Walking Your Way to the Games

As part of “Colchester: A Year of Celebration”, Colchester Borough Council will once again be hosting a range of free health walks in 2012. The ‘Walking Your Way to the Games’ series of walks is being hosted to celebrate the run up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The walks have been developed with the kind support of the Essex 2012 Legacy & Strategic Sport Team.

The five walks will take place once a month meeting at 10am on Sundays. Each of the walks is linked to an Olympic colour and vary in distance from 2 miles to 10 miles. Everybody who participates in one of the walks will receive a free souvenir pin badge in the colour the walk represents.

Cllr Tina Dopson, Portfolio Holder for Communities and Diversity said “This is a very exciting time in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. There is a lot going on in Colchester for residents and visitors to enjoy from sporting events to cultural activities. This is the third year these walks have been hosted and I hope people of all ages go out, enjoy the fresh air and have fun by participating in them”.

The first walk, the Red Walk, takes place on Sunday 5th February and lasts 2 miles. It takes place on East Mersea, at Cudmore Grove Country Park.

The remaining walks will be: Green Walk (4 Miles), Yellow Walk (6 Miles), Blue Walk (8 Miles) and the Black Walk (10 Miles).

The ‘Walking Your Way to the Games’ series of walks have been recognised through the London 2012 Inspire Programme. The Inspire Mark recognises the most accessible, inspiring and participative projects.

To find out more about the walks call the Health Walk Activator on 07506 695546 or visit www.colchester.gov.uk/walking


January 6, 2012 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

Incredible Barn Conversion for Sale

A 17th century barn in Feering which has been stunningly converted into a five-bedroom home, has just been put on the market. Seamlessly incorporating modern fittings including underfloor heating throughout, home cinema, an Anthony Thomas kitchen and a Gaggenau Wine Climate Cabinet (holding up to 101 bottles of wine!), with the still impressive craftsmanship of 400 years ago. Featuring both open living spaces as well as cosier rooms, this home, set in 1/2 acre of lawned and landscaped garden, has much to commend it.

The Modern House Estate Agents, who specialise in well designed and architecturally significant homes, are inviting potential owners to view the property on Saturday 21st January. If we had a spare £1,275,000 we would be there! In the meantime, we’ve got these amazing pictures to lust over.




January 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

Swish for Charity

Jenna Gregory (right) and Rechenda Smith founders of the Mrs Swishing Clothes Swap

Fashion lovers in Colchester will be able to recycle treasured items of clothing whilst contributing to a good cause after two entrepreneurs pledged to donate profits from a new sustainable clothes swapping event to local homeless charity Emmaus.

Jenna Gregory, 25 from New Town in Colchester and Rechenda Smith, 28 from Ipswich, will be running the first clothes-swapping or ‘swishing’ event for their fledging fashion business, Mrs Swishing at Wivenhoe Cricket Club on Sunday 15 January 2012.

Swishing, which involves people bringing along good-quality items of clothing and exchanging them, has become one of the most popular ways of shopping; even being taken up by the likes of Twiggy who ran a frock exchange on the BBC.

Jenna said: “Swishing is one of the best ways of getting a whole new wardrobe at a recession-busting low cost. The event will be a great way of spending your Sunday afternoon getting a new wardrobe, whilst enjoying a drink at the bar, a nice cup of brew and a cake. A manicurist and hair stylist will also be available for drop-in appointments.”

Fashionistas can bring up to ten items of your high street branded, vintage or high-end labelled clothes, shoes and accessories and take up to ten items home with them at the swap.

Rechenda added: “The Mrs Swishing Clothes Swap will also be donating 20 per cent of the proceeds to Emmaus, so it has a strong charitable ethos too. We wanted to support Emmaus because I have recently helped launch an Emmaus project in Ipswich so it is very close to my heart. Emmaus have also been working in Colchester for many years supporting homeless people back into independent living and we are pleased to be able to support this worthy cause.”

The Mrs Swishing Clothes Swap will be held at Wivenhoe Cricket Club, Rectory Road on Sunday 15th January, between 1-4 pm. Attendees must drop their clothes off between 9am until 12.30pm. Tickets are priced at £7 in advance or £10 on the door. For tickets and enquiries please contact Jenna on 07986 786343, tweet them at @MrsSwishing or visit their Facebook page.

January 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

Ray Keith gets ready for New Year’s Eve party

Bring in the New Year with the biggest dance event in the area. Freekie is running a huge New Year’s Eve event at the University of Essex. Ray Keith, one of the many DJs on the night, is really looking forward to performing at the party.

Ray Keith Fact File:

– Born in Colchester
– Started DJing dance music in 1989.
– Performed first professional gig at Oscars in Clacton.
– Went on to DJ at raves held at The Venue (now Curve Bar) and The Hippodrome (now Liquid).
– In 1992, he remixed tracks from Moby, Shades of Rhythm, St. Etienne and Orbital.
– Started his own label in 1994, called Dread Recordings.
– In 2003, he set up his own DJ agency, called Dread Entertainment Agency.
– He now has shows on Vibe FM and Kiss FM and makes his own music.

How excited are you about this event?

I played for Freekie earlier this year. Their gigs are sound and are also outstanding production wise.

How will this event be different?

The sound at Freekie will be Jungle, Dub and Drum and Bass, with a touch of very heavy base. The production and sound will totally transform the Uni – it will be unrecognisable. These guys put a lot of work into their parties, which really benefits the crowd.

Do you think Colchester still has a strong appetite for this kind of music?

I was born and bread in colchester. Growing up, I was mentored by Dave Malone, Buster Brooker and Sir Marcus Lee. I got my first break at Oscars in Clacton and L’Aristos in Colchester. A lot of talent has come out of Colchester, such as Dave Lee, Conan, myself and The Prodigy. I have stayed true to what I believe in, hence why we are at the Uni and the following for the event is still very strong.

Do you think this kind of event will bring back a hunger for big music nights in the town, like the good old days when the Prodigy used to take over night-clubs?

Hopefully it will inspire another generation to do this kind of thing.

What can people look forward to on the night?

Quality music, fantastic sound and production and an amazing midnight experience.

What will make it special?
Playing and being in my home town

What else are you doing at the moment?

I have my own band: “Renegade, featuring Ray Keith Live”, and I also have tracks on general release.

How amazing was it for you to work with Moby, Shades of Rhythm, St. Etienne and Orbital?

I have been very blessed and humbled to work with big artist over the years. It was fantastic to be able to remix work from other artists with my own blue-print of drum and bass.

Where are you based now? Colchester, London or elsewhere?

London – just on the outskirts. Its calm, tranquil and quiet.

What would you like to see changed in Colchester’s music scene, to make it better?

More DJs playing records and dub-plates as I do to inspire new DJs.

How big will this event be for Essex?

I think Freekie will set the standard and hopefully people will follow and spread the love about – BIG IN THE GAME AND BAD ASS BASS.

Read our interview with the organisers.

December 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm Leave a comment

Colchester Invited to Get Involved With Vintage Festival

By Anastasia Grabova

Vintage, the festival celebrating the best in British style and culture from the past century, is back! For its third year, this weekend of vintage fashion, music, and fun is moving to a brand new location; the sumptuous stately home of the Boughton Estate in Northamptonshire. And local businesses have been invited to join the party, for the weekend of 13th – 15th July next year.

“The festival is about vintage, upcycling and sustainability,” the event’s co-founder Wayne Hemingway tells me (the other founder is his wife Gerardine). “So we are looking for good quality vintage sellers, or people who upcycle anything from clothing and jewellery to furniture and homeware. We’re also looking for people who do great food. It could be someone making cupcakes, or somebody who’s got a cool, old ice cream van, or even someone who cooks burgers. But it has to be done with a twist; not the regular way, but in a cool way.”

It doesn’t matter whether your business is established, or if you just want to showcase something that you’re good at. “One-man bands, or one-woman bands are all welcome,” says Wayne. “You could also be a Women’s Institute or a group of people who get together to cook or bake.” Similarly, local talented musicians, who fit into the vintage theme are invited to be part of the festival. Of course there are plenty of these in Colchester, so urge your friends and favourite bands to have a go!

Boughton Estate, at which the three-day celebration is held, boasts over 2,000 acres of beautifully designed landscapes, waterscapes and woodlands. This is the first time that an event of this kind has been held at this venue, and Wayne is delighted to have found something that fits Vintage so well; “We were looking for somewhere that was genuinely beautiful and inspirational. Most festivals are held in farmers’ fields, which always get a bit muddy.This is a drained piece of land that’s beautiful, photographs stunningly, feels British and is very grand, and all of this was important to us.” Is this really a festival with no mud, I ask hopefully. “Judging by the land, it could rain in biblical proportions and still not get muddy,” says Wayne, giving at least this author a Utopian, sandal-wearing, mac-discarding vision of mankind’s first mud-free festival.

Boughton House

Then there’s the location; “80% of the population are within two hours away from Boughton House, and it is well connected by road and rail. We wanted to make it more national this year.” Set up in 2010, Vintage originally took place at Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, and was relocated to Southbank in London the year after. As Wayne explains, the first two festivals garnered huge amounts of national attention, from all echelons of the fashion and music press as well as bloggers, all keen to experience the first festival to focus exclusively on celebrating Britain through the twentieth century. However the event, as a result of its respective locations, was very London and south-east centric, something that the Hemingways are determined to change this time round.

Vintage promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience for anyone interested in style through the ages. “It will feature the best from the history of British creativity,” says Wayne, “from the 1920s right through to the ’80s. You can dance the dances of the decades, watch films, see catwalk shows, buy the clothing. On top of that, it’s seeing people really making an effort in terms of glamour. You really see the glamour of the history of music, the history of fashion, and you end up with a celebratory event. It’s very different to some of the other festivals – 16 year olds who have just done their GCSEs and are out to get drunk. This really is multi-generational, so you end up with a lot of different ages enjoying and teaching each other about the history of British creativity.”

Getting a complete make-over at Vintage

Tickets are now on-sale for Vintage 2012 at www.vintagefestival.com. Tickets are priced at £139 for weekend adult camping, £89 for weekend young person camping, £125 for weekend non-camping and £75 for weekend young person non-camping. Children, up to and including 10 years old, go free.

Local businesses and community groups who want to get involved in Vintage 2012 are advised to email info@vintage.co.uk

December 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm Leave a comment

Infinite Possibilities: Chatting with Keith Brooke

Peter Fitzgerald catches up with prolific, local based, science fiction (or SF) author Keith Brooke.

Always on the forefront of innovation, Keith Brooke is an important name in the science fiction community. Not only has he had an absolute mountain of material published, with over 100 short stories published as well as more than 10 novels across two pen names, he is also always at the forefront of innovating how science fiction, and literature in general, is acquired and then experienced.

The Infinity Plus logo

Most notably, Keith was the creator of Infinity Plus, a website where writers could have their favourite pieces of short fiction, published long ago in some obscure and perhaps long discontinued magazine, republished to be accessed for free by the almost infinite readership of the World Wide Web. Infinity Plus closed its virtual doors in 2007, but the archive is still available online. Infinity Plus has since made a return, with Brooke once again taking on the latest innovation in publishing.

So with so much on his plate it was fairly obvious what I needed to ask him first.

You always seem to have something on the horizon. Can you tell us what you have coming up?

A draft of the cover for Brooke's upcoming novel, alt.human.

As you say, I always have lots of things on the go. I have two books due out in the next few months. One is alt.human (summer 2012), a big science-fiction novel set in an alternative version of our world that’s crammed full of aliens. It’s a subject I’ve always shied away from: I find it hard to take portrayals of aliens seriously for more than a few pages, which makes it hard to write about them in a believable manner. But I reasoned that after twenty-plus years as a professional science-fiction author I really should have a go, hence this novel.

The other book is an academic book about science fiction that I’ve edited, Strange Divisions and Alien Territories: The Sub-genres of Science Fiction. It’s been a great book to work on as it gave me the opportunity to approach some of the field’s top authors to ask them to write chapters. I’m just putting the finishing touches to this one, and it’s due out around Christmas this year.

What’s made you decide to finally take the alien plunge? Did something inspire you, or was it just that you felt it was time to take on the challenge?

It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I don’t know if there was something bubbling away in the depths of my mind. It was twenty years since my first novel came out and there was still one big science-fiction theme I hadn’t really tackled: aliens. I’d stalled for a while on a novelette about aliens; I’d reached halfway but couldn’t see where it was going. Then I was asked to write a chapter about language in SF for a linguistics book and it all fell into place: language shapes thoughts, so we need to understand aliens’ languages if we’re to understand the aliens themselves. That solved my problems with the novelette, and success with that led me to think more about aliens and our place in the universe, and then on to the novel.

Did you find it strange doing an academic book on the field you write in?

The academic book was a fascinating project. Rather than write it all myself, I invited a dozen top SF authors to write about a sub-genre they’re identified with. The idea was to produce a book with academic rigour from the perspective of working authors and I think we’ve achieved that. It was great to be working with people at the top of their field: Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who’s won all the top awards for her alternate histories, James Patrick Kelly, who was a key figure in the cyberpunk movement that transformed SF a couple of decades ago, Alastair Reynolds, one of the leading exponents of the new space opera, and so on.

And on top of all that, been dabbling with e-publishing. How has your venture into this area been going?

A selection of the titles on offer from Infinity Plus ebooks.

It’s been interesting, to say the least. A year ago I launched the infinity plus ebook imprint, and we’ve brought out books from winners of most of the major SF and fantasy awards, including Eric Brown, John Grant and Lisa Tuttle. It’s very hard to predict what will work and what won’t, but we’ve had a couple of notable successes with both our infinities anthology Iain Rowan’s One Step Closer topping the Amazon charts for several weeks. Publishing is changing rapidly, and it’s fascinating to be closely involved in an area that has grown so quickly.

Finally, I believe you’re a resident of Wivenhoe. It’s somewhat of a creative hub with quite a few talented people such as yourself having a fair bit of success. Is this something you’re aware of and has it had any effect on you? Is there a Wivenhoe ‘vibe’, or anything of the like, that is inspirational to creative types?

I’m not sure there’s really a Wivenhoe effect, but living in an artistic community is certainly something I appreciate. There’s something nice about knowing you’re not the only rather eccentric person who shuts himself away and makes things up, or creates in some other way! I love all the connections: a few years ago two writer/editor friends were visiting from Florida, and they also knew Martin Newell, so I took them to visit him in Wivenhoe while they were over. It is, as they say, a small world sometimes!

Find out more about the Infinity Plus imprint here.  Also, learn more about Brooke’s illustrious career at his website.

December 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm Leave a comment

Joel Fisk… and Friends at The Bull welcomes The Struck Bats

A monthly music jam showcasing the region’s finest blues talent held at The Bull in Colchester will be introducing new Essex-based trio The Struck Bats on 20 December.

Joel Fisk...and Friends

“Joel Fisk…and Friends”, a regular night led by Hokie Joint guitarist and solo artist Joel Fisk, has already seen talent such as guitarist Dave King, session man for Lulu, Tim Hardin and Mike Hugg, harmonica player and fellow Hokie Giles King, who has played with the likes of Ian Siegal and Matt Schofield, along with singer/songwriter Ady Johnson, grace the stage alongside Joel.

He said: “The night will now be in its fourth month and is going from strength to strength. Essentially it is a great opportunity for me to share the stage with some of my favourite musicians in the Colchester area, as well as a showcase for some of my new material as a solo artist. I’m pleased to announce that for the December session, I’ll be joined by my trio, The Struck Bats.”

The Struck Bats will be appearing at The Bull in Colchester on 20 December as part of the monthly “Joel Fisk…and Friends” blues showcase. Photo by Elle Curran.

The Struck Bats are drummer Stephen ‘Cupsey’ Cutmore from Hokie Joint, bassist Rob Barry from Wolfpack with Joel on guitar and vocals. Bringing together their love of roots music and delta blues, The Struck Bats pay homage to scene heroes including Charley Patton, Robert Johnson and Rev. Gary Davies and new talent such as Gary Clark Jr, The Band of Heathens and The Arc Angels. The band’s début EP is scheduled for release in early 2012.

Joel added: “The Struck Bats came about after Stephen and I decided to embark on a new venture whilst JoJo, the lead singer of Hokie Joint, took some time out to start a family. Rob was the perfect fit to complete the trio and we have been gigging regularly since September. However, the ‘and Friends’ night will see us play our first ever acoustic set.”

The Struck Bats will appear at “Joel Fisk…and Friends” at The Bull on 20 December 2011 from 8pm. Entrance is free.
For more information about The Struck Bats please visit www.reverbnation.com/thestruckbats

December 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm Leave a comment

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