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Archive: September 2011  EDITORIALS
EDITORIAL: Sept 25th  2011

We’re just over a week off our birthday, having kicked off in the first week of October 2010. Never having done this sort of thing before, I thought it would be a good idea to do a weekly ‘editorial’ that became a record of progress. It also acts as a reminder of what we’ve added in the past week. It is unselfconsciously inward looking and for that I make no apology; it has to be. One of the things I have observed a number of times over this past year is that no two weeks are ever the same and that often has nothing to do with planning. Often it just has to do with the cussedness of life and of technology. Over the past week I anticipated getting various interviews etc. typed up and on line by certain times - but timetables went out the window but, here at the end of the week, yes, they are all on line now.  

It was the Bard who wrote, “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” One of the privileges of running Rochford Life is that we get to be allowed (or invited) to see various aspects of what goes on, on this stage. Last weekend I happened to be at Golden Cross and so visited The Olde Sweete Shoppe which has an amazing range of traditional sweets. Well worth a visit if you have a sweet tooth! And that brought an end to adding shops for the week. Next it was the turn of groups in the community.

An hour or so later saw us visiting the Haven Autumn Art Exhibition at the W.I. Hall. I am almost in awe at other people’s abilities with paint and paper. Then it was on to the  Allotment Open Day which was another good experience - village life at its best, even if the wind did its best to blow it away. What a variety of life on this ‘stage’.  In the middle of the week it was a visit to another of these varied groups in our community, but yet another art group. This time it wasn’t to look at the paintings of the group but to sit in on a demonstration by artist James Marriott made all the more marvellous by the fact that he suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis - although you forget it as you watch him at work. A beautiful evening!

But after having witnessed some aspects of life in the community through these three groups, we had the privilege of two very similar but very different interviews from the local authority side of the community. Kelly Holland, Clerk of Ashingdon Parish Council is a remarkable lady, being clerk also to Canewdon. This was grass roots democracy at work, and it is well worth a read we believe. But then we stepped up a notch and spent an hour with Councillor Gillian Lucas-Gill who opened up a side of Council life that I suspect few of us are aware of. Rather than go through a list of things we discussed I’ll just whet your appetite and say “Rochford Police Station”. Want some clear answers? Then read the article!

When we look back over the people and groups covered this week, I realise some of them we went looking for but others came to us. To be quite honest we prefer the latter. So, if we haven’t covered your shop, business, group of organisation yet, don’t let us miss you. Give us a ring on the number at the top of this page or e-mail us with the link that is there. Have a good week!

EDITORIAL: Sept 18th  2011
I said last week I would pick up on uses of the Internet. Usage has already moved from computers to iPhones,  although reading a web page on an iPhone is not so easy, but the additions of iPads to the equation has extended it from your laptop or PC. Which is a long way of saying we are on the crest of a communication tsunami that could take us anywhere. To dramatically change the analogy, in Heathrow Terminal Five when you have to take a train under the runways, to get from the main terminal area to the train you can either use rather a lot of flights of stairs, jump on quite a number of escalators or even take a lift, each very obviously taking different times to get you to the train. It seems our various responses to the communication revolution is somewhat akin to that.  Some of us are still walking - we’re just using phones or writing letters. We may have a computer but virtually never use it. Others are using our PCs or maybe laptops to access web-sites and e-mails and getting information much quicker. We’re travelling by escalator. Others with iPads in hand or iPhone in pocket (but more likely in hand!) have instant access wherever we are. We’re using the lifts! I suspect if an analysis was carried out the varying users might depend on age. It’s the younger generation that travel with phone in hand or iPad under arm and expect instant access to all information.
In conversations around town with people about things taking place in the district, I keep finding myself saying, with a measure of frustration, you really ought to use Rochford Life and then you’d know this! A lot of people are using Rochford Life regularly but the numbers are still relatively small. A few of us are in the habit of leaving our PC or laptop on all day long.The power-saver puts it into hibernation and it only takes two seconds for the screen to kick back on and your front screen to be visible. We are the escalator users - our younger generation ‘lift users’ have their phones or iPads on and accessible anyway. But for the moment it is the escalator users who are in my sights. If you put a Rochford Life shortcut icon on your front screen you would have instant access whenever you wanted it, twenty four hours a day, to masses of information about life in Rochford and, increasingly, lots more!
Yes, this week we went up to Golden Cross and added Head Hunters  and Golden Cross Co-Op and Ashingdon Off Licence and Golden Cross Pharmacy and Golden Cross Hand Car Wash and Faith, Hope & Charity Shop to the shops already here. EWT have also sent us their latest newsletter Including one for schools) and the Rochford Ward of the District Council have told us they are starting surgeries in October, Rayleigh Arts Festival is in full swing this week, Hawkwell Baptist are putting on ‘Joseph’ next weekend and the council have another Information Day coming up in Rochford at the end of the month. Lots of information and more to come - we just need to get in the habit (like our younger generation) of making it easy to get hold of it. It just starts with that icon and the realisation that the information is there.... Tell your friends!  Have a great week.

EDITORIAL: Sept 11th  2011
This weekend, and today in particular, the media are remembering the 9/11 terrorist attacks of New York, big events that apparently changed the world - yet life in Rochford continues, largely unchanged. Is that being parochial? Well if it is, so be it. But we live in an age of media information. All other things equal if we lived three hundred years ago we would probably only hear about such catastrophes six months after they happened, and then would probably have shrugged them off with, “Bad things happen in cities,” and then just continued with life as before.
But we do live in an information age and information helps us - maybe in small ways sometimes but, yes, it’s useful to know if a shop in the ‘village’ is still open before we go rushing out to get something. I said last week that in August we had been thinking and one of the things we’d been thinking about was how can we serve the community better. Rochford Life is all about providing information about the community that is Rochford and Ashingdon, “bringing the community to the community” as we often say.
We continue to put shops etc. on line and so this week we’ve added an update for New Scarves & Jewellery at JJW Designs  as well as adding Regency Spice Indian Restaurant and Sainsbury’s  and Cutting Corner.  So yes, we will be continuing to do that regularly but possibly not in the numbers we’ve done in the past (simply because there are fewer to be added.) We rashly commented to someone last week that we’d included all the restaurants and then on reflection realised there were at least a couple more. It’s so easy not to realise who is here in the community - it’s often the cry of shopkeepers, “People just don’t realise we’re here, even though they walk past us every day!”  True of all of us I guess!
Which brings us to a new facet of RL that you’ll find coming at least on a fortnightly basis - that of a “Review Page”, a page that tries to give an overview, or maybe highlight a particular part of the community. In a week or so we want to do a shops review “Rochford to Let” (so watch this space) but for the moment our first review page is about Waterman School being an example of a school that has opened it’s doors to us in a remarkable way.
As we’ve considered how we can make the web-site more useful, we realise that we have unlimited space and no expense. So in the past week we’ve been upgrading and adding to some of our ‘recreational ‘ pages but we have also now started to add, as you’ll have noticed on the right hand side of the front page, what we call “Quick Info Pages” which tend to be things that come through the letter box, that we so often throw away, but then later regret. They also include a number of ‘health leaflets’ which, again, some may find helpful. We hope to keep adding to these pages so that if you want a bit of useful information you don’t have to trawl the whole Internet but will know that you can find them here. That requires a change in public practice to really work in the long run, but we’ll talk about that next week. In the meantime, have a really good week ahead.

EDITORIAL: Sept 4th  2011
This weekend, all over the District, there will be people saying, “Where did it go?”  There will be others muttering, “Thank goodness September is here!”  Both groups are likely to be parents (or teachers or drivers!). Time has either flown or dragged, according to your personal circumstances. For us the month of August just evaporated. As a family we had various things on the agenda but in the gaps I intended to do a variety of writing for Rochford life. I’ve only managed one thing!
But September is here, Autumn has arrived. The beginning of September is a time of change. As we’ve already noted schools will be back - and that means traffic on the roads morning and afternoon will be heavier. One person I know who lives in Rochford but works in Chelmsford commented how easy it had been driving to work during August and looked forward gloomily to September because “Schools will be back and the traffic will be solid in the morning again.”
But it’s th other signs of Autumn that I notice that say Summer is past for another year. Have you noticed there are long and bigger cobwebs in the garden, a sure sign Autumn is on the way. There are a few leaves on the ground but the days are definitely drawing in and, yes, there has been a cold nip in the early morning air and the dew has been heavy. Sorry, Autumn is on the way!
Although these specific changes are taking place, the life that is Rochford continues. No doubt some of you are shopkeepers and you haven’t had a break. Businesses have continued and local government has continued. Schools might have been empty and churches might have been down on numbers but in so many other ways life has continued as normal for many of us.
And so we arrive at the beginning of September and pick up the reins again. The break was nice but we’re committed to enlarging Rochford Life with more shops and businesses and clubs etc. online, more reports of other things going on in government, schools and churches all of whom go to make up the life of Rochford.
Now to say we haven’t done anything this past month is not strictly true - we have been thinking! The thing about a website is that, once it is set up and running, it costs virtually nothing and can keep on getting bigger and bigger and in the weeks and months ahead, we hope you will find the range of useful things here on Rochford Life increasing. We have commented on it before, but one simple thing we as a family have used Rochford Life for is to check whether a particular shop is still open late afternoon or when they open in the morning. Simples!   Put our icon on your desktop and make a habit each week of checking out the resources that are here for your use - and remember, it is all free .
Have a good week.