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The past few weeks have been busy with PhD work, work-work, home life, injections in my neck (fun times) and everything in-between. I’m not complaining though. Being still isn’t really for me. However, I have realised that I do need to plan in moments of calm amongst the (organised) chaos. I’ll see how that pans out!

What have I been up to in PhD land? Online courses, literature review work and wishing that 18 year old me had paid more attention in ‘A’ Level Sociology. Thirty years creates quite a lot of hindsight. But, 18 year old me had a great time at college and got to university, despite the frequency of time spent down the pub…I digress.

Luckily for me, being an ARU student gives me access to a wealth of online courses via Epigeum, as well as the excellent content provided by the university itself. In the past fortnight I have completed courses on research methods in literature review and social sciences; research planning; research skills; and becoming an ethical researcher. Plus, live sessions introducing me to life as a PhD research student, how to access library resources and refining my proposal. The resubmission of my proposal is slightly daunting. Cutting something in half, yet somehow adding to it is no mean feat. I do appreciate the value of the task though, as it is helping me to focus.

I have set one day aside, away from work, to study. This has been slightly scuppered already, with author events via my bookshop, but I have clawed back time over the weekend and evenings.

Next steps? I have supervision tomorrow, to discuss the proposal and try to get my brain around the construction of a usable Gantt. Other items on my ‘to do’ list are to choose an ERN to start documenting my research in a more systematic way; take some time to familiarise myself with the electronic archives at ARU and read this:

Until next time.

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Goodness Gracious Gantt

Apologies for the radio silence; it’s been a very busy few weeks, with work, family life and studying all thrown into the mix.

As a research student at ARU, I need to resubmit my proposal under very strict guidelines. The main challenge for me is to cut the original document in half, whilst adding in detail. I am naturally quite wordy when I write, so this is going to be tricky. However, after a great training session today, I feel more focused, so let’s see where the editing process takes me!

Over the next week, I will be tackling the Gantt. I’ll be honest, I’d never even heard of a Gantt until last month, during supervision with Professor Eugene Giddens. I now understand the premise and even the purpose, but going from a blank page to something that tracks the next 6 year trajectory, to look like this,

scares me (slightly).

Today has been the most full on day so far. I began with two back-to-back online sessions. The first was about the resub and the second a ‘how to’ for PGR Pro. My tech skills are average at best, but the training definitely boosted my confidence.

This afternoon was taken up with another online training session, this time via Epigeum. Part way through the course on ethics, I silently berated the 18 year old me for not concentrating as well as she could have in A Level Sociology. However, there’s no telling a teen that her future self would really appreciate a better attitude. I made myself proud though and passed with flying colours. No one warned me that there was a test!

What’s next? I have a list: edit the proposal (again, following the very helpful notes from Professor Giddens; continue reading the literature; tackle that Gantt.

Until next time.

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Long time no blog

Hello lovelies. Apologies for the distinct lack of blogging over the past few months. The weirdness of the year stole my blogging mojo from me, but I can feel it creeping back, ever so slowly.

First and foremost, how are you? I mean that. Life is tough and we are here for you. You can come in for a chat, as much as a book. Since re-opening, the chats with customers have definitely been the highlight.

Anyhoo, we have been busy, so thank-you. We truly appreciate the support that has come our way. It’s a privilege (and relief) that we not only survived, but thrived during lockdown. Phew!

As life begins to readjust, we are moving back towards in-person clubs and events. The book club for adults is proving very popular. So much so, that we will be running three separate groups in the same week. Spaces are full for now, unless you would like to join via zoom, in which case, so let me know.

We are working with the glorious Brentwood Theatre, to bring families a summer festival of arts…watch this space for an announcement very soon.

That’s it for today. I just wanted to poke my head above the parapet, give a friendly wave and let you know that we are here for you.

Until next time, happy reading.

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New Section

With the 12th of April looming, the shop has had a bit of a spruce up. Children who are looking for short chapters with lots of illustration, will have their own nook to investigate. The early reading section has also been relocated, just away from picture books, so that our emerging independent readers feel a bit more grown up!

The Games Workshop stock has been shuffled around too, to make way for a section for adults. Not ‘adult’ books though – that would be a very different kind of shop! We will be stocking a range of fiction and non-fiction, including some beautiful signed editions and indie exclusives as they come in.

We are looking forward to removing the desk from the doorway, so that you can come in for a browse. You just cannot beat a good old mooch around a shop can you?

In the meantime, do take a look at the events page, which is bursting with fabulous activities to keep you busy over the Easter hols.

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World Book Day News

Here’s the thing. We love WBD and what it stands for, we really do. At its heart, the day is about getting a book into the hands of as many as children as possible. It raises awareness of the importance of books. Wonderful.

However, it comes at a price. Not to you, the consumer, but to us, the booksellers. And that’s fine too, to a degree. We choose to buy in to the scheme. The bugbear is that every year, many people come in with several tokens per child, asking us to redeem them. We do not get that £1 back. So, if it’s exchanged for a WBD title, all well and good. But, if it’s used to offset the price of another book, not so great. To put it into perspective for you, the average £6.99 paperback costs us £4.05 to buy in. The mark up is poor! Once you factor in rent, rates, blah, blah, blah…you can start to understand why there aren’t many millionaire bookshop owners!

To that end, we simply can not sustain the £1 off model. Especially when the tokens are now available via MacDonald’s, various children’s magazines and schools too.

So, I hope that you understand why we’re being tough this year. Please do come and exchange your token with us – we love seeing you. Even it’s just on the doorstep! But, we will no longer be discounting books with the WBD token.

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The C Word

I know, I know, it’s only September. I’m sorry…not really!

I wanted to let you know about two things that are happening in the coming months, both linked to Christmas.

The first is that we are teaming up with Children first Fostering Agency again, to gift books to children in care. We gift wrap, label, and deliver your kind donations, plus our own donations. Your generosity has been amazing, so let’s keep it going for 2020.

The second is, that after negotiation with the elves, Mrs Claus has cleared space in her diary so that she can visit Brentwood in November. She will be here for two days. Saturday is a drop-in grotto for everyone. However, we will need to be COVID safe, so you may need to wait outside – wrap up warm, please.

Sunday is for children with sensory needs only and must be booked in advance. Mrs Claus will be visiting Chicken and Frog on Sunday 29th November. This grotto is for families who have a child/children with sensory needs only. Siblings are welcome and will also receive a gift. Please do not book a space unless you have a child with sensory needs. When you book, do let me know the names and ages of the child/ren, plus anything I should avoid re lighting and/or sound.





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Choo Choo

Have we got a fabulous competition for you!

Thanks to Hornby and Pan Macmillan, the train set that is currently travelling around our window, could be yours!

Why? Well, it’s to celebrate the awesome new book, Kidnap on the California Comet, from authors  M.G.Leonard and Sam Sedgman, and illustrator Elisa Paganelli.

All you need to do is come to the shop, solve the riddles in the window and hand in your form. Good luck!

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What’s Up?

Hello dear reader. I hope that you are well. As it’s been a little while, I thought I’d pop up to say hello and let you know what our plans are for the near future.

As of 1st September, our classes will revert back to face to face. We are doing everything that we can to keep your children safe – hand sanitiser, social distancing and regular cleaning down of surfaces. However, if you would prefer Zoom lessons, they are also available from Year 5 to 11, for English, maths and the 11+. More information re tuition at Chicken and Frog can be found here.

We have two book clubs running. One is for age 8+ and the other is for adults who love children’s books. Both of these are available face to face and via Zoom. In fact, we have gone international with our children’s book club, which is very exciting.

Storytime will continue via Facebook Live and Instagram, as we feel that it would be almost impossible to create a socially distanced group for pre-schoolers. The sessions run every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30am but can be viewed via Facebook at any time. In fact, there must be around 40 videos up by now, so feel free to dip in if you need a 20-minute break!

There are so many events coming up for you, including the following:

Take a look at our events page for more!

Lastly, if you are a teacher, or involved in schools, do get in touch, as we have an incredible schedule of online events for the new academic year.

Take care of yourselves and keep on reading,


p.s. We have two events taking place this week:

You will need a code for the Microsoft session!