The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne, a review.

The Red House Mystery

The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

I was surprised to learn that as well as writing Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne had also written an adult novel, The Red House Mystery, apparently his third I learned later.

Curious I decided to track down a copy, by mere chance I found a copy in a charity shop in Huntingdon. This particular edition was a paperback “A Rediscovered Classic” issued by The Times. The Red House Mystery was written before the Winnie The Pooh books, A. A. Milne’s more well known works.

It is an interesting book, undoubtedly, of its time, a time when the lives of ordinary people were, of no consequence. In this book like it seems so many others, murders took place in large country houses, inhabited mainly by the great, the respectable and the good. The fact that the great, the respectable and the good numbered among them the murderers doesn’t seem to be the contradiction it ought to be, perhaps just a better class of villain. The Red House Mystery  is not badly written but for me lacks pace. The plot is dependent on the unlikely as much as the probable. I had difficulty in finding the enthusiasm to continue reading and was able to put it down for long periods of time sometimes for days. It was a shame it wasn’t a better book, it could have been, should have been.

On a side note in a book that is nearly a hundred years old and reissued it should have been possible for someone competent to proof read it and remove the typos.

 

An Inconvenient Death by Miles Goslett (a review)

an incovenient death web

An Inconvenient Death by Miles Golett

 

Those of us old to remember the build up to the ill conceived Iraq war are familiar with the name Dr David Kelly.

At the time of his death, 45 minute warnings, talk of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and photographs filled the media supposedly showing large missiles on lorries, ready to be blasted at Saddam Hussein’s enemies, us, the UK or the U.S.

In this rush to war there were however, dissenting voices, a desire for certainty before committing lives and resources to a conflict which could perhaps be avoided. One of those casting doubt, was Andrew Gillingham, a BBC Radio 4 journalist, who’s well placed source cast doubt on the government narrative.

The hunt was soon on for this well placed source and within days Dr David Kelly’s name became known. His death in the midst of parliamentary enquiries by the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees closed down lines of enquiry.

Although the book’s title is An Inconvenient Death, at the time of Kelly’s demise it seemed to many of us it was all too convenient. Goslett’s book is a meticulous attempt to try and establish a semblance of the truth, to clear away the clutter. He casts doubt over the whole investigation of Kelly’s death gaining and sharing information not disclosed at the time. He also exposes the shortcomings of the hastily established Hutton Inquiry held into Kelly’s death.

This book may not of itself get the Kelly case reopened but it ought to help, we owe it to Dr David Kelly to find the truth and if that truth is inconvenient to members of the establishment so be it.

 

 

Bad to the Bone a review.

Bad to the Bone

Bad To The Bone by Tony J Forder

I met Tony J Forder at a book signing hosted by Waterstones in Peterborough last year, I was there to buy a signed copy of Eva Jordan’s new book Time Will Tell.

After listening to  a reading from Tony’s latest book I succumbed to the temptation and bought a copy of his first book, Bad to The Bone, which he kindly signed for me. My to be read pile is diminishing slowly it was therefore only recently that I managed to read this, his first novel.

A good indication of the quality of a book for me is the reluctance to put it down and the eagerness to resume reading as soon as any opportunity presents itself, Bad to the Bone easily fitted into this criteria. It is a cracking read and those of us who know the area feel a great affinity with the places the story occupies.

We are introduced to Detective Inspector Jimmy Bliss and his colleague Detective Constable Penny Chandler. The characters are well drawn and they weave their way through a convoluted finely drawn plot. An excellent book and a cracking read, I will track down a copy of The Scent of Guilt, the second in the series with the intention of getting to read it at the earliest opportunity.

 

183 Times  A year a review

183 times a year

183 Times A Year by Eva Jordan

 

Although 183 Times a Year is Eva Jordan’s first novel I read All the Colours In between, her second book, before reading this.

First novels aren’t often as good as later work, a writer improves as they practice their craft. I was not therefore sure what to expect of 183 Times A Year.

We are introduced to Lizzie and her blended family, their daily struggles and Lizzie’s challenges in caring for them. It is beautifully told and her finely drawn characters inhabit the imagination of the reader with their presence. The mark of a master story teller for me.

It is a cracking read, a brilliant first novel, as excellent as, All the Colours in Between, itself a masterpiece, certainly one of the best books I have read.

Time Will Tell, Eva’s third novel, is in my “To be Read” pile and I fully expect it to be as good as  Eva’s other two books.

My fiction reading is usually crime or espionage novels and some science fiction, my nonfiction reading, mainly history.

Eva’s books are ones that in the past I would not normally read, these are a departure for me.

I am pleased to have read 183 Times a Year and All the Colours in Between, they are fantastically well written books and more moving than I thought possible, certainly for a man of my advanced years.

Eva Jordan is an exceptionally good writer, I look forward to seeing more of her work. if you haven’t read anything by this talented lady you need to remedy that straight away.

 

A bit of Christmas Magic

father Christmas

Father Christmas

Yesterday I was doing a job I do most years, the best job in the world; Father Christmas. The response by very young children all under 5, varies there are those that are too frightened to approach this funny old man without the help of a teacher or one of the assistants. Others that dash up snatch their present and dash back to their seat, with a mumbled thank you. The girls delighting in showing you their princess dresses or frocks with Rudolf or Santa on the front. Boys proud of their Christmas jumpers, some with pictures of dinosaurs, snowmen, Santa or super heroes. I get to laugh a heck of a lot.

Each class finishes by singing me a song, usually either Jingle Bells or When Santa got Stuck up a Chimney. However the most touching event was watching a little girl her lower legs in braces and a medicine pump (I assume that’s what it was) under her top anxious to walk over to receive her present from Santa. Her carer was helping her by holding the little girl stand, her feet were turning in, as she walked but she made it, that picture will remain with me, the look of triumph on her face. I hope it has given her Christmas the magic it has given mine.

Merry Christmas everyone, Ho Ho Ho.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Books

I have been helping Wendy Fletcher publish her autobiography The Railway Carriage Child.

The Railway Carriage Child front cover

The Railway Carriage Child

Available on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Carriage-Child-Wendy-Fletcher/dp/1916481736/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1669E1G7PA28T&keywords=the+railway+carriage+child&qid=1573652235&sprefix=the+railway+carriage+child%2Caps%2C162&sr=8-2

Also launching our Whittlesey Wordsmiths latest offering  A Following Wind.

A following Wind book cover front page white writing

A following Wind

Available on Amazon and Kindle:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Following-Wind-Whittlesey-Wordsmiths/dp/1916481752/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=a+following+wind&qid=1573652054&sr=8-2

I have other stuff I want to post and hope it will happen soon. Work on my novel has stalled but here is a little taste of one of the chapters.

Wednesday again

Whilst eating his breakfast, Arnold thought back to an incident that occurred earlier that year, during the dark winter months.

After a few minutes thought, he had it firmly in his mind: recalling events as if it were a video playing out before him – not just as an observer, but as an actor in the scene.

It had been dark when he’d slid out of bed. Whether he was woken by the urge to empty his bladder, habit, or an inbuilt alarm he was never sure, but he had always been an early riser.

He had pulled the dressing gown around his naked torso and tied the belt. It was tighter now than when his wife had first given it to him, a forgotten number of years ago. It had probably shrunk in the wash. She had been dead now five – or was it six years? He needed a new one, certainly a larger one, but keeping it was keeping something of her, no matter how illogical or tenuous the connection.

Returning from the bathroom, he had pulled the edge of the bedroom curtain aside and looked out of the window of his flat onto a frosty King Street below, recalling frosted windows of his childhood with thick ice on the inside and cold lino under bare feet.

A cuppa is required, he’d thought, making his way to the small kitchen. Returning a few minutes later with a mug of hot strong tea, he looked again through the window. A few people were making an unenthusiastic journey to work on foot muffled against the cold in thick coats, hats, gloves and scarves. A solitary student cycled gingerly down the icy road, a college scarf flapping about him.

After returning to the kitchen for a session with the toaster, he had returned to the window, the curtains now pulled further open, a plate of hot buttered toast in one hand. He had demolished half a slice when movement in the street below caught his attention; two young men were attacking a third. He grabbed his trousers. Stepping clumsily into them, he fastened them at his waist then carefully, despite his haste, zipped them up. Zipping the fly when not wearing underpants can be a painful experience for the unwary. He’d stepped into his shoes, shuffling further into them as he ran. Bugger it was cold.

He stumbled down the stairs, ran into the street and reached the fracas.

One man was holding the victim whilst the other thumped him in the face and stomach, so engrossed in their assault that they didn’t see Arnold approach. He grabbed the thumper by the ear and twisted it viciously then, as the man turned, he hit him square on the jaw, knocking him out cold.

The other assailant released the victim, undecided whether to run or fight. Too late, he aimed a punch at Arnold who retaliated with a swift kick in the groin that doubled him up and stopped all thought.

Arnold had turned to the victim. “Are you okay?”

“I think so.”

“Have you got a mobile phone?”

“Yes.”

“Right, dial this number.” Arnold dictated a number.

He turned to the two on the floor, one in the foetal position, the other showing signs of regaining consciousness.

“You are both under arrest for assault. You do not have to say anything…”

Their victim handed Arnold the phone. “It’s ringing,” he said weakly, then sat down on the frosty path.

The desk sergeant had answered the call.

“Chief inspector Lane here. Can you send a car to Kings Street and an ambulance? There has been an assault and I have arrested two assailants. For Christ’s sake hurry; I am bloody freezing.”

The car had turned up about ten seconds after the ambulance. The victim was taken in the ambulance, the two villains in the car. Arnold told the two constables he would sort out the paperwork when he reported for duty.

He was about to return to his flat when he saw something in the gutter on its edge against the kerb: a tiny plastic box. It turned out to contain an SD card – familiar now, but unknown to him at the time. He had picked up the box and slid it into the pocket of his dressing-gown to be inspected later.

Breaking from his reverie, Arnold wondered what on earth he had done with it.

He remembered he had gone into Marks and Spencer that same day and treated himself to a new, thicker dressing gown. He had nearly bought himself a pair of slippers too but resisted that temptation. He hadn’t thrown away his old dressing gown: the attachment to his late wife stopped him from doing so.

Presumably, the plastic box and its contents were still in the pocket of his old dressing gown. He wondered how he could have forgotten the box and then remembered the armed bank robbery.

The news had come in as he returned to Parkside later that day, after his lunch and shopping expedition. He had very nearly lost his new dressing gown in the confused response.

Commandeering a pillion seat on a motorcycle – the police driver nearly threw a fit at Arnold’s lack of crash helmet – they had made their way to the bank.

It worked; they reached Cherry Hinton before the squad cars. The getaway driver, seeing the police motorcycle, bravely drove off, abandoning his colleagues to their fate. Arnold sent the motorcycle driver after the getaway car and looked around for something to use as a weapon.

There is never any shortage of bicycles in Cambridge. Arnold found one leaning against the wall of the bank although chained, the padlocked chain immobilised the back wheel against the frame, without securing it to the building. He had stood close to the doorway, gripping the bicycle by the back wheel. As the first man came through the door, holding a shotgun, Arnold swung the bike, knocking the shotgun barrel into the man’s face causing him to pull the trigger. The gun discharged into the air, the second man tripped over the first and both fell into a heap at the bottom of the stone steps. Arnold threw the bike down on top of them, picked up the shotgun and covered the two men with it.

“You two you are nicked. Do not move.”

At that moment two squad cars skidded to a halt outside the bank, sirens blaring and blue lights flashing. A number of visibly shaken bank staff and customers appeared at the Bank’s door. Assured that there were no other robbers on the premises, Arnold asked them to remain inside. Adrenaline had kept the cold at bay on the back of the motorcycle and during the action but, as the robbers were led away, Arnold became aware of the chill of the day.

It was dark and frosty again when he returned to Parkside. He’d decided to call it a day and remembered his new dressing gown, eventually tracking it down in lost property. He slithered home on the icy paths. Once there, he had folded up the old dressing gown and placed it in the bottom of his wardrobe, without giving any further thought to the small plastic box.

He wondered if it was still there.

It was amazing how much clutter you collect, he mused as he removed books, DVDs and a couple of new unopened shirts before finding his old dressing gown. The small plastic box was in the left-hand pocket. Arnold held up the dressing gown. Definitely past its best he thought, viewing the threadbare collar and frayed cuffs, but he refolded it and returned it to the wardrobe. He still could not bear to part with it.

After replacing the other items in the wardrobe, he turned his attention to the plastic box and its contents.

He turned the SD card over in his fingers. It had a maker’s name and 64 GB on it. There was no other marking on card or box. It could be a new card, he thought.

His tea was now cold. He made a fresh cup and sat down to drink it whilst thinking. Abruptly he rose again, carrying his tea to the bathroom.

Eight o’clock saw him at his desk, Marvin open in front of him open and switched on; a cup of coffee to one side. The screen lit up with a message.

“Good morning Inspector Lane, you have an SD card you want me to look at; place it in the slot.”

Arnold did as instructed and waited.

“Not something I can make sense of I am afraid; the code is unknown to me.”

As text filled the screen, Arnold thought back to his meeting with Sylvia Miller the previous day, and her description of the time machine.

Marvin typed, “Could be, we really need those passwords.”

Arnold thought some more. Might it have some connection with the time machine?

The words appeared on the screen.

“I don’t know; I only store and process data. I receive some of that data by way of thoughts; otherwise it comes to me electronically through computer networks and the internet. If I don’t have access to that information, I can’t process it. There is information on the card which can only be accessed with the right passwords; until we have them, I can’t unlock it.”

Trying a different tack, Arnold thought about the disappearance of William Miller. He ran the information through his mind, hoping that Marvin could offer some insight.

Marvin responded. “It could involve a time machine, yes. I understand your thinking, but we need more information. Here is Sergeant Drew with your coffee, Good morning Sergeant Drew.”

Roger put the coffee on the corner of Arnold’s desk next to the earlier mug, now empty. He glanced at the screen and stood sipping his tea.

Arnold looked up at him.

“Thanks, Roger. Do you remember the armed bank robbery in Cherry Hinton earlier this year?”

“The one with the weaponised bicycle?”

“That’s the one. Earlier that day I arrested two lads who were beating the living daylights out of another in Kings Street. Could you find out who the victim was? How he was connected to the two who were beating him up?”

“Urgent?”

“Yes please.”

Roger picked up his tea and walked to his desk. Arnold turned back to his notebook looking for another line of enquiry. Drawing a blank on that front, he checked through messages on post-it notes stuck to his office computer screen, none particularly urgent.

Just as Arnold reached reluctantly for the expenses sheets that had magically multiplied since he last looked, Roger returned.

“My word, Roger, that was quick.”

“The two yobbos are known to us with plenty of previous; the victim though may be of interest.”

“Oh?”

“One Justin Black, employed at Plantagenet Software.”

“Is there any connection to these two villains? It was early in the day for those types to be about.”

“They were on the way home from a night out apparently, both the worse for drink. Just an opportune mugging, it seems – something they both have form for.”

“Was Mr Black okay?”

“He seems to be; we heard nothing more from him. The two you sorted out pleaded guilty at the magistrate’s court and got three months apiece.”

“Do we have an address for Mr Black?”

“There is nothing with his details.”

“What about a phone number? I know he had a mobile.”

“No, nothing listed.”

“I will have someone’s guts for garters. Okay, I will phone Plantagenet and have a chat with Mr Black to see if he lost anything at the time.”

Roger returned to his desk Arnold picked up his phone and punched in the now familiar numbers for Plantagenet Software. Once connected he asked the receptionist if he could speak to Justin Black.

Justin Black had left earlier that year, about a month after he was attacked.

 

 

Open Cambridge “Cambridge Spies Tour”

Kings College

Kings College Cambridge

 

Not always just what it says on the Tin

When I was in business the government organisation; Business Link offered, after the Financial Crisis free advice sessions on how to improve a small business. It is fair to say, in my case certainly, they helped the business to survive. Not only were the lectures and seminars useful but so were the conversations and points raised by fellow attendees, I often learned nearly as much about other things from these snippets as from the talks themselves.

So it was with the Cambridge Spies Tour. The incidental information from our tour guide was an extra bonus to the core topic.

Setting the Hare Running

After the tour, I started rechecking the information scribbled down whilst walking around as I did more names were thrown up. Whilst checking spellings of the names of those mentioned even more names connected with spying and espionage came to light with Cambridge University connections. No doubt there are many, many more names and achievements connected with espionage hidden from view but none the less important. Whenever researching anything,  I go off in other directions. Where names have cropped up that are relevant I have included them in addition to the ones mentioned by our guide.

A walk around some of Britain’s most important History

Cambridge was Saturday busy for the Open Cambridge Spies Tour even though it was before the start of term with the influx of students swelling the population of the city by 25%.

Parties of Japanese tourists were it seemed everywhere in the crowded streets, their groups led by flag-carrying guides. Cyclists wove around and through the crowds avoiding the selfie-takers gathered outside every building of note.

We set off from outside the Guildhall at about eleven fifteen, our tour guide was a very nice lady, a microbiologist; Deborah I think. I meant to write her name down but had such an interesting conversation with her on the walk back after the tour it slipped my mind until later if you read the blog and have got your name wrong please let me know, I will correct it.

We set off turning left at the Guildhall to stop a little way down Peas Hill away from the noise of the market buskers allowing Deborah to brief us on the tour. Moving on we entered Benet Street stopping briefly outside the Eagle Pub, reputed to be Cambridge’s oldest. It is famous for the announcement of the DNA discovery and also for the names of RAF squadrons marked in the ceiling of the RAF Bar. I said it is not just about what it says on the tin.

Next was Free School lane stopping off by the old Cavendish Laboratories and a quick peek at the crocodile carving on the wall of the Mond Laboratory.

Crocodile Cavendish Laboratory

Crocodile carving on the wall of the Cavendish Laboratory

The connection with spying; Theodore Hall was mentioned, an American physicist who had passed nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, he worked at the Cavendish Laboratory post-war until his retirement.

Pembroke College

Making our way by Botolph Lane to Trumpington Street our next stop was at Pembroke College. Founded by the Countess of Pembroke in 1347, it had an original statute that required students to report fellow students if they indulged in excessive drinking or visited disreputable houses.

Maurice Dobb studied here and went on to teach at King’s where he met Kim Philby

A former master was Sir Richard Dearlove former chief of the SIS (MI6).

Corpus Christi College

Moving further along Trumpington Street we arrived outside Corpus Christi College. Christopher Marlowe the playwright was perhaps the college’s most famous graduate also possibly one of the earliest to be involved in espionage, in his case during the reign of Elizabeth the first.

Cedric Belfrage who stayed in the same room as Marlowe went onto become a British/Soviet double agent.

Harry Shergold the British handler of Penkovsky at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis is also a graduate.

King’s College

The next stop was at King’s College famous for its former student Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth the first’s spy-master noted or notorious for unearthing the Babington Plot that led to the execution of Mary Queen of Scot’s.

Kings College

Kings College Cambridge

Another of its alumni was Dilly Knox responsible for decoding the Zimmerman telegram that helped bring the USA into World War 1 he also helped set up Bletchley Park and broke several Axis codes.

Alan Turing is probably though its best-known connection with the world of espionage, his work on computers helped, by Churchill’s estimation, shorten the war by two years and saved millions of lives in doing so.

Maurice Dobb mentioned earlier lectured at King’s and was suspected of being a talent spotter for  Comintern during the thirties.

Gonville and Caius College

Moving on we passed by the gate of Gonville and Caius College with its statues of the three founders, this had been Stephen Hawking’s College. Our guide had no comment to make on spying connections however a professor of the college has fairly recently been identified as a recruiter for MI6. Our guide said that statues of college founders always depicted them holding a building, I didn’t know that.

Gonville

Gonville and Caius College Great Gate with statues of its three founders.

 

Trinity College

We continued to the Great Gate of Trinity College with the statue of Henry the Eight.  The college is famous for its connection with Sir Isaac Newton and more recently for those of us computer users, Alan Turing.

Cambridge_Trinity_College_Great_Gate_2011_detail

Trinity College Great Gate Henry the eighth’s sword replaced with a chair leg

An early cryptographer educated at Trinity and working for Francis Walsingham was Thomas Phelippes, responsible for deciphering the code used in the Babington plot

The Cambridge five were all students of Trinity and Trinity Hall, Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, John Cairncross and Anthony Blunt. All were Soviet spies.

The Cambridge five

The Cambridge five

Also associated with the Cambridge five and working for MI5 was the biologist Victor Rothschild, he claimed to be only a bit left-wing.

The Cambridge five were members of an undergraduate group called the Apostles, given the link with espionage of five members, Rothschild and the other members were investigated too.

Gordon Welchman was also a graduate, responsible for establishing the concept of Traffic Analysis and famed for his work at Bletchley Park, he was a research fellow at Sydney Sussex. College when he was recruited to work there.

St John’s College

Our last stop was outside St John’s College John Dee had been involved in espionage for Queen Elizabeth the first.

Others

During my research, other names came to light Malcolm Muggeridge graduate of Selwyn College worked for MI6 during the war.

More recently Christopher Steele graduate of Girton College was a member of MI6. He went onto set up Orbis Business Intelligence Services, noted for its report on compromising material held by the Russian government on Donald Trump.

 

The Big Sleep

the-big-sleep-1978-kat-720p-cover

The Big Sleep 1978 poster

Recently I watched the 1978 film remake of the Big Sleep. There has probably been a bigger waste of acting talent than that squandered by Michael Winner but nothing comes to mind.

220px-Bogart_and_Bacall_The_Big_Sleep

Bogart as Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as Vivian Sternwood Rutledge in Howard Hawkes 1946 film of the Big Sleep.

The original 1946 version starring Humphrey Bogart and  Lauren Bacall was obviously made at a time nearer that of the novel, (published 1939). Raymond Chandler’s novels like the Sherlock Holmes stories of Conan Doyle occupy a particular time and place, in my opinion, this is, even more, the case with Chandler.

Setting the action of the Big Sleep in 1970s England didn’t work for me. In the Big Sleep, Chandler’s writes of Los Angeles, Hollywood, California and America at a time before it was touched by war, in the aftermath of Prohibition during the dying embers of the Depression. His novels are steeped in that sense of time and place. The characters who populate his stories are products of this period and like some fine wines, they do not travel well.

Get Carter

Michael Caine as Carter

A similar situation but travelling geographically in the opposite direction was the remake of Get Carter. Set originally in 1970’s Newcastle with Michael Caine playing Carter the 2000 remake with Sylvester Stallone in the title role was a poor shadow of the original. Get Carter was as was the Big Sleep comfortable in its own time and place the lack of Geordie accents didn’t diminish its quality. Stallone’s outing couldn’t and didn’t match Caine’s London hard man. Caine was totally credible, it is, in my opinion, the best ever British crime film.

Chandler’s only novel not to be made into a film. Playback is set in the early fifties and a different part of California. I hope it will find its way onto the silver screen, set in its correct time and place.

No copyright claimed for images used.

The Antikythera Mechanism

Antikythera mechanism as found in the sea (picture from Wilipedia)

The Antikythera mechanism as found in the sea (picture from Wikipedia)

A friend of mine is a member of the Cambridge Astronomical Association, from time to time he invites me to accompany him to their lectures. The latest outing was to watch a very interesting presentation about an ancient (180-70BC) machine discovered on a shipwreck in the Aegean Sea. This mechanism has been described as the worlds oldest analogue computer.

The excellent and interesting presentation was given by John Lancashire. Mr Lancashire has built his own working reconstruction of the machine using the original design to produce 3d printed plastic reproductions of those components to use in his machine. He did, however, change the tooth profiles of the gears to involute from the straight cut original form.

Antikythera 1

John Lancashires reproduction of the Antikythera mechanism

The machine was recovered from the sea in 1901 and identified as containing gears by the Greek archaeologist Valerois Stais in 1902. Only recently with the aid of modern X-ray and scanning techniques was its purpose discerned.  This enabled the true extent of its complexity and sophistication to be established.

John outlined the timeline of key steps in the development of astronomical theories in the Hellenistic period from 500BC through to the time when it was thought the mechanism was lost. At that time the earth was still considered to be at the centre of the universe with the sun and planets orbiting it.

Antikythera 2

This side of the machine shows the pointers representing the position of the sun and the known planets. The ball in the centre in black rotates to show the phases of the moon.

He completed his presentation by demonstrating his model of the mechanism and how he had calibrated it for the present day, the lecture was so interesting that it continued well past its scheduled slot and we departed much later than usual.

Antikythera 5

A view of the gearing and on the right the pointers for each planet and the sun. The complexity of such an ancient machine is astounding.

On the trip home my friend and I discussed the machine and concluded that there could have been earlier less complex versions of this mechanism, that someone must have sat down and designed it possibly recording their design. It is possible that these designs and the underpinning theories were lost in the burning of the library at Alexandria. For me, the interest was not only in the machine itself but how it was constructed with such accuracy and the history of the machines that well may have preceded it. We can only speculate about those people who had the intellect to have designed this and possibly other similar machines unless we can design a time machine to travel back in time we will never know their identity.

A Summer’s Place

The way through the trees

The way through the trees

I have written before of my love of the Lattersey Nature reserve in Whittlesey, I usually visit several times a week. Watching the changes in the vegetation and wildlife during the year is something I particularly enjoy.

A fantastic pathway

A path in another part of the reserve

A path through Purple Loosestrife

A path through Purple Loosestrife

We are now in high summer with autumn lurking just around the corner. Amongst the flowers in the meadow grounds and wooded areas butterflies accompanied by a few dragonflies go about their business but I am aware of the ripening of blackberries a few turning red and black among their still green fellows. The days are beginning to shorten not significantly yet but the change is coming.

Blackberries 2

An abundant crop of blackberries

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly

Time to make the most of the summer we have, to cherish the beauty of butterflies, dragonflies, wonder at the bees and flowers growing wild that nourish them, many considered weeds in other settings. My old gardening teacher defined a weed as merely a plant being  in the wrong place. As far as the bees and butterflies are concerned these erstwhile weeds are certainly in the right place for them.

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly visiting a thistle a plant in the right place for him or her

Later life

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Musings and books from a grunty overthinker

Seclusion 101 with AnneMarie

Life After Retirement

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Damyanti Biswas

For lovers of reading, writing, travel, humanity

www.mycancerand.me/

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dream-protecting author

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reflecting my eclectic (and sometimes erratic) life

Stuart Orme

Historian, Folklorist, Writer, Re-enactor, Museum Professional. Follow me on Twitter: @stuartorme

Laura N Books

Book Blogger | Cat Mother

thedrabble.wordpress.com/

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The Nerdy Lion

Lions can wear glasses too

Seriousgardener's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Incomplete Verse

Here I share words and illustrations I discover on the journey within the crevices of my mind and the outside world. 💚

Dread Poets Sobriety

Irreverence's Glittering New Low!

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

Mistakes Writers Make ...

... and how to put them right! Advice and opportunities for new, aspiring and upcoming journalists and writers of non-fiction

Writing Wrinkles

Smoothing the wrinkles in this wrinkly's writing

Alice Von Wonderland

I wander wherever my adventures take me

estherchiltonblog

Esther Chilton - Writer and Tutor

lactosefreelovelies

Lots of lovely lactose free products.