Mervyn Linford

Location: Lavenham, Suffolk, CO10 9SG
About me...

I am an author, poet and small press publisher (Littoral Press). I write mostly about nature, both in prose and poetry. My country journals concern themselves with such subjects as natural history, farming, country pursuits, the weather, poetry, the arts, local history, country life in general and much, much, more……. My poetry is also nature orientated but not entirely. Some 30% of my poems are satirical and concern themselves with the socio/political and economic world we inhabit.

About my Talks and Readings...

My talks and readings are all ‘stand-alone’ – I do not need any special equipment.


My fee is just £40 – I will reduce this amount for any groups who for whatever reason are genuinely lacking the necessary finance – although I will have to make a moderate charge for my fuel if the distance from Lavenham is more than 25 miles.

My Contact Details:

01787 248015


-Talks & Readings-

Journey Down the Stour

Journey down the Stour is a talk inspired by the book of the same name which took some three years to write. It follows the river from its source in Cambridgeshire and then through the Suffolk and Essex borders until it enters the North Sea between Felixstowe and Harwich. The talk covers such subjects as: nature, farming, the arts, poetry, the countryside, country sports, the weather, local history and much more.

 Small Press Publishing in the Digital Age

I have run a ‘small press’ – the Littoral Press, for about ten years. Initially I set it up to publish my own prose and poetry but it has developed into a not-for-profit enterprise publishing other poets and occasionally other writers’ prose. In the talk I shall explain such things as how to go about obtaining ISBN numbers, Nielsen Book Data, desk top publishing, book distributors, the problems of placing work in bookstores etc. what printers require from publishers, the intricacies of black and white and colour printing, book sizes, paper weights and sizes and much, much more.

Willow Pond – A 1950s Childhood in Southeast Essex

This talk is about a 1950s childhood in Southeast Essex. I moved from the bombsites and prefabs of Canning Town in the East End of London in 1952 into one of the first Estates to be built in Basildon New Town. The transformation from city life to the countryside, as it was all around our estate in those days, was a revelation to this particular child and my love of nature and wildlife was formed in these early years. The talk not only explores the life of a child in the countryside in the 1950s but his exploits around and about the marshes and creeks bordering the Thames Estuary. The ‘Plotlands’ feature heavily in the talk: in the late 19th Century due to an agricultural depression marginal land went out of production. The Basildon area’s soil geology was mostly confined to London Clay – intractable in the winter and cracked to enormous chasms in the summer – very marginal! Enterprising estate agents from London bought up the land and sold it off in small plots to those wishing to build themselves a summer ‘residence’. Truth is most of these ‘residences’ were no more than jerry-built shacks. During the Blitz people moved in permanently to avoid the bombing and some of them stayed put after the war. This was the ‘Plotlands’ – jerry-built but as the smallest of small holdings go; paradise to the self-sufficient.

Bullshit & Bootlace Ties – Basildon Boys, Southend Girls – A Teenage Extravaganza

This autobiographical extravaganza covers my transition from Teddy Boy to volunteer Soldier in the 1960s. Subtitled Basildon Boys – Southend Girls, it relives the so-called era of free love and flower power. For me it was drape suits, motor bikes, heavily made-up girls with big hair and eventually square bashing and fatigues in Her Majesty’s Armed Services. Nostalgias not what it used to be – or is it?!!!!!!!


Reflections: Twelve Months, Twelve Moods along the Chelmer/Blackwater Navigation 

Reflections: The talk is subtitled Twelve Months, Twelve Moods, along the Chelmer/Blackwater Navigation. The months and the moods concern the areas natural history and the reflections look into the local history of the surrounding countryside and the actual history of the Navigation itself. The canal runs from Heybridge Basin and its sea lock into the River Blackwater and westwards to the very centre of the City of Chelmsford with its modern marinas. Come for a gentle voyage with yours truly – no need for a lifebelt, just sit back, relax, and float through history, the water meadows and the seasons.

The Incomplete Dangler – Fifty years of Sea and Freshwater Fishing – Tidal Tales, Stillwater Stories

This is not a talk about the finer points of the angler’s art. There are a few hints and wrinkles for those with a technical disposition but mostly the talk is about the trials and tribulations involved throughout 50 years of sea and freshwater fishing – with a smidgen of game fishing thrown in for good measure. Humour and nature are at the fore and a succession of fish of various real and imagined sizes swim through the stillwater tales and tidal anecdotes of the watery background. All in all this is a talk where fun and fact both compete for their own ascendancy and for the piscatorial attention of a hopefully hooked and landed audience. Don’t worry I shall leave the ‘priest’ at home (Priest: blunt instrument for dispatching fish!)

Basildon New Town – A Memoir 1952-1969 – Plotland Memories and much more

In the summer of 1952 at the tender age of six years I moved from the prefabs and the bombsites of Canning Town in the East End of London to Basildon New Town. In those days Pitsea was still a marshland village and the Barstable Estate where I lived and the Whitmore Way Estate some two miles to the Northwest were home to the only new-built dwellings. The rest consisted of farms, fields, ‘wasteland’, smallholdings, hawthorn thickets, elm trees, creeks, saltings and from the high ground of One Tree Hill views of the distant sea across the floodplains of the Thames Estuary. This memoir charts the evolution of the town from its basically rural beginnings to the vast urban network that Basildon has since become. Although, even now after seventy years in the making, one can still find areas around the edges of the town where escape from the fast pace and incessant noise of the 21st century can be achieved. Wat Tyler Country Park and Pitsea Marina combine to soothe the digital breakup of the postmodern mind with the therapeutic benefits of both coast and countryside. One Tree Hill and Langdon Hills, which attain almost ‘mountainous proportions’ alongside the coastal flatlands of Southern Essex elevate the soul and the senses with their natural charms and the ‘Plotland’ museum at Dunton takes one back to a simpler and less stressful time of open fields, ersatz buildings, vegetable plots, orchards, well-water, oil lamps and self-sufficiency: the ‘Good Old Days?’ Perhaps – we’ll see!

- Talks about my Country Journals -

Notes from the Fields – Great Bardfield, Finchingfield, Wethersfield – known locally as ‘The Fields’

Great Bardfield, Finchingfield and Wethersfield in North West Essex are known locally as the ‘Fields’. I lived there for a number of years and these notes explore all aspects of village life, farming, the weather, local history, the flora and fauna, the arts, literature, religion and much more through one particularly valued and various seasonal cycle in this isolate yet  community conscious ‘Thatch Country’.

Lavenham to Leigh-on-Sea – Country Ways, Coastal Waters

Although I now live on the outskirts of Lavenham in Suffolk I still spend a fair proportion of my time in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex where my partner lives. I lived in the Southend-on-Sea area for some 38 years and only left the town that I loved because I felt the need to return to my roots – not in Suffolk per se, being an Essex man, but in the countryside of Basildon as it was before it became subsumed under brick and concrete. As a writer I am now in the enviable position of having both the coast and the countryside at my creative disposal.  Whether it’s looking out of my study window at the fallow deer feeding on the edge of an owl haunted wood next to farmland close to Lavenham – or whether it’s meandering along the seawall at Two Tree Island in the Thames Estuary close to Leigh-on-Sea as thousands of brent geese feeding on the eelgrass across the mudflats lift up in one cacophonous black and boisterous cloud ‘barking’ like all the hounds of hell – inspiration is as close and typographically convenient as the nearest QWERTY keyboard.

The Dengie Diaries – A year on the Dengie Peninsula

Between the Rivers Crouch and Blackwater and bordering the North Sea one finds the incomparable landscape-cum-seascape known as the Dengie Peninsula. In many ways this is a place apart compared with the rest of Essex. The low hills, creeks and marshes, weather-boarded villages and St Peter’s on the Wall, a 7th century Christian chapel built by order of St Cedd from Lindisfarne with material salvaged from the ruins of a Roman Fort, leaves one in a world as foreign as it is familiar. Be prepared for stories about the ‘Forts of the Saxon Shore’, punt gunners, Oystermen, decoy ponds, Thames barges under full magnificent sail, cockle spits, places with such magical names as Bradwell juxta Mare, Steeple, Stone , Saint Lawrence, and Burnham Week – second only to Cowes on the Isle of Wight in the yachting calendar.

The Coggeshall Chronicles – Essex & Beyond

‘Silly Suffolk’ is nothing compared with Coggeshall in Essex. The saying “A Coggeshall job” was used in Essex from the 17th to the 19th century to mean any poor or pointless piece of work, after the reputed stupidity of its villagers. There were numerous stories of the inhabitants’ ridiculous endeavours, such as chaining up a wheelbarrow in a shed after it had been bitten by a rabid dog, for fear it would go mad. John Ray’s 1670 Collection of English Proverbs gives the following rhyme:  Braintree for the pure, Bocking for the poor; Coggeshall for the jeering town, And Kelvedon for the whore.

The phrase is said to have originated one day when Coggeshall’s town clock chimed 11 times at noon. When the villagers heard that the town clock at Lexden had struck 12 times at 11 o’clock, they rode to the town to collect the missing stroke. Other jobs included winching up a cow onto the church roof to eat the grass growing there, knocking down one of two windmills as there would not be enough wind for both of them, attempting to divert the course of the river with hurdles, hanging sheets over roads to prevent the wind from blowing disease into the town, chopping the head off a lamb to free it from a gate, removing stairs from a house to stop flood water entering.

On the other hand Coggeshall is one of the most picturesque towns I have ever lived in – and that includes the timber framed and tourist friendly Suffolk town where I now reside. Like the aforesaid habitation it was a medieval wool town of some importance and its church St Peters ad Vincula (Saint Peter in Chains) is just as proportionately impressive as Lavenham’s St Peters and St Pauls. There was money in wool and there are historical riches to be found in Coggeshall and the surrounding areas – both natural and societal. Come along to my talk and spend what money can’t buy – time in the virtual world of words and an hour of wonderment.

- Essex & Suffolk Miscellany -

Essex and Suffolk - People, Places, Nature, Local History and more......

Poetry Reading and Talk about the people, places, nature, and local history etc.…….of Essex & Suffolk

I have been writing and publishing poetry for nearly fifty years. Approximately 70% of my work is nature orientated. The other 30% concerns itself with various topics allied to my socio/political and economic interests – satire is never far away from these concerns. Essex and Suffolk Miscellany is both a talk and a poetry reading. The nature, people, places, history and many other aspects of these two contrasting counties where I have lived for almost a lifetime come together to paint a picture in words and poetic imagery that hopefully conjures something of their unique and inspirational characteristics. The music and the meaning of words will drift in and out of the imaginative spaces both virtual and real from the Thames to the Waveney, from the Broadlands to the Brecklands and from the Suffolk Stour to the Eessx saltings.

Mervyn Linford Contact Details:

01787 248015


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