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Essex Chronicle stories feed from registered users of the site and Northcliffe Media editorial

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    ESSEX gave their chances of promotion from County Championship Division Two a boost as they beat Kent by nine wickets.

    They started the day at the Essex Cricket Ground needing just 22 runs to secure victory after being given the extra half hour last night (Wednesday) to bowl Kent out for 151.

    Essex lost Nick Browne, out lbw for five to Matt Hunn, but Tom Westley (8no) and Jaik Micklebrugh (4no) eased the home side to victory.

    Essex secured 22 points from the win and sit third in the table, 22 points behind Hampshire, who occupy the last promotion spot, with two games to play.

    Essex boost promotion hopes with victory over Kent


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    JUNIOR farmers dug up, picked, washed, cooked and dished-up their own produce at a nursery's annual Pea and Potato Café this summer.

    Children at Woodcroft Nursery School in Dorset Avenue, Great Baddow, spent the day scooping up and then serving the tasty treats last month. The bubbly youngsters were given a helping hand by Julie Payne, who runs a weekly gardening club.

    "We believe in teaching the children where their food comes from and what better way than growing it themselves," said head teacher Helen Roberts.

    "We also have healthy school status and believe that teaching children from as young as two can help children to make healthy choices later in life.

    "Children learn best in an outdoor environment that stimulates both mind and body."

    Deputy head teacher Jacqui Shadrake also assured parents the kids washed up afterwards too.

    For more information on the school, which also houses its own resident chickens, visit www.woodcroft-nur.essex.sch.uk, call 01245 473222 or email admin@woodcroft-nur.essex.sch.uk.

    Woodcroft Nursery pupils dine on homegrown grub at their pea and potato cafe


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    The Marconi sailing club caught some spectacular aerial shots of the River Blackwater, Osea Island and young sailors in action.

    The club, on the banks of the River Blackwater, held a cadet week in August in which 78 cadets of all ages enjoyed a week of sailing at the club's headquarters, on Stansgate Road, Steeple.

    And whilst budding sailors were practicing their skills a drone equipped with a HD camera hovered overhead to catch the breathtaking footage.

    The club will host a bumper weekend on September 20 – 21 with the Dart 16 Under 16 catamaran championships and the National Dart 16 Championships.

    During that weekend the club will also take part in "Bart's Bash" in memory of Andrew "Bart" Simpson, who died whilst sailing in the US in 2013, in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest sailing race in the world.

    Many clubs are taking part and there will be boats of all shapes and sizes coming together on the Blackwater.

    And for Marconi sailing club visit http://www.marconi-sc.org.uk/

    Take a look here for more info http://www.bartsbash.co.uk/the-event

    ​Drone cam catches breathtaking views from above the River Blackwater


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    There's just over one month to go until runners race through Chelmsford's parks for the city's inaugural marathon.

    Whether you've signed up to take part, or if you're simply planning to line the route, you may need a reminder of those all-important facts ahead of the event, organised to raise money for the J's Hospice.

    Here we bring you 10 facts about the 26.2-mile contest, happening on October 19, which you may not have known already...

    1. The marathon route takes in the sites from five parks, Bell Meadow, Sky Blue Pasture, Central Park, Admirals Park and Hylands Park

    2. Runners will pass by the same sites four times over, for participants must run from the city centre, to Hylands House and back – twice over

    3. Organisers have confirmed there will be a second marathon in 2015

    4. More than 1,700 people have signed up, closing in on the 2,000 capacity cap

    5.The race costs £28 to enter

    6. The race is raising money for and supported by Great Baddow-based charity The J's Hospice, as well as their patron Lloyd Scott – famous for running the London Marathon in a deep sea divers' outfit

    7. Only one road will be closed during the entire event – Bridge Street, in Writtle, where runners will cross the road for the only time on the course

    8. Chelmsford dad Antony Goodall has been considering running the race while pushing his two daughters in a buggy, as he does at the city's parkrun most Saturday mornings

    9. Veteran runner John Hoskyn, 61, of Springfield, will have run more than 500 races by the time he completes the Chelmsford marathon.

    10. Just under 50 per cent of readers taking part in an Essex Chronicle poll wanted to see runners sprint down the High Street at a future Chelmsford marathon. Thirty nine opted for a route taking in the sites of Galleywood and Great Baddow as well as the city centre.

    Chelmsford Parks Marathon 2014: 10 things to know with one month to go


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    EA Sports has released a new trailer ahead of FIFA 15 showing some stand out additions to its celebrations list, in which gamers can imitate the unique and ironic moves perfected by some of the Premier League's biggest stars.

    The demo for the game was finally released on PC on September 9 to the delight of eager gamers and there are also some other treats in store.

    Samuel Eto'o's 'old man' dance, and Luis Suarez's kiss of the wrist imitation will also feature, as will Liverpool striker Fabio Borini's hand bite.

    Ratings released this week show how Lionel Messi edged ahead of Christiano Ronaldo to be rated the highest rated player on the game 

    Wayne Rooney was the only English player to make it.

    The full game is out on September 26

    FIFA 15: New EA Sports tutorial shows celebrations of former Chelsea and Liverpool stars


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    Keep your eyes open tonight for some colourful sights, with the Northern Lights predicted to illuminate the skies above the UK.

    The aurora borealis is caused when magnetically charged particles are headed in the direction of Earth after two large explosions from the Sun yesterday (September 10) causing a so-called coronal mass ejection (CME).

    These can produce dazzling patterns of green, pink, red, blue and yellow light in the sky as the gas particles collide.

    Stargazers should get their cameras out at around 12am on September 12 or 13, clear skies permitting, to get the best chance of seeing the lights.

    The current prediction is for the lights to be seen over the north of England, however experts believe the display could be seen as far south as the the '50th parallel' which is the circle of latitude around the world that cuts across the English Channel.

    It comes in the same week as nightwatchers were treated to the supermoon.

    If you get lucky, post your pictures to our Facebook page or tweet us @Essex_Chronicle

    What time can I see the Northern Lights tonight?


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    AN OLYMPIC swimmer officially opened Witham's new leisure centre at the weekend.

    Kate Haywood, who is also a three-time Commonwealth Games medallist, ran training sessions with the town's top swimmers at the Bridge Street facility on Saturday.

    Braintree District Council Councillor Jo Beavis, cabinet member for people and participation, said: "This is an extremely exciting moment for the town and for the district, and one that is immensely fulfilling for everyone who has been involved in the project from start to finish.

    "The Bramston Sports Centre has served the town well but is no longer fit for purpose – the facilities in the Witham Leisure Centre are state-of-the-art and represent a huge leap forward, so we can continue to provide great services in an outstanding new site.

    "Above all, we hope that the new centre becomes an important and much-loved resource for everyone in the community to enjoy and benefit from."

    Swimmers from the Witham Dolphins club got to train with Kate, who was named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2003, and try out the new pools, gym and changing room facilities for free.

    Olympian Kate Haywood makes a splash at new Witham Leisure Centre


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    TWO Witham secondary schools will merge to form one academy for the town.

    New Rickstones Academy and Maltings Academy are run by the same trust – the Academies Enterprise Trust – but the secondary schools operate as separate entities.

    Both academies' sixth forms are currently run jointly, but from September 2016 the entire school will follow suit.

    The scheme will be completed in phases, beginning with a consultation period where parents, staff, children and members of the community will get the chance to give their opinions on the move.

    Head teacher at New Rickstones, Trenica King, said: "We're all on board with this and think it is the best thing for Witham's children and parents.

    "It's going to be difficult because there are emotions involved but we're standing shoulder to shoulder on this."

    Phase one will start in September next year, when Year 7 pupils at both schools will relocate to one site.

    Phase two, the following September, will see the official amalgamation.

    Years 7, 8 and 9 will be located on one site with Years 10, 11 and the sixth form on the other site.

    Current Year 10 and 11 pupils will not be affected by the changes.

    Exactly which site will be home to which year groups has not yet been decided.

    "This is a great opportunity to pool our resources," said John Szynal, head of Maltings Academy.

    "It will save the best bits of both schools, everything that students love about each school will still be there.

    "The money saved will go back into helping develop the curriculum and enhance and enrich the experiences of children. This could include more than one language course available as well as the English Baccalaureate."

    Both schools got academy status in 2008 when the John Bramston School became Maltings Academy and Rickstones School changed to become New Rickstones Academy.

    In September 2011, Maltings moved into a new building next to the old Bramston site while in February 2012 New Rickstones moved to their new premises, but still on the Conrad Road site.

    Stephen Chamberlain, regional director of Academies Enterprise Trust, said: "It makes sense to have one school for the town, we will be able to run a wider curriculum, with more choice and more efficient use of resources.

    "We think it will be a positive move for the young people of Witham.

    "Both schools have a good relationship with employers and community groups and this new venture will only help improve those links to benefit everyone."

    Currently both the Witham schools have a joint capacity of 1,100, but once they have amalgamated it is proposed to have 1,200 pupils, plus 400 sixth form students.

    It is anticipated there will be a rise in the population of Witham, with developments across the town, including 850 houses near Lodge Farm in Hatfield Road, Witham, and 250 houses near Western Road in Silver End.

    But there has been an imbalance in the way Witham has grown, with more students now living in the Maltings catchment area, and that school is now oversubscribed.

    Both schools have faced an uphill battle to recruit maths and English teachers.

    Mr Chamberlain continued: "It's a national problem, but we have two fantastic buildings and this single vision, which will mean the academies will be able to attract the best teachers because we'll have greater career opportunities within a larger organisation."

    From 2016 there will be one principal for both schools and a single governing body, name, uniform and badge – all of which will be decided through the consultation.

    The consultation began on Monday and will run until Friday, November 7. Forms can be picked up from either school, or comments and suggestions can be emailed to contactus@maltingsacademy.org or contactus@newrickstonesacademy.org

    New Rickstones Academy and Maltings to merge to form one school


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    A MOTHER set a pizza box alight in the kitchen of her rented home following a dispute with her ex-husband over their children.

    Dental nurse Victoria Crates, 43, from Cross Road, Maldon, pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Friday to arson. The court heard how Crates had been going through a troublesome divorce.

    The fire caused damage to the tiles on the kitchen floor and caused damage to cupboard doors, which were later cleaned and repaired by Crates.

    Gabriella Healey, mitigating, said: "This was an unfortunate incident for my client who was going through some tough times.

    "It was an act of desperation. The firefighters said that this was a very minor incident because the fire was absent of any accelerant."

    Magistrates gave Crates a 12-month community order which will require her to carry out 200 hours' unpaid work.

    She must also pay a £60 victim surcharge and £115 costs.

    Arsonist Victoria Crates burned pizza box in row with ex-husband, Chelmsford Magistrates' Court hears


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    MORTAR boards flying aloft, these graduates celebrated receiving their degrees from TV favourite Alan Titchmarsh in Chelmsford

    The gardener and chat show host was guest of honour at the ceremony, one of three to be held at Chelmsford Cathedral celebrating the achievements of students from Writtle College.

    It was his 14th year of presenting the degree certificates in his role as college patron.

    Receiving special congratulations from Mr Titchmarsh was Jocelyn Rose, who along with her degree certificate, received three awards for her outstanding work during her BSc horticulture course.

    The 24-year old, who is originally from Saffron Walden, said: "I'm ecstatic. It's wonderful to have your achievements recognised in this way.

    "It was a lovely ceremony – a perfect end to an excellent course, with really enthusiastic college lecturers."

    Another prize winner was 22-year-old Megan Garwood, of Chelmsford.

    She said: "I won a £100 worth of books of my choice, which were fun to choose.

    "I loved my BSc in horticulture course and it helped me land a job with a fresh produce company in London.

    "There were 186 applicants for two vacancies and I was lucky to get one of them."

    Another graduate, Robin Perkins, who comes from a farming family based near Finchingfield, is now equipped with his BSc in horticulture to follow his dream career in tree consultancy.

    He said: "I feel very satisfied that I have now achieved my degree after three years of hard work. It's a good day."

    As well as his degree, Robert's time at Writtle saw him meet his girlfriend of more than two years, Tegan Rochfort, 24, who graduated from the same course.

    She said: "We met in the first year and have been together since.

    "I'm staying on at Writtle to do a masters degree and hope to go into heritage landscaping afterwards."

    Another graduate was Roberta Borrelli, 20, from Maldon.

    The former St John Payne School pupil explained: "I took a foundation degree in floristry having no experience at all of the subject, but I loved it.

    "It was a great way to meet lots of new people and now I'm looking for work in the industry."

    More than 320 students received their awards at the three ceremonies, with nearly 240 of these receiving BA or BSc degrees, which are accredited by the University of Essex.

    Chelmsford-based Alex Dowsett, the British professional road racing cyclist, presented the awards at the ceremony on Friday alongside Dr Dominic Micklewright, dean of academic partnerships at the University of Essex.

    Alan Titchmarsh dishes out degrees to Writtle College pupils at Chelmsford Cathedral


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    Rugby fans aiming to go to the 2015 Rugby World Cup will be able to buy tickets from 10am today (September 12). The official website is expecting high levels of traffic this morning as prospective ticket buyers aim to secure their place at next year's tournament. It is NOT a first come first served sale, so people are still able to wait in the queue. People need to create an account first in order to apply for tickets. In addition, no payment will be taken until October, During October, ticket allocators will review all matches and any that are oversubscribed will be balloted to ensure allocation. Tickets are on general sale until 6pm on September 29 - so don;t wait too long!

    How can I buy tickets for the Rugby World Cup 2015?


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    TWO hay fires in Hatfield Peverel last night may have been started deliberately.

    Fire crews from Witham were called to Mowden Hall Lane just before 8pm after two separates hay bales measuring six metres by three metres were alight.

    Initially one fire engine was sent to the scene, but on arrival the incident commander requested a second vehicle for extra water and crew to help tackle the fires.

    Both fires were out by 8.44pm and firefighters remained at the scene for around 15 minutes to make sure all the fire embers were extinguished.

    ECFRS investigators believe the blazes were started deliberately.

    Hay fire in Hatfield Peverel may have been arson


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    Is there a more divisive dog than a Staffordshire Bull Terrier?

    Scroll down to take part in our survey

    Often painted as this decade's answer to the pit bull, Staffies don't often hit the headlines for positive reasons. But one woman in Essex is trying to change that.

    Charly Nathan, 53, who runs AA Dog Rescue in Latchingdon, will this week launch a campaign in conjunction with Battersea Dogs Home to re-brand the breed.

    The campaign, Staffies: softer than you think, is intended to spread awareness about the breed and highlight the more cuddly nature of the dog - which used to be bred to look after children.

    "One in six dogs in the country is a Staffie," Ms Nathan said. "They have been over-bred and as a result around 400 a week are being put down. We want to change people's perception of them.

    "They are absolute cuddle monsters - they just want to sit on your lap and lick you to death. Of all the dog breeds, Staffies are the only one recommended for children by the RSPCA, The Kennel Club, Battersea Dogs Home and the Dogs' Trust."

    Such is the bad reputation of the breed, that Ms Nathan said people often come to the centre stating they want a rescue dog - just not a Staffie.

    "The people who come in saying they won't have one often walk out two or three hours later with a Staffie, saying that they didn't realise what they were actually like," she said.

    "But we also have Staffie owners who say that people cross the street when they seem them coming with their dog, staffies have that look, and people are scared of them, they believe they are killer dangerous dogs, but we need to change that perception."

    The centre wants to make people aware that the breed can be a loving family dog, and will launch its new campaign and open day on Saturday, September 13.

    Bu would you take a Staffie into your home? Take part in our survey below and tell us what you think.

    For more information on the campaign and adopting a dog, visit: www.aadogrescue.org.uk

    Dangerous dog or lovable family pet? AA Dog Rescue and Battersea Dogs Home aim to re-brand the Staffie


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    Tonight's episode of EastEnders will be dedicated to John Bardon after his death at the age of 75. The actor, who played Jim Branning, married to Dot Cotton, in the BBC1 soap, died after a period of ill health. He suffered a stroke. He left the show 2011 after 15 years EastEnders announced the news in a blog post: "It is with great sadness that we report the death of much-loved actor John Bardon, who played Dot's husband, Jim Branning, from 1996 to 2011. "Everyone at EastEnders is absolutely heartbroken to learn that John has sadly passed away. His bravery, dignity and courage in battling against the devastating effects of his stroke were admired by all who had the privilege of working with him. "Loved by us all, John was an exceptionally talented actor whose humour, mischievousness and brilliant performances made Jim Branning one of Walford's most loveable, memorable characters and we will miss John forever. "Our love and deepest sympathies are extended to Enda, his truly wonderful wife, at this very sad time. May he now rest in peace."

    EastEnders actor John Bardon dies aged 75


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    This is the first glimpse of an incredible house designed by controversial Essex artist Grayson Perry

    The property, dubbed "A House for Essex", boasts 2,000 handmade green and white tiles, a bright, copper coloured roof and three large aluminium roof sculptures that are more akin to a Middle eastern temple than a holiday-let in rural Essex.

    Chelmsford-born Grayson Perry, the renowned potter and transvestite, has taken inspiration from "single mums in Dagenham and hairdressers in Colchester", as well as reflecting the unique beauty and history of the county in the dramatic, two-bedroom property, which will be available for holiday rentals next year.

    Built in Wrabness, between Manningtree and Harwich, overlooking the River Stour, the building is part of a project funded by Living Architecture, an organisation which uses world class architects to create special houses for rent around the UK.

    Mr Perry, who has spent time living in Broomfield, Bicknacre and Great Bardfield, teamed up with FAT Architecture, which specialises in different and provocative buildings, including the BBC's production village in Cardiff.

    Known for his unorthodox approach, he has based the house on the life of an imaginary Essex 'everywoman' called Julie.

    "When people come to stay in the house they will literally be immersed in Julie's life complete with many references to the places she lived in Essex," said the artist, who will appear in a Channel 4 show in the New Year documenting the trials and tribulations of building the property.

    "This house will end up as a very special sort of holiday let, one where you are a guest in an intriguing sculpture built to embody an imagined life, as well as enjoying calm rural surroundings of this special corner of Essex."

    Julie's experiences, which include a difficult childhood, an education cut short, young love, children, divorce and a late career, will all be depicted in the house through the architecture, design and unique works of art.

    Educated in Essex, Mr Perry went to KEGS in Chelmsford and Braintree College of Art, and later Portsmouth Polytechnic.

    His trademark pots often depict controversial and sexual scenes, and are inspired by Greek pottery and folk art.

    As one of the country's most popular artists, his work is collected by names including Charles Saatchi and Elton John.

    "A House for Essex is really special – it's in a great location, the design is outstanding," said Richard Day, operations director for Living Architecture.

    "It's a playful and striking design with a powerful narrative – and well built by local craftsmen.

    "Working with Grayson Perry and Charles Holland of FAT Architects has been a very rewarding experience. Their separate talents have come together to produce what we believe to be a wonderful piece of art and architecture, with a result that will speak for itself."

    Mr Day said it was important for Living Architecture to work with the local community from the outset of the project.

    "They have taken the house to their hearts and been extremely helpful during the design and build process," he said.

    "We expect the people who will want to stay at the house will be similar to the guests who've stayed at our other houses. Their reasons range from having a strong interest in architecture and design, they like the location, or are looking for a different holiday experience.

    "But I'm sure there will be those solely interested in Grayson's work, who are keen to see the house and how his concept has been brought to fruition."

    Building work started on the house in June 2013 with a team from the main contractor, Rose Builders of Manningtree in Essex.

    The structure and external features of the house were finished recently, and now work has started on the intricate designs and art inside the building.

    It's hoped that the inside of the house will be complete by the end of this year, with rental bookings being available from Spring 2015.

    Information and bookings for A House in Essex will be available on www.living- architecture.co.uk

    In pictures: A first look at Grayson Perry's 'House for Essex'


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    There's plenty on across Essex this weekend - for all the family. 

    Check out our 10 suggestions below and let us know if we've missed any off!

    GRANGE BARNS, The National Trust, Grange Hill, Coggeshall CO6 1RE. Friday, September 12 – Sunday, September 14, 12 pm–10.30pm. Free entry.

    Click here for more details

    This popular annual festival is back with more fine ales, beers, ciders and wine from across the region. There will be tasty food available and lots to do including demonstrations of traditional local crafts and activities.

    STEVEN'S FUNFAIR, CENTRAL PARK, Chelmsford CM1 1JJ . Friday, Sept 12 – 6-10pm, Saturday, Sept 13 – 2.30pm- 11pm, Sunday, Sept 14 – 2.30-9pm. Charges vary from £1.50-£2.50 per ride.

    Click here for more details

    This popular funfair return to Central Park once again. Children and grown-ups can choose from a huge variety of rides including swings, dodgems, carousels and side stalls. And don't forget the food and drink stalls including candy floss.

    CRAFT FAIRS AT BOURNE MILL, Bourne Road, Colchester, CO2 8RT. Saturday, September 13 – Sunday, September 14, 10am-4pm. Free entry.

    Click here for more details

    The talented Bourne Valley crafters are back for another fair after the success of their event in May. There will be a huge range of crafts and home-made goods to browse and buy including clothing, knitwear, crochet, jewellery, ceramics, china, fabric works, cakes, plants and a large variety of artwork. All held in the building and grounds of the National Trust's beautiful Bourne Mill.

    BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION SPONSORED WALK AND TREASURE HUNT, High Woods Country Park, Turner Road, Colchester, CO4 5JR. Sunday, September 14, 9.30am registration, 10am start.

    Help to raise money for the BHF on the annual 10- mile walk through the park and into the surrounding countryside. Or follow a family-friendly, self-led way-marked three-mile route through the Country Park. Includes a treasure trail for children.

    OLD LEIGH REGATTA, Old Leigh Town, Essex. Sunday, September 14, 10.30am-5pm. 

    Click here for more details

    Join the Lions Club of Leigh-on Sea for a day of fun activities and messing about on the water. The Lions took on the annual Leigh Regatta after it was cancelled recently, and there'll be a lot of help from local scout groups. Instead of a whole weekend, there will be one day packed with events for the whole family. 

    There will be a full racing programme from Essex Yacht Club and Leigh Sailing Club, and taster sessions for beginners from Lower Thames Rowing Club. Other activities include Punch and Judy, face painting, BBQ, coconut shy, scouts welly hoying competition, lots of local bands and a real ale bar and refreshments. The events are spread across various sites including Leigh Beach, Foundry Car park, Victoria Car Park, the Strand Wharf and various pubs.

    CHARITY EVENT ROW 4 A REASON, Heybridge Basin. Saturday, September 13 and Sunday, September 14. From 10am.

    Click here for more details

    Join in the fun at this annual charity rowing event. Registration is between 11am-12 noon and the race starts at 1.30pm. For those not taking part in the challenge, there will be a craft fair, children's activities, entertainment, clothing, local beers and music. On the Sunday there will be a crafting bee and farmer's market. All proceeds go to Essex Air Ambulance and friends of St George's Community Projects.

    RUSSIAN TALL SHIP 'SHTANDART' at Southend Pier, Western Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea SS1 1EE. Saturday, September 13 and Sunday, September 14, 10am-7pm. Admission onto the ship: Adults £2.50, children/concs £1. Normal pier admission applies. Click here for more details

    Visit the Shtandart - a full-size replica of a 'man o war' that was the first ship in the Russian Baltic fleet in 1703. This replica was built and launched in St Petersburg in 1999. This replica ship is now a training vessel and is a popular attraction at maritime festivals all over Europe. Below decks is a museum exhibition and the impressive admiral's cabin.

    FAMILIES TREASURE HUNT, Heybridge Basin, Essex. Sunday, September 14, 10am-4pm. Free event.

    Click here for more details

    There are lots of prizes to win and fuin to be had at this treasure hunt event. The main route is a 4-mile, circular route but there's also a shorter route for those with young children. Solve the clues as you go round and find the treasure. And the stunning scenery of the basin is free to enjoy too as you wander around.

    ART FREE FAMILY SATURDAYS AT FIRSTSITE, Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester CO1 1JH. 11am–1pm and 2-4pm. Free.

    Click here for more details There are two fun sessions to take part in. Kayla St Claire will be leading the workshop from 11am-1pm, and Michael Ridge from 2-4pm. Both sessions encourage young people to investigate and work with the unusual angles of the firstsite building, creating patterns, pathways and interaction all the way.

    CARS CLASSIC CAR DISPLAY, AUDLEY END HOUSE AND GARDENS, Off London Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 4JF. Sunday, September 14, 10am-4.30pm. Audley End admission fees: Adults £15.40, children 5-15 £9.20, concs £13.90, family £40.

    Click here for more details

    See a charming collection of classic cars on display. Discover what it takes to take care of your dream motor and marvel at the beautiful vehicles. Suitable for all ages and admission includes entry to Audley End house and grounds.

    Missed any off? Register and leave your comments below

    10 things to do this weekend in Essex - September 13 and 14


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    Experts say the Northern Lights may be seen from the highest points, with two large explosions on the Sun this week generating large amounts of magnetically charged particles.

    These particles will create dazzling displays of red, green, pink and blue over northern parts of England and parts of Scotland.

    Known as Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), the first should arrive late this evening (September 12), although the Met Office said there is expected  to be some cloud and localised fog patches around on Friday night so its best to look via clear skies.

    See below for some eight facts and what to look out for:

    1. The aurora appears frequently either as a diffuse glow or as "curtains" that approximately extend in the east-west direction. At some times, they form "quiet arcs"; at others ("active aurora"), they evolve and change constantly
    2. We associate the Northern Lights with wintertime but they are virtually invisible when the nights are light as the background sky has to be fairly dark.
    3. The Northern Lights usually circle the globe in a circular or elliptical "oval" centered on the earth's North Magnetic Pole, which is not at the same location as the North Geographic Pole, but rather is slightly offset in the direction of northern Canada.
    4. An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, caused by the collision of solar wind and magnetospheric charged particles with the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere)
    5. Svalbard, which is about halfway between continental Europe and the North Pole, actually sees fewer Northern Lights than Northern Scandinavia (despite being so far north).
    6. But it is a great place to observe the fainter Day Northern Lights during its long polar night and is a good choice during the solar minimum part of the solar cycle.
    7. Good periods are between late September and late March.
    8. The days around Full Moon are not conducive to viewing the Northern Lights because the background sky becomes so light.

    Aurora Borealis: What to look out for if Northern Lights are seen above Essex


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    A MAN claiming to sell a cure for cancer has been fined £750 after an investigation by Essex Trading Standards.

    Steven Cook, 54, of East Road, West Mersea, was charged with an offence under the Cancer Act after suggesting Colloidal Silver was a treatment for cancer.

    He pleaded guilty at Colchester Magistrates' Court on Friday September 12, where magistrates imposed a fine of £750 and ordered him to pay £1,500 costs.

    Cook runs a website, www.colloidalsilveruk.com, selling various products containing silver.

    One of the products on sale was 'Ultimate Colloidal Silver', a liquid containing silver that Mr Cook made in his own home.

    Trading Standards said the website implied that the product can cure cancer – and this is an offence under the Cancer Act.

    Cllr Roger Walters, Essex County Council's lead member for Trading Standards, said: "Trading Standards' advice to people who are considering whether to take any substance not prescribed for a medical purpose, either preventative or as a treatment, is to consult their doctor first.

    "I hope the public feel safer knowing that Essex Trading Standards will take action where traders are trying to sell products which are neither medically proven nor safe."

    Mr Cook has now updated the website and removed any claims that colloidal silver can cure some cancers.

    Essex man fined for claiming to sell cancer cure


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    Plenty has changed in Chelmsford over the last few decades, the centre has long since been pedestrianised, developments are shooting up left right and centre - and the streetlights go off at midnight. Landmarks such as Shire Hall, the High Street and the former Regents Cinema still stand proud - if significantly altered. Take a look below to see how much, or how little, has changed by sliding left to right:


    Shire Hall

    Regent's Cinema/Chicago's

    Chelmsford High Street

    Chelmsford bus station

    In pictures and video: How much has changed in Chelmsford?


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    Motorists have been held up in severe delays on the London-bound A12 this evening (September 12) after a vehicle collision.

    The carriageway is currently closed as a result of the incident, which took place between J20  at the Hatfield Peveral turn-off and J21 for Witham in the last hour.

    Traffic is currently stretching back to J20a for Hatfield Peverel South, with delays on the northbound carriageway.

    Police and the fire service are currently at the scene.

    More to follow

    A12 partially closed in Hatfield Peverel after collision


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