THE WORLD OF ARTS & BOOKS 2021/20                                                              


March 2019. Extra opening hours on Wednesdays at Harpenden Library thanks to volunteers from The Harpenden Society.

Now 5 years of service

Click here for details


Local author has his second book published

"Grandad What was Football like in the 1970s ?"

Interested then click below.

Link -

The Food Teacher Wins ‘Best in the World’ at the Gourmand Cookbook Award.

Following success in national business awards and a string of appearances at Food Festivals and Community events, Katharine Tate, The Food Teacher, has won her second world renowned Gormand Cookbook Award.

‘Now We’re Cooking!’

Teaching cooking and nutrition was brought back into primary schools in 2014 and since this time Katharine Tate, The Food Teacher has been supporting schools to successfully deliver the curriculum but most importantly make cooking and nutrition education purposeful, engaging and fun. Her latest book ‘Now We’re Cooking!’ was co-authored with Tim Baker, Headteacher of Charlton Manor Primary School in Greenwich and experienced class teacher Marie Reynolds. (pictured below with Katharine on the right)This focuses on supporting schools to deliver the National Curriculum through food, an education model delivered at Charlton Manor Primary that has proved highly engaging and motivating for pupils.

The book aims to support other schools who wish to follow this ethos themselves. It outlines what can be done in class and the school to develop positive food culture, how to take food education beyond the classroom, effective parental engagement and how Charlton Manor and The Food Teacher can support you.


 “Head Teacher Tim Baker, The Food Teacher, Katharine Tate, Marie Reynolds, his staff, and the pupils have created a brilliant book here. Schools and local authorities need all the help they can get, and this book contains brilliant ideas for lesson plans that bring food into every part of the curriculum.” Jamie Oliver, MBE

“The impact of these changes at Charlton Manor has been significant particularly around pupil engagement and enthusiasm for learning within a purposeful, hands on theme – food.” Tim Baker, Head Teacher at Charlton Manor Primary School.

Katharine is delighted to have won a special award in the Gourmand, which is often described as the ‘Oscars of the Food Awards’.  “For our book to have won from over 26,000 food and wine books produced each year is a huge achievement. As the Food Teacher I encourage children and families to think about what they eat and to embrace a healthy lifestyle.  When writing Now We’re Cooking we set out to use our expertise to support schools to put food at the top of their agendas. The impact of developing school food culture can have wide reaching benefits included greater engagement, improved long-term health and community inclusion. To get this level of recognition for this book is an amazing achievement.”

Huge agricultural book sale in London yields £1.6 million for the Lawes Agricultural Trust.

(Auctioned on July 10/11 by Forum Auctions)

The books were a private collection which was owned by the Lawes Agricultural Trust, which is the landowner of the Rothamsted estate. They comprised items which were mainly acquired using Trust funds during the 1920s and 1930s by Sir John Russell (an Institute Director at the time) to provide a resource for his personal study of the development of European agriculture, and were not intended to support the day to day work of the Rothamsted Experimental Station. With c 3,000 books this was one of the finest collections of agricultural books ever assembled.

The collection contained a variety of antique books and manuscripts from the 15th to 19th century (many duplicated a number of times) on areas such as estate management, agriculture, gardening and veterinary science.

The key reasons for selling these assets are that they were very rarely consulted or used and have been an insurance risk for the Trust for some time - as a result the Trustees considered that it was better to realise the cash which was tied up in these assets so that it can be used to support the charitable Trust's* ongoing needs.

The 800+ lots included an early 14th century manuscript presenting the almost complete text of Walter of Henley’s ‘Husbandry’ in the form of a sermon from father to son. It made £40,000. Cato’s 1598 ‘De Agricultura’ (illustrated) sold for £20,000. A woodcut from the first illustrated edition of Pietro Crescenzi’s ‘Ruralia Commoda’  printed c. 1490-95 sold for £36,000. ‘The Assise of Breade, what it ought to Weygh, after the price of a Quarter of Wheat..’ dated 1580 (illustrated) sold for £15,000. Bee books sold well inc a dust soiled 1634 ‘The Ordering of Bees’ by John Levett made £4,800 and the writings of Jethro Tull in the form of his 1731 ‘The New Horse-Houghing, Husbandry: or an Essay on the Principles of Tillage and Vegetation sold at £8.500.

*The Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT), established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research's national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.

Background information courtesy Antiques Trade Gazette

Above. ‘The Assise of Breade,

Above Cato’s 1598 ‘De Agricultura’

Above Pietro Crescenzi’s ‘Ruralia Commoda’

SEPT. READ a review of John Cooper’s (centre- with the manager -right and staff at Harpenden Books) new book. ‘HARPENDEN HISTORY TOUR’.

Oct 2019. A Report from Harpenden’s Food Teacher - Katharine Tate

One of the YOUNG CHEFS OF THE YEAR awards for 2019 goes to Lauren, a 5th class student from St Patrick’s GNS and Robert and Craig, both 6th class students, at Our Lady of Lourdes, Limerick.

The Young Chef of the Year Award focuses on celebrating food education in the classroom and giving children hands-on practical experience alongside the message that what you eat is closely linked to your health and wellbeing. The concept is the invention of Harpenden’s Katherine Tate, the Award-Winning Founder and Director of The Food Teacher™

The award is for Year 5 and/or pupils (ages 9-11) and is a 6-week challenge with pupil’s designing and creating a ‘Meal for their Hero’. The meal includes a soup, main course, dessert and drink within a £10 budget. Children learn chef skills, seasonality, cooking methods, food hygiene and safety, where food comes from and the importance of food for health.

In April 2017 The Food Teacher™, was commissioned to create an innovative and engaging award for 10 and 11 year olds in Fleetwood, Lancashire. This was a project sponsored and supported by NHS funding, local and national sponsors.  450+ pupils took part and following its great success the award is now being made available to all schools across the UK and Ireland with over 4,000 pupils set to complete the award this year.

Schools in Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Luton, Greenwich and Ireland have already delivered the awards in their schools or are about to complete the award this term. Wood End School and Harpenden Academy being the locally involved schools.  When schools sign up they receive full website access to the resources and printed pupil workbooks, certificates, copies of the award winning books ‘No Kitchen Cookery for Primary Schools’ and ‘Now We’re Cooking! Delivering the National Curriculum through Food’ and equipment packs (at additional costs).

Funding and support from sponsors including the JP McManus Charitable Foundation, The Savoy Educational Trust, Dairy Link Ltd, The Rotary Club (St. Albans, Welwyn and Hatfield) and The Restaurant Group have all supported national roll out.

“All our pupils need to learn that eating the right food can bring about major health benefits both physically and mentally. The Young Chef of the Year Award provides an exciting context for this learning and Herts for Learning are happy to recommend it to schools.”

Karin Hutchinson, Lead Wellbeing Adviser, Herts for Learning Ltd


“The council is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of children and young people, so we fully support the Young Chef of the Year Award. We know that eating the right food can bring about major health benefits both physically and mentally and this award is a fantastic way of encouraging children to eat healthier foods and ultimately adopt healthier lifestyles.”

Amanda Lewis, Corporate Director for People, Luton Council-“

“Teaching children the importance of food for their health is essential and this award provides that opportunity within a purposeful and engaging context. The lifelong impact of food and nutrition education on life long health should never be underestimated.”

Katharine Tate, The Food Teacher™

Olympic insight into the

stadia where dreams became reality.

The postponement of this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games has

ended the dreams of thousands of participating athletes and

millions of sports enthusiasts who would have been glued to

their TV screens and phones during late July and early August.

How can such a loss be mitigated, well in my book (excuse the

pun) something related to Olympian history would go a long

way to overcoming the loss by providing 17 days worth of

informative and exciting reading. And supplying a forum of

knowledge about Olympic stadia.

It’s all in a new book entitled ‘OLYMPIC STADIA THEATRES OF DREAMS’

written by St Albans architect Geraint John in conjunction with journalist Dave Parker.

It starts with the first stadium in Athens 1896 followed by every successive one right up to Tokyo 2020. They consider all aspects of the design concepts from the impact on host cities, the demands of the world’s media and the incorporation of the Paralympic Games.

Key developments over the years include running track changes, introduction of lighting, spectator viewing standards and comfort, and laterly the provision of roofs.

Two important contributions made by Britain to the creation of the modern Olympics are featured. The first being the Wenlock Olympian Games, begun in 1850 by Dr William Penny Brookes for the promotion of the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Wenlock and especially of the working classes, by the encouragement of outdoor recreation, and by the award of prizes annually at public meetings for skill in athletic exercise and proficiency in intellectual and industrial attainments. The first meeting was held at Much Wenlock racecourse on 22–23 October 1850. It was a mixture of athletics and traditional country sports such as quoits, football and cricket. These Games were visited by Baron de Coubertin in October 1890 which was arranged in his honour. He was so impressed it inspired his dream of an Olympic rival on an international scale. It bore fruition with revived International Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens. Both Sir Ludwig Guttmann and Dr Penny Brookes are virtually unknown to the British public , and yet they are hugely important to the Olympic Movement.

The second being the contribution made by Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a leading neuro surgeon who had left Nazi Germany to work at Stoke Mandeville Hospital near Aylesbury. He realised the value of sport and exercise to disabled people. In 1948, the year of the London Olympics he initiated the competitions which led to the creation and development of the Paralympics. He is know internationally as the ‘Father of the Paralympics’.

Geraint John Dip. Arch. (UCLA) RIBA, Companion CIMPSA, FRSA is more than qualified as the author having co-written a design guide for stadia and curated two exhibitions on stadia at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. He was awarded the Baron de Coubertin Medal by the IOC for his work for the Olympic Movement. Additionally he was head of the GB Sports Council’s Technical Unit for Sport. He is also a senior advisor to Populous,a global architectural design firm specializing in creating environments & venues that draw communities and people together. They were involved with the design of stadiums for London2012 and all the temporary buildings. Their recent project is Tottenham Hotspurs New Stadium .

Dave Parker B.Sc., FICE (above) was a practicing civil engineer for more than 25 years before becoming technical editor of New Civil Engineer Magazine, a post he occupied for 14 years. He is now a journalist

The Book, published in Nov 2019, was officially launched at the Royal Institute of British Architects, with Lord Sebastian Coe and a local launch at Books on the Hill in St Albans in late February.  With many shops still closed you can either wait a few more weeks until all book shops are open again or order on line from Amazon or

Reviewed by Ron Taylor. Editor

Geraint John (left)

London2012 stadium

Dave Parker (right)

London2012 Stadium

Live Theatre in Harpenden a big success at Katherine Warington School in September.

High Street Players production of A Doll's House met with appreciative audiences who really enjoying seeing live theatre.  Katherine Warington School hall proved to be an ideal venue, the School were very helpful and those attending were keen to take the opportunity to see the school facilities.  

The four performances were full almost to capacity, given the need to socially distance the chairs.  And the play itself was excellent with a talented cast really mastering the powerplay and relationship of husband and wife, Torvald and Nora.

Comments received included...

"Brilliant performance everyone. Thank you"

"We really enjoyed the play and want to say thanks to all concerned for putting on a real play!"

"The acting was superb, and the direction extremely skilful and imaginative"

"Congratulations on an excellent production and for making us all feel safe visiting live theatre again after such a long absence."

"it was excellent, hall well-spaced out, very well organised"

The Players are now considering what they might stage next.  To keep in touch go to

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1. Click and collect from Serena Hart

2. From Amazon. (all royalties donated to Keech)

3. Direct from his home, call 01582 713128 to arrange collection. Make your cheque for £8 payable to M.C. Weaver

Something to set your pulses racing

and it’s not Covid.  

Its the new novel

‘EVIL IMPULSE’ from Leigh Russell.

I have been a fan of Leigh Russell for many years,

having interviewed her for Harpendia’s Winter edition

2011 at a book launch in Watford’s intu shopping

Centre. In a key aspect of the interview Leigh said

“I’m passionate about the survival of bookshops and

spend a lot of time in different branches of the major

chains, and in libraries, talking to readers. I wish more authors would support bookshops and libraries in this way. But there is a more serious concern which is not how books will be delivered in future, but whether people will continue reading on a significant scale, with all the other forms of entertainment on offer.”

That worry has not materialised and book sales have continued to flourish.

(“A Surprisingly Strong Year of Book Sales Continues. Unit sales of print books were up 6.4% in the first nine months of 2020”. as reported in Publishers Weekly Oct 2020.)

And now in early 2021 I asked Leigh about her thoughts about living through the Covid threat.

‘Apart from writers of dystopian novels, I doubt many people gave much thought to the possibility of living through a pandemic before Covid19 struck. Yet here we are.

Considering the multitude of books published in 2020, more people than ever before seem to be writing during lockdown. Agents and publishers have received a tsunami of submissions, and self-published books have proliferated.

With two dozen of my books published over the past twelve years, and another three to be published in 2021, my writing life has been busy for a while. So I can’t claim my output has increased during lockdown, but I have had more time to read.

So far, I have made a deliberate choice to completely ignore the 21st century pandemic in my Geraldine Steel novels. For me, fiction is an escape from reality, an escape which is more welcome than ever at the moment.”

EVIL IMPULSE features Detective Geraldine Steel fighting for her life after being abducted by a drugs syndicate who have been threatening her sister, whilst a psychopath starts killing random women on the streets of York.

Available from all good book stores and on line.

Leigh Russell is one of Harpenden’s No Exit publishers star authors.

Below. Leigh and the full range of novels featuring Detective Geraldine Steel

Left.Leigh Russell awarding prize to John Ward, winner of Watford Writers short story competition. Right. Book signing at WH Smith in Watford.

There's a new literature course being run (online) every Thursday, 2-4pm, from 22nd April. It's entitled "The Bloomsbury Group", and looks at writings by members of this group, which existed in the first half of last century. The cost is £60 (for 10 weeks). As it's an online course, you will need a PC or laptop together with a good internet connection. Details (including how to apply) are given at