Oliver Phillips »

I keep writing for the sequel rather than face the reality of a publisher saying yes or no to my novel

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:10am Saturday 19th April 2014

After years of writing thousands of words for newspapers, I have have written a book. Only one person has read it and she thoroughly enjoyed it. So it is a success . . . one hundred per cent so. I may have to settle for that.

Ann Janes »

COPING WITH AN AFRICAN VIOLET

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 9:19am Tuesday 15th April 2014

Over the years I have noticed that by and large people interested in gardening are generous to a fault in passing on plants and cuttings.

Mike Wright »

What will it take to get people interested in democracy?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Friday 11th April 2014

There are a few tedious rituals journalists brace themselves for whenever local election season comes around. First off are the habitual accusations of bias from various parties allegedly towards their rivals as the electoral battle ratchets up.

Oliver Phillips »

The French love their paperwork but in our case it obscured their ability to get a simple job done

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:20pm Friday 11th April 2014

The French are mired in bureaucracy. We try to avoid it whenever possible. However, when we tried to change our account from branch of Credit Agricole to another just 200 miles south, we found ouselves flooded with paperwork.

Adam Parsons »

Why white is now all right for cars

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:09pm Friday 11th April 2014

A decade ago, hardly anybody bought a white car. They weren’t popular, seen, I guess, as impersonal and prone to grubbiness.

Ann Janes »

TELEVISION - AT LAST A TREAT FOR GARDENERS

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:48am Sunday 6th April 2014

Speaking as a gardener I often feel that horticulture and gardening are a poor relation when it comes to television coverage.

Oliver Phillips »

Beware of insurance men bearing gifts

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Friday 4th April 2014

It is one thing to try and get an insurance company to repair your car but it is quite another thing to get them to repair it completely, as we found out with AXA in France.

Kathy Miller »

Food tech isn’t what it used to be

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:50pm Friday 4th April 2014

There are many advantages to being a freelance journalist, but getting out of the house isn’t one of them.

Mike Wright »

Is Watford’s Green party heading for dose of the blues?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:20pm Friday 4th April 2014

For the last decade, part of Watford has been in the grip of a political insurgency. Since the early noughties, the Green Party has defied political gravity and turned the Callowland area into a solid electoral enclave. It is an eye-catching phenomenon for any town in a country dominated by an electoral system weighted in favour of the larger parties.

Ann Janes »

OH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING!

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:20am Saturday 29th March 2014

It was warm, it was sunny and everywhere there was colour.

Oliver Phillips »

Not another tragedy in the White Tower of London?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Friday 28th March 2014

It is amazing how many people have never been to the Tower of London and equally amazing how many foreigners take it on their tourist trip. Are they more interested in our history?

Mike Wright »

Comment: With no choice but to use cars, we need parking spaces

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 28th March 2014

The danger for any broadly-accepted political concept is that it can, over time, lapse into dogma. One such trend has been emerging in the way motorists are getting a raw deal under a planning system skewed in favour of developers under the guise of green initiatives.

Oliver Phillips »

Avoiding EastEnders is compulsive: it should be an Olympic event

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Friday 21st March 2014

I go to great lengths to avoid the TV soap EastEnders. When it comes on, I feel like asking if they have a spare rope and an exposed beam

Mike Wright »

Column: ‘Chuggers’ – only the charities, it seems, will miss them

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:25pm Friday 21st March 2014

Rarely to do you see a political initiative so in tune with the public mood. But Watford Borough Council’s recent crackdown on town centre “chuggers” seems to have uncorked a boiling geyser of public frustration.

Ann Janes »

ANEMONES - A SURE SOURCE OF BRILLIANT COLOUR

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:13pm Wednesday 19th March 2014

When we think of anemones we visualise the brightly coloured flowers that we love to see whether in the local florists or on market stalls.

Adam Parsons »

Column: I’m running scared without a phone

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:50pm Friday 14th March 2014

Pretty much all journalists appear to have an iPhone. It’s one of the unwritten rules of journalism that you should be beholden to Apple products and go on about them at any given opportunity, maintaining the illusion that Apple products, with their shiny cases and vast costs, are somehow more popular than anything else.

Mike Wright »

Comment: MP bares his teeth as election battle starts a year early

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:20pm Friday 14th March 2014

The political race in Watford is heating up - although not in the case of the fast-approaching May mayoral elections, as would seem logical, but the General Election contest next year.

Oliver Phillips »

Er excuse me but was this restaurant a battle site? Heritage lost, sanity regained.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Thursday 13th March 2014

Half-term flying visit to the UK confirms real ale is what I miss most in France. An outing sees us stumble across an impressive Redwings Horse Sanctuary near Banbury but we are unable to find the precise site of a civil war battle.

Mike Wright »

Comment: Rail operators cannot lose as commuters continue to suffer

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:30pm Friday 7th March 2014

Rail operators cannot lose as commuters continue to suffer

Ann Janes »

CAN SPRING REALLY BE NEARLY HERE?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:06pm Sunday 9th March 2014

After so many weeks of gloomy days and heavy rain it doesn't seem possible that we experiencing sunshine and blue skies.

Kathy Miller »

COMMENT: Prying shame of library survey

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:10am Friday 7th March 2014

Prying shame of library survey

Oliver Phillips »

To fly or not to fly but for my wife, there is no such debate

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Thursday 6th March 2014

Arriving in Calais at noon on a Sunday morning, I knew I could stop overnight but I just drove and nine hours and 650 hours later I was home, contemplating the fact, at 72, there is indeed no fool like an old fool

Ann Janes »

THE DAFFODILS ARE COMING!

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:31pm Sunday 2nd March 2014

A sure sign that spring is very near is when the daffodils start appearing.

Mike Wright »

Comment: Council magazine little different from Lib Dem propaganda

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 10:06am Wednesday 5th March 2014

Political publications and station design

Oliver Phillips »

A window onto where it was at and a 30-second preview that lasted a lifetime

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Thursday 27th February 2014

Six-five special - a classic case of distance lending enchantment. Even I thought it limited at the time but it was the only TV us rock addicts could watch.

Kathy Miller »

Comment: dinner party with MP left me tongue tied

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:10pm Sunday 23rd February 2014

I imagine several local taxi drivers could tell you they’ve had that MP David Gauke in the back of their cab, but I wonder how many of them can say, as I can, they once sat next to him at a party?

Ann Janes »

MAKING PLANS

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:16am Sunday 23rd February 2014

It's not too late to sit back and mull over the successes and failures of last year.

Mike Wright »

Comment: tobacco may be profitable, but surely the only way is ethics

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:50pm Friday 21st February 2014

Hertfordshire County Council is currently in the throes of attempting to kick a bad habit: Tobacco. Well, investing in tobacco shares to be precise.

Oliver Phillips »

OK I admit old TV programmes would not stand the test of time but I would have liked the option to check

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Thursday 20th February 2014

The BBC it its wisdom did not appreciate the wisdom of archiving early television shows. We might cringe if we were able to see them now, but we would have liked the option.

Ann Janes »

BRILLIANT COLOUR FOR DARK DAYS

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:10am Sunday 16th February 2014

A moment of magic - the primulas are in full bloom

Adam Parsons »

Comment: Water way for Nature to show she’s got the upper hand

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:00pm Friday 14th February 2014

Getting the train back from Manchester to Watford the other day, it felt like the end of days. The rain was pouring down, the wind was howling, and the landscape was desolate. And that was just Hemel Hempstead.

Mike Wright »

Comment: Does previous hospital boss really think he deserves bonus?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 2:00pm Friday 14th February 2014

It is difficult to describe the numbingly disorientating experience of being told you have symptoms that could be cancer.

Oliver Phillips »

We ought to start a PWANIW club to compete -programmes we not involved with. GI? (Get it?)

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Thursday 13th February 2014

TOWIE CBB Bake off, Strictly, Splash and all their so-called stars just leave me cold

Ann Janes »

BRAVE SNOWDROPS

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:18pm Sunday 9th February 2014

I just love snowdrops.  With their deceptively fragile beauty they are a sure sign that a new year of growth in our gardens is beginning.  Who can help but smile with pleasure when they begin to show their nodding heads of exquisite little white flowers, tinged with the freshest of green. The legend associated with these brave forerunners of spring tells us that after the expulsion from Eden a kindly angel took pity on Eve who was crying desperately in the now barren wilderness.  The angel blew on a snowflake turning it into a snowdrop and hope was born. The bulbs can be planted in the autumn or if you really want to see just what type you are planting a better way is to wait until spring and choose hybrids ‘in the green’.  By doing this when the plants are in full leaf and you can really see what you are getting.  They prefer a fertile and moisture retentive soil that has been enriched with plenty of organic matter.  For a spectacular display plant in drifts under trees and shrubs.  In time divide large clumps while they are in flower, or just after.  Lift carefully and separate each bulb so that the leaves and roots are intact.  Replant straight away at the same depth. I keep an eye on my neighbours’ gardens to see who has the best display of snowdrops and, of course, who had them in flower first.  Last year I underplanted the apple tree that I am growing in a pot and whilst not yet in flower there are plenty of green shoots showing.

Mike Wright »

Comment: UKIP aiming to become credible contender for office

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:50pm Friday 7th February 2014

The UK Independence Party’s announcement that it will be standing in the mayoral elections in May signified its growing presence in Watford.

Kathy Miller »

Comment: why a harmless spliff is not so harmless

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:30pm Friday 7th February 2014

Forget Tupperware or Ann Summers parties. Event organisers in the American state of Colorado have ditched their peep-hole bras and air-tight biscuit boxes in favour of handing round elegant silver cases containing carefully rolled marijuana joints.

Oliver Phillips »

Those nodding dogs on the front bench really irritate but are we meant to take them seriously

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Thursday 6th February 2014

While Ed Moribund (sorry Miliband) is speaking you can see Ed Balls and Harriet Harman nodding in ritualistic agreement with every word that is spoken, while Nick Clegg looks as if he pondering whether or not to move his knight to Queen-four. Are we meant to take our politicians seriously?

Ann Janes »

DESPITE THE RAIN!

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:57am Sunday 2nd February 2014

Having just experienced the wettest January in 100 years it seemed like a miracle to look out of the window this morning and see sunshine and blue skies.

Mike Wright »

Comment: New hospital remains little more than a distant dream

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:50pm Friday 31st January 2014

The health trust in charge of Watford General Hospital moved last week to reassure people about its commitment to rebuild the hospital.

Adam Parsons »

Comment: fame game puts focus on Olympics

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:00pm Friday 31st January 2014

As a rule, reality TV programmes leave me cold. My own reality is too tiring without having to worry about the ups and downs of people I don’t even know, and I tend to think people who are daft and desperate enough to enter the Big Brother house deserve everything that comes their way.

Oliver Phillips »

I would have thought EDF have enough to do in France let alone England

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 8:52pm Thursday 30th January 2014

The probklems with getting EDF to behave in an efficient manner along with repeated breaks in the supply makes me wonder why they do not concentrate on their French commitments.

Ann Janes »

THE JOY OF FLOWERS

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 7:28pm Sunday 26th January 2014

Even in winter check out your own garden.

Mike Wright »

Comment: will mayor prove a Thornhill in MP Harrington’s side?

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Friday 24th January 2014

The question of whether Mayor Dorothy Thornhill will run for MP next year still hovers over the mayoral race unanswered. One person who will be awaiting the resolution to that mystery more keenly than most is current MP Richard Harrington.

»

Fame in the 40s and 50s lasted much longer than Warhol's 15 minutes

Posted on 11:57am Thursday 23rd January 2014

Wolves, Moscow Spartak, Honved, Chataway and Kuts made front-page headlines and were feted for years because, in post-war days, the nation was desperate for good news.

Adam Parsons »

Comment: Trying to acquire a taste for a healthier 2014

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 5:10pm Friday 17th January 2014

This is the time of year when rational, normal people start behaving like would-be monks. Out goes the booze, the coffee, the sweets and the place on the sofa. In comes a few trips to the gym, mineral water and the latest diet craze.

Mike Wright »

Comment: ‘Health’ part of ‘health campus’ remains curiously elusive

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 12:10pm Friday 17th January 2014

What is a health campus? That question is more perplexing than it may initially seem.

Oliver Phillips »

I unearthed some gems from the 1960s and 70s when I found some reel-to-reel tapes

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:30pm Thursday 16th January 2014

We were writing and recording songs and Ellie was going to make it but we never got round to making the final push for fame apart from submitting a tape to Hughie Green. Since then they have been gathering dust since 1976 but now I hope to transfer them to cd.

Kathy Miller »

Comment: How to be party to entertaining teens

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 11:40am Saturday 11th January 2014

We are already a third of the way through January and I haven’t yet (or rather my husband hasn’t) taken down the outside fairy lights, though he has up-ended the poor old Christmas tree in the brown bin, where it reminds me of a pantomime dame bending over to flash her knickers.

Mike Wright »

Comment: Probably the best advertising idea in the world. Or not.

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 4:50pm Friday 10th January 2014

South west Hertfordshire has long been a hotbed of innovation. The revolutionary Chorleywood method of making cheaper bread was invented, unsurprisingly, by enterprising bakers in Chorleywood. The bouncing bombs used by the dambusters to cripple the Nazi war effort in the Second World War were tested and honed on a miniature reconstruction of the dam at BRE in Garston.

Oliver Phillips »

Yesteryear came flooding back with the weekend's newspaper headlines

Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author

Posted on 1:04pm Thursday 9th January 2014

The Everly Brothers, Eusabio hit the headlines over the weekend and on the Monday there was a very large spread in The Independent on the significance of Buddy Holly. It all came together lin one, poignant, nostalgic binge

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