EDITORIAL: 29th May 2011 Sitting in a cafe, half way through the week, browsing a copy of the Independent, I spotted the following headline, which was in fact a misquote of someone in the following article: “We are enthusiastic amateurs armed with a certain amount of knowledge, some basic survival skills and a lot of faith in life.” It was, in fact, all about war correspondents, but it struck me that take out the bit about “some basic survival skills” and that would describe Rochford Life pretty well. We are enthusiastic amateurs - we’re not professionals, we’ve never done this before - we have a certain amount of knowledge, but particularly we do have “a lot of faith in life.” I think this particularly came out at the beginning and end of the week. At the beginning of it we wandered along to the allotments where there was a plant sale and were surprised to hear someone, obviously feeling bad about life, declaring how they hated Essex. We disagreed and you’ll see this in “Grabs, Gripes and Growth”. At the end of the week, we had the privilege of interviewing the new Chairman of the District Council, Simon Smith, and were almost overwhelmed by his commitment to the District and if you have any doubts, read his closing words in the interview, well worth it! To say that these two people were like chalk and cheese doesn’t go near it! I think the reason we felt so much with the Chairman is that we have a “lot of faith in life” and it IS good living here. During the week we continued to add shops -Alan’s Dry Cleaners and Many Tears Charity Shop and Ashingdon Electronic Services - more eating places complete with their menus and prices -Mr.Sandwich and Munch Kings Fish & Chips - and some more businesses -Welcome Homes Estate Agents and The Sun Lounge. In all of these we found a warmth and friendliness. One of the great things about working on Rochford Life is finding out about shops and businesses and eating places that we just didn’t realise were there. It is the same old thing we found from the outset - so much of the time we don’t realise half of what is going on around us. We hope this growing directory will help change that. And that leads us into to the reminder that in this week ahead there are lots of activities being laid on in the half-term week for children and young people, which you’ll find on the Council’s site. So, if you do have children, why not have a look at that. A main feature is the Wild Woods Day, next Saturday 4th. Also if you click on either of the ‘Shops’ or Businesses’ buttons on the front page, you’ll see that we have added to and upgraded the Shops Contents and Businesses Contents pages, so we hope they’ll be more user friendly. Change is here to stay. Have a really good week. EDITORIAL: 22nd May 2011 Quite some ago I was part of a conversation about what is a community and I found myself suggesting that “Rochford” was not a community but a group of communities. A “community” is a group of people who relate together with a common identification. When we set up Rochford Life we felt we needed to set boundaries and saw in our mind’s eye a map of Rochford, what I have called the ‘conurbation’ of Rochford, the mass of buildings close to each other that comprise what we otherwise call Rochford, Ashingdon and East Hawkwell - three psychologically separate communities? But then there are a number of ‘estates’ in this building block and I suspect that some of us think of ourselves in terms of the identifiable block we live in. We had to start somewhere and so central Rochford is where we put virtually all our efforts in the first six months of Rochford Life - and we still haven’t covered every shop or business around the centre of town. But then wanting to spread our net wider, you may have noticed at the beginning of the month we started including some of the premises along the Southend Road (opposite the Vulcan as somebody identified it.) This last week we stretched out in the opposite direction up Ashingdon Road to Golden Cross which, if the signpost is to be believed is not yet Ashingdon. Still to completely break out we went to the bottom of Ashingdon Hill and met with Ann Simpkin who runs Woodview Kennels.Then we came back and picked up two shops on Ashingdon Road -Motorshop 1 and Sapwood DIY and then crossed the road to three businesses in Hedingham Place, Horizon Estates, then Ashingdon Veterinary Clinic and finally Sapwood Homes. Again a real variety of people and businesses. But as far as we are concerned Ashingdon is just as important as any other part of this conurbation that runs from Warners Bridge to Ashingdon Hill. We’re sorry we’ve taken such a time to get to you. We’re also adding Monsoon Restaurant in Rochford but just haven’t had time to put it on line yet - it will be there tomorrow, complete with menu Increasingly we’ve simply added basic information about businesses on their page. We would prefer to make it personal and more interesting with interviews but recognise that not everyone feels comfortable with that approach. Perhaps we may be able to go back and pick up interviews in months to come when some are more confident that we’re there for their good! We also work on the basis that people are interesting and that makes a page more memorable. As so often, an element of the town that covers all of us regardless of locality is the working of the District Council and we continue to add news from them. This week they are to be congratulated on achieving a ‘gold’ from Investors in People. We couldn’t help falling to the temptation of seeing a story within a story and may need forgiving for that, but if you want to read about it, have a look at our article on “The Making of News”. It’s all part of the rich tapestry that goes to make up the life of this town of ours. We’ve also added an update for the activities of Essex Wildlife Trust if you are travelling further afield. Thank you to all who have welcomed us and we hope this additional platform will heighten people’s awareness of you as part of this community. Have a really good week. 15th May 2011 I was in a gym locker room earlier in the week and overheard two men talking about the weather. They obviously lived about five miles apart and were talking about the amount of rain that they had recently almost had. For one of them there had been a five minute downpour and for the other a light shower or two while I thought, “Well we haven’t had any at all.” Localised weather! How diverse the weather can be sometimes and yet still, the overall weather pattern here continues to be mostly sunny. Oh yes, the black clouds have passed by but still our gardens are starting to exhibit desert conditions - unless you have been out with a hose pipe or watering can, but even then it is mostly only a surface covering. A few inches down and it is still as dry as a bone! Will it last into real Summer, we wonder? Both our changeover ‘recreational pages’ changing tomorrow, reflect this, so keep an eye our for our “Growing Stuff” page and our “Seasonal” page. Remember what we said last week, our “Computing” pages and our “Life Coaching” pages are mostly remaining a static resource with key articles from the past six months remaining there in the archive, so to speak. But yes, our “Laughter” page, “Quiz” page and “Silver Surfers” Page all changed last week. Don’t forget this ‘recreational reading’ is always there as an extra easy reading provision of Rochford Life. Also don’t forget that we now regularly run information on what is happening in the District, courtesy of RDC, and you can check out time-sensitive news and general news on the RDC News page. By way of useful information we also continue to add menus of local cafes, restaurants and takeaways and this week added on The Upper Crust Bakery in North Street. As we talked to Jackie Moss and some of her ‘regulars’, we noted afresh that we have quite a spectrum of eating places in Rochford and quite often specific places have their regular clientele, little communities within the community. Returning to another ‘community within the community’ we had the privilege of returning to Waterman School and interviewing Debbie Kilbride and Bruce McMillan, the two Assistant Heads. Again in this school, we were struck by the enthusiasm and total commitment of its teachers. No wonder they have good numbers coming in September. If you want to catch a flavour of new maths, listen to Bruce! They say the first shall be last. Well the biggest interview of the week was that with RDC Chief Executive, Paul Warren. Interacting with the various councillors, Paul oversees what must be the biggest work force in Rochford. As we have commented in the past, we count it a real privilege to be able to interview key figures in our community and although it is a long interview, we really recommend you take the time to catch up on Paul’s wisdom and breadth of experience. No doubt we could have talked about half a dozen different topics but the ones we covered will, hopefully, stir your interest in the inner workings of Rochford. If the localised weather has been varied, so are the people and workings of Rochford and the more and more we have the privilege of talking to the people at the heart of Rochford, the more we wonder at it. Have a really good week. EDITORIAL: 8th May 2011 I’m not sure where the words, “people to see, places to go....” comes from, and the Internet seems rather unsure as well - possibly Dr Seuss say some, but it seems unclear. It’s been a phrase running round in the back of my mind as this week we’ve largely taken a break from our usual routine of going out to see people because we’ve been doing a Spring clean on the site. We’ve had comment about how helpful the “Life Coaching” page has been each fortnight and so we’ve decided to take key elements out of the past six months’ writings and put them on as permanent pages. We hope they may be of benefit. If asked we’ll add to them. You’ll find a contents page at the top of each Life Coaching page. Similarly we’ve done the same thing with the “Computing Pages” where you’ll find some of the key pages we’ve run over the past six months., which will now be permanently there. Of course each fortnight we’ll still be changing two or three of the ‘recreational’ pages so, for instance, tomorrow (because we change them on Monday mornings) you’ll see that there is a brand new quiz on the “Quiz Pages” (we don’t think there will be too many people completing this one!!!), a new set of humour on the “Laughter Corner Pages” and Siaticus is reminiscing about holidays on the “Silver Surfer Pages”, so there is plenty of light reading to fill an idle moment. We’ve also revamped the contents pages for the “Shops Pages” and the “Eating Out Pages” which we hope you’ll find a more helpful approach to what is in Rochford. With the latter ones you’ll note that we are aiming to put online here the menus of every restaurant, Tea Rooms, Takeaways and Fish & Chip Shops. They come through your doors so often, but how much easier to have them all in one place - here! We’ve commented a number of times in the past that this page reflects what has been happening in the experiences of Rochford Life. Well here’s a conclusion we’ve arrived at a number of times. As the many of you, who we have met and interviewed, know we always explain who we are and that we are providing a free community service. Yet so often we are met with suspicion and “I’ll have to talk to the boss” or “I’ll have to talk to my partner,” as if we were asking people to enter into some deep binding contract. So if that is you, can we repeat what we’ve said many times in the past, IT IS FREE, it is a community service that costs you nothing in time, effort or money. All it does is make the community more aware of your presence and the service you provide. YOU CANNOT LOSE! There would be nothing to stop us putting pages on here of every shop, business etc. without consultation, but we prefer to respect and honour each business and will therefore only do it with your approval and guidance. Again, as we’ve said before, if you’re not here but would like to be, whether you are a sole trader or part of a chain, big or little, just give us a ring and we’ll come and do it. If you are a shop the basics will be photos of the premises (which we’ll take), opening times and what you provide. That’s all! Have a good week. EDITORIAL: 1st May 2011 Oh my goodness! May is here already? How this year has rushed by! But anyway, here we are and, depending on how you look at these things at the end of a week or at the beginning of the next. The week that has just gone has been distinctly odd with bank holidays at the beginning and end of it leaving just three working days in the middle. More than that it followed the two week Easter holidays and is followed by yet another another bank holiday tomorrow. This past week, if I may dare put it like this, has been an adventure. When interviewing shopkeepers in West Street of Rochford, various of them said to me, people just seem to pass by going up or down West Street without taking any note of them. We sought to change that by bringing them to your attention. JJW Designs continue to market themselves by new things - adding a wedding room, recently importing rings from Venice and now advertising a making jewellery demonstration evening. But if it is true of West Street that we just walk by, how much more true is it of the shops on Southend Road (opposite the Vulcan and the new Control Tower) that many of us just drive past day after day without giving them a thought. Well we decided to change that this week and dropped in on several of them. You’ll find we have now the complete menu on these pages for the K2 Balti House, that boasts authentic Bangladeshi & Indian Cuisine with a Food Standards Agency rating of 4 - good. Just along from them we discovered Argon Computing Ltd, a repair and spares shop for computer users and gamers. How have we missed them all this time? And if that wasn’t like finding another world on our doorstep, going a few along the parade to a family run All Terrain Mobility, really was. This shop seems to have an incredible number of mobility scooters and an amazing range of disability and mobility items. We’ve used the expression before, but it really is like entering an Aladdin’s Cave going into this shop that caters for so many disability helps. Sometimes we don’t seek out interviews to provide this free advertising simply because the shop is so busy and so, when we glanced in the hair dressers at one end and the cafe at the other end, we concluded they would not thank us for interrupting their busy trade. The two Chinese takeaways only open in the evening and so we had to miss them as well. However if any of those shops pick up on this, just give us a ring and we’ll make a convenient appointment to come and get the basic details about your business to include here. On the day of the Royal Wedding we had the opportunity to watch children’s entertainer, Paul Griffiths, and so took a few moments after his show to talk to him. If you want someone for a children’s party, on the basis of what we witnessed, we’d recommend Paul. Well that’s it for the time being. Have a good week.