HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for April, 2009

Entry for April 24, 2009 – Man with a ladder has come up in the World

Posted by HelenEdith on April 24, 2009

Last night I was walking along Gracechurch Street when I saw an alternative way of carrying a ladder around in a car: rather than putting it on the roof, you put it inside, with the excess sticking out through the sunroof!

As Man with a Ladder has apparently come up in the World and drives a recent model BMW, there’s a blanket to stop the ladder from scratching his nice shiny red paintwork.

(You must be viewing this entry via its original Yahoo location http://blog.360.yahoo.com/helenedithuk in order to see the accompanying picture.)

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Book Review: Edward Marston – The Excursion Train

Posted by HelenEdith on April 19, 2009

(Book Two of the Inspector Robert Colbeck Series)

It is some time since I read Book One of this series, and I commented at the time that I’d like to read more about Inspector Robert Colbeck. My opportunity came when I was checking out the library at Biggin Hill and I found “The Excursion Train” sitting on the shelves just waiting to be read.

The book opens in London in 1852 with a huge crowd converging upon Paddington Station to catch an excursion train run by the Great Western Railway. It is transporting the crowd to an illegal prizefight at Twyford in Berkshire. Unfortunately for one of the passengers, he never makes it to the prizefight, but is garrotted in the railway carriage he travelled in.

Enter Inspector Robert Colbeck and his assistant, Sergeant Victor Leeming. They catch a train straight to Twyford, arriving at about the time the prizefight ended. They inspect the murder scene in the carriage, interview the attending Railway Policemen, and move the body to the guards van and bring it back to London on the returning excursion train.

It doesn’t take long for the action to shift to Kent when it transpires that the murder victim was a hangman and that his most recent job had been at Maidstone Gaol, where he had executed a prisoner from Ashford. It seems that there could be any number of people who wanted the hangman dead, so it’s a case of sifting through the candidates looking for a likely one. It is also looking like the hanging was a miscarriage of justice and that they’re also looking for the real killer of the man for whom the prisoner had been executed.

We also meet Madeleine Andrews again. She is the daughter of the engine driver who was injured in “The Railway Detective”. Fortunately he is restored to full health, and thinks that romance is brewing between Robert and Madeleine. It’s a very slow-brewing romance, and at the rate it’s going, it might take several more “Inspector Robert Colbeck” mysteries before anything comes of it, but it makes an interesting sub-plot.

Robert and Victor do eventually get to the bottom of all the goings-on, but not before I had enjoyed a picture of places which I know in Kent portrayed in a gentler and slower, although not less brutal age.

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Book Review: Edward Marston – The Railway Detective

Posted by HelenEdith on April 19, 2009

(Book One of the Inspector Robert Colbeck Series)

I recently read the second book in this series, and decided to post my review of the first book to my blog before posting the review of the second book.

Having read some of Edward Marston’s Restoration mysteries, I decided to branch out and read some of his other work, and this one looked interesting.

It concerns a train robbery in the 1850s. The train robbery itself is fictional, but much of the rest of the story is historically accurate, which you would expect from Marston. The action involves Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck and his efforts to apprehend the perpetrators of the robbery.

Colbeck has allies in some most unexpected places in 1890s London, and this makes for a colourful tale, as do the scenes within the almost complete Crystal Palace, just gearing up towards the great exhibition which was held there.

Add in the beautiful daughter of the injured train driver, who gets drawn into the whole thing, and you have an exciting novel. I’ll have to see if Robert Colbeck appears in any other Marston books.

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Website Update: Secret London Walk Pictures, Tuesday 7th April 2009

Posted by HelenEdith on April 12, 2009

Last Tuesday evening, I went on a “Secret London” walk arranged by the Sports and Social Club at work.

We did a loop past the Lloyd’s Building, through the Leadenhall Market, crossed Eastcheap, where we looked at camels and a pig’s head on the buildings there, and then we went down to Lower Thames Street, taking in the garden in the ruins of St Dunstan in the East on our way. Then we turned to the west and looked at the recently refurbished Monument – Sir Christopher Wren’s memorial to the Great Fire of London. From there, we went behind Gracechurch Street. We crossed Lombard Street and admired the hanging signs, and then looked at the rear of the old Barclays headquarters on the corner of Lombard Street and Gracechurch Street. After that, we looked at the exterior of St Stephen Walbrook, viewed One Poultry and the nearby Temple of Mithras, and headed north to view the exterior of the building where Benjamin Disraeli served as an articled clerk, before arriving at the end of our walk at The Guildhall.

The pictures I took during the walk are now up on my website here: “Secret London” Walk Pictures, 7th April 2009

Here are a few of the pictures you can find on the page linked above:

SL_Walk_20090407_IMGP5674_ed_cr_1x2 This is Bulls Head Passage on the periphery of Leadenhall Market. The blue doorway was painted black and used in some of the Harry Potter films as the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron.
SL_Walk_20090407_IMGP5675_ed Camel Caravan relief by William Theed II above the entrance to Peek House.
SL_Walk_20090407_IMGP5694_ed The garden entwined with the ruins of St Dunstan in the East. This is the picture most people like best from my evening’s photography.
SL_Walk_20090407_IMGP5705_ed The Monument.
SL_Walk_20090407_IMGP5729_ed The old Barclays headquarters. This is my own favourite picture from the evening.

You’ll have to visit the link provided if you want to see the rest of my pictures!

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Book Review: Virginia Andrews – Celeste

Posted by HelenEdith on April 8, 2009

(Book One of the Gemini series)

This is my first attempt to read Virginia Andrews and I got a quarter of the way through this book before deciding to abandon it.

Twins Celeste and Noble are the children of a mother obsessed with New Age superstitions. According to the book jacket, Noble’s death in a tragic accident pushes the mother over the edge and she tries to turn Celeste into Noble. Celeste doesn’t re-emerge as herself until a boy moves in next door.

Well I’ve got a quarter of the way through the book and Celeste and Noble are still engaged in childish bickering and we don’t seem to be anywhere near the events about which the book is supposed to turn.

Maybe I ought to go back and try and read a few more chapters, but it’s due back at the library and I really don’t feel like extending it and giving it another chance.

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Book Review: Catherine Coulter – The Aristocrat

Posted by HelenEdith on April 4, 2009

I have read several of Catherine Coulter’s historical romances in the past, but this is the first modern romance I have come across with the Coulter name on the cover.

I enjoyed the story, in which an American Football star, Brant Asher, inherits an English title, but doesn’t inherit the property and the money unless he marries his distant cousin Daphne. Daphne also doesn’t inherit much of anything unless she marries Brant.

It doesn’t take them long to decide that they will marry, particularly as they find that they like each other pretty well. Brant bears Daphne back to America, where she takes to American Football like a duck to water, but do Brant and Daphne actually love each other?

There is more than one disappointed woman who had her own eye on Brant, so things get spiced up with a cat fight or two, particularly after Daphne learns how to hold her own in such altercations!

My one gripe with this book was that Coulter appears to have used her historical research when writing this book. Even with its 1986 copyright, I think she got the scale of Guildford very wrong, considering that it’s been a cathedral city for years, rather than the small town she portrayed it to be.

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