Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 (V8 twin-turbo) 2016 car

Team Parker Racing were testing their Bentley Continental GT3 (V8 twin-turbo) 2016 car at Snetterton today, and what an awesome bit of kit it is.

Here are some close-up photographs.


Ricky Collard getting ready for the 2016 Formula 4 season

My son and I went to Snetterton today for the Formula 4 and GT cars pre-season testing today and bumped into Ricky Collard as he was getting ready to go to track for a Formula 4 media parade. Ricky kindly invited my son over to have a photo taken. It’s great when drivers encourage kids to get into the sport. Needless to say my son was over the moon. It’s these moments that young people remember for life and I was proud that he enjoyed it so much.

Thanks, Ricky, and best of luck for the 2016 season.

Essex and Herts Air Ambulance takes off from Blackheath, Colchester (HD)

Following on from my previous post about a spectacular helicopter crash in New Zealand, I was reminded of some HD footage I captured of the Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance when in landed in a play park a few meters from my house a couple of years ago at Blackheath, Colchester.

Having a chat with the piolet prior to take-off, he promised a perfect pirouette when he left – and he did just that.

Notice that the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance helicopter as no tail rotor like conventional helicopters. Instead, this design known as NOTAR uses a high-powered fan to force air over the tail creating stability and thrust. Very cool…

Watch the full video here

Police Refusing to Give Third Party Details After an Accident? Don’t let them.

We have begun to notice an increasing trend with various police forces across the UK, in particular the Met Police, when attending Road Traffic Collisions. The Police refusing to give third party details after an accident; but they shouldn’t be.

Lately, the police are taking reports from all drivers involved in the collision (and witnesses) and then telling those involved to tell their insurers to contact the police and quote an incident number. Customers of insurers – perhaps still in shock or confused as they have never had an accident before – leave the scene with no third party details. In some cases we have seen the police are failing to provide drivers with the minimal information required to make a claim (i.e. third party vehicle registration) which can cause a real headache when it comes to making a motor claim. The Police know this, which is why they’ll try and charge you for the third party details.

Police refusing to provide third party details
Some PC plods don’t understand the law themselves. You are entitled to 3rd party details by law – the police must also abide by that law.

In most cases where you hold fully comprehensive insurance this isn’t a huge problem unless you need a replacement hire vehicle. Most credit hire companies will require the details of the third party before they will hire to you and without the third party details you won’t get a hire car. The problem then starts when you call the police to obtain the details, at which point they tell you there will be a charge (around £85) for the police to release them. Not only is there a charge but also you have to apply in writing and it can take weeks – sometimes months – for them to arrive.

This is an even bigger headache if you only hold third party cover as your insurer is unlikely to request the information at all.


What to do if the Police are refusing to give third party details after an accident

What the police don’t tell you is that you are legally entitled to the information completely free of charge by simply requesting them under Section 154 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Section 154(b) of the Act states:

(1)A person against whom a claim is made in respect of any such liability as is required to be covered by a policy of insurance under section 145 of this Act must, on demand by or on behalf of the person making the claim—

(b)if he was or would have been so insured, or had or would have had in force such a security—

(i)give such particulars with respect to that policy or security as were specified in any certificate of insurance or security delivered in respect of that policy or security, as the case may be, under section 147 of this Act, or

(ii)where no such certificate was delivered under that section, give the following particulars, that is to say, the registration mark or other identifying particulars of the vehicle concerned, the number or other identifying particulars of the insurance policy issued in respect of the vehicle, the name of the insurer and the period of the insurance cover.

It goes without saying but if you are involved in a collision make sure you get the third party details and, at a minimum, the vehicle registration and regardless of what the police say to you. It will cause you fewer problems progressing your claim and save a potential headache. You’d be surprised at the number of customers we have who “forget”.

So, if Police refusing to give third party details after an accident is becoming a problem, put your foot down and remind them of your rights. If they still refuse you should complain.

Interview with Jonathan Woodrow, author of ‘Wasteland Gods’

Wasteland Gods is the long awaited novel by British-Canadian author Jonathan Woodrow. Jonathan, who moved from England with his wife to Toronto Ontario in 2007 and began writing, is a father of three and family man with a passion for writing dark stories. Wasteland Gods will be his first major novel and will be published by Horrific Tales Publishing.

The story is centered around Billy Kingston, an alcoholic who is consumed with thoughts of revenge after the brutal murder of his son is broadcast on the internet. Billy moves to a remote town – Benton Lake – to escape his current situation and escape the clutches of a divine being, Dr Verity. But little does Billy know that Verity has plans for him and plans he can’t escape.

I was lucky enough to be invited to interview the inspiring author ahead of the release of Wasteland Gods. Here’s a transcript:


What inspired you to start writing?

Writing stories is something I’ve always done, to a certain degree. I recall putting together a short Dracula story when I was about seven or eight years old and trying to sell it to my parents. I designed a cool cover and everything. Then later on, at college, I wrote a couple of scripts that never went anywhere, of course. It’s really only been during the last ten years or so I’ve started to take fiction-writing more seriously. I kept it largely to myself at first, at least until I started receiving those acceptances, and now I have a novel coming out in a little over a month, which is overwhelming.

In answer to your question, though, I don’t really know what inspired me at first. There must have been something. I’ve always loved movies, books, opera, and theatre—anything that tells a good story. I can tell you what inspires me now, and continues to do so, and that is my love of the process. Every part of this job excites me. From the initial development stage, to getting to know my characters, to ploughing through that first draft, then tearing it apart again for the second and third.

In the case of Wasteland Gods, the structural editor gave a brutal analysis of sections of the book that had to go—entire plotlines and characters. All things that I had failed to see were dragging the story down. Hearing that at first was hard (they don’t call it killing your darlings for nothing) but after making the cuts I stood back and for the first time was able to see a lean, streamlined story that flowed at a good, steady pace. The whole thing was liberating, and the book wouldn’t be what it is now had it not been for her.


Which authors would you say most influence your work and why?

I grew up with horror. From an incredibly early age I would scour the TV guide and set the VCR to record anything with a title that even remotely suggested horror. Of course my parents would regulate this a little, but without total prohibition. What I ended up with was pretty much the entire Hammer Horror Collection. Films about Dracula, Werewolves, Witches, and all kinds of other monsters. They may seem dated now but at the time they were most terrifying movies I’d ever seen.

The authors who have influenced me the most haven’t always been horror writers. I read a lot of Clive Barker and Stephen King when I was much younger and I suppose the two of them have influenced me the most. I read a wide variety of books in all different genres and I probably take away a little something from all of them. My two favourite genres would be horror and mystery/thriller, and you can probably find elements from both in Wasteland Gods.


You’re married and have three children. How do you find the time to write as well?

Two answers there: With great difficulty; and because I have an amazing, supportive wife. Seriously though, I’ve found that you can always make time for something if you’re serious enough about doing it. Even if it’s just an hour or two a day. I finished my first draft of Wasteland Gods around November 2012. I had been trying to develop it for some time without much success, and I eventually just sat down one day and started writing it.

In the industry they say there are two ways a writer can write: pantsing or plotting. Some folks can sit down and outline and entire novel, scene-by-scene, then write it. And their finished product will hardly deviate from that original plan at all. They’re called plotters. Others, like me, can’t do that. Their muse doesn’t make an appearance until they’re actually writing something. So they sit down, start writing, and hope that they’re going in the right direction. Flying by the seat of their pants, so to speak. They’re called pantsers.

I found that when I sat down and started writing, I was able to hit a couple thousand words a day and was finished with the first draft in a little over two months. Plot ideas and future scenes came to me as I was working. Of course, I then tore it to shreds in the editing/redrafting process but at least I had something to work with.

What do you have planned next for your career in writing? Have you started another novel yet?

I’m working on a few different projects at the moment. A couple of novels still in the early development stages and one I’m actively working on right now. I’m hesitant to divulge any details (mostly because it could change quite drastically before I’m finished), but needless to say, it’ll be dark.

Wasteland Gods is available now to pre-order now on Kindle Edition.

James Stanley Hicks (‘Stan’)

James Stanley Hicks (‘Stan’) was born in North Birmingham in August 1924.

Sgt. James Stanley Hicks served in the British Army Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and was a prisoner of war sometime between 1939-1945 in Stalag IV-A. He was a Private at the time. He was wounded in battle (shot in the upper arm) and was told he would need the arm amputated, but it was saved. When he returned from the POW camp he was very thin and could barely eat for weeks. He hated the smell of oranges due to a battle in an orange grove in North Africa where people lay dying around him.

He would also tell me the story of the first German soilder that he shot – a young man around 18 years old – who grasped a photo of his mother as he died in my Grandfathers arms mumbling “mutter, mutter”. He would later be awarded the Africa Star for his service.

Stanley would spend the rest of his life living in Colchester, Essex. He had various jobs, including one as a sales rep for Schweppes. He was also a staunch local Labour party member and works convener. Stand died late 2004 at Colchester General Hospital after a short battle with pneumonia.

Nurse Muriel May Jackson: The Forgotten Hero of Severalls

A number of buildings were damaged in the WW2 air raid of Colchester, August 1942.
A number of buildings were damaged in the WW2 air raid of Colchester, August 1942.

On 11th August 1942, the Luftwaffe dropped three 500lb bombs on Colchester. One of those bombs hit the West wing of Severalls and damaged a number of buildings including a ward, nurses accommodation and the laundry. 21 year old nurse Muriel May Jackson, armed with just a small torch, removed debris midst the chaos and immediately began to tend to the injured. She would later guide doctors safely through the debris so that they could attend to the wounded.

Nurse Muriel May Jackson was commended for her brave conduct in the early hours of that fateful morning.

Brave Nurse Jackson would later be recommended for brave conduct in Civil Defence, as noted in the London Gazette on 20th November 1942.

Nurse Muriel May Jackson was commended for her bravery during the bombing of Severalls
Nurse Muriel May Jackson was commended for her bravery during the bombing of Severalls

German air-raid killed 38 patients at Severalls Hospital in 1942

On 11th August 1942 a German air raid (which Berlin would later confirm to have targeted at Colchester and Hastings) destroyed part of the West side of Severalls Hospital. 38 patients were killed, mainly women. There were a total of 63 casualties, two of which were nurses.

28 of those killed by the four 500lb bombs dropped by the the Luftwaffe were buried at Colchester Cemetery. They were either patients classed as “infirm or senile” or local people.

In January 2016 I visited the graves of those killed in the air raid of August 1942 in an attempt to document the names of as many as I could. The dead are buried at Colchester Cemetery on Mersea Road. Most of the gravestones are now in very poor condition and therefore very difficult to read. However, I photographed each one in an attempt to document all of the victims for histories sake.

Anyone who may like to visit the graves of those who died during the air raid on Severalls Hospital can find the exact location of the gravestones here. It’s a shame to see the gravestones in such a poor state of repair.

Severalls Hospital Timeline

I have put together this Severalls Hospital Timeline to give an idea of important dates in the hospital’s history and also how changes in law and society influenced what occurred at the hospital. Much of the information come from my own research and, more recently, thanks to a document provided to me by Hugh Doherty.

The Severalls Hospital timeline is packed full of information, from it’s initial plan for construction in 1845 until demolition in 2016. This timeline (which is ever expanding) provides a history of key events.



It becomes compulsory for justices of the peace to build county ‘lunatic asylums’ due to the Lunacy Act 1845 championed by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury.



The 1980 Lunacy Act gives asylums a wider role, and patients “with means” begin to be admitted.



300 acres in North Colchester purchased by Essex County Council with plans to build a mental asylum at a cost of £10,000.



Work commences on the building of the first part of Severalls.


June 2010

Sir Thomas Barrett Lennard lays the foundation stone of the new asylum.



The Mental Deficiency Act is introduced. Essex County Asylum Severalls Hospital opens. It is the second such asylum for the county of Essex.



122 beds are now in position in Main Building and there is now accommodation for 564 men and 672 women. However, concerns are raised about a lack of female staff being available to service the patients.



A problem with rats, reported the year before, has become a menace in some of the wards in the asylum. There are reports of them “causing considerable destruction of women’s clothing”.



The Ministry of Health is created.



Dr Alexander Duncan joins Severalls Hospital. His initial role is unclear but he would later become Physician Superintendent at Severalls.



Severalls Asylum now renamed ‘Severalls Hospital’.



There are now 1922 patients at Severalls. The hospital has become a community in it’s own right.



Insulin coma therapy was first used to attempt to treat patients suffering with schizophrenia.


August 1942

A German air raid blows up part of Severalls, killing 38 patients. Most were women.



A BOC report observes that “A rather high proportion of women were in bed… owing either to their mental state or senility. This is due… to the severe shortage ofstaff. Other consequences ofthis shortage are a rather high seclusion rate, and a high consumption of sedatives (paraldehyde) on the female side.”



Windows are fitted to the corridors connecting wards. A total of 234 would eventually be constructed.



Physician Superintendent Dr Alexander Duncan retires from his roll after 34 years at Severalls Asylum.



Dr Russell Barton joins Severalls Hospital in the roll of Physician Superintendent. Years before becoming a psychiatrist Barton gave evidence in reports of the Holocaust and visited Belsen concentration camp on May 2, 1945.



34 year old Rose Vera Baker appears before magistrates charged with strangling another patient, Martha McGee, because was “annoyed with her singing”. She was detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure.


April 1962

The final bomb damaged building at Severalls. remaining from WW2, was cleared away.


June 1962

A £90,000 laundry facility opens at Severalls to provide services for the hospital and nearby local Colchester hospitals. At the time of writing (2016), allowing for inflation, the laundry facility would cost £1.7million in today’s money.


February 1963

Severalls Hospital opens it’s operating theatre and wards for general patients and routine operations such as appendectomy.


October 1963

Dr Richard Fox of West Mersea – a consultant psychiatrist at Severalls Hospital, warns the Royal Institute of Public Health that society would have to “prepare people for marriage at an earlier age”.


June 1966

Severalls Hospital was chosen as the site for the first emergency helicopter (air ambulance) landing pad in Colchester. The role of Severalls has begun to change from asylum to general hospital.


September 1966

Communal Wards are trialed as an experiment for “…day rooms, dining rooms and social activities…”. Dormitories would remain single sex, as would some areas for patients requiring more serious care.


June 1968

Dr Richard Fox announces that there are empty beds are Severalls as less need is required for the Asylum, presumably caused by a better understanding of mental health and changes in society’s acceptance of people suffering with mental health issues.

In the same year, Dr Fox announces that a new ward is needed for “chronic drifters”. A chronic drifter was someone who could no longer take asylum from stresses in a lifetime of hospitalisation and drifted from one place to another, or from one living situation to another.



Dr Russell Barton leaves Severalls Hospital after is role Physician Superintendent is would up.



Stories begin to emerge from former staff and history books of Severalls gruesome past. Many people are shocked to discover some of the evil acts which have occurred at Severalls. In June 1972 an exhibition of equipment used at the hospital would be held.

In the same year, stories are also published in newspapers pointing to a “beleaguered health service”. Some things never change!


March 1973

A former Physician Superintendent, Dr Alexander Duncan passes away. He retired from the role in 1959.


October 1973

The final steps are taking to provide central heating to every ward of Severalls.

Dr Richard Fox takes over as Chair of the phychiatrist division of Severals and Colchester district.


February 1974

A female patient is in court charged with deliberately starting a fire in a bedroom in Myland Court East ward at Severalls. The court was held in secret. 31 year old Anne McEwan was given an 8 week custodial sentence for the crime.



Dangerous levels of asbestos are found in areas of the hospital. Hardly surprising as the hospital was originally constructed around a time when asbestos was being used in all manner of materials.



Two nurses announce plans to commence a hospital radio for Severalls.



Severalls closes permanently in March 1997 and demolition of many building commences almost immediately.


September 2016

The final stage of demolition commenced at Severalls to make way for thousands of new homes

Warning: avoid / Bosi Tools UK Ltd / Ebay seller ‘Tradezone-UK’

I recently purchased an action camera for my 10 year old son from Ebay seller ‘Tradezone-UK’. It was a generic make, described as ‘1080P WIFI 12MP SJ4000 Waterproof Sports Camera HD’.

On Christmas Day he plugged in the charger to charge the camera for first use. The plug exploded in his hand as he plugged it in. Thankfully the trip to our house is modern and tripped very quickly. Sadly it not only burned the extension cable it was plugged into but also his hand.

On closer inspection it appeared that the adapter may not have has a genuine CE mark. So I write the company an email:

Unit 2 30 Thames Road
Barking , Essex
IG11 0HZ UKHello,

I attach photographs of the power supply for an action camera purchased from you for our 10 year old son.

On Christmas Day he plugged in the charger to charge the camera for first use. The plug exploded in his hand as he plugged it in. Thankfully the trip to our house is modern and tripped very quickly. Sadly it not only burned the extension cable it was plugged into but also his hand.

I’m very concerned that this happened. There is clearly someone seriously wrong with the power supply for this to have occurred. The plug shows that it has a CE mark. Is this genuine?

I await your comments – including how to intend to compensate us for the damaged power supply, USB lead and plug socket.


We didn’t get a response. So we opened a request via Ebay only to receive this response:


Thank you for your email, we4 are sorry for any inconvenience.

We are seller only , we are not a manufacturer so , we will take strict action over it.

If you want , then we are happy to send you new adapter.

Waiting for your response.

Thanks & Regards
Miley (Customer Support)
020 80 997154
Working Hours: 8:00 Am to 5:00Pm Monday to Saturday.

Actually, they are wrong. Under Consumer Rights laws the contract is between me and them, not be and the manufacturer. So I replied:

I have spoken with Citizens Advice today. You are the seller and my contract is with you, NOT the manufacturer.

You are also responsible for any claims for consequential loss as a result of the faulty goods i.e. the damage to the extension lead.

I therefore await your response.

Still waiting to hear!