.

The highly-anticipated event is the charity’s biggest fundraising event of the year and helps raise much-needed funds for people with learning disabilities.

Tables are selling fast, but organisers are urging local individuals, organisations and businesses to secure the remaining seats with the promise of a full day of racing plus a three-course lunch and afternoon tea.

The day includes a champagne reception and a gourmet three-course lunch and wine. There is also the chance to bid for experiences in a silent auction with lots including a fantastic meal at the Michelin-starred restaurant The Harrow in Little Bedwyn with luxury transport there and back.

West Berkshire Mencap CEO Leila Ferguson said: “You don’t have to love horseracing to have a fantastic day with us. We can accept bookings of one to ten people and all money raised will be used to support services for children and adults with learning disabilities. “More than 250 places have already been snapped up and the event is supported by more than 20 twenty local and national businesses. It represents an excellent opportunity to network or as corporate entertainment for your team. Simply by attending or donating a prize to our raffle, you will be helping to raise money for children and adults with learning disabilities in your local area.” To donate a prize, book your place or to find out more information, pleae call us on 01635 41464 or e-mail info@wbmencap.org

Please contact the charity on 01635 41464 or email info@wbmencap.org to book or if you

Friday, 10 February 2017

Leading “free from” chocolate manufacturer Moo Free launches Easter egg range for 2017

It wasn’t long ago that people with a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance had to go without chocolate eggs at Easter.

All that has changed now and there are delicious dairy-free and gluten-free alternatives widely available.

The market leader Moo Free has unveiled its line-up of Easter eggs for 2017 and there are three varieties available: Original, Orange and Bunnycomb all made with its award-winning chocolate.

All three Easter eggs have the same RRP as last year (£4.25), but the Easter Bunny has now delivered another 20g of chocolate buttons. They now all weigh 120g (up from 100g in 2016) without a price increase.

They will be available via supermarkets, larger retailers, independent high-street stores, and online retailers including http://www.dairyfreechocolates.com.

Mike Jessop, who founded Moo Free in 2010, along with his wife Andrea, said: “Moo Free replaces cows’ milk with rice milk to create a delicious, milk chocolate taste that doesn’t require a single cow.”

The chocolate from which the eggs and the buttons are made is a multi-award winning recipe, having most recently won the award for ‘Best Vegan Chocolate’ at the VegFest Awards, 2016. This accolade was voted for by the public.

Even better still, its award-winning dairy free chocolates are also free from gluten, wheat, lactose, soya and casein, completely vegetarian and vegan, and certified organic.

“Because we care about you and the environment, all our dairy free chocolates are made using organic and ethically sourced ingredients wrapped up in fun, environmentally-friendly packaging. Moo Free’s Easter eggs, unlike those of their rivals, deliver great taste and even better value,” added Mike.

Take a look at Moo Free’s website to find out more – http://www.moofreechocolates.com

ends

To request a press or blog sample, tweet @margaretmcdpr

Monday, 6 February 2017

Children's bereavement charity Daisy’s Dream receives a donation of £3,349 from West Berkshire Crematorium.


Daisy’s Dream, a local charity that helps children who have been bereaved, has received a donation of £3,349 from West Berkshire Crematorium.

The crematorium, located just outside Thatcham, donated £3.071.52 from their recycled metals scheme plus a further £277.86 raised at the retiring collection at the Memorial Carol Service held in December.

West Berkshire Crematorium technician and chapel attendant, Mickey Maudsley, said: “When we get the opportunity to raise money, we always try to choose smaller, local charities that benefit the local community. We decided to support Daisy’s Dream who offer an important service to children across the whole of Berkshire that have been bereaved.”

Brandon Herselman, manager and registrar at the crematorium added: “It has been a pleasure to have supported Daisy’s Dream which helps families at such a difficult time. Demand for the charity’s services is increasing, so we’re delighted to announce that we have chosen Daisy’s Dream again as our charity for the year.”

Daisy’s Dream fundraiser Gemma Gittins, said: “We are so grateful to staff at the crematorium, plus everyone who donated. This fantastic sum will enable us to offer our professional support services to children and families affected by life threatening illness or bereavement.

“We hope to use this donation to offer one-to-one support as well as a number of therapeutic group events which give children the chance to meet with others facing similar circumstances.”

Monday, 30 January 2017

How to make everyone happy when you're interviewed by a journalist




I was listening to Clive Anderson interviewing Mark Thomas and Ken Hom on Radio 4 at the weekend. It didn’t occur to me until later but I then realised that I have interviewed both (in 2011 and 2004 respectively and that they are both in my top ten interviewees.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0890l02

Despite being completely different, they shared some characteristics that made them easy to interview and meant that we were able to write a positive piece promoting a show and a new restaurant and book (guess which one is which). It’s not difficult, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to get wrong. I was a regional journalist and can count hundreds of times that people made life a little more difficult when they needn’t have done, leading to an interview and subsequent write-up that possibly didn’t portray them in the best light. We are all busy people, but just employ some basic common sense and everyone gains –whether you’re in bands (I won’t name and shame!) to businesspeople and councillors and politicians.

Here are some things to think about if a journalist wants to talk to you about your business:

1. Answer the phone – particularly when you’ve agreed that a journalist can call you at a set time

I once battled for weeks to get a local business in the paper based on a time-sensitive hook – possibly International Women’s Day. The journalist agreed to call her at 3pm but got no reply. I left a message reminding her that deadline was fast approaching and she texted me to tell me not to interrupt as she was in the cinema. If you do want press coverage, then do all you can to help. Journalists don't have time to keep chasing you if you don't appear enthusiastic.


2. Be helpful

On that note, try to give as much information as you can. Don’t answer “yes” or “no” and leave it at that. Try to expand and give interesting information that brings the piece alive. Also, ensure that you don't waste time talking nonsense, and that you are able to get all of your points across. I vividly remember once receiving a press release in very dense, technical jargon from a leisure manufacturer. Most people would have hit the delete button instantly, but I thought it might be interesting and called the person who’d sent it. They shot a barrage of abuse at my stupidity at not knowing what kind of plastic he was referring to. This was in 2002, but it still rankles now! On other occasions, a managing director wanted us to write about his company, but wouldn’t reveal his first name. “Mr is adequate”, he said. Er. It isn't. Other people have got shirty when asked their age, or if they have children – even which town they live in. All of these things add colour to the piece. The more relevant information you can give, the better. And if you don’t want to give your age, just decline politely rather than snarling “what’s that got to do with anything?”


3. “Send me a copy”

A journalist generally won’t know when it’s going in, or even if it IS definitely going to be printed, so don’t get annoyed if they can’t give an exact date. Buy the paper and when it goes in, encourage others to do so rather than simply sticking a photo of the finished article on social media.


4. Say thank you.

And not (and these are all real):

-"Why is it in black and white?"
-"I didn't like the fact that it was next to a story about xxx"
-"It's all wrong. Typical journalist!" (It wasn't all wrong - I'd asked her which town she was from and reviewing my notes, it seems she'd misunderstood the question".

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Tamsin Machin from County Knowledge is a lady in the know! She can help you sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to finding excellent local businesses. Here's a piece we wrote together which you can find in this month's Berkshire Life magazine....