Thursday 31 March 2022


At the weekend i visited Stratford-upon-Avon, incredibly i haven't been to the town for at nearly four years. When i was writing my dissertation (on the economic effect of the coal trade and new transport links on the Stratford economy in the 18 and 19th century in case you wonder) in the early 2010s i was visiting practically every week! To be honest i had grown a little bored of the place so it was useful to see if absence can make the heart grow fonder. 

Indeed it does, i have missed the place and had a nice walk along the Avon and back through the town.

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Golden Age (33) : The Rynox Mystery

This crime story by Philip MacDonald is an unusual Golden Age novel, in that it deals primarily with financial crime rather than some toff murdered in a country house. 

The story is unusual for a number of other reasons, there is no real detective on show, the structure of the story is also unusual for a Golden Age novel with the epilogue at the start! However, this does set up the mystery nicely. The story follows in three acts and concludes with the prologue (of course).

The story maybe lacks much in the way of action though has some interesting twists and turns and is well written. An unusual story that just about doesn't outstay it's welcome. An enjoyable read though you probably wouldn't want to read many stories like this.

Monday 28 March 2022

Sunday 27 March 2022

London Trip Day 2 (All over the place)

The second day of my London trip last weekend took me all over the capital. I went to Barking in the East over to Hampstead and Camden in the North and then over to Eastcote in the West. You can see my photos here

Friday 25 March 2022

Churches (137) : St Mary, Pype Hayes

The parish church of St Mary in the Pype Hayes area of Birmingham was built between 1929 and 1930 out of red brick and designed by EF Reynolds. The church construction was funded through the sale of land of a former St Mary's church which stood where Birmingham Children's Hospital now stands. 

The church has a seven bay nave with passage aisles and a clerestory. At the East of the church is the chancel and transeptal chapels.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

London Trip Day 1 (West and East)

At the weekend i had a three day trip to the capital, on day 1 i travelled arounds West London, including walking along Moscow Road! Later on i headed East and had a walk around Poplar Dock in East London near Canary Wharf. You can see my railway photos here and my Poplar Dock photos here.

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Golden Age (32) : The Silk Stocking Murders

The Silk Stocking Murders by Anthony Berkeley involves a sexual sadist murderer who hangs girls using silk stockings, quite racy for a late 1920s detective novel!

As this is a true Golden Age crime novel, the main detective work is carried out by an enthusiastic amateur (in this case Roger Sheringham) who benefits from a very accepting police force. The crimes are at first treated as suicide but Roger suspects foul play. How he proves it and unmasks the murderer is very innovative, to the point of absurdity but at least it is pretty unique...

A decent read, full of period feel (not always for the best, the story is marred by anti-Semiticism). Sheringham is a good detective hero, not quite as clever as he thinks he is. He makes mistakes and this adds to the richness of his character.

Monday 21 March 2022

Friday 18 March 2022

Churches (136) : St Paul, Bedford

The parish church of St Paul in Bedford is the largest Anglican church in Bedfordshire and is a former collegiate church. King Offa founded the original church in Bedford in the 8th century, he might be buried here. The church was destroyed in fighting between the Saxons and Danes in 1009. 

The current church dates from the 13th century though little of this church remains. Most of the church has been rebuilt in later centuries, including the steeple and transepts in the 19th century.

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Model Week : New track

The first model railway for awhile, nothing much has been going on since the arrival of the new loco. Today though some new track arrived and soon the final phase of the Birches Green layout will begin. This will be a small depot with stabling space for a couple of locomotives. We need a couple of more pieces of track yet but hopefully work on the depot can start soon.

Tuesday 15 March 2022

Golden Age (31) : The Colour of Murder

The Colour of Murder by Julian Symonds is an unusual and interesting crime novel. The crime is told in two ways, through a psychiatric assessment of the defendant told via a first person narration and also via the trial itself. 

The defendant is an unexceptional man, living a routine life with a dull but solid career and an unhappy marriage. He begins to fantasise about a young woman at the library who he thinks likes her with eventual terrible consequences.

The story is very good, with a number of levels of ambiguity to make the reader unsure as to what exactly happened and who is at fault. Despite the fact that the main characters are all rather unsympathetic in various ways and to carying degrees (this can make the first part rather hard going at times), this is an engaging story with a number of twists. 

Sunday 13 March 2022


After last week's lengthy trip to London, this week i stayed fairly local. I went to Longton near to Stoke-on-Trent. I took photos of the station, the parish church and of course a few pottery kilns! You can see my photos here.

Friday 11 March 2022

Churches (135) : St Mary and All Saints, Fillongley

The parish church of St Mary and All Saints in the Warwickshire village of Fillongley dates from the 12th century though most of the current church is from later. The West tower is 13th century though the bell stage is 15th. The chancel is 12th century though has a 14th century nave with an embattled parapet.

The church is built from coursed sandstone rubble. Fillongley is the British settlement furthest from the sea, so presumably the church is the furthest from the sea as well!

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Tuesday 8 March 2022

Oxfordshire Places (5) : Islip

The village of Islip is in between Bicester and Oxford. The village has existed since Saxon times and most notably was the birthplace of Saint (and King) Edward the Confessor. Remains of a Roman villa have also been found nearby showing the area has been inhabited for millennia.

In the Domesday Book Islip was recorded as having a water mill and had a predominantly agricultural economy. The London-Worcester Road forded, and later crossed by a bridge, the river Ray at Islip. This gave Islip a strategic importance during the Civil War with both sides occupying the village at different times.

Islip gained a railway station in 1850. The station was closed in 1967 but re-opened in 1989. The church of St Nicholas is Norman dating from 1200 (Edward the Confessor was baptised in an earlier church in Islip). 

Sunday 6 March 2022

Hidden London Moorgate

A couple of years ago i was booked to do a Hidden London tour of Moorgate tube station but unfortunately the pandemic got in the way! Yesterday i was finally able to do the tour and it was worth the wait, one of the best Hidden London tours i have been on with some pretty hardcore service area exploration. You can see my photos here.

Friday 4 March 2022

Churches (134) : St John the Baptist, Bromsgrove

The parish church of St John the Baptist in the Worcestershire town of Bromsgrove was built the 12th century. Most of the current church is from the 14th and 15th centuries. The church has a West tower with a spire. It has a four bay arcade perpendicular to the nave. There is a clerestory and battlements.

The church is made from sandstone. It was restored in 1858.

Thursday 3 March 2022

A new typewriter

Another typewriter arrived this week, our seventh. Maybe it's time to consider a blog on typewriters and other old office technology? Anyway the latest machine is this Adsit branded (but actually built by Smith Corona) Graduate. It works fine unless you want to type the letter A.

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Oxfordshire Places (4) : Bicester

Bicester is a market town in the North Eastern corner of the county. Bicester has Saxon roots. The church of St Edburg may have been founded in the 7th century as a minster (though rebuilt in the early Norman period). Bicester was listed in the Domesday Book as Berencestra and became an important ecclesiastical centre with a priory in the town. A market and fair was established in the 13th century.

Bicester gained a railway station in 1850, now known as Bicester Village after the adjacent shopping centre. Bicester North was opened in 1910. Bicester is also close to the M40 motorway. During the late 20th century Bicester was one of Oxfordshire's fastest growing towns.