Featured Photos July 6, 2024 – Life Imitating Art

Featured Photos July 6, 2024 – Life Imitating Art

Or is this life imitating art imitating life? 

In the Devonshire Mystery I’m working on, I wrote a scene just the other day in which Alan and a friend (no spoilers) visit a cafe on Dartmoor, the real life Ullacombe Farm. They find the place crowded, partly because a classic car club had chosen the place for their rally. Alan studies the cars on display, taking a fancy to an MG.

This was inspired by a real-life visit to the cafe many years ago, in which the same thing happened to me and my family. We enjoyed seeing the cars, but had to wait an age for our lunch because the place was practically bursting at the seams.

Our recent visit was a little different. There was a small rally of collectible cars, but it was on the nearby moor, and the cafe was actually very quiet. Still, it always strikes me as funny when I write something and then experience something like it immediately afterwards. There was even an MG, and a car like this is an important part of the new mystery.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

 

To see the rest of the photos and to comment, please sign in. Registration is free. Thanks.

You need to be logged in to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us
Featured Photos June 30, 2024 – Dartmoor

Featured Photos June 30, 2024 – Dartmoor

Mrs C and I went up onto Dartmoor for a stroll and a picnic. It was a fine day, and we stopped at Haytor Rocks. I’ve shared photos from here before, but the view varies with the seasons, and I always enjoy this spot. The light was perfect and we could see for miles, all the way to the sea on the horizon.

You may recognise the rocks from the cover of Accomplice to Murder. I believe it was also used for the cover of A Study in Stone, though it was pictured from further away and elements were added by the designer.

Many of these distinctive rocky outcrops have names in which Tor is a separate word, e.g. Hound Tor or Laughter Tor, but Haytor is one word.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

 

To see the rest of the photos and to comment, please sign in. Registration is free. Thanks.

You need to be logged in to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us
A Snippet from the Upcoming Devonshire Mystery

A Snippet from the Upcoming Devonshire Mystery

This is a very early draft and the book doesn’t have a title.

Here we have a character from Valley of Lies making another appearance.

Most writers don’t share first drafts at all, but I’m happy to share it with members of the site, and that means you’ll need to register or sign in.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

Her trusty trug in the crook of her arm, Marjorie Treave let herself into the chicken run and securely fastened the door behind her. Her bantams were a feisty bunch, and there were one or two who’d make a dash for freedom given half a chance.

But today, they obediently gathered around her, gazing up expectantly.

“Here you go, my lovelies,” Marjorie cooed, dipping into the trug to dispense a generous handful of freshly pulled weeds from the garden and offcuts of vegetables from the kitchen. The chickens set to, clucking excitedly as they pecked away. A few of the dandelions were complete with roots, and the soil clinging to them harboured slugs and insects or even, if the chickens were lucky, a worm or two.

Her flock contented, Marjorie strolled over to the hen house. The chicken wire enclosure was topped with nylon netting to keep the wild birds out—a precaution against outbreaks of bird flu and the like—but there was plenty of headroom, and she could walk across the run without stooping. The henhouse, too, was of generous proportions. The size of a small shed, she’d had it built by Jay Markham, before he’d turned his hand to painting and decorating, and he’d done a decent job. At any rate, the henhouse was a few years old but still kept her flock warm and dry, and there were extra ventilation slots that could be opened in the warmer months.

She’d insisted on the whole thing being built with good quality timber, all of it planed smooth, and though Jay had grumbled about the extra work, it had paid dividends. She’d had no problems with the mites that made their home in less well built henhouses, and while she had breath in her body, so it would remain.

Marjorie examined the wood shavings on the floor. It didn’t need changing yet, a fact helped by the drier weather, and the straw lining the nest boxes was still in good condition.

Marjorie inspected the nest boxes and murmured, “Well done, girls.” Between the four nest boxes there were five eggs, their pure white shells clean, and some were still warm when she picked them up and placed them gently in her trug. She checked the small containers of crushed oyster shells hanging on the henhouse wall, and they were fine. All that remained was to change the birds’ drinking water. Marjorie lifted the plastic drinker carefully so as not to spill a drop, but as she stepped out the henhouse, she almost let go of the thing entirely.

A young man stood in the lane, watching her over the fence. The narrow road reached her house and ended in a turning circle, so it was used only by visitors, or those who came to buy eggs or honey or homemade jam at the garden gate. This young man looked like he didn’t belong in either category.

He was tall and deeply tanned, and though he couldn’t have been more than twenty-five or so, he wore a full beard. His long hair was tied back, and there was something about his brown eyes that put Marjorie in mind of a film star, though she couldn’t, for the life of her, remember the actor’s name.

“Hello,” she called out, her tone making it clear that she didn’t enjoy being spied on. “Are you lost?”

Sign in to keep reading or register if you haven’t already

You need to be logged in to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us
Featured Photos June 20, 2024 – Hull and Back

Featured Photos June 20, 2024 – Hull and Back

Mrs C and I went to a family gathering up in Hull recently, and of course, I took a few snaps to share.

Hull is one of those places that is much maligned, but it has a lot to offer.

There’s an old saying, “From Hell, Hull, and Halifax, may the Good Lord deliver us.” A quick search reveals that this dates from the 17th century and may have originated as a thieves’ litany: a type of prayer or incantation used by thieves as they parted ways. It’s easy to see why thieves wanted to avoid hell, but you may not know that Hull had a notorious jail, although it would’ve been spelled gaol, and Halifax had a gibbet, which was an early type of guillotine.

Once a fantastically busy and important port, Hull has some fine buildings. I don’t know enough of the city’s history to comment on where that wealth came from, but these days Hull is a mixture of ancient and modern. It was awarded the city of culture status a while back, and I believe that entails some investment. Certainly the old part of the city is very nice, with waterside bars and cafes and independent shops selling vintage clothing and the like.

I hope you find some interest in the photos. 

A theatre, and in the foreground, Queen Victoria looking down from on high.

A lightship.

 

To see the rest of the photos and to comment, please sign in. Registration is free. Thanks.

You need to be logged in to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us
Featured Photos June 1, 2024 – The Exeter Quay

Featured Photos June 1, 2024 – The Exeter Quay

We took a trip to Exeter to stroll along the quay the other day, and I was impressed how this area has been brought to life with cafes and shops and bars. It almost feels like being on the Med.

The Exeter Quay features in a couple of my books, so that may be of interest. In Accomplice to Murder, Dan runs along the quay and also talks to a certain policeman, and in Lawful Duty, characters visit a nightclub and a cafe. The cafe is shown below, although I did fictionalise it. There is a nightclub, but I invented one for the book.

I hope you like the photos.

To see the rest of the photos and to comment, please sign in. Registration is free. Thanks.

You need to be logged in to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Get Free Books

Plus a newsletter worth reading

Thank you for signing up. Please check your inbox for a confirmation email and click on the activation link.