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Columnists

Oliver Phillips

The hottest Spanish holiday we have ever experienced

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 31st July 2015

There is much to be said for having an annual holiday at the same place, if you can also afford second holiday exploring other countries. We have been returning to the same village for 36 years and we are not alone.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-They Did What?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:30am Friday 31st July 2015

Well, before you get comfy, along with your usual cuppa and biccies I’d bring the headache pills because you could quite possibly end up banging your head on your computer desk or palm slapping your face in disbelief at this weeks ramblings quite frankly the worlds gone barking mad,or maybe its me? You decide……..

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty -Nice Bite?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:05am Friday 24th July 2015

Well there’s lots of bite size pieces of news this week so grab your coffee and your own bites and we’ll begin…. I’m a shark virgin, what there is to know about sharks? I know nothing. Many years ago I remember my mother saying “One day they’ll be sharks on our own coastline you wait and see ” but unbeknown to her and me there already was/is….30 species to be exact…holy moly EVERYBODY OUT THE WATER!..........

Stacy Hart

RUNNIN ON EMPTY-Cameron Outfoxed

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:03am Friday 17th July 2015

Well it’s all the F’s this Friday, so fill up with Frappe Coffee and fig rolls and I’ll begin…I hope you’re feeling as fantabulous as I did this week when news filtered through that the vote on reforming the Fox hunting ban had flopped. There is no room in our society for this barbaric act, it’s not a sport, pastime or given right just because some upper crust toffs feel that being human gives them superiority over all living things......

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-BOOF BAM! KEPOW!

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:04am Friday 10th July 2015

I don’t know about you, but I love books. As a grown up (debateable I know) I prefer non-fiction, but still remember many childhood books that I loved, In fact I have a copy of the very first Noddy book, its without dust jacket so not valuable in money terms but it’s priceless in sentiment. Holding the book in both hands somehow manages to take me back down memory lane. Its for the same reason I prefer vinyl & Cds over downloading…..

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Three Blind Moose

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:16am Friday 3rd July 2015

Some of you might recall that three weeks ago I wrote about how Facebook had banned an Ad for this column due to the lips in this logo violating their adult content policy? Well since then they’ve agreed it was a mistake and said that I could run the Ad again. I responded that the Ad was placed for a specific week & was no longer relevant. Cue Moose Number One……..

Oliver Phillips

I do not listen to music yet I hear and still buy it. It is totally random.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 26th June 2015

Perhaps my music collection could be judged narrow by some, varied by others but it is the random nature of how I stumbled across my favourites, that intrigues me.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Jurassic Pork

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:54am Friday 26th June 2015

This weeks title describes me aptly, a woman of a certain age trying to shed a few pounds & get toned. I do love food tis true, its a Hart thing, and this week I’ve been discovering things you can do with it, especially bananas, ………and don’t be making up your own jokes…..

Oliver Phillips

My Folly seemed destined to become overgrown with weeds, briars and nettles but it transpires it is not about to be buried by nature

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 19th June 2015

I spent so many hours, weeks, months and over six years converting an orchard in Limousin into a lawned garden, it was quite a wrench to leave it. But I feel fine about it now.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Too Naughty?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:50am Friday 19th June 2015

I’m writing this weeks column from the naughty step as it seems I owe you all an apology. Those of you with a sensitive disposition look away now, apparently I’ve been posting up adult content of an excessively sexual, suggestive and provocative nature…..oo- er feed me to the lions. You’re probably asking “Where’s this content?” well go on….ask……

Oliver Phillips

Why can't modern parents say no or my pool water become clear

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 12th June 2015

It is not original for a columnist to write a column about not knowing what to write about. Almost certainly that is because it has happened to others frequently over the years. The thought-processes involved are often quite bizarre, I suspect.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty- Music Madness

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:05am Friday 12th June 2015

Grab your coffee and ya custard creams and I’ll begin this weeks menegarie. Now I don’t know about you, but whilst on a day to day basis I consider myself a pretty tough cookie, when it comes to the dentist or hospital stuff I’d gladly let someone whack me around the head with a very large frying pan if it meant that I’d be totally knocked out…although that’s not an invitation. But how would you fancy staying awake and singing your way through brain surgery?....oh, and playing the guitar of course?.............

Oliver Phillips

Ellie rummages in the local dustbin and I stand in a metre of pond water discussing our banking with their visiting representative

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:20pm Friday 5th June 2015

I am up to my waist in pond water while Ellie is poking about in the local, communal dusting trying to retrieve an envelope for the bank, using an elongated claw. It is all part of the hectic life of retirees.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Wacky N Wonderful

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:04am Friday 5th June 2015

You might be mistaken into thinking with a title like Wacky N Wonderful, this weeks column is about me?…..well the wacky bit anyway? Alas no, it’s about some of the things I’ve found on my perusal around the net this week that I thought I’d share with you. If you like it I might even make it a regular feature, so let me know. First up, what’s big, green, musical & will set you back £15.000?......

Oliver Phillips

The sign outside a Watford eatery advertised five 'traditional English lunches'. Must be a very modern tradition.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:20pm Friday 29th May 2015

I was stunned by a sign inviting us into an eatery offering the choice of five "traditional British lunches". It did not take rocket science to note that two were Italian and one an Indian dish.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Smartphones, Dumb People?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:19am Friday 29th May 2015

I don’t own an all singing dancing phone and have no desire to, just like I have no desire to be uploading posts to social media about my every bowel movement over the day from different parts of the country just because technology dictates I can. At the end of the day it’s about choice. Is it the phone that’s the problem or the person using it? Just because it’s called a Smartphone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s owner can boast the same pedigree? ……& before you go combustingly red and start spitting weetabix at the screen please note I said necessarily, meaning this may not apply to you…….necessarily?

Oliver Phillips

I had dug ponds before but someone 100 years or so ago, had seen me coming

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 22nd May 2015

There are various eras in one's life and I cam to the end of one last week as I approached my 74th birthday feeling distinctly exhausted. I love working outside but the time has come to ease back the throttle.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty- Changes

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:56am Friday 22nd May 2015

Columns a tad longer than usual this week so you might want an extra-large cuppa? I’ve sat for over an hour trying to find the right words to start; but there are no right words. Something happened that has changed my families life forever. I’m uncomfortable talking about it so publicly, but I’ve always been honest with you by sharing the good, the bad and uglies of daily life, I’d just never bargained on my brothers death being part of that honesty…….

Oliver Phillips

I think selling at a car boot sale signifies a reluctance to accept you have collected absolute junk

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 15th May 2015

Car boot sales go by a different name in France, which means Empty Attic. This principle remains the same although even when you are asking half a euro for something, they still attempt to knock down the price.

Oliver Phillips

Could the direction of rock and pop have been changed by a collision at sea?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 8th May 2015

Some old timers try Sudoku or crossroads to keep their minds active. John and I, at 75 and soon to be 74 respectively, keep our brains active by a form of memory-tennis.

Oliver Phillips

Ryanair wanted to charge me £139 for a flight they were offering for £24.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:23pm Monday 4th May 2015

I "wasted" £109 on a back-up flight back to the UK in case the air-traffic controllers walked out again. They didn't and so I tried to change the flight for a later date. That was a shock when I tackled the Ryanair website and found it far from helpful.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Going Loco

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:11am Friday 1st May 2015

So what’s your idea of local? Pub? make mine a large one, don’t mind if I do, thank-you very much.? There was a time Local meant things were practically on your doorstep, but even a marathon runner would have trouble keeping up by todays standards……..

Oliver Phillips

A new hair-do can work wonders for women. It can also work for dogs as well.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:50pm Friday 24th April 2015

Anyone who has had a dog, particularly for a number of years, will know the hole it leaves when you have to part with him. But do dog feel a similar loss?

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-England My England

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:16am Friday 24th April 2015

Have you been enjoying the heat? We Brits never seem to be satisfied do we? It’s too hot, too cold, the heat gives us a headache & the cold plays havoc with our bladder? Talking of which, were you getting bladdered & slaying dragons yesterday in honour of St Georges Day?....Did you even remember or care?.......

Oliver Phillips

For once I did not buy one of the first two puppies to come to us when we looked at the litter

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:50pm Friday 17th April 2015

Do dogs have a similar outlook on the essentials of life as do humans? What do they do when we are out? What do they dream about and what causes when to semi-bark and whine in their sleep? As a dog owner you have theories but they cannot be any more than that.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-SuperDooper

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:34am Friday 17th April 2015

Its been a week Of Super, Super NOT, Super Brilliant and Super Ouch!....oh and not forgetting Super Sunny. There’s nothing like exposing your bits in the prospect of some Vitamin D …….However there are those that shouldn’t expose the amount of bits that they do, puts me right off my lunch…..Milk of magnesia anyone?.......

Oliver Phillips

I ate myself to a brief moment of fame in a corner of Valencia

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 10th April 2015

Why did we feel rested and relaxed after a two-week break in Spain? After all, we are retired, so where is the strain? However, our trip did not get off to the bets of starts.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Er, Erm?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:06am Friday 10th April 2015

If you’re sat comfy with your coffee and cornflakes I’ll begin?...although please try to crunch quietly. So, it’s been an eventful week, well, for someone with ME that is. Having uploaded my latest track TEARS to the BBC I had an email a few days later from producer Ollie Bayliss inviting me as music artist Mama Chill on to Nesta McGregors Sunday night show…

Adam Parsons

Comment: News consumption is changing

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:00pm Sunday 5th April 2015

But what I passed on to them probably wasn’t nearly as interesting as what they passed on to me.

Adam Parsons

Comment: Can One Direction star Zayn Malik trust Watford's Naughty Boy?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:00am Sunday 5th April 2015

Why did he go? Who caused the rift? Can Harry Styles and the rest continue without him? Will Perrie go through with the marriage? And what will Zayn do next?

Oliver Phillips

Please NatWest, can I spend my own money? After all I had told you twice before that I intended to do so.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 3rd April 2015

We know security is vital when dealing with banks but when, you inform them of your intentions to transfer a few thousand pounds in order to pay for a car, and tell two departments twice, you do not expect the transfer to be halted 24 hours later because of fears over fraud.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty- It's OK Easter Friday

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:19am Friday 3rd April 2015

Due to the pain & stiffness of my earth vehicle ie: body, it takes a while to get everything moving in the morning before I’m able to get out of bed, so while I lie there doing my best Frankenstein impression I often amuse myself with random life questions like, while people tuck into their chocolate eggs I wonder how many know Why Good Friday was called Good Friday & not Ruuuuubish Friday Or Mediocre Friday? ..........

Kathy Miller

Comment: Inclusive performing arts company Theatre Shed needs our help

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:00am Sunday 29th March 2015

I had a call last week from a Mrs Jo Beale, mum to Grace, four, and Emma, ten, who has special needs

Kathy Miller

Comment: Swept off my feet by Cornish saga

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Forget tripping the light fantastic - staying in on a Sunday night to watch telly with a boiled egg and soldiers on a tray is where it’s at

Oliver Phillips

A weekend reminder that away from the frantic, everyday life, you can escape and relax in the Cotswolds

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:50pm Friday 27th March 2015

We flew back to England for a friend's birthday celebration. She chose to enjoy a weekend in the Cotswolds, hired a seen-bedroom house and we chewed the cud, drank a lot of wine. We also walked across country for lunch and a few pints of real ale and sampled the leisurely life UK-style.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty -It's All Japanese to me?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:28am Friday 27th March 2015

It’s Friday already, grab the chocolate digestives, and pull up a chair. There seems to be an enormous amount of doom and gloom around at the moment so with that in mind, I thought I would concentrate this weeks main feature on something light hearted that will hopefully raise a few smiles and lift spirits if only for a short while.....

Adam Parsons

Comment: The future of Aldenham Reservoir

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:20am Wednesday 25th March 2015

I’ll confess a personal link to this.

Adam Parsons

Comment: 'What happened to Mr Cruwys was one of those unpredictable, freakish acts of horror'

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:37am Wednesday 25th March 2015

This was a horrible attack, but there are those who are seeking to turn this into something else - into a sign football has sunk back into its violent old ways.

Oliver Phillips

Please monsieur will you insure our car? Peut-etre was about as good as we got: just a casual almost reluctant maybe.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 20th March 2015

French bureaucracy is unwieldy at best and if your put business their way, they love it if it straightforward. Any complication and really, they would rather not bother. It took 12 or more phone calls to insure a car and most of them involved chasing them up because they had not bothered to phone back.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty- Hard Hats & Tiaras

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:08am Friday 20th March 2015

Good Morning, grab your hard hat and I’ll begin. As some of you will know, when it comes to the council and their choice of contractors, competence is something that’s often missing. From past experience lack of training, lack of understanding English, lack of a brain or all three have resulted in floods, walls knocked down, damaged property to name but a few, so it will come as no surprise that the news they want to come & fit a new boiler is filling me with trepidation.........

Oliver Phillips

Look what they've done to The Pond, Ma: they've messed it up and it's turned out all wrong, Ma.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:00pm Friday 13th March 2015

The vista looking across The Pond towards Monmouth House was one of the few things to savour from yesteryear. However, Town Hall planners, having spoilt it back in the early 70s, have gone a step further and at what cost. Soon they will achieve what is presumably the ultimate ideal: make Watford look anonymous.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty- Getting Lippy

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:56am Friday 13th March 2015

So after last weeks flippant comment that I just had a simple cold…..karma waved it’s magic wand and turned it into flu , anyone would think I had shares in kitchen towel, it shouldn’t be possible for a nose to run THAT much. Unfortunately being the caring sharing daughter I am, my mother has also joined me in the world of flu-dom..... .

Adam Parsons

Comment: Time to hang up on using a phone while driving

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:00am Saturday 7th March 2015

If you drive a car, the chances are pretty much certain you've broken the law at some point

Oliver Phillips

I love old photographs, particularly of south west Herts in days gone by but last week we unearthed a couple of personal gems

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:30am Friday 6th March 2015

Our house was derelict for 40 years but a builder from Banbury bought it, stating he did not watch TV, read books or use a computer. Instead he just worked on another room, day and evening, converting the old shell into a modern house. Then we found photographs of the house in days gone by.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty-Mallows To The Rescue

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:52am Friday 6th March 2015

This week both me and my mother have been laid low with a cold…and while its absolutely awful because we’re coughing as though we’re auditioning for an anti-smoking advert and have legs as wobbly as jelly, it’s still just a cold. But have you noticed how due to the dramas of social media nobody seems to suffer colds anymore? It’s flu, pneumonia or bubonic plague........

Kathy Miller

Comment: Funerals are a celebration of people's lives

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:00pm Tuesday 3rd March 2015

I say privilege, because when the dead person was old and had a good life, such occasions are actually a time to celebrate their achievements and qualities.

Are the kids of today still getting the same lift out of listening to 'The Devil's Music'?

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 27th February 2015

A local journalist left the West Herts Post and launched a concept that would catch on and become the bible of rock and pop. His name was Maurice Kinn; he purchased the new Musical Express and introduced this list called The Top Twenty.

Stacy Hart

Runnin On Empty- StayIng Abreast Of Charites

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:05am Friday 27th February 2015

Are we all gathered? Malted milk biscuits ready for dunking? And so I’ll begin…….. Way back when I was a child….yeah ok, way way waaaaaay back, charities appeared very different from what they do today, better or worse? I’ll leave that up to you. But from personal experience I find the hard sell “Gis ya money” a turn off. We can’t seem to switch on the telly without someone trying to daily guilt trip us with an advert. There seems to be an endless menagerie, child, donkey, puppy, all looking sadly up at the camera while quivering their bottom lip, Just £3 a month just £6 a month just….just….just

Kathy Miller

Comment: I have long wondered what makes men tick and now I think I have the answer

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:00am Sunday 22nd February 2015

My 86-year old father has just spent several days in hospital, initially in Watford General, before being transferred to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage

Kathy Miller

Comment: I did my utmost not to be outdone by the kings of cuisine

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:00am Saturday 21st February 2015

I was hosting friends from Lyons, reputed to be the culinary capital of France, and I found all my latent passive-aggression, not to say sheer bloody minded competitiveness, came to the fore, as I did my utmost not to be outdone by the kings of cuisine

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