Friday 29 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: Z is for...

Zen Leicester Great Heart Circle

I’m completing my A to Z of Leicester with the Zen Leicester Great Heart Circle. They meet on the first Thursday of every month and are a multi-faith community promoting happiness and peace. A lovely thought for a fabulous City!

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

[Phew! I've done it! Back to the chatty blogs next week. Have a great Bank Holiday weekend and I'll see you in May.]


Thursday 28 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: Y is for...

Y Theatre

Today, Leicester’s Y theatre is a bustling, live performance venue. Long ago, when it was the old YMCA, I made my performing debut on its stage with the lead part in a play that won the Leicestershire Youth Drama Festival. 

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

The Y Theatre

Next Tuesday, 3rd May, Shamshad Khan 
is on WORD! at the Y 

WORD! is the longest running 
poetry and spoken word night in the Midlands.


A to Z of Leicester: X is for...

The X-ray and Observational Astronomy Group

I don’t understand the science but XROA is a world leader in high energy and observational astrophysics founded by space science pioneer, Professor Ken Pounds. It’s based at Leicester University and researches such issues as the origin of gamma-ray bursts. 

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

A gamma ray burst borrowed from the NASA site

Read more about XROA here


Wednesday 27 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: W is for...

Walkers Stadium

Leicester City Football used to play in Filbert Street. They still have Filbert Fox as their mascot but now they’re at the new Walkers Stadium. It has 10 function suites. I’ve been to charity luncheons there... Yes! Ladies who lunch!

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

Walkers Stadium

Filbert Fox


Tuesday 26 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: V is for...

Victoria Park

Victoria Park was once the Leicester Racecourse. Now it hosts open-air concerts like BBC Radio 1’s Summer Sundae, Caribbean Carnival and Leicester Pride, not to mention circuses, funfairs, games of football, family picnics and Remembrance Day Parades at the Cenotaph.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

Victoria Park

Getting ready for Carnival

A young participant in the procession 

The Cenotaph


A to Z of Leicester: U is for...

University of Leicester

Richard and David Attenborough’s father, Frederick, was Principal for over 20 years. The boys lived in College House, growing up on campus. Much later I was a student there. I got a History degree and post-graduate teaching certificate. Happy times!

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

The Engineering Building was designed by 
James Stirling and James Gowan. It is included in a list of 
the 50 most inspiring buildings in Britain.

 The Attenborough Building (on the left) and the Charles Wilson Building

My History tutorials were on the 16th floor of the Attenborough 
reached by a constantly moving paternoster. Scary!


Monday 25 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: T is for...

Tigers Rugby Football Club

I’ve often seen the Tigers play. They’re brilliant. They’ve won the Guinness Premiership trophy nine times. They run coaching clinics and the Dynamite Club for youngsters and they’ve been called the Tigers since the 1880s because of their striped jerseys.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words.


 The new Caterpillar stand has been given a Building Excellence award.

Winning again!


A to Z of Leicester: S is for...

Space Centre

Leicester is home to the amazing National Space Centre. There are over 150 interactive exhibits including simulated space flights. This month's Gagarin 50 Exhibition offers cosmonaut training and a chance to blast off in Vostok 1. How cool is that!

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

The famous rocket tower which is 42 metres high.

Visit their website


Sunday 24 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester catch up: Q and R

Thank you to everyone who sent messages of condolence after the sad death of my Mum. I will be replying to you all over the next few days. Now I will try and catch up with the A to Z by posting two at a time.

Quorn Steam Railway Station

Quorn Station on the Great Central Railway is the place to see steam trains. They run every weekend of the year with special events, a first class restaurant car and you can even have a go at driving an engine. 

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

One of the steam trains at Quorn Station

 Radio Leicester

Another Leicester first! BBC Radio Leicester was Britain's first mainland local radio station. It was launched in 1967 in the days of VHF. These days you can listen to it online. I’ve been interviewed many times but it’s still terrifying. 

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

You can see the studio from the reception area. This was the studio 
where I was interviewed about my new book. I blogged about it.

On the wall in the reception area is a large mosaic 
by Cleo Mussi, Mosaic Artist.


Wednesday 20 April 2011

Sad News

Mum passed away peacefully yesterday morning after a 5 month battle with cancer. I'm going to take a few days break from the blog but I will return on Sunday to complete the A to Z of Leicester. I just need a few days to say goodbye to my Mum. Thank you for all your support.


Tuesday 19 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: P is for...

Phoenix Arts Centre - Phoenix Square

I met my husband in the old Phoenix Arts in their friendly folk club. They’ve built a new Phoenix now, with all mod cons and facilities, but that old, dusty one will always have a special place in my heart.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

The old Phoenix Arts Centre 
The folk club was behind those huge windows on the first floor

The new Arts Centre called Phoenix Square


Monday 18 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: O is for...

Old John

Bradgate Park was home to Lady Jane Grey. It’s now public parkland. Old John was built on a volcanic rock. It’s shaped like a jug in memory of a drunken retainer and it’s a great place for kids to play.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

 Bradgate Park with its 850 acres of parkland 
is situated just outside the City.

A photograph of Old John borrowed from the Wikipedia site


Sunday 17 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: N is for...

New Walk

This traffic-free lane leads right into the centre of the city. It was created in 1785 and became a desirable place to both live and walk. Halfway down is New Walk museum featuring my childhood favourites: dinosaurs and Egyptian mummies.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words.

New Walk from the City end taken 
one evening on our way to Pizza Express.

New Walk Museum which used to have 
two huge cannons outside when I was a kid

Friday 15 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: M is for...

The Market

When I was young, Mum and Dad sold jewellery on Leicester Market. I’d sit beneath their stall and watch the skip boys hauling laden containers, the lightbulb man fixing bulbs into swinging flexes and stilettos click clacking on the cobbles.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words.

 Leicester Market is the largest outdoor covered market in Europe.

This cartoon of the lightbulb man was drawn by Mick Wright 
for my Jewish Voices book. He produces excellent cartoons and 
caricatures and you can contact him at Mick Wright.

You can watch a video of the market here.


Thursday 14 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: L is for...

If you're here for one of my 
chatty blogs please scroll down 
the page or click here.

Leicester Comedy Festival

Europe’s longest running comedy festival happens in Leicester. 250 acts, including Lenny Henry and Michael Mcintyre, appeared this year. Make Me Happy groups were organised in the community. Leicester was laughing and it’s all thanks to the director Geoff Rowe. 

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words.

Visit Leicester's Comedy Festival if you'd like to get involved or would like to know more about next year's events.


Wednesday 13 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: K is for...

Knighton Post Office – an Obituary

Knighton Post Office was special. Roger, the Postmaster, knew us all, joked with the kids, sorted my manuscripts and stamped addressed envelopes, looked out for the frail elderly. It was the centre of our community... until they shut it down.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

“Please can you sign my book?”

I'm having a book launch at

The Reading Shop, The Parade, Oadby, Leicester 
at 11 am on 16th April.

The books are in

 A Children’s History of Leicester  ISBN: 978-1849931496
And they've put some of my Bathtime Rap books in the window display too

All we need now are some visitors to make my book launch a really fun morning... or is it? My pen is feeling nervous. It’s watched other authors signing books, their pens moving with a flash and a flourish and the signing is done. So why can’t my pen do the same? It seems to get tongue-tied (nib-tied?). It has no trouble when I write a manuscript. It works perfectly well when producing a covering letter. It even enjoys signing the contract but it has never managed to grasp the art of book signing.

So if you come along to the book launch (and I do hope you will) don’t forget, when you’re ready to have your book signed, to please go easy on my pen. It may be feeling just a little nervous.


A to Z of Leicester: J is for...

Jewry Wall

The Jewry Wall stands beside the remains of Roman baths, unearthed in the 1930s when builders began work on new public baths. The Romans built that wall to last... and last it did! But those public baths never were built.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

Leicester's Jewry Wall standing in front of the ancient St Nicholas Church

p.s. I'll be posting up one of my chatty blogs later today.


Monday 11 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: I is for...

Indian restaurants

My first curry was in 1965 at the Taj Mahal (still there in Highfield Street). I had a korma. It almost set my mouth alight. Today Leicester has over 100 Indian restaurants and I’ve progressed to madras... but never vindaloo!

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

It makes your mouth water, doesn't it!


Sunday 10 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: H is for...


We used to have to go to Nottingham for a good shopping expedition. Now we have our own fabulous shopping centre called Highcross, which is only a street away from the ancient Anglo-Saxon market also called Highcross. Nothing changes much.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

Leicester's new Highcross Centre

A sketch by John Flower of Highcross in old Leicester


Friday 8 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: G is for...

The Guildhall and its Ghosts

Five ghosts haunt Leicester’s ancient Guildhall. After Henry VIII banned guilds, the hall was used for council meetings, court hearings, police cells, lavish banquets, plays. They say that Shakespeare was a visitor. Could one of the ghosts be Hamlet’s father? 

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

Leicester's Guildhall which was built over 600 years ago

A gibbet hanging in the old police cells
The cells are open to the public and well worth a visit.

Follow this link and scroll down to the picture shown above 
to view one of the ghostly occurrences recorded when 
Rupal Rajani from BBC Radio Leicester investigated some local ghosts...

... or are you too scared?!!!

Tomorrow (Saturday) is my blogging day off. I will be posting up 'H' on Sunday. Have a great weekend. 


Thursday 7 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: F is for...

Foxton Locks and Fosse Way 

Two historic routes with a lesson in technological durability

Foxton Locks, the largest UK staircase lock, was precision built in 1900. No surprise that it’s still in regular use today. The Romans built Fosse Way in the 1st century. Guess what! Part of that road is still in use! 

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words.

Foxton Locks is one of my favourite summer walks

Parts of Fosse Way are now boring dual carriageway. 
This stretch has a more ancient feel 
(with a touch of tarmac added since Roman times!)


Wednesday 6 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: E is for...

Everards beer

William Everard first brewed beer in 1849 in Leicester. Beer is not my drink but Everards must be good because Beacon Bitter just received an award at the Leicester Beer Festival and Tiger is on sale all round the world.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

A pint of Tiger

The original Leicester brewery on the corner of Southgate Street

   The modern Leicester brewery at Fosse Park

Tuesday 5 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: D is for...

De Montfort Hall

I screamed at the Beatles, swooned at The Stones, danced and waved my arms to their music. Now I sit and sing at Solid Silver Sixties Shows. The place has been painted, extended, but it’s still my favourite concert hall.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words. 

The main entrance

A favourite show, a favourite era

This year's production is called The Sensational 60s Experience 
and it's at the De Montfort Hall on 10th November.


Monday 4 April 2011

A to Z of Leicester: C is for...

From The Clock Tower to Curve (without a The)

The Clock Tower used to be Leicester’s iconic image. Intricately carved with statues of respected City elders, it stood where all roads met. Now the road is traffic free and there are new icons like Curve, Leicester’s curvaceous new theatre.

A quadragintal is a blog of exactly 40 words.

The Clock Tower in the 1950s.


The Clock Tower last week.

Curve Theatre (We went to see an excellent production of 
‘Yes, Prime Minister’ there the other day.)

If you're here to read one of my regular chatty blogs then please go to I was on the Radio.