Monday, August 21, 2023


So proud of Jonathan.  He had the courage and determination to change careers 'mid life'.  Jonathan was never really happy working in Media/Advertising.  Three years ago he decided he wanted to work in Wine and started at the very beginning working in a Bottle Store (Off Licence) in Sydney, Australia.  He was already fairly knowledgeable about Wine but decided he would do the Wine Spirits and Educational Trust Diploma.  I paid for the course as his 40th Birthday present.

Jonathan soon began to advise customers in the Wine Shop and steadily increased his knowledge to the point that he secured a good position with Taylors Wines, Australia.  He held down a demanding job whilst studying very hard for his Diploma.  He passed a few months ago and the Graduation Ceremony was held recently.  Only wish I could have been there to see him receive his certificate. He is now Brand Marketing Manager for Taylors Wines.


Recently I was asked to become a Patron for the charity 'Safe Haven for Donkeys' working out of Israel and the West Bank.  They have also now extended their work into Egypt and dealing predominantly with the badly treated Donkeys (often a lack of basic understanding of donkeys' welfare) working at the Brick Kilns.  I was delighted to accept.

Some time ago a sick donkey was brought to the Charity and nursed back to health.  She has been named for me.

This is Jan - isn't she a little Darling and I hope one day to meet and cuddle her.

Safe Haven for Donkeys


 Getting quite excited.  After a sixteen year project in my 'Searching for René' am finally coming to the end - sadly.

Sunday, 27th August marks the 80th Anniversary of the death of Cdt./Squ. Ldr. René Mouchotte and I've been able to organise a special service at the Biggin Hill Chapel to commemorate this honourable man. The service has been put together with great care by Vergers and the Chaplain.

The French Air Attaché   Col. Xavier Rival will be attending and giving the Eulogy and reading René's last Testament in French and English.  I will be reading a poem about the Memorial Chapel, written by Owen Leeming in 1959. We have a couple of lovely hymns and the service will be brought to an end with the singing of the Marseillaise.   There's also a page devoted to the creation of the original Chapel - a wooden hut on an Airfield - it is thought inspired by the death of Mouchotte.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Bromley have kindly indicated that they will attend the Service.

On Saturday, 26th August, again in the Chapel, I shall be giving my René Mouchotte Presentation including the BBC 2 Documentary transmitted in 2013.

If you live near Biggin Hill, why not come along.  Both the talk and the Service commence at 3.30 on the Saturday and the Sunday.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023



My father was born in India and I have some Indian DNA. Family goes back to 1750.  Have always been drawn to things Indian and attended the very first concert given by Ravi Shankar in 1966 when he left India for the first time and performed at the Free Trad Hall in Manchester.  I had a contract as a Newsreader for Granada TV up there.

When in India in 2015 filming 'Real Marigold Hotel' treated myself to a stunning Royal Blue Sari. Despite her best efforts at teaching me, the lovely Sushma (owner of the Haveli in which we stayed) failed. When I returned home and tried to tie the sari, ended up with a load of material on the floor and an awful lot around my backside.  That sari has lain in a drawer since then.

I have a lovely designer friend, Linda Warren,  and one day asked if she would design a dress and jacket from the Sari which she has done. She also has a lovely seamstress - Shirley.  

This is what I collected today - only hope I have the courage to wear such a vibrant and eye catching colour. Got to find an event which justified it's wearing. The jacket of course is designed to be worn with other outfits.

Thrilled with my outfit and have now asked to have another made from the beautiful sari given to me by the Princess we interviewed.

I'll share their details with you in case you might require an outfit for a special occasion 

Linda Warren -

Shirley Ann designs Facebook 

 An abbreviated explanation of my Search for René Mouchotte is given in this Publicity Blog by Pen and Sword books - who republished Mouchotte's diaries in November 2022.

SEARCHING FOR RENÉ - Pen & Sword Blog (



I shall be giving  my illustrated talk on the Free French Pilot I sponsored on the Sir Christopher Foxley Norris Wall of Remembrance at Capel-le-Frerne.

There will be a special service at the Biggin Hill RAF Chapel at 3.30 pm on Sunday, 27th August - the 80th Anniversary of the death of René Mouchotte, killed on the Éperlecques Raid on that date.

It is therefore appropriate to be giving my talk the day before at the Chapel starting at 3.30pm.  Ticket sales will be donated to the Chapel funds.

René's diaries, published in French in 1949 and in English in 1956 are a wonderful read.  They were his  recollections and only intended for his personal use.  After his death, his mother wondered what to do with them and was advised by a Resistance leader that they 'contained the heart and soul of a Fighter for the freedom of France' and should be published - and so they were.  I've read them 7 times and each time find them incredibly moving.  He tells of the deaths of his comrades; companionship; he writes of the lighter side of war; how he and 5 others escaped from a locked down airfield in Oran, North Africa, not knowing the propeller had been put out of true (hair-raising) and managed to fly and land safely in Gibraltar: he writes with humour.  He eventually formed an all French Squadron.

If you would like to read a more comprehensive account of my 'Searching for René' use this link 

 SEARCHING FOR RENÉ - Pen & Sword Blog (

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