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

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    Are you superstitious about freaky Friday? If you are then tomorrow might be a day to avoid and inspire you to start hunting for those lucky charms.

    This day of dread has been around since the 19th century, with people going as far to fear the number 13, which has even been given the name triskadekaphobia.

    It has been connected to the crucifixion of Christ as Friday is the day it took place and 13 people were present at the last supper.

    Alternatively it could refer to a Nordic myth about 13 Gods at a dinner party, the thirteenth guest was Loki the God of mischief. On this day he arranged for the God of joy and gladness to be shot with a mistletoe arrow thrusting the world into mourning.

    If you're superstitious you'll want to look at these 13 signs of bad luck:

    1. If a black cat runs across the road in front of you, you should say 'bread and butter on my table, cut it with a butter knife' if you don't  turn around and go another way, you could experience bad luck.
    2. Breaking a mirror leads to seven years of bad luck
    3. Opening an umbrella indoors
    4. Walking under a ladder
    5. Stepping on a crack, will break your mothers back
    6. Stepping on a grave
    7. A picture falling down from a wall
    8. If you spill any salt, you'd need to throw it over your shoulder to avoid any bad luck
    9. If you sneeze and someone says 'bless you' and you thank them for it
    10. Hanging a horseshoe upside down
    11. If you spot a lonesome magpie
    12. A flock of ravens
    13. Stepping over a drain

    Have we missed any from the list? We want to know if you have had anything bad happen to you on this fateful Friday? Let us know by tweeting @EssexChronicle or comment on our facebook page

    13 signs to look out for on Friday 13th

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    A Braintree bus driver was hailed a hero after he helped rescue a homeless man stranded on the roof of a burning building.

    Eight fire crews were called to a fire at a homeless shelter situated above Ben's cafe in Braintree High Street at around 7.30pm on Wednesday, February 11.

    Andy Waterman, a driver for First Essex, was driving the out of service bus back to First's Braintree depot at the end of his shift when a group of people alerted him to the blaze.

    Andy, who lives in West Mersea, positioned his double decker bus close to the roof of the flat, allowing the man to jump to safety.

    He said: "A group of people started flagging me down and they were asking me to stop. I asked them what the problem was and they said a man was stuck on the roof of his flat because it was on fire.

    "I drove nearer and all I could see was thick, black smoke. I saw the man and thought 'We've got to get him to safety'."

    Andy positioned the bus as close to the flat as possible, while making sure he didn't endanger himself or anyone else.

    The man jumped around 10 ft onto the roof of the bus and Andy slowly drove away. The fire brigade then rescued the man from the roof of the bus.

    Andy added: "The police told me that I did a good job. It wasn't until I got home that someone said that I had saved a life.

    "I have been driving buses for eight years and nothing like this has happened before. I am just pleased the man is alive."

    Adrian Jones, Managing Director for First Essex, praised Andy's actions.

    He said: "We are very proud of Andy – he was in the right place at the right time. We are pleased to hear the man is ok and we wish him a quick recovery." 

    Braintree bus driver hailed a hero after rescuing homeless man from ferocious fire

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    Pop star Olly Murs will have a waxwork figure of himself displayed in a seaside resort.

    The former X Factor contestant will have his likeness on show at the Madame Tussauds in Blackpool from March.

    He tweeted a picture of himself next to his waxy doppelganger to his 6 million followers with the comment, "Me & Me selfie".

    The singer also posted a video showing him larking around during the painstaking process of skin matching and colour grading to make the figure.

    Olly said: "I'm very excited about getting my wax figure at Madame Tussauds.

    "I'm very flattered as I know it's a big honour to have a figure created by such a prestigious attraction.

    "I've really enjoyed getting involved in the process and can't wait to see the finished figure."

    A team of sculptures, moulders, colourists and hair stylists worked to complete the finished representation.

    The process of replicating the 30-year-old in wax form has taken a team of 20 experts four months to complete, and has cost around £150,000.

    Matthew Titherington, General Manager at Madame Tussauds Blackpool said: "He is one of the most successful male solo artists on the UK chart scene and it is an honour to have him at Madame Tussauds Blackpool.

    "Olly's figure was commissioned due to an incredibly high demand, our visitors are always asking if there's a wax figure of the star.

    "We're expecting Olly to be one of our most popular figures at the attraction as he's loved by people of all ages due to his fun nature and natural talent."

    Madame Tussauds to display wax figure of Witham pop star Olly Murs

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    A LEADING member of a far-right group is on the run after being sentenced in his absence to 18 months in jail over violent clashes with police in Birmingham.

    Dean Kenney, 41, from Bannister Green Villas, Felsted, had already admitted committing violent disorder at the 2,000-strong English Defence League (EDL) rally in Birmingham city centre in July 2013, along with 15 co-defendants.

    But he has since failed to appear at Birmingham Crown Court on January 5 for sentencing.

    A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "A bench warrant has been issued for his arrest and we are looking for him. Once he is found he'll be brought before the court and the sentence will de delivered."

    EDL members clashed with 300 anti-fascist counter-demonstrators and police in Birmingham city centre during the protests in July 2013.

    A portable toilet was tipped over, spilling waste onto the street, and missiles were thrown, including bottles and cobblestones.

    An estimated £6,000 of damage was caused to an hotel.

    In total, 47 people were charged by West Midlands Police with offences relating to the protests, with 20 arrested following a Crimewatch appeal in January last year.

    Kenney, who heads up the Stansted EDL Division, has previously bragged in Facebook posts that he contaminated halal chicken with bacon at his local Tesco.

    Some of the other 15 defendants, who are from all over the country, have already been sentenced, while others are still waiting to discover their fate.

    At the moment, Kenney only faces the violent disorder sentence, but failing to appear before the court can be a separate offence and he could face another charge.

    If he is apprehended by any police force around the country, they will take him into custody and put him before Birmingham Crown Court.

    Felsted EDL thug Dean Kenney on the run after being sentenced to 18 months' jail

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    A FERTILITY clinic has celebrated the birth of its first babies following treatment.

    Simply Fertility, next to Baddow Hospital, opened its doors in January 2014, and has now welcomed the birth of a baby born via surrogate to a same sex couple, an egg-sharing option resulting in two babies, and a couple having a baby born via IVF.

    Director Sarah Walt said: "We have had a thrilling succession of firsts for the clinic – our first IVF baby, our first babies born as a result of both receiving donated eggs and to a patient who has donated some of her eggs to another, a scheme known as egg sharing, and finally we have had the delivery of our first same sex surrogacy baby – a collection of firsts that have delighted the team with a Christmas day delivery to complete the collection.

    "We extend our congratulations to these new parents and send our very best wishes as they embark upon their journey as new families."

    Andy Glew, clinical embryologist at the clinic, said: "The success rates for IVF are really good now. We have seen 150 couples who have come in for a fertility assessment and we have treated about 50 couples so far.

    "Our first baby was born just before Christmas, it is such a milestone. We are very excited about our first group of patients, and they really tested us.

    "We had a woman who did IVF and egg-shared and both women got pregnant, we had a gay couple who used a surrogate, an older woman who used IVF – so we have seen these successes and it's been fantastic."

    The clinic is currently the only fertility treatment option for people in mid-Essex, who, unlike their counterparts in other parts of Essex and the rest of the UK, are no longer able to access free IVF.

    But local patients who need IVF may be eligible to receive free treatment if they would be happy to donate eggs, a popular scheme known as egg sharing.

    Mr Glew said: "There is clearly a need for the service in Chelmsford; it is a growing city with a young population, but there is no funding for fertility treatment here, so the only option for people is to self-fund.

    "So I think people here appreciate the fact that they have us here on their doorstep."

    Mid-Essex Clinical Commissioning Group made the announcement that it would cease funding IVF, apart from in "exceptional clinical cases" last year.

    Mr Glew added: "Shortly after we came here, the local CCG stopped fertility treatment and said there would be no funding for IVF at all. In the rest of the country people can get two rounds of IVF, sometimes three, for free.

    "If you live in Colchester, you'll be fine, but if you live in Chelmsford you don't have access to that free IVF, which means that people will choose to pay or they will take the dramatic decision to move.

    "But we do also have people coming to us from further afield too. We've had people from Devon travelling here to use our services, and this year we are building an embryology lab here, so we will be able to do everything in-house soon, and we will be doing high-level embryology."

    Chelmsford fertility clinic welcomes its first babies

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    A man from Southend has been arrested following a media appeal after a number of stickers carrying racist messages were posted on Essex trains in January.

    The 45-year-old from Southend was arrested on suspicion of committing a public order offence and was bailed to return to a police station on February 24.

    The stickers were found by rail staff, cleaning trains in the Southend area.

    Police thanked the public and media for their assistance.

    Man arrested in connection with racist train stickers

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    A woman was pushed to the ground and sexually assaulted on the Bunny Walks in Chelmsford this morning.

    The incident happened at the rear of McDonalds, at the Riverside Retail Park, shortly before 6am.

    The victim, who is in her 30s and was from the local area, was pushed to the floor and sexually assaulted. 

    She struggled with the attacker and managed to break away to raise the alarm. 

    He was seen running off in the direction of Springfield Road

    DI Becky Young said: "We want to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time and saw or heard what was going on.

    "The woman was grabbed from behind by a man who pushed her to the ground. 

    "He seriously assaulted her but she was able to get away from him. She was unharmed but badly shaken."

    The man is described as white, in his early to mid-30s, of slim build and wearing a dark green jacket, which could have been a body warmer, with white trainers.

    A police cordon remains in place in the area this morning.

    Anyone with information should contact Ds Nathan Hutchinson or colleagues on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. The team can also be contacted by email at

    Woman 'seriously sexually assaulted' on Bunny Walks in Chelmsford

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    Police have released a CCTV image of a man they want to speak to in connection with a serious sexual assault that happened on the Bunny Walks in Chelmsford this morning.

    A woman was pushed to the floor and sexually assaulted, but struggled with her attacker and managed to break free and raise the alarm. He was seen running off in the direction of Springfield Road.

    The incident happened at the rear of McDonalds, at the Riverside Retail Park, shortly before 6am.

    The man police was described as white, in his early to mid-30s, of slim build and wearing a dark green jacket, which could have been a body warmer, with white trainers.

    DS Nathan Hutchinson said: "We want to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time and saw or heard what was going on. "The man in the image was captured on CCTV in the area around the time of the incident and we are keen to speak to him."

    Anyone with information should contact DS Nathan Hutchinson or colleagues on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. The team can also be contacted by email at

    Bunny Walks sexual assault: CCTV issued

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    A bus driver who helped a naked man escape from the flaming roof of a homeless shelter is being lined up for a Chief Fire Officer's commendation.

    Andy Waterman, 38, heroically parked his double decker bus outside the blaze above Ben's Café in Braintree high street.

    Upon hearing the news of his Essex County Fire and Rescue Service award, the married father-of-one said: "It was totally unexpected, but also made me feel really good about what happened.

    "It was quite an exciting half an hour and nothing like anything I've experienced in my time as a bus driver. I didn't get a chance to see if the guy was okay so I'd like to meet him to see how he's getting on."

    Andy, who has been driving for Essex First for eight years, was flagged down by a group of people as he was driving the out of service bus back to the depot in Springwood industrial estate.

    He recalls how if he hadn't have been alerted to the emergency on Wednesday night, the engulfing flames could have claimed someone's life.

    He said: "Things could have turned out so differently, so I'm just thankful that no-one was hurt in the end.

    "I still have no idea who he is. He was taken away by paramedics before I had a chance to even catch his name."

    The man who jumped ten ft onto Andy's bus is called Mitch. He was thrown blankets and water after having to leap to safety after hearing the alarm go off when he was in the shower.

    Andy then drove the bus to safety further down the road before fireman helped him off the top of the vehicle with a ladder.

    Rob Sefton, 57, who owns the homeless shelter and café, said: "I'm just grateful that he and the other resident in the building at the time are still alive.

    "The other man had to get out via the fire escape, but now Braintree District Council is now dealing with temporarily rehoming them.

    The minister of the Elim Pentecostal church in Maldon added: "I had to evict one resident on Tuesday for breaking a number of house rules but I have no reason to be suspicious of him."

    Essex Police are treating the fire as arson. 

    Heroic bus driver to receive Chief Fire Officer's commendation

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    Essex Police would like to identify this man in connection with the theft of laundry detergent and air fresheners from a Co-op.

    Co-op has three stores in the Witham area and this theft took place at the store in Spa Road on Monday February 2 at around 12.40pm.

    The man that Essex Police would like to identify is pictured walking in the supermarket.

    He has short cropped hair and is dressed in a black jacket and shirt, with what looks to be blue tracksuit bottoms and white trainers and is pushing a shopping trolley.

    In total laundry detergent and air fresheners worth £80 were stolen from the store at the time of the incident.

    Anyone with any information is asked to contact Ps Chris Gould at Braintree Police Station on 101.

    People can also give information to the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at

    ​PICTURED: Man wanted in connection to laundry detergent and air fresher thefts in Witham

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    The slip road onto the A12 at Rivenhall has been partially blocked after a two-car crash.

    The accident happened at around 12.30pm on the south-bound direction between junction 22 and 23.

    An ambulance crew and a rapid response vehicle from the East of England Ambulance Service were rushed to the scene.

    A man was taken by ambulance to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, for further treatment.

    Two car crash on A12 at Rivenhall blocks slip road

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    Get out the lanterns, create your very own dragon or make sure you pick up a Chinese takeaway, because celebrations for Chinese New Year are due to begin on February 19 to March 5.

    The year of the goat will soon be in full swing, so we've found out what is going on around Essex to celebrate the cultural occasion.

    How to celebrate the event?

    In China it's traditionally a family event and families reunite for a meal. Festivals take place all around the country with dragon dances, firecrackers and big feasts. Red decorations are hung all around the streets for luck, and red envelopes containing money are exchanged between families. To promote luck for the forthcoming year is one of the valued reasons for taking part in the Spring festival.

    Chinese New Year Gala at Mercury Theatre

    Balkerne Gate, Colchester, CO1 1PT

    Sunday, February 15, at 2pm

    The Colchester Chinese Culture Society presents the performance, which features the traditional Lion Dance, Martial Arts, Chinese Folk Dance, singing from the Community School Choir, and more. The entertainment will last for approximately two hours.

    Tickets £5 child and £7 adults

    Celebrate Chinese New Year at Anglia Ruskin University

    Bishop Hall Lane, CM1 1SQ

    Saturday, February 28, between 10am to 2pm

    The whole event is free with lots of fun Chinese activities for the family to enjoy. It includes: a lion dance, mandarin masterclass, stilt walkers, ribbon dance, lantern making, Tai Chi and lots more.

    Chinese celebrations at Braintree Museum

    Manor Street, Braintree, CM7 3HW

    Thursday, February 19, between 11am to 12.30pm

    For our Chinese New Year activity we will be teaching children the meaning behind the year of the sheep and goat. Children will also discover their Chinese zodiac signs and what they mean.

    They will get a chance to create beautiful Chinese crafts including Bright dragon masks and lanterns. All children will receive an activity pack including 'how to mandarin' where children will get the chance to learn the mandarin numbers 1 to 10.

    Tickets are £5 per child. Suitable for ages 5-12 years.

    Chinese workshop at Clay Cottage, Rayleigh

    The Clay Cottage, Lubbards Farm, Hullbridge Road, SS6 9SG

    Thursday, February 19, between 10 to noon

    Come down to Clay Cottage and join in some painting and paper crafts. It will be £10 and booking is essential. Please call on 01268 786162 for more information.

    If you are celebrating Chinese New Year, let us know how by tweeting @EssexChronicle or visit our facebook page

    Chinese New Year 2015: How to celebrate the event? Best places to visit in Essex

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    Braintree high street is still feeling the effects of the ferocious fire which swept through an emergency night shelter in the town on Wednesday night.

    The Rayne Road end of the cobbled street remains cordoned off by police tape as authorities attempt to establish the cause of the blaze.

    Scaffolding has been erected at the scene of the inferno as owner of the Braintree Emergency Night Shelter (BENS), Rob Sefton, explained what stage proceedings are at.

    He said: "The chimney stack needs to be dismantled as it is very dangerous, and is hampering progress.

    "The decision was made to put up the scaffolding by the Braintree council building inspectorate and the owner's building insurance.

    "The road is blocked off and structural engineers are still inspecting the building. It's such a shame."

    Amanda Jenkins, 40, who was one of the volunteers who helped to redecorate the building for the shelter's opening in 2012, said:

    "It's really, really sad. We worked so hard to bring some good to the town and now it looks like that has all been undone."

    The Comma Close resident, of Braintree, added: "We put a lot of effort into the project, and I imagine it will take a long while before we can begin to help the community again."

    Braintree Fire update: Unsafe chimney stack to be torn down

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    It's official - the 1960s Marrable House is the ugliest building in Chelmsford, according to Chronicle readers.

    A total of 274 people responded when we asked you which of nine structures you thought was the ugliest building in the city.

    Click here for photos of all the buildings.

    Seventy two people, equivalent to 26 per cent, voted for Marrable House in the Great Baddow area.

    Weston Business Centres is currently trying to convert this redundant block of offices into 57 residential flats. It was reportedly branded "one of the worst examples of town and country planning in the country" when it was built.

    In second place in the poll was the Salvation Army building, with 12 per cent of the votes, in Baddow Road parallel to Parkway.

    Salvation Army is a charity which does fantastic work for the homeless in Chelmsford, and it is testament to its success that it was able to have the bold and modern building erected. But readers have cited it on social media site Facebook as an eyesore.

    Twelve per cent thought the High Chelmer multi-storey car park in Market Road was the worst, polling it in third.

    One per cent of voters, the fewest, opted for the Essex Chronicle's old offices in Westway.

    Rivers House, Springfield Road    4     1%
    Cater House, High Street    25     9%
    Chelmsford police station, New Street    17     6%
    Marrable House, High Street (Great Baddow)    72     26%
    Threadneedle House, Market Road    13     5%
    High Chelmer multi-storey,Market Road    33     12%
    Salvation Army, Baddow Road    34     12%
    The Old Chronicle offices, Westway    3     1%
    The Kwik-Fit garage, New London Road    28     10%
    Essex Police headquarters, Sandford Road    8     3%
    The Melbourne flats, Melbourne Avenue    17     6%

    REVEALED: The ugliest building in Chelmsford

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    A project to test driverless cars has been launched in the UK in the hope of tapping in to a potentially lucrative new industry.

    Experts say this technology could be worth £900 billion to the British economy if trials are successful.

    A driverless shuttle is being tested in the London Borough of Greenwich and an electric pod will be in Coventry and Milton Keynes.

    Chelmsford-based Visteon has already released a prototype concept car called e-Bee that is touch-screen operated and can work without a driver, using motion sensors and radio waves.

    Legally there is no barrier to driverless cars being used on British roads, but insurance and technological hurdles would need to be cleared before the vehicles could be widely used.

    Bruno Pinto, technical sales manager at Visteon, predicts legislation will catch up with technology.

    "These cars create a new experience by driving themselves, at low speeds on, say, the M25, so the driver can switch to auto mode and be productive reading e-mails for example, instead of concentrating on driving," he said.

    Driverless cars are thought to improve safety, save motorists about six working weeks a year in driving time and reduce congestion as well as cut emissions.

    However is could be years before these care are available to the general public as there will need to be years of testing and development.

    Trials led by Google have already happened in America and in the UK trials, a qualified driver will be ready to take control if necessary.

    Government funding of around £19m is expected to be injected to help British designers get ahead of competitors.

    Driverless cars to be trialled on British roads

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    BEER drinkers will get an original work of art served up with their pint as part of an unusual art exhibition launching on Friday (February 13). The pieces will merge in with the pub décor, both on the walls and on the beermats at The Ale House in Viaduct Road, Chelmsford. This art exhibition called IN KEEPING is the first major exhibition by Happen Hosts, an Essex arts collective made up of recent graduates from Chelmsford. The artists have varied background and artistic skills but they have come together after discovering a shared interest in opening art up to the masses and bringing more visual arts to the county town. This exhibition in the Ale House will see prints, paintings, videos and a screen projection on the walls and ceiling of the pub. It's hoped that this will bring the artworks to the attention of people who may not otherwise step foot inside an art gallery. "We don't believe that art can only happen in the confines of a gallery," said Happen Hosts member James Torble, who is also an associate artist at firstsite, Colchester. "That's why we've teamed up with The Ale House, to catch the commuters and pundits sipping their evening pint and bring art to them. "Contemporary art can seem a bit elitist but we want to open up art to as wide an audience as possible," James said. "Some of the artwork will literally be underneath your pint on a beermat." The four core members of Happen Hosts are James, Natalie Long, Jess White and Rachel McGivern. They all studied around the UK but have come back to Chelmsford to love and work. "We studied in places like London and Brighton where it is just impossible to afford to live and get an artist's space," James said. "We love being back home and feel a responsibility to Chelmsford to bring more visual arts into the town. We also want to show the next generation of art students what can be done here." James has two pieces of art in the IN KEEPING exhibition. The first is a video he painstakingly recorded of streetlights being switched off all over Essex at night which he described as having a "beautiful and calming" effect. He also has a print an aerial shot of a piece of art he made in a crop field during the Tour de France. As part of the IN KEEPING exhibition, there will be three events: Monday, February 16 – Drink and Draw. Bring along your sketchpads for a friendly drawing session. Sunday, February 22 – Pub quiz with an arts focus Tuesday, February 24 – The Artist's Round – James Torble leads a Q&A on the exhibition and introduces the Happen Hosts' artists The exhibition is sponsored by SEO specialists, Freelance SEO Essex. "We are delighted to be supporting and sponsoring the entire exhibition, 'in keeping' with our passion for working with start-up initiatives and supporting events that promote culture and collaboration in the community," said co-director Danielle Haley. The IN KEEPING art exhibition runs from February 14-26 at The Ale House in 24-26 Viaduct Road, Chelmsford CM1 1TS. Visit Happen Hosts on Facebook or follow @happenhosts on twitter.

    Beermat art will surprise drinkers at unusual exhibition at Chelmsford Ale House

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    Ooh it's Valentine's Day and love is in the air. While we don't want to get your hopes up, here are seven signs that your loved one might be about to go down on bended knee:Romantic weekend away Has your loved one already told you that you're going on a surprise weekend break together? He's told you to pack a bag but kept the destination a secret? Surely a proposal is likely.. just remember to pack your best undies.Secret chats with your dad Yes, it's not as outdated as you might think. A surprising amount of men still 'ask for your dad's permission'. So if you've caught your boyfriend and your dad having a clandestine chat in the kitchen or the garden, then be prepared for a proposal. Or it could be chats with your sister or best mate while he susses out the best rings or tips for your ideal proposal?The Ring Thing Think back.. has your loved one dropped in a chat about ring sizes over the last few months? Has he started a random conversation about your rings, where you got them from, or commented on celebrities' engagement rings and asked you what you think? Have you caught him poking around in your jewellery box? It's all a clue ladies..Google searching OK, only do this if you want to spoil the surprise but if you look at his recent search history on your laptop you might find lots of jewellery sites and searches. If he has appalling taste this is perhaps a good idea, then you can see which rings he's looked at and try to subtlety steer him away from them.Jitters However confident your man may be down the pub, a huge percentage of men admit to getting the jitters when they're about to propose. They might seem fidgety, nervous or keep starting and stopping conversations. Penny pinching If your partner has recently started saving money, or suggesting cheap nights in rather than going out for an expensive meal, perhaps he's been saving up for a sparkler?Best behaviour If your boyfriend has recently gone all needy, romantic and model man, then perhaps he's trying to make sure that you accept his proposal? He's not going to start a row or go down the pub with his mates if he's trying to secure a Big Fat Yes.

    7 signs your man is going to propose this Valentine's Day

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    A drug dealer accused of stabbing a fellow pusher to death with a combat knife said he had the knife on him "for protection", a court heard.

    Luke Eva, of Avondale Road, Leigh-on-Sea, is charged with murdering Michael Haastrup after a brawl at a flat in Cressing Road, Braintree, on April 16 last year that spilled into the street.

    He denied deliberately killing the 24-year-old, but admits to possessing a knife in a public place.

    Giving evidence at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday, Eva said: "I heard a lot of people had it in for me because they were jealous of how well I was doing.

    "There was about seven or eight different dealers up there in Braintree and they all work in a big group and I was out there on my own, I felt vulnerable.

    "Michael was angry because I was doing so well and he'd been in Braintree for a couple of years.

    "I was getting the good heroin and he was also annoyed I was called Jay as he thought I was using his name."

    Eva is known as 'White Jay' in drug circles, while Mr Haastrup was known as 'Black Jay'.

    Cross examining Eva, prosecutor Karim Khalil QC, said: "You found yourself treading on somebody's toes and you were muscling in on his patch.

    "You had two choices, either you could get a weapon or move to another area. You chose to arm yourself with a deadly weapon and you have quite a history of violence."

    Eva admitted that around two to three weeks before the stabbing he bought a black-bladed combat knife in exchange for drugs, and that he had it on him all the time "for protection".

    But he denied threatening Mr Haastrup in the lead-up to the killing, saying they "argued a lot", but claimed he wanted to resolve their differences before the fatal incident.

    "I said 'let's not fall out, we've been known each other for 10 years, there's enough money out there for both of us'," Eva told the court on Tuesday.

    "I even had the knife with me when we were drinking in the pub together."

    The pair had arranged, along with a friend of Mr Haastrup's called James McGowan, to visit Colin Cornelius at his home in Cressing Road.

    Mr Cornelius, known as 'Chinese Colin', would test drugs on Eva's behalf with a view to buying the plastic bags of crack and heroin.

    Eva said when he first arrived at Mr Cornelius' flat at around 10.44pm, where Mr Cornelius, Mr Haastrup and James McGowan were, the atmosphere was "fine".

    Mr Haastrup asked if he could speak to Eva in the living room.

    "I went to get a drink from the kitchen and I was just entering the lounge I turned and saw Michael in the doorway holding a knife and a hammer," Eva told the jury.

    "He said: 'I've had enough, I want you out of my town' and lunged at me, trying to swing his arms at me with the weapons."

    Eva then said at one point he grabbed both of Michael's arms as the pair grappled in the living room, adding: "As Michael was hammering me in the ribs I managed to loosen his fingers around the knife and it fell to the floor, I picked it up as soon as I could and swung out.

    "I was unaware I'd made contact at that time."

    It was then, according to the defendant, that he punched Mr McGowan in the face, breaking his nose.

    "I was scared, they were attacking me, I feared for my life, I didn't want to die, I was just defending myself," Eva said.

    Last week, both Mr McGowan and Mr Cornelius claimed Mr Haastrup had said to Eva before the scuffle: "What, so you think you can stab me?"

    Eva claimed he didn't know what happened to Mr Haastrup's knife after the fight, but says he escaped from the living room into a bedroom to pull out his own one.

    Mr Haastrup was stabbed in the chest and thigh, but whether the wounds were caused by the kitchen knife Mr Haastrup had, or the combat knife Eva possessed, could not be determined. 

    When questioned by Sean Minihan for the defence, Eva said: "I went outside and there was a crowd of people outside as I got closer I could see Michael on the floor.

    "James was screaming, 'I'm going to kill you', I remember trying to fend him off with the weapons I had."

    The trial began on Wednesday, January 28, when jurors were told both men were selling drugs in the town.

    Eva admitted he had been involved in the drug world for 10 years and that he had been dealing drugs for six to seven years, starting with cannabis before moving onto heroin and crack.

    The 25-year-old said that after going to prison in 2010 for selling drugs in Southend, Eva moved to Braintree and in four to five months acquired around 40 customers, making around £800 profit every week.

    Judge Charles Gratwicke was summing up the case to the jury this afternoon and they will now consider their verdict.

    He directed them to either give a verdict of not guilty, guilty of murder or guilty of manslaughter, if they thought Eva acted unlawfully when he killed Mr Haastrup, but did not intent to kill him.

    The trial continues.

    Braintree Murder accused, Luke Eva, says he bought combat knife for

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    A FORMER Boswells School student says she is loving life in the limelight as she appears in a reality show with an old flame.

    Megan Clark, 20, appeared in episode two of MTV reality show Ex On The Beach, on Tuesday evening, and will be a permanent fixture in the programme until the devious dating show concludes next month.

    The self-employed swimming instructor, who drives an Audi A3 convertible after securing a one-year contract with MTV, revealed she never actually signed up to go on the show in the first place.

    She said: "I was doing a season in Malia last summer when I was approached by MTV.

    "I think they got in touch because I had previously had a Twitter row with one of the contestants from series one.

    "I then had an online interview with producers and they asked me to go to London to do a few pieces in front of camera.

    "They originally told me it was a dating show – I just assumed I'd be going on loads of dates with hot guys, but I was actually put in a villa with my ex, which wasn't much fun."

    The show sees contestants told they are taking part in a party paradise in Malaga, meeting new people and enjoying a trip of a life time.

    However, as the series progresses, the ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends of the cast are introduced to the villa to ruin the fun and turn the trip into a harrowing holiday.

    Megan was brought to the villa as the ex-girlfriend of Essex boy Connor Hunter, an 18-year-old personal trainer. They were together for seven months before they split last April.

    Megan, from High Easter, said despite her initial disappointment upon discovering why she was really on the show, she did make some lasting friendships.

    She said: "I met some really nice people and we still keep in contact. I didn't expect that to happen, because everyone was so different.

    "It was like nothing I've ever done before – I was really apprehensive. I had good times and bad times. At points I thought the whole thing was pathetic and just wanted to get out of there."

    Megan, filming at the Spanish resort for just under a month, explained every two days' filming equated to one episode, highlighting the extent of editing which takes place.

    She said: "The producers tried to get reactions from us as that would obviously make the best television.

    "For example, they'd create certain situations between people to stir things up. So there was a lot of other stuff that went on which doesn't make the cut.

    "Ideally I would like to do more reality television but I want to work for it. I'd like to open a boutique in Chelmsford and maybe appear in Towie."

    Former Boswells School student Megan Clark stars in MTV's Ex On The Beach

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    Stealing a friend's date at a pub and a friendly offer at a Moulsham Street kebab shop are just some of the ways Chronicle readers fell in love.

    Fourteen people wrote on our Facebook page to tell us how they met their other half.

    We asked readers to share their tales after we interviewed a Chelmsford couple who met at a bus stop, were reunited at a bus stop, got engaged at a bus stop and married – opposite a bus stop.

    Now, on Valentine's Day, it's only apt we publish their anecdotes.

    We've taken the liberty of ranking them according to detail, romance and comedy value.

    • 1. Blind date swap

    Sharon Boston was on a blind date at the cinema. That very same night her future hubby was on a blind date with someone else. Later that evening Sharon and the other girl swapped seats and have never looked back since.

    "We have been happily married for 23 years on July 16," said Sharon.

    • 2. More bus stop romance

    Sarah Barringer also met her husband at a bus stop. The lucky man opened by telling her they were at same university four years previously but had never spoken. They've been together 11 years, nearly married for nine and have two "beautiful" children.

    "Thank God I went for the bus that day!" she said.

    • 3. J D Wetherspoon date snatcher

    Anastasia Mead also found her partner via an unsuccessful blind date.

    "Wetherspoon in Chelmsford, he was on a date with my friend at the time!"

    • 4. Childhood sweethearts

    Vicky Wiseman were "childhood sweethearts" but split up. Ten years later he walked into her place of work, rendering her speechless. The two went out on a date and "he stayed one night".

    "He's never left," said Vicky. "Been together nine years, been married six years in March. I'm still very much in love with my husband."

    • 5. Fish and chip shop love

    Polette Baghdasarian met her other half outside Mr Ram kebab shop in Moulsham Street 21 years ago.

    "He asked me for a chip. Lol," joked Polette.

    • 6. Pet shop love

    Chelmsford Pets at Home employee Sarah Myall met her partner when he walked in the shop to collect his sister. He Proposed seven months later and married a year later.

    "Been together 13 years and have three beautiful children," said Sarah.

    • 7. Playing in the park

    Nikki Frappell first met her future hubby playing in the same park when she was five years old. The pair moved apart. Then bumped into each other at a local high school when she was 10. Then at 16 started working together.

    "Been together 10 years since, married for five and a half years and have a two-year-old," said Nikki.

    • 8. McDonald's marriage?

    Kat Ravlic met her partner at the fast food chain.

    "But we sure as hell won't be getting married there!" said Kat.

    • 9. Poking

    Jenna Sullivan says she met her loved one via a social media site.

    "He poked me on Facebook," said Jenna.

    • 10. Another blind date

    "A blind date 38 years ago," said Sandra Pether

    • 11. Ti Amo

    Tony Daboya will marry his partner at the same Italian restaurant in Stock, where he worked in kitchens, that they met at in 2007.

    "We are getting married there in July," said Tony.

    • 12. Housemates

    Katie Edwards lived with her partner before dating.

    "We got moved in together. Will have been together two years ago tomorrow, and have our second baby on the way!" said Katie.

    • 13. Nightclub classic

    Emma Collis met her partner in Chicago's in Braintree.

    "I know it sounds dodgy, but ten years later we are happily married with two boys lol xx," she wrote.

    • 14. The modern way

    "On the internet when the internet was an infant!!!" said Linda Johansen.

    How did you meet? Fourteen romantic stories from Essex couples for Valentine's Day

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