Friday, 19 May 2017

Back in the 1970s we had shops in our town! What no Amazon? Nope!!


I read a letter recently that said how good the 1970s were.The author of the letter mentioned how great it was that we had shops, doctor's surgeries were we actually could see our doctor the same day if necessary. In fact there were many, many things that were so different back then.
This reminded me that I had written about our small town when we moved here in 1969. What a vibrant, thriving market town it was then. I decided to publish an extract from my book and I've also added a few extra thoughts of mine at the end of it. 
Happy shopping days back then. No Amazon, hence no on-line shopping!!

Lodge Road, Brereton

We moved into a new semi-detached three-bedroom house, in Lodge Road, Brereton, in 1969.
The house had a decent-sized front garden, and a wider-than-average drive leading to a large back garden which was covered with builders rubbish. It seemed to take me forever to clear. I did wonder at times what I had let myself in for. To move from the hustle and bustle of city life to a quiet country village was, to put it mildly, quite a culture shock. It took me a long time to settle down, and to begin to appreciate the beautiful surroundings.
I gradually began to get to know the neighbours.
The shops were not built in Lodge Road, Brereton, at that time, and there was no bus service round the estate. We used to walk the mile or so into Rugeley three times a week, on market days, to fetch our main shopping.
Market stalls were on the ground floor in the Town Hall. At this time Rugeley was not pedestrianised, and cars were parked in the Market Square where the outdoor market is now held. I remember how narrow and clogged with traffic the town centre was.
We shopped at Paddy’s (Brewery Street). Goods were sold from cardboard boxes, to keep prices low. Malcolm Campbell’s shop was also in Brewery Street, this was a double-fronted shop. His shop was packed tightly with household goods of every description. I got to know two of his staff quite well. Angela, the young girl who worked there, eventually married a butcher who at that time owned a stall in the top market. He also owned a shop in Walsall. For a short time Angela gave tarot card readings in a room alongside their market stall. The older lady who worked at Malcolm Campbell’s shop unfortunately died not long after it closed.
We also used the Coop (Market Street) for our groceries. Both shops are now closed. I always enjoyed walking round Woolworth. My daughter and husband can remember when the shop had wooden floors. I can recall when the assistants actually sold goods from behind the counters. It was a pity when it all changed. But I still enjoyed my walk round the shop. Sundays, when my husband was at work, was a good day to pop to Woolworth – I would buy a book, and in years to come a CD, and raid the Pic'n'Mix. Plus I would nearly always meet someone I knew and have a chat.
Occasionally we had evenings out at the Plaza cinema, and our children attended the Saturday-afternoon matinee. If there was a queue outside, Mr Hudson would keep everyone in order with the help of his megaphone. My son often tried to get in to see a film that he wasn’t old enough to watch. I think he managed it a few times, but there was one usherette who knew him, so much to his disgust he was often turned away.
I remember hugging the old-fashioned pipes, in a desperate attempt to keep warm. Even in the summer it was cold in the cinema, let alone the winter. I used to think of taking a blanket and a hot-water bottle with me. You’d hear people muttering loudly, “Turn the heat up, Mr Hudson.” He never did. I was really glad at times when the film finished. It was warmer outside than in. Plus the walk home helped get our circulation going again.
There was only one screen in those days. There were old-fashioned perfume machines in the ladies’ toilets; you put a small amount of money in and got a squirt of your favourite perfume. These were situated on the first floor. It all looked very elegant in that area. It was nicely carpeted, and seating was provided for customers waiting for the last performance to end and the next one to commence.
I applied for a job at the cinema. Mr Hudson offered me the position as an usherette. I turned it down. The next thing I knew I saw him parking outside our house; he had come to ask me why I didn’t want to work for him. Such were the times when employment was easy to find.
The Burger Bar cafe was our first port of call whenever we went shopping  town. I would go with Sandra and her children, she lived across the road. Maureen who lived next door to me would sometimes come along with her son, and Pam, a friend from two doors away, would accompany us with her two children, Penny and Lorraine. Our children formed strong friendships that lasted many years.
The cafe had an excellent cook; she made the most delicious sausage rolls and apple pies. This was our weekly treat. One of us would sit in the window seat on the high stools watching the sleeping babies in the prams. They were quite safe as even if one of us visited the toilet there was always someone watching. There wasn’t room to take the big prams into the cafe. In those days we never used pushchairs until the babies were older. Pushchairs have evolved since the time my children were younger and can be pushed around many stores nowadays, although bigger prams seem to be making a comeback.
The owner of the Burger Bar was Ken Brindley, I seem to remember that at one time he had something to do with the Town Council. After the cafe closed his wife (who worked there) had a job in Rugeley market for quite a long time. The Burger Bar is now a Mexican cafe.
Odds and ends we would fetch from the small Spa grocery shop (known as Brian’s) on the main A5l road. Nearby there was a hairdressing shop and a butcher’s shop. There was also a sub-post office; when it closed Brereton Antiques took it over, it has since closed.
On the corner of Lea Hall Lane was a small garage. They sold second-hand cars and petrol. I am fairly certain it was called Midway Service Station; the proprietors were two brothers, their surname was Austin. I worked there for a short time cleaning cars. I used to clean the cars in a cold, dark building which was situated on the garage forecourt.
We were frequent visitors to the local branch library. Despite it being rather small it always had a good selection of books. It was opened in March 1960. When we lived in Brereton, Margaret Smith (now Neal) was the Head Librarian and Jackie Meek (now Horn) was her assistant.
Margaret retired and in time became Secretary of the Landor Society, the local history society. She has now retired from the post but still holds the archives for the Landor Society. Jackie is Library Manager. The library opened until seven o’clock two evenings a week in the seventies. Due to cutbacks it is now closed all day Wednesday and Friday mornings. Since writing this book Brereton Library closed and reopened in new premises. Jackie is still Branch Manager.
My daughter Helen recalls helping at the library on Saturday mornings when she was ten.
The British Legion almost faced Brereton Vicarage across the A5l.
A group of ladies organised a play-group for the younger children in the Legion premises, and my two children enjoyed spending three mornings a week playing with the other children in the main room. The building is no longer owned by the Legion, and is a private club known as Baggys.
Update 2014 The club was demolished a long time ago, and a housing estate has been built on the land.

The local vicarage for St Michael’s Church is no longer there. I recall the vicar and his wife who lived there in the late 1960s/70s. They seemed the perfect couple. She was a small, dark-haired woman. I used to see her pushing her pram around the village with her babies in it. I think they had five children in the time I knew them. She was a busy soul. Always cheerful, she had a permanent smile on her face, and she would stop and chat to anyone and everyone. Her husband christened our son, at St Michaels Church. I remember feeling so sad when I heard he had died of some tropical disease. I think he contracted it when he was working abroad for a charity.
I don’t know what happened to his wife and children. I do hope they found happiness.

My children Helen and Paul commenced their schooldays at Hob Hill Infants School (previously known as George Vickers), which was situated on the A51, Brereton then progressed to the Junior School in Armitage Lane. George Vickers School was founded as Brereton Day School in 1888. It was rebuilt in 1905, but has since closed.
My main memories of the school are the welcoming and helpful attitude of the staff. Nothing was ever too much trouble for the Headmaster Mr Perry or his Deputy Head, Miss Jones. The teachers I came into contact with were always ready to assist. My children also have happy memories of the school.
My husband (John) worked at Three Spires Garage, Lichfield, as a motor mechanic for a short time. Then, wishing to work closer to home, he found employment at Bradbury & Brown’s Garage, Armitage Lane, Rugeley. His hours were 8.00–5.30pm. He was on 24-hour breakdown service. John was often called out just as we were preparing to go out for the evening. He worked at the garage for about seven years until he started work at Lea Hall Pit as a fitter. He worked the three shifts 6.00–2.00pm, 2.00–10.00pm, 10.00–6.00am. John was made redundant in 1991 when Lea Hall was closed. The site of Bradbury & Brown is now houses.
Fortunately my husband soon obtained work at the Milk Marketing Board (Dairy Products) as an HGV mechanic. He worked there for three years, when unfortunately he was made redundant again. He was lucky to be taken on as a driver with the same company. In July 1994 the Milk Marketing Board was broken up and subsidiaries sold off. From 1st August the company became Lloyd Frazer Dairy Supplies. From November 1st 1994 the company was Milk Marque.
Update 2014 The Company is now closed.

There was plenty of work available in the late sixties and early seventies. If you disliked your job you could leave and start a new one the next day. I had numerous jobs during this time. When I first sought work, I applied at an employment agency, just off the Market Square in Rugeley (this closed a number of years ago). They quickly found me a position in the offices at Thorn Automation, Brereton. Thorn Automation opened as Lancashire Dynamo in 1947, it manufactured advanced forms of electronic equipment. My hours were 8.305.00pm. This soon proved too much, as I wanted to spend more time with the children, plus I thoroughly disliked the office I was working in. Well, not so much the office, the staff seemed to look on me as an intruder from the word go, and hardly spoke to me. Apart from, that is, my office junior, who was a nice friendly girl. I looked for work with fewer hours, which I found at The Imperial Garage, Armitage Lane, cleaning cars and making the tea. I also served petrol. My hours were 9.00–1.00pm.
My friend who lived two doors away would look after the children during the morning. In the afternoon she went to work and I looked after her children, along with mine. The Imperial Garage has long since closed. Texas DIY owned it for a while. The site is now owned by Armitage Shanks.
Cottages originally stood on the site. The ghost of an old lady has been seen to cross the road by the site early in the morning, and she disappears through the hedgerow bordering the canal. Apparently where the ghostly lady vanishes was originally a wharf.
Bradbury & Brown was my next place of work, where I served petrol and cleaned cars in the car showrooms. I worked the afternoon shift. My hours were 1.00–5.00pm. Of course petrol pumps had not gone “self-serve” in those days, so I always prayed for good weather.
Harry Price worked in the car showrooms. Cyril was the driver, he worked part-time, he was retired, and Amby Jones did the odd jobs. Amby worked part-time, he had retired and took the job at the garage as an added interest. I seem to recall he owned a shop in Redbrook Lane at one time. When he retired from the garage he would walk his Alsatian dog (Julie) down to the garage everyday. He was liked by everyone who knew him. His daughter Norrie Jones was my daughter’s teacher at Hob Hill School, Brereton.

NB
The decline in our newspapers is something I mourn. I dislike reading online. At one time we had local newspaper offices in town. There was the Stafford Newsletter, The Rugeley Post, The Lichfield Mercury. Of course the internet has not helped as people now advertise for free on the internet leading to the closure of these popular friendly offices. The only free paper left is The Chronicle. Pluse The Lichfield Mercury has very little news for our area so we do not know what is happening in our area. Until it’s happened that is and then it’s too late to complain! Good for some but not the citizens of our town.
When they stopped the traffic coming through the town always made me think it was the beginning of the end for the smaller shops. People had the opportunity when driving through the town to see what was on display in the shop windows and what a busy little town we were with lots of individual shops. Not chain stores. Apart from Woolworths of course.
Other shops along the High Street were, Joette’s, a ladies clothes shop. The Army & Navy Stores. I can recall at least four shoe shops. Two shops that sold wallpaper and paint. Second Generation that was originally a second hand shop that sold good quality furniture. Yvonnes women’s clothes shop was at the top of Upper Brook Street. There was Jack Hills along the Horsefair, Windsor Furniture, In Upper Brook Street there was a record shop, that later became a video shop. In fact there were many shops all popular and well supported.
Only last Saturday I was shocked to see how our popular outdoor market had shrunk to a few stores. A great pity
Back in the day we had family doctors who knew us and our families by our Christian names! Now they are so overworked they have to do many consultations by telephone. In fact I’ve never seen my own doctor despite being on her books for many years. It’s a case of pot luck now who you see. Although, I do think our doctor’s surgery and all the staff are quite wonderful. They are always rushed off their feet but always do their best for you.
I know it’s always said that people look at the past with rose coloured glasses. Well, this time it’s truye the past was a far better place when we had shops in town, markets that thrived, libraries that had new books now and again.
We had fields where we took our children fishing in the brook, we had picnics, we walked our dogs without fear of being knocked over by mountain bike cyclists. This is on the so called Heritage Walk. We’re not allowed to walk the fields now. Our grand-children will never know the joys of the open countryside that we did. A great pity.


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

About Choosing Your Psychic Pathway






A link to my book page on Amazon
It was following a serious road accident in the late 1980s that I decided as I could not return to work, I would write a book.
Having always had an interest in the Supernatural - I read the tarot cards for a while - the book was obviously always going to be about ghosts. When I was reading the cards many people told me ghost stories, so with their permission these were included. Local papers were always helpful in publishing my appeals for stories, and there was no shortage of people willing to share their ghostly tales.
My first ghost booklet Mystical Staffordshire appeared in the early 1990s. I actually only intended to write one, but as it was so popular I wrote another, then another. Numerous ghostly booklets later I combined them into Mysterious Happenings. I have also written other books, Birmingham Girls, followed by Choosing Your Psychic Pathway.
I decided to write Choosing Your Psychic Pathway, because having read the cards for clients over the years, most of them had asked me questions regarding the Supernatural. I could only tell them the results of my findings. I had spent a lot of time investigating the different psychic sciences.
I realised that although I had settled on the tarot cards for my readings the other methods clairvoyants use might suit new students. I decided to write down what I had discovered. I have also written the meanings of the tarot cards that work for me. A number are different to the traditional meanings, it is up to new students to the paranormal to investigate what works for them. It can take many years to become skilled at which path suits you best, it did me, but it was always a fascinating, and at times exciting journey.
I was also privileged to meet a lot of people along the way, all with similar interests, I am still in contact with them. I’ve also had contact with readers of the book, another bonus. I consider I am fortunate to have met so many interesting, genuine, like minded people.

I decided to turn my hand to writing fiction in 2007, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of writing Dancing with Spirits, and Spirits of the Lights, the sequel. Followed by The Other Place, and A Haunted Past Life, Jen's Story, The Haunting of Kate Somner, The Time Travelling Sisters, The House of Psychics, Another Time, Another Place. The Ghosts of Westerlea. All of my books are about the supernatural.
I’m hoping that the sequel to The Other Place, The Other Time, will be published in July 2017. At the moment it is with a beta reader and then will need proof reading.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

An interview with Authoramp


 Available from Amazon Kindle, in paperback and free if you subscribe to KU
Today we have an interview with the renowned author Carol Arnall. Her latest book ‘The Other Place’ which has often been ranked number 1 on Amazon for Kindle (Supernatural and Reincarnation Category), and has been ranked number one in the Kindle List. It has been in the top 100 over 382 times!

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
Practically all my life. English Literature was my favourite subject at school so I have always had a keen interest in reading and writing.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Normally about 12 months from start to finish.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I try to spend at least an hour every day working on the current WIP.
 What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know about interesting but I like my desk to be as clear as possible. I just have my specs case, and a notepad and pen handy. Any clutter and my mind won’t settle.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
A word I hear can spark an idea. Even a colour. For The Other Place it was my fear of enclosed spaces that made me think of writing the book.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book when I was a child! I filled an exercise book with stories I’d made up. No-one ever saw it. I haven’t a clue what the stories were about now.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I do a lot of fabric painting which I then embroider. I love walking my dog in the woods and countryside. I take 100s of photographs when I’m out and about. Reading is one of my fav hobbies as well.
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
I’ve written 15 books – this includes fiction and nonfiction. If I have to choose a favourite it would be Birmingham Girls, my autobiography.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Practice, practice, and more practice. Seriously, I think everyone approaches writing in a different way. I think whichever way works for you, go for it.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I have heard from readers and also family members I didn’t know about. And lost-lost school and work-friends. A few via snail mail, email, and via Facebook.
Readers have thanked me for my books. Particularly BGs, and my book Choosing Your Psychic Pathway – they say this has helped them. Also, women have written and thanked me for writing The Other Place. This was a complete surprise. I never expected to receive mail about it.

What do you think makes a good story?
Well developed characters, good descriptions, and an interesting plot-line that will make me want to keep turning the pages. It must have a happy ending and leave readers happy.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I was never particularly ambitious. I wanted to get married, have two children – a girl and a boy. I did. But from an early age I always wanted to write a book.
The Other Place is available now from Amazon and on Kindle

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Interview with Kim the Bookworm





Interview with Carol Arnall



I’m delighted to be joined by a lovely lady who is very local to me called Carol Arnall. Carol and I have chatted via social media and email for the last couple of years or so even though we probably only live about 5 miles from each other. Carol’s writing completely fascinates me. I have read a few of her books now and have found them completely enchanting and fascinating. I thought it would be nice to chat with Carol today and ask her questions behind her writing.  If you would like to find out more about Carol’s work, do check out her website which is www.carolarnall.com and she also blogs here.  You can follow Carol on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Elvaennia
You can also find my reviews of two of Carol’s books called The Other Place  goo.gl/s913As link to Amazonand A Haunted Past Life   https://goo.gl/BKTgJr   by clicking on the link.



Thanks so much for joining me over at my blog Carol.  I just have a few questions for you today if you don’t mind answering them for you?
I’d be delighted to Kim.  Fire away!
Where did your writing journey start?

When I left school at 16 I started to write to magazines. Sending to reader’s letters. Occasionally I wrote the newspapers as well.
What makes you want to write?

I’m compelled to write. I always have been. Even as a child I wrote stories. English Literature was my favourite subject at school.
Who inspires you?

Anyone who writes!
What advice would you give to someone who feels that they have a book inside that would not know where to start?

Have confidence, just do it, it doesn’t matter where you start in your book, you can start at the end if that makes sense. If you mess up along the way, don’t worry about it, no one will see it apart from you. Simply, go for it, you will never regret it.

What book are you reading right now?

I’ve just started Touched by the Light by Linn B Halton which you recommended on Stafford FM.   I like to listen in to youe show on a Thursday night and listen to the books you’ve read Kim, and find out what your book of the week has been.  This sounds like a great book and when you told your listeners that the book was free for Kindle, I downloaded it straight away. 
What types of books do you like to read and who are your favourite authors?
I love books with ghostly happenings in them, particularly if they are about past lives, even better if the main character discovers the love of her life from a past life.
Diana Gabalon is my favourite author. I reread her Jamie and Claire novel – time travel – time and again. I can’t wait for the next one in the series. It can take her up to four years to write it!


Are your characters based on real people or are they completely fictional?

I should imagine like most authors I pick up the traits of different people we have met along the way, and transfer them into our characters. My characters are all ficticious, I would never write about anyone living. Never!

Where do you write and what is it about that place that inspires you to write?

In the dining room or my office cum sewing room. I have all my favourite pictures around me and my cds, happy memories help me along the writing path.

Do you have any spare time and if so what do you enjoy doing?

I love walking my dogs, embroidery and reading.

What is next for you?

Hopefully another book or two!
Once again Carol, thanks so much for joining me and answering these questions.  Perhaps your answers may inspire those who would love to write a book, to pick up the pen and get on with it.  Love and hugs Kim xxx   

Sunday, 9 April 2017

@8 in Amazon Supernatural Category!

Press Release – ‘The Other Place’ by Carol Arnall

The Other Place
goo.gl/s913As link to Amazon

Gripping supernatural mystery, which follows the struggles of a young woman to overcome severe childhood trauma, has inspired its readers to face up to – and conquer – their own demons.
Chrissie James is a troubled soul. Her father deserted her before she was born and her stepfather, Alf, is a jealous man who inflicts terrible mental and physical abuse on Chrissie and her sister, Babs. Chrissie feels trapped inside her own head and is wracked with chronic fears, including claustrophobia. As a result, she is a very lonely child, with the sole exception of her imaginary friend, Amy. With Amy for company, Chrissie slowly begins to put her miserable childhood behind her, growing older and leaving school to find work. But still her fears and her nightmares remain and Chrissie even starts to suffer from random panic attacks.
One day, as a young adult, Chrissie notices a sign advertising a hypnotherapist. On their first meeting, Kitty, the hypnotherapist, immediately recognises Chrissie’s distress and suggests that she may have been tormented in a previous existence. By regressing to that past life, Chrissie hopes to find the source of her problems. While hypnotised, she finds herself living the life of a girl named Emily, who also has an abusive stepfather. Chrissie begins to realise that her imaginary friend, Amy, may in fact be more significant that she could ever have imagined, and could hold the key to helping Chrissie face up to the secret history that haunts her.
The Other Place is an engaging and suspenseful supernatural novel, beginning in 1950s Birmingham and charting the life of its damaged heroine Chrissie over the course of several decades, as she battles to isolate and overcome the fears that plague her. The Other Place has built up a terrific fan following, reaching number one in the Amazon Kindle Best Seller list for Supernatural and Reincarnation titles. Many of Chrissie’s challenges and conditions are inspired by the author, Caroll Arnall’s own experiences, having been blighted by claustrophobia, and at times, sleep disruption and panic attacks. In fact the act of writing this book became therapeutic in itself for Carol, who found that her anxieties began to disappear as she worked with her complex characters through their own healing processes. Readers too have praised The Other Place for inspiring them to confront their most profound problems; many women who have suffered domestic abuse have written to Carol to thank her for helping them to finally vanquish their most painful memories.

About the author
Carol Arnall was born and raised in the slums of Birmingham, where the early chapters of The Other Place is set. Arnall read tarot cards, the crystal ball and practiced psychometry until 1987 when a road traffic accident left her severely injured. Unable to work away from home she dedicated her time to writing, at first recording the many ghost stories she’d collected over the years as a psychic. After having a series of articles published in local newspapers and magazines, Arnall found the confidence to start writing books.
Her first title, Mysterious Happenings, was a collation of local ghost stories, which was followed by four other non-fiction books. In 2007, Arnall began writing fiction, and has since released five novels. Carol Arnall lives in Staffordshire.

‘The Other Place’ is available now from Amazon Kindle, goo.gl/s913As
Available from KU,  and in paperpack

Monday, 27 February 2017

Embroidered pictures for sale.

Bluebell Wood Embroidery
If you would like to buy a similar embroidery please email me, carol.arnall@ntlworld.com for details.
The above embroidery is embroidered using freestyle machine embroidery with a little fabric paint added to highlight various areas. 



Bluebell Wood Embroidery 
If you would like to buy a similar embroidery please inbox me for details.
The above embroidery is embroidered using freestyle machine embroidery with a little fabric paint added to highlight various areas.

I will be adding more embroideries shortly.

Monday, 30 January 2017

The Bluebell Wood -Painting and embroidery in progress.


Sorry this one isn't quite straight. I will alter it. I painted it with acrylic paints, and machine embroidered the tree foliage with zig zag stitch, using free style embroidery.
I have to add foliage to the sides of the path and add more bluebells, and greenery on the woodland floor. It will take quite a long time.