Programme Blogs

Interview with Author MJ Arlidge @mjarlidge

West Herts Drivetime - 1 hour 9 min ago
On today's Drivetime session, Danny was joined by MJ Arlidge. 

The author writes crime novels. MJ Arlidge discussed about his most recent thriller novel Hide and Seek. Arlidge in 1998 also wrote for Easternders. Hide and Seek is the sixth book. It's about a detective who has spent her whole life running. She's spent her whole life hiding.Until, she was framed for murder and she became one of its most high profile prisoners. Now there is nowhere for her to run. Nowhere to hide.

And if you missed the interview of Matt Arlidge, you can catch up on our website 
visiting and navigate to Thursday from 5.30pm.

Categories: Programme Blogs

Road to nowhere – cycling in St.Albans

Environment Matters - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 6:46pm
If you missed the show and would like a 15 minute update on sustainability and the environment in and around St.Albans, listen to or download this week’s podcast now

And you can subscribe to receive our podcasts directly into your inbox on the Radio Verulam Website


In this week’s show we heard from Cllr Beric Reed who promised that the Green Ring Cycle Path would be finished at some point but was tangled in legal delays.

Rona Wightman brought the good news that the National Cycle Campaigns Conference will this year be held in St.Albans with lots of acclaimed speakers and workshops that anyone interested in cycling will enjoy. More about STACC and the Cycle Campaigners Conference is on the website

The Conference tab has links to the booking website and the draft programme.

Cycle campaign members (any campaign, not just St Albans) are eligible for an early bookers discount rate of £10 up to the end of October.  Otherwise, it is £15.

Cycle rides – the STACC website has links to local clubs and organisations organising bike rides on the Info tab.

 The women-only Breeze rides are run by volunteer ride leaders called Champions who are trained and supported by British Cycling.  Breeze has lots of champions in Hertfordshire, you can find the local group on Facebook. More about Breeze at and apologies for classing Breeze as Sky Rides in the programme.

 South Herts CTC organise women-only bike Saturday morning rides called ‘Five Miles to Fabulous’, details on their section of the South Herts CTC website: The next rides are on 15 October and 12 November.  Start from Morrisons, Hatfield Road.  South Herts CTC also organise Saturday Fun Rides, these are listed on the Weekend Rides page:   These are morning rides from Hatfield or St Albans, distance typically 20 – 30 mile.  Next one is 8 October.

Note: Cycling UK and the CTC are the same organisation.  The Cycling UK name is used by the club for campaigning and promoting of cycling, it saves having to explain about cycle-touring; local club groups tend to stick with the Cyclists Touring Club name as that is what they do.

 Many rides are listed on the website, including the Breeze rides and the Saturday Fun rides and quite a few other cycling group rides.

St.Albans Food and Drink Festival is underway….see what’s on here


On Friday there’s the great Radio Verulam Food and Drink Quiz – £10 including supper

Sunday 1-5pm at Hammonds End Farm between Harpenden and Redbourn the community food growing group Food Smiles open their doors and invite you to join them for an afternoon of seed sowing. There’ll be tea and cake to keep you going.

And also on Sunday is the Food and Drink Festival Grand Finale. A whole bunch of us from Radio Verulam will be there bringing you a delicious taste of the fun. If you’re there, come and say hello and if you’re not, then listen in and follow the action on twitter.

If you do go along, then please help to keep the landfill waste from the day down to a minimum by separating your waste and using the recycling bins provided.



Categories: Programme Blogs

Drivetime Sessions w/ Phoenix O'Neill @pheeniie

West Herts Drivetime - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 6:40pm
Our guest on this weeks 'Drivetime Sessions' was Phoenix O'Neill, a local singer and songwriter, with backing music played by her Step Dad Johnathan ( Part of regular Drivetime Sessions guests, 'Starseedz'.

As always on the Sessions, we asked Phoenix to perform two of her own original songs, and a cover of another artist's work. Her two works were 'I Need You' and 'Alien', and her cover was of  'Dancing On My Own', specifically by Britain's Got Talent contestant 'Callum Scott'.

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To hear more of Phoenix's work you can visit her Soundcloud, and for updates you can visit her Facebook Page.

And if you missed Phoenix, or wanted to hear her performance again you can visit and navigate to this evenings show at 530.

Categories: Programme Blogs

Chris' Film Club: Gold Diggers of 1933

West Herts Drivetime - Wed, 28/09/2016 - 6:30pm
Next on this week's Black and White themed Film Club is 'Gold Diggers of 1933'

Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, it tells the story of 4 out-of-work actresses (Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Aline MacMahon and Ginger Rogers) who are trying to put on a show, and are helped by the mysterious and talented Brad (Dick Powell)

Features the famous musical number ‘We’re in the Money’

Categories: Programme Blogs

Chris' Film Club: Double Indemnity

West Herts Drivetime - Tue, 27/09/2016 - 6:30pm
Today on the Film Club Chris looks at the black and white film 'Double Indemnity'

Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson star in this Billy Wilder classic, about an insurance salesman who plots with a woman to murder her husband and collect on the insurance.

The film was nominated for 7 Oscars, and despite not winning any has still been remembered as a classic.

Categories: Programme Blogs

Interior design with Gwendoline Alderton- It's Curtains for Christmas! @ga_interiors

West Herts Drivetime - Tue, 27/09/2016 - 6:02pm
Today Gwendoline talked to us about prepping our interior design in time for Christmas.
For instance, if you'd like to put curtains up in time for Christmas, they usually take 4-8 weeks to make.  Therefore you should start thinking about ordering any new curtains now. Also, you should think about whether you want blackout curtains, or other sorts of curtains, such as voile or net curtains.  You choice will depend on what sort of room you are looking to modernise.

If you'd like to order a sofa in time for Christmas, it is worth remembering that it takes 6-8 weeks for sofas to be handmade, and 4-6 weeks for sofas to be delivered, if you're hoping to get it from abroad.  Be aware of the space you need to fill, and the  style you want when considering new furniture.  Make sure you have fabric samples because the lighting in the showrooms are very different from lighting in your home.

If you're thinking about redecorating the walls, think about whether you need anything reflective on the walls. You might want to think about having reflective items if you're decorating a dark room.  There are many reflective paints on the market at the moment.

Gwendoline's website :

Categories: Programme Blogs

Science with Sam @smrolfe - Tim Peake, Ozone & Flying Ants

West Herts Drivetime - Mon, 26/09/2016 - 10:08pm

Tim Peake returned to Earth from the ISS after a six month mission. The space probe Juno arrived at Jupiter and successfully entered into orbit.

Flying Ant Day

Royal Society of Biology

Is there a specific, nationwide flying ant day? Hive mind?

Most ant colonies start with a flying ant - when young queens leave the nest to found their own colony.

2012 The figures show that one-fifth of sightings happened on Tuesday 24 July 2012 with another fifth being recorded two weeks later on Wednesday 8 August 2012.

In the time between the two peaks, an area of low pressure moved across the UK.

2013 had four main peaks. The 'ant season' was also longer, with the last flying ant day in 2013 two weeks after the last one in 2012.

2014 There were two flying ant days, compared to four days in 2013.

2015 No detailed info, but seems there were also a few peaks across the summer.

Overall conclusion: there is no flying ant “day” but several days, apparently dependent on weather.

Interested in biology and nature – Biology Week begins 8th October 2016. Google “Biology Week”

Sources: and links therein.

Ozone Hole – update

Have you thought about the hole in the ozone layer recently? No, me either. It is still there. Ozone helps protect us from harmful UV rays from the Sun.

Scientist of the Month

Henrietta Leavitt (1868 – 1921)

Worked at Harvard College Observatory as a computer (one who computes), examining photographic plates measuring and cataloguing the brightness of stars. Originally she was not paid because she had independent means, but later received $0.30 an hour for her work.

Night Sky this month

The Perseids meteor shower is peaking over 11-12th Aug, with up to 90 shooting stars per hour. Peak will occur after the Moon sets after midnight.

Venus and Jupiter (the brightest planets in the sky), will be approximately one-sixth the apparent size of the Moon apart in the sky on 28th Aug.
Categories: Programme Blogs

Science Correspondent - Sam Rolfe

West Herts Drivetime - Mon, 26/09/2016 - 10:08pm

Sam Rolfe our science correspondent joined us tonight.

Tsunamis on Mars

Mars currently relatively dry and cold surface, very difficult for liquid to exist at the surface, but approximately 3 billion years ago, it is thought Mars had a warmer, wetter climate – evidence of liquid flowing on the surface, e.g. channels and fluvial fans.

Mars is split into two approximate regions: the northern younger lowland plains and southern ancient highlands. The relatively flat lowlands thought to be due to an ocean, but a lack of a clear shoreline has created doubt about this theory. Satellite data has revealed a possible major redistribution of sediments at the edge of these two regions.

However, if the shorelines were regularly hit by tsunamis they would be disguised due to sediment build up an otherwise clear coastline. Once the water started to flow back towards the ocean, it cut new backwash channels, which have been identified by the study. Two sediment deposits have been identified, with areas of 800,000 sq km being covered by the older event and 1,000,000 sq km, due to waves of between 50 and 120 m high produced by impacts leaving craters 30 km wide. For comparison, Meteor or Barringer Crater in Arizona is just over a kilometre in diameter.


Wearable Technology Revolution – How many steps should you be doing?
We often hear that we need to hit 10,000 steps a day to be moving towards a healthy lifestyle. Where does this number come from and is it even correct?

In the 1960s, a pedometer was sold in Japan called manpo-kei, translated as 10,000 steps meter and that is where it has come from.

Given that the original 10,000 steps just happened to be how many steps the pedometer could count, it is not a very scientific number. Research says that healthy adults take about 4,000 to 18,000 steps per day and anyone who ups their steps from 1,000 to 10,000 decreases their risk of premature death by 46 %.

Scientist of the Month
Youyou Tu

She worked at the China Academy of Tradition Chinese Medicine, Beijing when awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 for discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria.


What to see in the Night Sky

26th May 00:25 am 4 min Planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Mars
11:30 pm 6 min

27th May 10:38 pm 5 min

28th May 00:14 am 6 min
09:46 pm 4 min
11:21 pm 6 min

29th May 10:28 pm 6 min

30th May 00:05 am 6 min
11:12 pm 6 min

Categories: Programme Blogs

Science Feature 26-09-2016

West Herts Drivetime - Mon, 26/09/2016 - 8:02pm
This month on the Science Feature:  Mapping the Galaxy, The Planet Next Door, Glass solar panels.
Samantha Rolfe

Mapping the GalaxyGAIA is a mission that has been mapping the galaxy since July 2014. It rotates around with two cameras on opposites sides taking images of all points of light. It has mapped over a billion stars, where about 400 million of those are thought to be new discoveries. This is only the beginning as there is so much data that scientists will be exploring the data for years to come.Other than mapping the stars, it will chart the positions of approximately a quarter of a million asteroids and comets in the solar system, a million galaxies and potentially 10,000 undiscovered planets orbiting stars.One of the overall aims is to create a 3D map of the galaxy, which will help further understand our place in it and further the understanding of the evolution of stars and the galaxy and the distribution of dark matter.
The Planet Next DoorProxima Centauri is the nearest star (other than the Sun!) to the Earth. It is approximately 4.2 light years away. With current technology we could reach there in about 80,000 to 90,000 years… which doesn’t sound too promising. However, if even fraction of the speed of light travel could be achieved, we could reach there in a few hundred years or less.Why do we want to go there? A recent discovery found a potentially habitable planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbour. Good news right? We need to find out a lot more about the planet than we already know, but here is what we know: It orbits its star in 11.2 days and is at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth. Due to the type of star that it orbits, smaller and cooler than our Sun, a red dwarf, this means it orbits in the “habitable zone”, where, depending on the type of planet, liquid water can theoretically exist at the surface, like it does on Earth. Great, so we could inhabit it!Let’s think about what we don’t know. We don’t know if it is a rocky planet, we don’t know its radius and we don’t know its exact mass, it could be much greater than 1.3 Earth masses and therefore more like Neptune than Earth.  If it is  rocky planet, being that close to its star poses the following problem: it is likely to be tidally locked, like the Moon is with the Earth – one half of the planet will constantly face the star causing extreme heating and never ending daylight on one side and freezing temperatures and perpetual night on the other.  A haven for life may exist around the terminator, the line between day and night, where temperature could allow for liquid water to exist.
Glass solar panelsImagine if all the glass around us could generate electricity, we would be well on the way to helping solve the energy crisis.Several companies and research teams are working on using see-through solar panels to create electricity, so they could replace current windows, phones could use their screens to keep their charge topped up and skyscrapers could be powerhouses. These panels work by allowing visible light through while trapping the energy from infrared and UV radiation directing the energy towards the edges of the panels where a photovoltaic material transforms it to electricity (similar to the technology used in classic solar panels).This is a fairly new technology, with talk of it having occurred for a few years now, with ideas ranging from films that would stick onto existing glass windows to panes that would replace current windows. But with promise of it being commercially available within the next 2 to 5 years.
Categories: Programme Blogs

Chris' Film Club: Mr Smith Goes to Washington

West Herts Drivetime - Mon, 26/09/2016 - 6:30pm
It's a new week on the Film Club, meaning it's time for a new theme. This week Chris has chosen 'Black and White' Films, starting with 'Mr Smith Goes to Washington'.

The 1939 political film directed by Frank Capra, is about an idealistic US Senator (James Stewart) who gets sucked into the murky Washington political scene. Will his idealism win out?

Also stars Jean Arthur, Claude Raines and Edward Arnold.

Categories: Programme Blogs

Coming Up This Week...

West Herts Drivetime - Mon, 26/09/2016 - 5:13pm
Here's a quick look at what's going to be happening this week on West Herts Drivetime.

Monday: We start this week with a feature with our Science Correspondent Sam Rolfe.

Tuesday: This Tuesday we have our Interior Design feature with Gwendoline Alderton.

Wednesday: Joining us in the studio this week for the Drivetime Sessions is local musician Phoenix O’Neill.

Thursday: We have a double feature. First we have Local News with Sophie Crockett, followed by an Interview with crime novelist M.J. Arlidge.

Friday: We have a brand new Agony Aunt feature with Penelope Pritchett (The Perfect Housewife!) 
If anyone has a problem they would like Penelope to address, please send it to

Categories: Programme Blogs

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 23rd September 2016

West Herts Drivetime - Fri, 23/09/2016 - 11:49pm
The 23rd of September is a special anniversary in the Carver household. On this day, in 1989, Simon realised that the woman who he saw a lot around the house, who gave him food, cleaned his beige jumpers, and kept bailing him out of jail, was actually his wife, Mrs. Carver. So this is the anniversary of Simon realising he had an anniversary to celebrate. Until then he had just been mildly confused about who this woman was and why she would annually set fire to one of his jumpers while screaming 'WHAT HAVE I DONE WITH MY LIFE?!' Luckily, things have got a lot better since then. He even occasionally remembers her name.

Ok, that was a lie, but Simon was in the studio to talk about the UK box office, new releases in the cinema, and his pick of films on TV for the coming week.
The 39 Steps
10.35pm – 12.00am

The Bicycle Thieves
12.15am – 2.05am

The Man Who Would Be King
7.40pm – 9.40pm

12.55am – 4.00am

Miss Congeniality
9.00pm – 11.15pm

10.00pm – 12.20am

Primal Fear
9.00pm – 11.45pm
Movie Mix
Categories: Programme Blogs

Chris' Film Club: The Road

West Herts Drivetime - Thu, 22/09/2016 - 6:30pm
The final 'Dystopian Future' film Chris chose this week is 'The Road', an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy book of the same name.

America is a grim, gray shadow of itself after a catastrophe. A man (Viggo Mortensen) and his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) wander through this post-apocalyptic world, trying to keep the dream of civilization alive. They journey toward the sea, surviving as best they can on what they can scavenge, and try to avoid roving gangs of savage humans who will turn them into slaves, or worse.

Categories: Programme Blogs

Ian, Judi & Barbara from Batchwood Bowls Club

West Herts Drivetime - Thu, 22/09/2016 - 6:29pm
On today's Drivetime Session we saw Ian, Judi & Barbara from Batchwood Bowls Club.

The club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. A unique club welcoming new members with all abilities. On Monday evenings there are social evenings in which new members are welcomed to join. It is the club's focus on ensuring that players of all abilities and ages are welcomed. Players of all abilities, including those completely new to the sport.

For more details please visit their website:

And if you missed the interview you can listen to it by visiting and navigate to Thursday from 5.30pm.

Thanks to the Herts Advertiser for the photo
Categories: Programme Blogs

Testing the water…

Environment Matters - Thu, 22/09/2016 - 8:38am
If you missed the show and would like a 15 minute update on sustainability and the environment in and around St.Albans, listen to or download this week’s podcast now

And you can subscribe to receive our podcasts directly into your inbox on the Radio Verulam Website


The Freshwater Habitats trust is asking people in St.Albans and the South East to test their ponds or other local water habitats so they can map the quality places for wildlife. Hannah Worker explained that the tests are very easy to do and test for excess levels of wildlife harming nitrate and phosphate. The tests are easy enough for families and schools to use.

Order your test kit, find out more and report your results at

Option one of three  which includes hotel, park and ride, care home and up to 100 homes

The latest is a scheme by Hallam Land Management for houses, a hotel, a care home, park and ride and business facilities in a triangle of land next to Watling Street and the Park Street roundabout – and they have distributed glossy leaflets to those living close by showing the benefits of their plan.

The Green Belt around St.Albans seems to be constantly in the eye of developers, thinking up new schemes to tempt us and the planning authorities into supporting.

But local  county councillor Sandy Walkington is not convinced. On the show he spoke about his concern that this scheme would merge Park Street and St.Albans and cause unbearable strain on an already busy roundabout. He saw that before St.Albans Strategic Local Plan was in place, development companies would be testing the water with such schemes. He recommended that local residents who were worried about the scheme should tell Hallam Land Management.

Save Symondshyde: want as many people as possible to write to Welwyn Hatfield Council to object to their plans to build on 140 acres of fields in the heart of the Green Belt. They think Welwyn Hatfield have got this badly wrong and that they haven’t listened to local people.
Save Symondshyde reckon that Welwyn Hatfield aren’t making it easy for people to respond, but don’t worry, they’ve put together an improved easy guide on how to object to the local plan consultation. It’s on their website along with some suggested reasons that you may want to use to help you write your objection.

And if you need some inspiration then go to our blog earlier this month and listen to what John Gardener from Save Symondshyde had to say. And if you’re worried about how best to respond to plans for Symondshyde then John says do get in touch and he’ll be happy to help (
Nifty Food Waste Tip: The focus for this year’s Sustainable St.Albans Week is sustainable food, and, in particular food waste, so each week between now and Sustainable St.Albans Week 19-26 Nov I’ll be collecting and sharing your nifty tips on keeping food on plates and out of the bin.

If you have a tip, share it with us on twitter @RV_environment or email This week Steve suggested saving up leftovers in the fridge and then having a leftovers night one day in the week. He said it made a nice change, was a super easy meal and gave them some creative ideas for food combinations!

Herts Hike boot logo [847656]

There’s some great events coming up this weekend:

On Saturday, Walk in aid of Oxfam for the 21st Annual Herts Hike. You can choose between 3, 5, 8, 14 or 20 mile routes through the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside & can choose which you would like to tackle on the day.

All money raised goes straight to this years “Weather proofing” project  in Honduras where farming families on the frontline of climate change are helped to feed themselves despite more frequent droughts and floods.  Click here to learn more – Honduras Project

You could ask your company if they would be willing to participate in the Match Funding scheme where they match every pound you raise & can double your money?

Why not get a team together & compete with other teams to raise the most money?  Teams can be anything from 2 to 100 so invite all your friends & colleagues!   This year Oxfam are challenging you to do the “20 for 20” – can you get a group of 20 people to walk 20 miles?

If you’re not keen to walk but can donate 2 hours of your time then Oxfam are looking for  helpers and  marshals.

Next Tuesday join the HMWT for a family bat walk:, 27/09/2016 – 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Come and join us for a family friendly bat walk around the Common and listen out for these elusive creatures using bat detectors. Please note that this walk is weather dependent. Meet at Harpenden Cricket Club car park.

Categories: Programme Blogs

The Drivetime Sessions with Abbie Gathard

West Herts Drivetime - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 6:31pm

The Drivetime Sessions was joined today for the first time by Abbie Gathard. She performed two beautiful original compositions titled 'Never Forgotten' and 'Drifting Away' as well as an excellent cover of Extremes 'More Than Words'.

For more information about Abbie Gathard you can visit her Facebook page here or her Youtube channel here.

You can listen to this weeks Drivetime Session again by visiting and navigating to 5:30 on Wednesday.
Categories: Programme Blogs

Chris' Film Club: Hunger Games: Catching Fire

West Herts Drivetime - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 6:30pm
Next on the Film Club is the second Hunger Games installment 'Catching Fire'

After arriving safely home from their unprecedented victory in the previous Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark discover that they must do a quick turnaround and begin a Victors Tour. As she and Peeta travel throughout the districts, Katniss senses a rebellion is stirring. However, President Snow proves that he is still very much in control when word comes of a cruel change in the rules for the upcoming 75th Hunger Games.

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson Star.

Categories: Programme Blogs

Chris' Film Club: Elysium

West Herts Drivetime - Tue, 20/09/2016 - 6:30pm
Moving along the theme of 'Dystopias' for this week's Film Club, today Chris chooses to look at 'District 9' Director Neil Blomkamp's 'Elysium'.

It’s 2154 and the Earth is overpopulated and polluted, with many living in poverty and with no healthcare. The rich are living on Elysium, a luxurious space habitat in the Earth’s orbit. Matt Damon plays a thief on parole, who desperately needs the to get to Elysium to save his life.
Also stars Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga and William Fichtner 
Categories: Programme Blogs

Bake it Easy with Lucy Clark @heavensacupcake- Scones

West Herts Drivetime - Tue, 20/09/2016 - 5:49pm
Today on Bake it Easy, Lucy (@heavensacupcake) talked to us about how to make scones.

350g Self Raising Flour
1⁄4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
85g Butter
45g Caster Sugar
175ml Semi Skimmed Milk
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1 egg, beaten (for glaze)

• Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan oven/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

• Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt with a wooden spoon. Rub the butter in finely until you get a kind of bread crumb mixture.

•Stir in the sugar and then add the milk to get a soft dough.

• Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Roll out to aprrox 2cm/3⁄4in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to cut out rounds and place onto prepared baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and cut out more scones to use it all up.

• Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.

• Cool on a wire rack and serve with jam & clotted cream.
Categories: Programme Blogs

Chris' Film Club: Escape From New York

West Herts Drivetime - Mon, 19/09/2016 - 6:30pm
This week Chris has chosen the Film Club theme of  'Dystopian Futures', starting off with 'Escape From New York'.

The 1981 John Carpenter film is set in a dystopian 1997, where New York has become a prison island. When Air Force One is hijacked and crashes into the island, the president (Donald Pleasence) is taken hostage by a group of inmates. and Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), a former Special Forces soldier turned criminal, is recruited to retrieve the president in exchange for his own freedom.

Categories: Programme Blogs