Category Archives: Eat My Brunch

Brilliant Live Performance from Singer/Songwriter Nicola Collis



Michelle Ward was joined by Nicola Collis a local singer, songwriter and guitarist to perform a few tracks from her new album DOWN SIDE UP.



Plus Live Performance of The Unforgiving Minute & Welcome Back to the 80’s 

Nicola has a mixture of music styles and if you get to hear and see her live she is a fire cracker of a performer. A great voice with a husky edge, pitch perfect and she plays a mean guitar too.

The album DOWN SIDE UP is out now. 

T: @nicolacollismusic

I:  nicolascollismusic



Damian Carruthers of Serenade the Stars, talks about his new film project, STRONG SOLDIERS


Michelle Ward talks to Damian Carruthers of Serenade the Stars about his new film project, STRONG SOLDIERS.





Strong Soldiers is a short film which focuses on 4 characters from completely different walks of life. The characters lives are inexplicably brought together by fate and they must all draw on their own and each other’s strengths to survive.

The film highlights how strong we can all be when situations arise and brings to light the fact that everyone is fighting their own individual battles.

The film was written by Serenade The Stars guitarist Damian Carruthers and the band will be teaming up with Citizens of the world choir to record the soundtrack.

You can check them out here

Serenade The Stars released their debut single “she’s the one” which received worldwide radio play on December 2017 – you can have a listen here! – please subscribe to the YouTube channel for updates on upcoming releases and involvement with the film


The band and choir will be working with the awesome guys at Hoffen Studios for the soundtrack – check out their page here

This is a completely unique and exciting project for all those involved! We are all extremely excited about working with one another and cannot wait to begin recording and shooting!

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge we face is recording a full choir and mixing that with the recorded track! It’s very difficult to get a full choir into a recording studio! – we plan to overcome this by recording the song initially at hoffen studios and then bringing a mobile studio off site to capture the choir sections of the song. 

MILENA – Funky, Soulful Singer/Songwriter – LIVE and in Interview

Michelle Ward was joined by Singer/Songwriter/Pianist/Guitarist, MILENA who also played LIVE in the studio. Soulful, funky and chilled out tune and plenty more great tracks on her album, EVERYDAY which is out now.

QUOTE – MILENA  “You can put my album on and feel the sunshine all the time”



Voices of Brentwood – Greta, Jackie & Don

Michelle Ward interviews residents about their earliest memories, happiest times, childhood, living through World War Two,  what they think of today’s society, life in Brentwood, their new lives at The Beeches Brentwood and much more.

Signature Senior Lifestyle at The Beeches Brentwood

Had an enjoyable and interesting afternoon talking to residents at the luxurious The Beeches such a wealth of life experience and it was wonderful to listen to their words.

QUOTE from 102 year old GretaAlways remember little girl that sometimes something that looks like a major disaster is the best possible thing that could of happened to you”









Mayor of Brentwood & Do Good in Brentwood Campaign – Talk Childrens Photography Competition

Michelle Ward was Joined in the studio by The Mayor of Brentwood, William Russell and Do Good in Brentwood Campaign Director, Villene.

Do Good in Brentwood –  Share some kindness in your local community by following the campaign, giving us some likes and getting involved.  


Children’s Photography Competition – Check Facebook link for details.

Have you entered your child’s photo into our Children’s Photography Competition yet? One of the things we’re looking for in a new Facebook/Twitter cover image is Community Spirit, so here are some ideas for the kids:

💗 Take a photo of your favourite group of people that Do Good In Brentwood – maybe organisers at Brentwood junior parkrun or a team of staff at your favourite restaurant or shop,
💗 Take a photo of people in your local community who support each other and stick together – volunteers at Beavers, Cubs or Scouts, or even your neighbours,
💗 Take a photo of people enjoying themselves at a local event.


Social Media Links 


The Book Club (March) with Sylvia Kent & Glenys Newton

Michelle Ward was joined for a hilarious book club this month with Sylvia Kent and guest writer, Glenys Newton. Things started well….. ish……

Thanks to Sylvia and Glenys for a great chat about all things books.




Home Flown – The Laymamma’s Guide to an Empty Nest

My son, Chris, first left home 7 years ago now. To be honest, I was quite looking forward to having some time to myself so was shocked by the tsunami of different feelings that bowled me over.

Rather naively, I imagined that children leaving home was a straightforward part of the whole melee that is parenting and was not prepared for quite how bumpy it all was. I wouldn’t say that it was all bad and I wouldn’t say that it was all good but it was complicated.
I then found that the phase of life that is coined as the ‘empty nest’ is something that nobody really talks about. As with any kind of loss, people tend to think that they have to keep it to themselves. When I did get talking to mums, they were really keen to relay their experiences and how it has affected them. Each and every person had a different story to tell, but at the heart of each story was the voice of a mum with a great love for their child or children.
I also looked around for books on the subject and there does not seem to be a great deal written given that it is something that happens to so many people. And so, ‘Home Flown – The Laymamma’s Guide to the Empty Nest’ was born. I have written the things that I wished that I had known at the time of my own son leaving home. Also in the ensuing years when he was back and forth to the family home, and still is to be honest.
It is written with humour and dashes of wisdom, which is parenting itself really. Without a sense of humour not many of us would get through child rearing and all the surprises that it delivers.
Not everything that is written will apply to everybody but I hope that you will find some words that will resonate with your experiences. I also hope that it will help us all to talk more about this complicated and huge transition in our lives.


No Wonder We’re All Mad

used to work as a social worker in a community mental health team and I have wanted to write this book for some years in response to the stories that I listened to at that time. I am now a storyteller but I began my working life as a story listener and a great privilege it was too. What I found, though, was that people’s stories were often pathologised in order to receive support. This is not the fault of anyone in particular but it is how madness is viewed within our society. We are all trained from birth to fear the madness that lies within us all but, we all, at some point in our lives, find the wheels coming off of our trollies to some greater or lesser degree. There are certain things in life that are guaranteed to send us mad, and I have talked about these in the book, such as family, work, grief, media, falling in love and I’m sure it could be an endless list. The very story of madness itself changes at an alarming rate and, historically, people have not been viewed and treated kindly for showing what is essentially very human emotions to very human events in life. We all have a story around difficult times in our lives. Grief is an unavoidable rite of passage but it is not always easy to share our stories in order to be able to make sense of them. Telling our stories is one of the most significant ways of constructing and expressing meaning and within this book, ‘No Wonder We’re All Mad’ I have shared some of my stories and those of others. It is with the sharing of our stories that we can know that we are not mad, or that we are and that is alright, and that we are not alone. ‘No Wonder We’re All Mad’ is written with humour and with the hope that it will encourage other people to share their wonderous and fascinating stories as each and every one of us has a story to tell. 



Essex Book Festival is one of the highlights of Essex’s cultural calendar. Each March it hosts 60+ events in over 30 venues across the County, including theatres, libraries, schools, universities, through to cafes and art galleries.

The Festival was established by Essex County Council in 1999 to celebrate the book in all its forms with the widest possible audience in Essex. Since then it has grown into one of the leading festivals of its kind in the Eastern Region, inviting local writers and writers from all over the world to take part its activities. It also hosts a year round series of writing and reading programmes for all ages and abilities.

In 2011 it became an independent charity run by a board of voluntary trustees. This, in turn, led to a number of new opportunties. Not least of all the huge variety of partners with which it now works within Essex and beyond.

Essex Book Festival is based within the Centre for Creative Writing at the University of Essex’s Colchester campus.


T @EssexBookFest




Claire Mackaness from Beautiful Things talks Crochet for Mental Health

Michelle Ward chats to Claire Mackaness from Beautiful Things.

Joined in  the studio by Claire Mackaness from Beautiful Things to talk about the recent funding from Brentwood Council under the Community Fund to help people with their mental health through crochet.


Recruiter, Penny Hollington talks Apprenticeships & Interview Practice Assessment Days



Joined in the studio by Penny Hollington from Hollington Associates. Hollington Associates is an independent specialist recruiter within the office support market, working with clients and candidates throughout Essex.

Each month Penny will be at Phoenix FM with practical tips to help you get that job! So, if you are a School leaver or looking to change jobs or going back into work after a break, Penny can help you.

Hollington Associates are based in Brentwood, resource support professionals at all levels.

On this months show Penny discusses:-

  • Apprenticeships
  • Brentwood School Careers Convention
  • Interview Practice Assessment Days

Hollington Associates support both clients and candidates through the recruitment process, taking the time to really understand what both parties are looking for, to ensure they get the right person for the right role every time.

With Hollington Associates it’s personal, we meet every client and candidate we work with.

With Hollington Associates it’s about building long term relationships, based on delivering a service that is honest, open and professional.

We offer…

  • A full recruitment service, finding the ideal candidate for the vacancy
  • Support during the recruitment process, to create a job specification, screen CV’s, conduct interviews, or assist at offer and pre-employment stage
  • CV advice and interview coaching for school leavers, graduates and experienced support professionals

More Darwin Award winners!

I was once again honoured to be deputising for the fantastic MICHELLE WARD today.

As on recent occasions when deputising for Michelle, I took the chance to look at some of the various Darwin Award winners.

Now just in case you have not previously heard of the DARWIN AWARDS, these awards are doled out posthumously to those unfortunates who have met their end through their own crass stupidity.

Our first award winner today was SCOTT McKIMMIE who’s purple Volkswagen Cabriolet would not be considered roadworthy by most people, but to a handy mechanic a flaw can be considered a security feature.

Early on a Tuesday morning outside The Phoenix pub in Corby, the 39-year-old started his 1998 Cabriolet in his usual unusual manner — he put the car in gear and reached beneath the bonnet and touched two wires together to create an ignition spark.

Unfortunately he failed to remember that he had not put the handbrake on.

To make matters worse he had modified the vehicle to run with a fast idle to prevent stalling.

As black wire touched red wire the engine turned over and started, and the car lurched forward and knocked him over.

Due to the fast idle the vehicle continued on its merry way, inflicting 36 “separate injuries” on the unfortunate man as it kept going and going.

As demonstrated in a police investigation video shown subsequently in court, the engine modifications allowed the car to move forward without stalling when it was in first, second or third gear!

Coroner Anne Pember recorded a verdict of accidental death with this summary: “It is quite clear that the cause of this tragedy was the unusual starting method Mr. McKimmie used to start his car.

Keeping to a transport theme we next looked at a duo of intoxicated Dutchmen who met their end by putting their extra “DUTCH COURAGE” to the test up against an intercity express train.

One of our “would-be” heroes lay down between the tracks, confident that the entire train would pass over him. His less confident friend merely knelt down next to the track and kept his head as close as possible to where he thought the train’s profile would be.

As the duo subsequently discovered the 130 km/h train that came down the track some seconds later was both lower and wider than they thought.

Shame about that!

Our final contender today met his end much more peacefully – in the process of voting in an election no less.


A contentious issue in Canada during the 2015 elections was whether or not, voters whose faces were fully covered were eligible to vote. 

In the weeks leading up to the election scattered protesters covered their heads in various clever ways to attract the attention of the media.

On Federal Election Day itself, many joined the protest and hid their faces at the polls.

In Montreal, a 24-year-old voter took the blue ribbon by appearing at his polling station with a plastic bag over his head!

During the 45-minute wait the protestor fainted, leading to death from “respiratory complications.”

He did not vote!

See you again soon,

Actor/Vocalist Spencer Carter talks Harry Potter, Mission Impossible & Tiptoe Stage School



Joined in the studio by Actor/Singer/Teacher, Spencer Carter.

Spencer has an impressive body of work from TV’s EastEnders, films such as Mission Impossible, Harry Potter  to stage Les Misérables.

He is also came in to talk the fantastic TIPTOE Stage School which gives children and adults the chance to learn acting, dancing, singing from as little as £3.00 per class.

Many of TIPTOE students have gone on to work in film, TV and stage.

Over the years the school has focused on providing inclusive learning and training in all areas of performing arts. All teachers fully qualified, home grown and are now industry professionals.



T @SpencerSCarter



T @TipToe1986