Tuesday 31 January 2023

Golden Age (40) : The House Opposite

The House Opposite by J. Jefferson Farjeon is apparently the second Ben the Tramp story. Now Ben is the main character of this tale, a good old gentleman of the road who stumbles upon mysterious and even murderous goings on in the house opposite the one he is squatting in.

Ben is reluctantly drawn in to try and solve the mysterious goings on. The story is fairly unusual but at times a bit hard going. I've always found trying to read strong dialect is a bit tedious but i suppose it makes Ben more authentic. Once the story gets going its worth the read but getting there without giving up is the key.

Sunday 29 January 2023


Yesterday i headed up to the wonderfully named North Shropshire town of Wem. Its a nice place full of timber framed buildings and other old architecture. Its all a bit crumbly and worn down too which adds to the interest to be honest. You can see my photos here.

Friday 27 January 2023

Churches (169) : St Andrew, Wilmcote

The parish church of St Andrew in Wilmcote, Warwickshire was built between 1840-42. Until 2004 it was part of the parish of Aston Cantlow though it is now a separate parish. No church existed in Wilmcote when St Andrew was built though a chapel is known to have existed in the 13th century at least. The church was built by the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement.

The church is in the Early English style with an aisled 4 bay nave and and a 2-bay chancel with a north vestry. The church is built from regular coursed lias with limestone ashlar dressings.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Golden Age (39) : Portrait of a Murderer

"Portrait of a murderer" by Anne Meredith is an excellent Golden Age mystery. A gentleman is murdered on Christmas Eve. One of his six children, has killed him. However, this isn't a whodunnit. We witness the murder, then examine each of the children in turn, looking into their backgrounds and lives, creating characters with depth.

The story thus stands out from a lot of it's peers. This is more a psychological study of murder and motive than the standard detective yarn of the period and how the culprit tries to avoid being discovered. It may lack suspense but makes up with with good characterisation. 

The interesting premise may though be the best part about the story, the initial part especially is a bit of a slog though it does pick up later on.

Sunday 22 January 2023


Yesterday i headed up to Leicestershire, one of my favourite counties, to visit the rather lovely village of Barrow-upon-Soar. In the cold mist the little houses (some of them timber framed) and parish church looked splendid. Though to be honest i would prefer it if it had been a little warmer! You can see my photos here.

Friday 20 January 2023

Churches (168) : St Augustine of Canterbury, Rugeley

The parish church of St Augustine in Rugeley, Staffordshire was built in the early 1820s and opened in 1823. It replaced the original church which had grown too small and was in a state of disrepair, unusually the remains of the original church still exist and is the opposite side of the road from the new church!

The church was built somewhat to the Perpendicular Gothic style with some additions in the early 20th century. The church has a five bay nave with clerestory. At the west is a tower and the east a chancel. The church is built from ashlar masonry with a slate roof.

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Model Week : New position

I've been building model kits since 2009, and always in the same position: on a table in the kitchen extension. However, this location while it has good light is at the mercy of the elements. In the winter it is quite simply too cold and for a good deal of the summer too hot. So, i have finally decided to move my work bench to a spare room. It will be marginally warmer and i can get on with finishing project #100.

Tuesday 17 January 2023

Golden Age (38) : The Rogues’ Syndicate

An enjoyable murder mystery from the Collins Detective Club by former police detective Frank Fro√ęst. This first hand knowledge of actual police work and Scotland Yard is well used in this story.

A young man is handed a package by a strange woman in the London fog. Soon he finds himself accused of killing the woman's father and being involved in a larger conspiracy. The real criminals are an organised gang. Can detective Menzies sort out what is really going on?

This is a solid police procedural, it might be a little dated (being written during the First World War) and had a little bit of an international flavour with some American characters in old London town (some with rather ridiculous names). However, it's a solid enough read without being too memorable.

Monday 16 January 2023


My second trip of the year, and the first to Wales, was to Wrexham at the weekend. My visit there was rather curtailed by a cancelled train which meant i didn't have a great deal of time. I did achieve my objectives except the parish church (though did see the Catholic cathedral). So, i will return to Wrexham again in future to complete the job for sure! You can see my photos here.

Friday 13 January 2023

Churches (167) : St Mary and St Margaret, Castle Bromwich

The parish church of St Mary & St Margaret in Castle Bromwich had it's origin in a wooden Norman church built sometime in the 12th century (in about 1165). The church was originally only dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, with St Margaret added later on.

The church was rebuilt in the early 18th century in the Georgian classical style though parts of the original church, especially the roof timbers dating from at least the 15th century, are within the new structure. The church has two side chapels, a chancel, aisles and a west tower. The church is made from brick.

Wednesday 11 January 2023

Trendy Ghia

The twentieth typewriter in the collection is this Smith-Corona GT Ghia. It was styled by Italian automotive designers Ghia and had rubber strips on the base of the typewriter and go faster stripes! The effect is pretty striking and i love it! It works pretty well too.

Tuesday 10 January 2023

Golden Age (37) : The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy

Although set in the Golden Age, and often has the look and feel of such this was written in the 1970s by James Anderson and is the first of a series set in the same country house. Therefore it is a pastiche but don't let that put you off as it is indeed pretty good. 

The story is highly complicated and has all the tropes you expect from a Golden Age mystery, its set in a dark country house and includes a cast of toffs, flappers, a bumbling (but ultimately efficient) police detective, perky keen amateurs and plenty of red herrings and puzzles. There is even a map!

The book is well written and an enjoyable read, it just about manages to err on the right side of parody though at times a close run thing. A superb send-up and celebration of a genre.

Sunday 8 January 2023

Holmes Chapel

A new year of travelling around the country has begun, unusually on a Sunday due to a strike the day before. I headed up to Holmes Chapel in Cheshire. I really like Cheshire though the weather was a bit bleak at times, i really need to visit the county during the summer! You can see my photos here.

Friday 6 January 2023

Churches (166) : St Andrew, Pershore

Next to Pershore Abbey, St Andrew's is a former church which was built in the 12th century. The nave and north aisle are original but the chancel, south aisle and tower date from the 14th. A porch was added in the 18th. The church was restored in rhe 19th century, internally in the 20th.

The church was used for services until the 1960s, it is now used as the parish hall.

Thursday 5 January 2023

Tuesday 3 January 2023

Golden Age (36) : Dark Days

Day Days by Hugh Conway is set in the late 19th century (and was written then too) and is a piece of Victorian melodrama. Dr North falls in love with the beautiful Philippa. Or should i say he becomes a love sick puppy over her. 

Unfortunately for him she marries someone else, Dr North is heartbroken but goes away to the countryside to bury himself in his work. Then a few years later Philippa comes back into his life, unhappy in marriage. Dr North hopes that she will finally come away with him but then we discover she has murdered her abusive partner and now needs Dr North's help to covering up her crime...

Overall this is a reasonable read though the overt emotionalism of the love-sick narrator (North) can be a bit off putting at times, especially early on. 

Sunday 1 January 2023

A final rail hurrah

Yesterday, after a number of railway less (though not including the tram) weeks i headed out with a day pass to tick off the final three stations in the West Midlands i had yet to visit. Tipton, Dudley Port and Old Hill were those three stations. The West Midlands can join Warwickshire, Rutland and Herefordshire in being counties i have visited all stations in! You can see the photos here.