Oliver Phillips

Has Britain legislated the death of unbridled fun? Johnny Foreigner hasn't.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Friday 21st November 2014

Fireworks in Spain and France do not seem to be subject to the same Elf and Safety restrictions as they are in the red-tape conscious UK.

Adam Parsons

Comment: Why I never fancy donning fancy dress

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:41pm Friday 21st November 2014

For ages, we've been talking about taking some time off to actually sort out the house - clear out cupboards, empty boxes that have sat there for years and get rid of stuff that hasn’t been used for years. And now it’s happening.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Hallo Stupid

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:48am Friday 21st November 2014

For those of you following my rambles for some time now, you’ll know that when it comes to intelligence I’m honest about the fact that I’m a few chocolate chips short of a cookie. But do you ever wonder where such levels of stupidity come from? Then wonder no more, because I’ve found a University course on the psychology of stupid. Unfortunately it’s based in Los Angeles which is a bit far to travel in pursuit of the answer, but at least now I don’t feel so isolated because it must mean there’s a lot of other stupid people like me curious to understand why…….Or….alot of people on the receiving end of stupid that want to know how to deal with us?………..

Oliver Phillips

Taking yet another axe to Axa: French cover not as good as it says on the tin

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:20pm Friday 14th November 2014

The best laid plans are disrupted by a much-dreaded front wheel blow-out and yet another reminder than I am growing old.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty- What's For Lunch?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:08am Friday 14th November 2014

What it’s Friday? Already? Okay, so earlier in the week, being the healthiest ill person I know, I’d just made a fresh salad for lunch and sat down to tuck in when I felt I was being watched…you know that feeling? And sure enough as I turned my head to face out onto the woodland at the back, gathered on all different levels of the lattice fencing were six yellow tits, three squirrels, two magpies, two robins, one black crow, one thrush, one Pidgeon and a partridge in a pear treeeeee…..

Oliver Phillips

In Prague the exchange shops change the rate every day, but the sign outside means nothing

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:20pm Friday 7th November 2014

There are a few tourist pitfalls to watch out for in Prague, not least when it comes to changing your currency. On the other hand, when we returned to Paris and stayed for three nights, we found they have mastered the art of reducing the size of you your wallet at an alarming rate.

Adam Parsons

Comment: Reading between the lines in library shake-up

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:15pm Friday 7th November 2014

Let me make a declaration right at the start. I love libraries and always have. They’re one of the most fundamental and important places in our cities, towns and villages, not least because they represent a simple truth. We should all try to learn.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Born Skippy

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:08am Friday 7th November 2014

Can I really wear Monster ranty- pants two weeks running?? I’m a woman of course I can. Have you parked your bottom comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin. Being in the middle of an M.E relapse at the moment means that trying to function even at a basic level is like swimming through a sea of Marshmallow. I can’t move easily and I can’t think clearly. My mothers kitchen knife, the one that had sentiment, the one shes had longer than shes had me is now bouncing around in the back of a dustcart somewhere while the apple peel ended up in the cutlery draw. .....

Oliver Phillips

We sampled the local dishes but found superb Indian restaurants in Vienna and Prague

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:40pm Friday 31st October 2014

After visiting Vienna, we understood why Prague attracts more visitors. It is redolent with Old Europe and of course was once in the centre of European commerce.

Kathy Miller

Comment: Life lessons from naughty Mr Norton

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:00pm Friday 31st October 2014

Seeing Graham Norton live at the Watford Colosseum on Monday reminded me of what the veteran actor Michael Caine once said about the secret of his long and happy marriage to his wife Shakira being, quite simply, separate bathrooms.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty- Customer Carry On

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:08am Friday 31st October 2014

BOO!....Happy Halloween & all that, This week I've got my monster ranty-pants on. I've come to the conclusion that the criteria to get a job dealing with the public must be no brain cells and a diploma in Idiot. British Gas was my first port of call, they've become such a nightmare to deal with that my mother, a pensioner…and yes, the one I keep under the floorboards finds it far too stressful, so I've taken over....

Oliver Phillips

We found Vienna like the waiters - lacking in a genuine smile

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 24th October 2014

Vienna was this week voted among the top cities in the world to visit but we found it disappointing. Elegant, majestic but somehow lacking a soul.

Why we need to learn other languages

Posted on 10:18am Friday 24th October 2014

SO at a time when Europe is much on our political agenda, here’s a joke from the Continent.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Revival

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:09am Friday 24th October 2014

I’m seeing an Osteopath……Not with a view to marriage or anything, although having someone able to crack and crunch you on demand would be a bit of a plus, No, I’m hoping he can do what the NHS has failed to do so far and help with my muscle discomfort and lack of breath carried over from the Op two years ago. So at the moment I’m feeling well and truly bruised and pounded because it impacts on M.E........

Kathy Miller

A generation sandwiched between a rock and a hard place

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:43am Monday 20th October 2014

Last week brought the welcome news that Kate Reddy, the hollow-eyed, sleep-deprived heroine of Allison Pearson’s novel I Don’t Know How She Does It, is making a come-back as Sandwich Woman in Ms Pearson’s weekly column in the Daily Telegraph.

Oliver Phillips

Luckily we had to take a 30-minute walk to the recommended restaurant in Budapest

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Friday 17th October 2014

How many famous Hungarians spring to mind. We tested each other and came up short as we headed for our first-ever visit to Hungary and Budapest,

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty - May The Force Be With You

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:15am Friday 17th October 2014

Are you ready for this weeks jabber? …. Ok, So Just because life shrinks to the size of a postage stamp it doesn’t mean you have to get licked…and no making up your own jokes …unless you’re willing to share them of course? Life can become small for many reasons, for me it’s a collection of illnesses to the point I could hold an exhibition, having the whole world gradually decline to such a compact space is frustrating and claustrophobic but you either suck it up and deal with it…or you don’t, they’re the options.

Oliver Phillips

Budapest's House of Horror brought home the hypocrisy and brutality of Stalin's communism

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:20pm Friday 10th October 2014

There is a building in Budapest that is called the House of Horror in which a museum documents the excesses of Nazi and Communist regimes. We both felt compelled to go and from the sombre, bass-noted music upon our arrival to our return to the sunlight, we wondered at the stupidity of political ideology.

Adam Parsons

Comment: Up and running

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:10pm Friday 10th October 2014

At 9am on Sunday, I’ll be setting off on a 13.1-mile course around the middle of London, pounding through Hyde, Green and St James’ parks, all in an effort to raise a bit of money for charity and prove to myself I really can achieve this curious challenge.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Keeping Up Appearances

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:37am Friday 10th October 2014

Good Friday morning my friends, it seems to come around so quick, So let me kick this week off by asking, do you love your town or not and why? The reason I ask is Saturday 4th October saw the closure of our local Market here in Watford, not that anyone would’ve noticed considering the orchestration of its demise started a number of years ago courtesy of those rubbing their shoulders & greasy palms with developers. So you could count how many stalls were left on one hand....

Oliver Phillips

Are girls today, heavier and stockier than they were back in the 1960s? The evidence suggests they are...

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Friday 3rd October 2014

We were preparing for an autumn tour, taking in four capitals: Budapest, Vienna, Prague and back to Paris, but waiting to catch the train to Paris and the airport, we had cause to muse that todays young females are noticeably heavier than those in the 1960s.

Kathy Miller

Comment: I had the honour of being invited to two secondary schools to tell sixth formers about journalism

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:50pm Friday 3rd October 2014

I love giving talks such as these; the frustrated actress in me enjoys the performance, even if the scribe in me wonders if having the time to take to the stage in this way suggests I have failed as a writer.

Stacy Hart

RUNNIN ON EMPTYy-Dr Pants

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:20am Friday 3rd October 2014

Its funny how a word like pants can have different meanings, but still all apply to you….and whoever just shouted “& your singing? “ go stand in the corner. Apart from wearing them, I’ve always used the terminology of “pants” to describe how I’m feeling regarding M.E & Fibromyalgia because its less depressing than saying “ill”.

Oliver Phillips

Chaos in the garden as the dogs and I chase a feathered interloper

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:20pm Friday 26th September 2014

A family gathering gave us a chance to show the house and garden off to the best advantage. However, things were not going well for the Koi carp and the pond. Added to which we had a noisy, unwelcome visitor..

Adam Parsons

Comment: Why I'm on the side of the spider

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:14pm Friday 26th September 2014

Manchester United looms in the distance but, a lot nearer, is something even more fascinating. Spiders. Lots of them.

Stacy Hart

RUNNIN ON EMPTY-The NHS Is Sick

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:37am Friday 26th September 2014

I wasn’t sure about this weeks title “The NHS is sick” because as a rap/hiphop artist I thought it might cause some confusion with the urban slang thing, So I’d just like to point out that I mean sick as in sick and NOT sick as in “really cool innit?” wi me blud? Good then I’ll begin….

Kathy Miller

Comment: Hands up all those who actually enjoyed the run-up to the Scottish referendum

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:31pm Wednesday 24th September 2014

By the time you read this we will know the results and whether or not those of us who spend their summer holiday north of the border will be needing a passport next August.

Adam Parsons

Comment: Whatever your views on royalty, it's quite hard to find anyone who dislikes Prince William

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:20pm Wednesday 24th September 2014

He seems incredibly normal for someone who has grown up in his utterly abnormal surroundings.

Oliver Phillips

Apparently Franz Kafka summed me up along with my mates but what did we know

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:50pm Friday 19th September 2014

Several little milestones in my life seemed to point in one direction and after many years I have finally booked the flights, the hotel and the trip and Ellie and I will head for Prague, dropping in at Budapest and Vienna en route.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty - Back Before Elvis?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:05am Friday 19th September 2014

Yaaaaaay! Well, unless the king has lip curled or hip thrust his way into the building since I last blogged here in 2010.. uh huh! Then I have indeed been true to my word…..I’m back, & before Elvis. Back with a Pfff, Fizz, Plop. I know that makes me sound like an Alka-Seltzer but it comes with less expectation than a Bang and I don’t want to disappoint....

Oliver Phillips

Things do not go bump in the night but they most certainly move

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 12th September 2014

Short-term memory is not at its peak as you get older but we have pooled our observations and now we can say that we have an extra, unseen resident in tour house in France. Did "something" move in when it was uninhabited for 40 years?

Kathy Miller

Comment: How lovely it was to hear Watford’s own Amy Connelly on the X Factor

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Friday 5th September 2014

It was also touching to see her renew her acquaintance with Cheryl Cole (neé Tweedy, formerly of Girls Aloud), now Mrs Fernandez-Versini.

Oliver Phillips

Wrestling with South Oxhey and the Late Walter Benjamin

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 6:22am Friday 5th September 2014

A local author wrote a book combining realism and surrealism about Oxhey Estate.I stumbled across the book in my motor home and was puzzled as to how it got there.

Oliver Phillips

I was surprised by their misfortune but the smell of rats was overwhelming

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 3:11pm Friday 29th August 2014

Our friends were in trouble but why did they write to us?

Mike Wright

Comment: Boris Johnson ends Hertsmere speculation

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:50pm Friday 29th August 2014

So Boris has plumped for Uxbridge as his preferred route to Westminster ending speculation he might apply to fill the vacancy in Hertsmere.

Adam Parsons

Comment: food for thought from restaurant review app

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:10pm Friday 29th August 2014

Not just for quality of food, but for atmosphere, value for money, for that intangible sense of excellence. Which eatery provides the biggest hmmm for your buck?

Oliver Phillips

Just like sex: maybe I'll get the hang of it one day

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:47am Friday 22nd August 2014

We collect books on our travels and this summer we raided the "not read yet" bookcase with some gratifying results.

Oliver Phillips

We live in an age of mediocrity, she said and how right she was

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:36am Friday 15th August 2014

Kim Kardashian, Katie Price and all those botoxed, cosmetically enhanced "celebs" with limited talent grab the attention but this week a woman with real class, style, talent and acumen hit the headlines because she died.

Kathy Miller

Comment: Our delusions of freedom

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 3:20pm Friday 8th August 2014

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. Back in the 1970s when I used the subway under the Watford ring road to get to the girls’ grammar school every day, the graffiti always tickled me.

Mike Wright

Comment: Dorothy dilemma approaches the end of the beginning

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:10pm Friday 8th August 2014

Watford’s Lib Dems must be glad that an end to the bruising "will-she-won’t-she" saga is on the horizon.

Oliver Phillips

For a moment my life expectancy seemed to be hanging in the wind

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 6:14pm Friday 1st August 2014

Tumbling beach umbrellas cause numerous injuries every year, largely because their owners do not fix them deep in the sand. In Tamariu, on the Costa Brava, my life seemed in danger.

Mike Wright

Comment: ruling party is putting vanity projects before vital services

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:20pm Friday 1st August 2014

If a week is a long time in politics it may go some way to explaining why politicians have such short memories. It was only a few years ago that Hertfordshire County Council ruling councillors was piously telling resident’s they needed to switch off streetlights at night (coincidentally when they are most effective) to save cash and lower carbon emissions.

Kathy Miller

Comment: time to put gratitude into perspective

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 3:10pm Friday 25th July 2014

Have you ever noticed how people with really big things to contend with - a desperately sick child or bankruptcy - say very little about their misfortunes, while those with relatively few things to complain about are often the most grumpy and least grateful for what they do have? I know any parent of healthy, loved and well-fed teenagers will back me up here.

Mike Wright

Comment: legal review will shed light on what health campus entails

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:50pm Friday 25th July 2014

What is the likelihood of a new hospital being built in Watford? This will be one of the main questions being examined today as the Farm Terrace Allotment holders take their fight to the High Court.

Oliver Phillips

It is London Bridge but not as we know it, captain

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:32am Friday 25th July 2014

London Bridge is tumbling down the glib headline writers claim. In fact it would probably have lasted another 150 years had the USA not got their hands on it and carted it to Arizona.

Ann Janes

The dream lives on

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:37am Sunday 20th July 2014

To dream of summer and romance is to dream of roses

Adam Parsons

Comment: From park life to stoic life in Shetland

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 3:00pm Friday 18th July 2014

On A sunny day, Cassiobury Park really is gorgeous. We walked through it last weekend, watching the world go by, enjoying a Cha-Cha-Cha coffee and just about resisting the ice-cream temptation.

Mike Wright

Comment: Hospital bosses cannot get away with pretending it's not their fault

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 18th July 2014

The NHS is a closed shop. We pay for it. We depend on it to save our lives. Yet when it fails, it’s apparently not a matter for our concern. The people who run the service can just carry on as normal – business as usual.

Kathy Miller

Comment: Feeling the pressure of party politics

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:50pm Friday 11th July 2014

How children’s parties have changed. When I was little, you put on your best frock, took a small gift (something eminently sensible like a book or an educational toy) and played musical chairs and pass the parcel in the birthday girl’s front room.

Oliver Phillips

Taking a well-deserved rest

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 5:38pm Monday 7th July 2014

In the unlikely event of anyone being distressed or even mildly disconcerted by the lack of a fresh column, I thought it best, if belatedly, to point out that I am taking a three-week holiday with my wife Ellie and our two dogs and will return in late July.

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