Reading matters……

20190608_111645-copy.jpegThe Flesh of the Orchid’. I must have bought this for the cover, many moons ago! A racy, pacy, totally American, totally unbelievable, thriller from James Hadly Chase which was devoured in no time at all over a couple of night’s bed-time reading. Just the thing for late night reading but, having finished it, the only question was ‘What was that all about then?’ Shallow characters, murders too many to count, chase after chase. Did I really read such rubbish? Well yes and it was quite enjoyable.

Having so enjoyed the first Trollope Palliser novel ‘Can You Forgive Her?’ I just had to read ‘Phinneas Finn’, the follow up. The plot summary by the Trollope Society is as follows……unknown-1.jpeg

‘Phineas Finn, a young Irishman just admitted to the bar, was elected to Parliament from Loughshane through the support of his father’s old friend Lord Tulla.

His genial temperament soon won him many highly placed friends in London society, among them Lady Laura Standish. Although Phineas was in a sense committed to marry a childhood sweetheart, Mary Jones, he fell in love with Lady Laura. She, however, had sacrificed her fortune to pay the debts of her brother Lord Chiltern, and valued her position in society above her romantic love for Phineas. She was deeply and intelligently interested in politics and the maintenance of a salon needed money and position, and she found both in the person of Robert Kennedy,a wealthy MP representing a group of Scottish boroughs.

In Lady Laura’s circle of friends, Violet Effingham stood nearest to her, and when Phineas sought to marry her Lady Laura was bitterly angry, not only because she considered that he was being untrue to her, but that she wished Violet to marry Lord Chiltern. Violet did in fact love him, but his violent temper and manner of life did not seem to insure her happiness. When Lord Chiltern learned that Phineas was his rival, he challenged him and a duel was fought in Belgium, with no serious results. Both men were soon sensible of their folly, and shortly after they became reconciled Violet accepted Chiltern.

Phineas, by taking a government post to enable him to pay his way in London, lost his seat in Loughshane, and through the good offices of Lady Laura was offered Loughton, her father’s pocket-borough. His career seemed assured until from a matter of principle he voted against his colleagues on a bill for tenant right in Ireland, and was forced to resign. In the meantime, life with the harsh and priggish Mr. Kennedy had become impossible for the high-spirited Lady Laura. She rejoined her father and eventually, to escape her husband’s demand that she return to him, went into exile at Dresden.

Mme. Max Goesler, a wealthy and charming widow, interested herself in securing another seat for Phineas and, when he refused to allow her to finance the cost of the election, offered to put him in possession of her great fortune by their marriage. This he was too proud to accept and, discouraged by the net result of his years in Parliament, returned to Ireland where he married Mary Jones.’

Trollope’s own views were somewhat surprising to say the least……..”It is all fairly good except the ending, – as to which till I got to it I had made no provision. As I fully intended to bring my hero again into the world, I was wrong to marry him to a simple pretty Irish girl, who could only be felt as an encumbrance on such return. When he did return I had no alternative but to kill the simple pretty Irish girl, which was an unpleasant and awkward necessity.”!! Wow.

Hugely long, hugely enjoyable but as with his other books in the series easily readable as it was written for serialisation. I thought I might read a chapter at a time, like the original Victorian readers, but I found that I wanted more and inevitably read two or three each night. I think Trollope is just an amazing writer. His direct approaches to the reader – in asides in his own voice – are so much like the pieces to camera which film directors seem now to have established as an art form. They must be based on a reading of Trollope, or so I like to think. Characters so strongly drawn you really care about them.   It is just incredible that Trollope wrote so much whilst holding down a full-time job. What a man.

9781408801499.jpg‘Einstein’s Riddle’ is….’riddles, paradoxes and conundrums to stretch your mind’. It is divided into sections headed ‘Logic and probability’, ‘When reasoning goes wrong’, ‘The real world’, ‘Motion, infinity and vagueness’, ‘Philosophical conundrums’ and ‘Paradoxical all the way down’. We get involved in the toughest logic problems, lateral thinking puzzles, and tests of mental agility. By turns entertaining and infuriating, I really enjoyed pitting my wits with some superb problems. Exceptionally involving.

 

Reading matters………

 

lam_201978.jpgThe Folio set of Trollope political novels has been sitting on my shelves unread for, what, 15 years. Just to look at the 6 meaty volumes, and even though I am after all retired, it seemed a daunting prospect. However I have read and re-read the Barchester Chronicles by Trollope several times, so I thought let’s give it a go. ‘Can You Forgive Her?’ is the first in the series. Although long (even ardent admirers and critics have said so) , the chapter lengths are such that one can easily get through 2 or 3 just before sleep. That is because, like Dickens, he wrote for serial publication in the first instance.

Here is the plot summary by eminent literary critic Prof John Sutherland…

‘Alice Vavasor is a 24-year old mature woman of character and beauty (with a mere fortune of £400 p.a.). She has two suitors. One is her Byronic cousin, George Vavasor – a ‘wild man’. The other is John Grey, an honest but unexciting ‘worthy man’. Which should Alice accept?

George killed a break-in burglar as a child, and has a Cain-like scar on his handsome face. Alice was earlier engaged to the wild man but jilted him, thinking him (rightly) too wild. He has loosely conceived political ambitions and is a ‘radical’.

Alice, engaged to John as the novel opens, declines to ‘name the day’. It will be the most important day of her life, but also the day on which her ‘freedom’ will end. She, and all her property, will, thereafter, belong to her husband along with that declarative ‘I do’ (the Anglican wedding service, at this period, contained the woman’s promise to ‘obey’).

Alice, after an ill-advised holiday with George in Switzerland, jilts John. But George, in the ensuing long engagement, goes entirely to the bad. His business and political ambitions fail. He is disinherited and brutally assaults his sister, Kate, who has devoted her life (and her own chances of marriage) to advancing his career. He attempts to murder Grey and finally skulks out of England, a ruined man (he is revealed to have had, all the time he was engaged to Alice, a common mistress). John reassumes the fiance’s role.

A parallel plot follows the affairs of Plantagenet Palliser, heir apparent to the Duke of Omnium, and Lady Glencora McCluskie, heiress to a Scottish industrial fortune. Their arranged marriage is doubly threatened. First by childlessness and more seriously by Glencora’s infatuation with the ‘godlike’ Burgo Fitzgerald. Burgo drinks, gambles, and is penniless. But he is ‘beautiful’ and Plantagenet is anything but beautiful. The fact that he is a good man does not outweigh that fact. Burgo sets up an elopement which Plantagenet foils in a dramatic ballroom scene.

On a lower, comic, level Alice’s aunt, Arabella Greenow, also has her two suitors. One is a stolid Norfolk farmer, the other a raffish military man. She chooses the latter ‘because he is better looking’. The narrative examines, from three angles, permutations of marriage for prudence or marriage for passion. Always the woman’s choice. At the end of the novel the three heroines are happily married and Plantagenet has an heir for the duchy of Omnium.’

John Sutherland thinks this novel is all about ‘power’. I think it is, as so often with Trollope, about weak and strong personalities, social position, money problems and ‘will she or won’t she?’ It is also very much about the importance of England itself at this time. Here is John Sutherland again…..

The opening sentence of Can You Forgive Her?, with its relaxed ‘clubman’ tone, conveys the sense of a novelist serenely confident about where power in England resides:

Whether or no, she, whom you are to forgive, if you can, did or did not belong to the Upper Ten Thousand of this our English world, I am not prepared to say with any strength of affirmation.

Ten thousand people in England – the most powerful nation in the world – have the levers of power, prestige, and patronage in their hand. ‘Big People’, Trollope calls them. Trollope was, he felt, not yet a ‘big person’, but not far off it.

It was a matter of authorial pride with Trollope that (unlike, say, his fellow novelist Wilkie Collins), ‘when I sit down to write a novel I do not at all know, and I do not very much care, how it is to end.’ He let his fiction happen, in his famous ‘before breakfast’ early morning stints.’

I have to report that, as I suspected but was unwilling to test for so long, this was just as involving as Barchester. I was gripped with the characters and their development and didn’t mind the lack of plot as such. Really, really, really if you want to know about the tight-knit world of Victorian upper middle-class and high society, Trollope is your man. Great stuff. And I was only a little surprised to hear that lead singer of the Pet Shop Boys, Neil Tennant, wrote the song Can You Forgive Her? in 1992 after reading Trollope’s novel whilst on holiday.

So, whilst Stephen King might poke fun at the book’s length, joking that for modern audiences a more appropriate title might be Can You Possibly Finish It?, I beg to differ. It’s a book I couldn’t put down. 

 

Reading matters…….

Wanting some lighter reading I picked through our shelves and chose a Fifties copy of 006 copy.jpgGeorge Simenon’s ‘The Blue Room’. I often think it is quite surprising how French (and other) writers are stylistically worlds apart from British authors. Same with films of course. It was a real pleasure to read this short but very satisfying novel so quickly. Just recovering from a hernia operation I hadn’t much else to do….I certainly couldn’t walk anywhere. French authors seem much more capable of getting right inside a character so that you almost become the character yourself and feel what they feel. In this case an adulterer on trial for a murder he did not commit as a result of what the French call ‘une grande passion’  or an intense relationship and affair. The ingredients of the novel were straightforward – a small French village where everyone knows everyone, an illicit affair, an interrogation. The result – something extraordinarily powerful. This book is in translation although you certainly would not know it, and who is to say how good the translation is. But the writing is top quality and expressed with economy. Having said all  this I am glad that I have just, by accident, seen on-line the following comments on Simenon by John Banville………

‘He has a Nabokovian ability to convey in words the tactility of things, although the words that he employs and the sentences he makes of them are always humble and plain. He prided himself on his modest vocabulary and the spareness of his language; having finished a book – which he would do in the space of 10 days or so – he would emerge from his study shaking the finished manuscript by the spine, in order, as he joked, to get rid of the last remaining adjectives.’ 

Wonderful! ( I don’t think he used a single exclamation mark either).

We have quite a large Crime section on our shelves (bigger than in either of our s-l300.jpgbookshops), and there are quite a few novels which we perhaps haven’t read or have forgotten reading. One such was Nicci French’s ‘The Red Room’. Totally coincidence that I chose The Red Room immediately after The Blue Room! In fact fool that I am I have only just noticed……..Anyhow what an unexpectedly great read this was. In a somewhat different way to Simenon, French also got right inside the head of our protagonist, a female psychologist helping to solve a series of murders whilst trying to get a grip on her own private life. The scenario and plot were utterly believable and all the characters well drawn. A really gripping Crime novel of the first order.

Unknown.jpeg‘How Many Socks Make A Pair?’  is what’s called a book about surprisingly interesting everyday maths. It does fulfil its function. However, Rob Eastaway sometimes explains the maths and sometimes doesn’t – with his ‘you get the idea of this, but I won’t go into it in detail as the maths is a bit complicated’. I found this frustrating as sometimes you get the impression that he is just serving you up one puzzle or conundrum after another. Still, enjoyable on the whole……..

A Family get-together……

20190504_103652 copy.jpgAlways nice to have a family get-together and this one to celebrate two birthdays Katherine and David. It was good that Aiisha could explore our new play park in the village which seemed to go down well….20190504_103803 copy.jpgand from there an easy transfer to the Amusement Centre in Looe with more rides and the opportunity taken to win two unicorns.20190504_132148 copy.jpgThe beach was good too with Aiisha dressed for the weather and David apparently fearful..20190504_151424 copy.jpegA Birthday cake at home was well received.20190504_181859 copy.jpgNext day, a Sunday, we were off to Falmouth for a proper Birthday meal. We parked by Kimberley Gardens with its even better play park……..20190505_131210 copy.jpg20190505_131922 copy.jpgwhich even pleased some of the adults……20190505_134122 copy.jpg20190505_134845 copy.jpg                           A nice place to live here with its Edwardian houses….20190505_135031 copy.jpg20190505_135035 copy.jpgVery big fish in the pond too…20190505_135142 copy.jpg20190505_135407 copy.jpgOur meal was at the Star and Garter winner of Best Foodie Pub in the South West by Food Magazine. Great views.20190505_142230 copy.jpegPost lunch some light exercise on Gyllngvase beach. A nice day all round. 20190505_171440 copy.jpg20190505_171654 copy.jpegOn the following day we went to Lydford Gorge in North Devon, lots of steps through woodland, to see the 30m White Lady waterfall20190506_143408 copy.jpeg20190506_143810 copy.jpeg20190506_143921 copy.jpg20190506_143954 copy.jpg                       We then wandered along the trail (this goes from one NT cafe to another!)…..20190506_145324 copy.jpga beautiful walk…..20190506_145354 copy.jpg20190506_151514 copy.jpgwith the occasional rapids and falls…20190506_151704 copy.jpg20190506_152350 copy.jpgin parts it is quite narrow with a deep drop and the handrails then prove useful.20190506_153118 copy.jpg                        and at one point there is a ‘money bench’ with inserted coins of all ages and descriptions…….I must admit I am easily impressed sometimes, but all of us were agreed it was a magnificent walk and worth repeating.20190506_154050 copy.jpgOn the last day we went to the climbing wall at Looe which said it would be open but wasn’t. We took the opportunity then to have a look round the Sardine Factory which tells you all about the history of Looe particularly as a sardine centre, and Katherine told us that it was very similar to the one in L’Escala. 20190507_104827 copy.jpg20190507_104850 copy.jpg                 Now where am I?20190507_104947 copy.jpg20190507_105251 copy.jpgNext stop was Victoria services to fill up with lpg and there we found that the Climbing Centre was absolutely terrific and more than made up for our disappointment in Looe.  I thought four and a half year old Aiisha was astonishing and totally unfazed. maybe a new long-term hobby for her?

20190507_121951 copy.jpg20190507_121955 copy.jpg20190507_122156 copy.jpg20190507_122320 copy.jpg20190507_122543 copy.jpg20190507_123041 copy.jpg20190507_123254 copy.jpg20190507_123346 copy.jpg20190507_123350 copy.jpgI might, just might, try this climbing business for myself sometime and see if I can allay my fear of heights.

Pencarrow House at yet a different time…

20190418_144927 copy.jpgWe’ve visited Pencarrow at slightly different times of the year, and it always pays as you see the grounds clad in different clothes as it were. This time it was mid April. Smart Classical house, still lived in by the family. No pics allowed inside.20190418_132718 copy.jpg20190418_144410 copy.jpgAfter our guided tour, with a knowledgeable guide, we decided to once more walk the whole perimeter of the grounds. This used to be a formal Italian garden, but now blends in with the rest of the park.20190418_144451 copy.jpgJust past these trees was the grotto which we hadn’t visited before….20190418_144959 copy.jpgFrances descending to the underworld….20190418_145026 copy.jpgNice views of the house itself on our walk…20190418_145107 copy.jpgMagnificent colours at this time of year….20190418_145231 copy.jpeg20190418_145247 copy.jpegI like the so-called Colonel’s garden with its water feature…20190418_145615 copy.jpgAfter the climb uphill we reach the prehistoric fort with its impressive remains and outline clearly visible…20190418_152102 copy.jpeg20190418_152345 copy.jpgYou then go down the ‘Cathedral’ walk which is particularly magnificent when the trees are leafless….20190418_152904 copy.jpg20190418_152910 copy.jpgThen through the glory of Pencarrow the almost mile-long avenue of Rhododendrons and Azaleas…they really are enormous and laden with flowers..20190418_153522 copy.jpeg20190418_153720 copy.jpegI like to examine individual booms as well……20190418_154124 copy.jpgYou don’t see notices like this in many places….20190418_154600 copy.jpgPencarrow is quite near to us and well-worth the visit. Still, at this time of year it is almost as nice, perhaps better, to be in our own garden which has now come into its own…20190421_102621 copy.jpg20190423_153320 copy.jpeg20190423_153326 copy.jpg20190423_153404 copy.jpg20190423_153430 copy.jpg20190423_153450 copy.jpg20190423_153504 copy.jpg20190423_153523 copy.jpgAnd when we have enjoyed that our local lanes are full of botanical interest. At the moment crammed with bluebells….20190430_172338 copy.jpg20190430_172433 copy.jpeg20190430_172604 copy.jpg20190424_165305 copy.jpgand wild garlic……20190430_173547-copy.jpg20190430_172846 copy.jpg20190430_172604 copy.jpg20190430_172851 copy.jpg20190430_175209 copy.jpgAmongst all the common roadside plants this single orchid stood out…..20190430_175344 copy.jpgand in parts there are still clumps of late primroses…..20190430_175519 copy.jpgAt  the village end of our walk we came across some white bluebells (!)….. 20190430_180133 copy.jpgand some p20190430_180405 copy.jpg

Reading matters…….

a-taste-for-death.jpgI was looking forward very much to reading ‘A Taste For Death’ the novel which P D James herself said she liked best. It’s about number 7 in the extensive Dalgliesh series…….. ‘In the dingy vestry of St. Matthew’s Church, Paddington, two bodies have been found with their throats slashed. One is an alcoholic tramp, whereas the other is Sir Paul Berowne, a baronet and recently resigned Minister of the Crown. Commander Adam Dalgliesh investigates’. The novel has indeed received high praise from many different sources…..”Rings of authenticity … compelling……literary grace of a high order……splendidly suspenseful….etc”. I have to admit I found it none of these things. There was little plot, the pace was absolutely pedestrian. I found it unconvincing and not writtthe height of literary expertise. Of the other Dalgliesh novels I have read, one was terrific, and now two have been very disappointing. The question is shall I try any more ?

The full title of this book is ‘The Secret Barrister : Stories of the Law and How It’s 819XFFNxV6L copy.jpgBroken’. A little confusing, but meaning how the legal system we have is broken, not how to break the Law! It all started with a Junior Barrister’s anonymous blog where he discusses how difficult it is to do his job any more, and how much we need to do to remedy our legal system which he demonstrates time and time again is not ‘fit for purpose’. In the book he does this by examining every aspect of the Law, par as he comes across it, illustrating with often real-life cases. To keep things entertaining he sometimes resorts to fictional cases which nevertheless are utterly believable. Basically he demonstrates convincingly (backed up with wonderful research and statistics) that the continual cuts on funding for maintaining our Justice system have not only broken it but got to the stage where ‘Justice’ as we all understand it cannot be guaranteed any more. Believe me this is a frightening thesis. Any of us can come face to face with the Law through no fault of our own and, if we did, we would sure want someone like ‘the secret barrister’ on our side, working his or her guts out for less than the living wage and all because he really and truly believes in ‘Justice’. What is revealed in the book is nothing less than scandalous, and we should all be determined to do something about it.

31kuygda4BL._SR600,315_PIWhiteStrip,BottomLeft,0,35_PIAmznPrime,BottomLeft,0,-5_PIStarRatingFOUR,BottomLeft,360,-6_SR600,315_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpeg‘A History of Sandbach and District Etc’ is one of the reprints from its digitised collection of historical books and documents. As such it is not amazing quality, but nevertheless serves a purpose. Tomlinson the author of this 1899 work was obviously a keen amateur historian and lover of Sandbach where he lived. Its slim 50 pages or so gives am impression of Sandbach 100 years before this, and a summary of the history before that of the main buildings. One of the most interesting bits of his research concerns the two Saxon crosses in the Market Square, how they were purloined by a local landowner in Georgian times (as so much was purloined from the Grand Tours….), and subsequently broken into pieces and used as foundation for a house, garden ornament and goodness knows what. It is thanks to the Victorian efforts of someone appointed by the town to research where the crosses were and to the skill of the Architect of Manchester that nearly all the pieces were recovered and reassembled. Quite amazing in many ways.

“The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total 9781405919463.jpgtransformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages. Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.                                                                                                      Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined. For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda. These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them…” A fair summary. If you can suspend your disbelief just a little (I don’t usually, but for this I did), then this is a thriller with a twist. Characterisation – good. Setting – you could be there. Plot – exciting. The Australian author Liane Moriarty really gets under her characters skin and writes an entertaining thriller which amuses at the same time. Quite an accomplishment.

41HLuI8i9fL._SX290_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg‘The Buildings of England : Cheshire’  was a book I had to have if we are to up and move to Cheshire. As I have said the new series of Pevsner guides is superior to the originals and much more up-to-date, as well as being willing to throw in the odd bit of humour and irreverence. I don’t think Pevsner for instance would have written of Thornton-Le-Moors “Seen always against the vast Stanley oil refinery, with it serried rows of tanks, silver pipework and flaming chimneys. Decibel level and stink quotient are high”!   If you are at all interested in your built environment and the history of where you live, these books are absolutely indispensable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading matters……

Unknown.jpeg‘Friends At Court’ was the book that inspired me to take up the Law……I never did. But the fascination remains. A judge has said ‘No-one has ever caught more precisely or wittily the atmosphere of litigation’, and this certainly comes through. Although very witty at times, at other times you feel you are in the hands of a barrister ( I nearly wrote barista) who is talking about real cases in which he is himself involved. I am sure that much is taken from real life. As this was published in 1956 you might think that it would be very old-fashioned. It isn’t. The law changes slowly. having read this I was looking forward to the other ‘Brothers In Law’ Penguin we have on our shelves, but my wife cautioned it started off well but got very silly indeed. I don’t know whether to read or not. problems, problems.Having liked the P D James Dalgleish novels that I have read I thought I wouldgetimage-18-651x1024-copy.jpeg start at the beginning and read the first couple in a long, long series. However my plans went awry when the first arrived. It was half in French and half in English. I just couldn’t read it. I therefore had to start with the second in the series ‘Cover Her Face’. I have to say that although quite well written, it was a little turgid, and I soon spotted the perpetrator of the murder which in a ‘Who Dunnit’ is not really a good sign. It reads like a second novel. having enjoyed the depth and the literary excellence of later novels it perhaps was a mistake to return to the beginning!                                                                                                                                             8533d57736153adf6bcf90a50851c681.jpgI try not to buy books for the sake of it, particularly now that we are retired, but some of the Folio books on our shelves have been sitting for a long time just looking good. I am working my way through them and it is a pleasure to read such well-formed books with often top-quality illustrations. In fact I am sure Folio could do good business selling the illustrations as prints. The covers are good too….this is ‘Dracula’. Now we all think we know the story, but how many of us have truly read this novel? I steer away from anything vaguely relating to Fantasy. I personally regard it as somewhat childish. I did enjoy Fantasy at school, but surely I am past that now. Well this is the book that put paid to that argument. It is Fantasy but it is exceedingly well-written on the whole and, although long, it is gripping. I wanted to get  to bed each night to read more. I have to say I really, really enjoyed it. The limited cast of characters are very well-drawn and the atmosphere unsettling. The fact that a lot of the story is told through various people’s journals also adds to the pot. If you haven’t read it now’s the time.         1709151 copy.JPG                                  Another beautiful Folio, this time ‘Brideshead Revisited’ .Now everyone must have read this or seen the film or seen it on TV but it amply pays a re-read. If you can get yourself this Folio edition it is certainly worth the investment. Background…..Charles Ryder’s cousin warned him against taking rooms on the ground floor of his Oxford college, so when the young Lord Sebastian Flyte is sick through his window, it seems he should have heeded the advice. However, no one is immune to Sebastian’s inimitable charm and soon a relationship develops that will change Charles’s life for ever. Chosen as one of Time magazine’s 100 greatest novels of all time, this is Waugh’s most popular book, combining aching sympathy for the passing of privilege with the best of his razor-sharp wit. You feel the time and place you really do………….22cd54af39caaed636c664a6f77434b41716b42.jpg

 

A week in the heart of rural England…..part 5

20190326_135201 copy.jpgOn our last full day we drove south to Hednesford to meet F’s long-lost cousin Philip. Well a cousin she knew nothing about at all til recently. He had been in touch because of a clue thrown up in researching the family history. F’s grandfather was a miners leader and Mayor of Tamworth, and his brothers were all miners. Philip’s grandfather was one of the brothers. Thus it was that we met him for a nice chat and for him to show us where he had got to, and then he took us to the nearby Museum of Cannock Chase a lot of whose exhibits are to do with mining which proliferated around here. The museum site was once home to the Valley Colliery, the training pit for thousands of young men beginning their working lives in the local coal industry.20190326_133852 copy.jpgHednesford as with any ex mining community has seen better days and lost its soul along with the industry. What was impressive in terms of its buildings was, of all things, the Wetherspoons which was a summer retreat for the brother of Prime Minister Peel. A fine building indeed.20190326_140352 copy.jpegWe also liked the mining sculpture……20190326_140543 copy.jpgand the hundreds and hundreds of memorial bricks set around it and filling the square…20190326_140253.jpegAn interesting interlude which I hope will lead to further findings.20190326_141022 copy.jpgSo far, the following entry in Wikipedia gives some hope…..

George Henry Jones (1884 – December 1958) was a British trade unionist and politician.

Born in Hednesford, Jones began working as a pit-boy at an early age.[1] He became active in the Cannock Chase Miners’ Association, and was elected as its president in 1912. In 1914, he became the full-time general secretary and agent for the North Warwickshire Miners’ Association, and then in 1919 became general secretary and agent for the larger Warwickshire Miners’ Association.[1]

Jones was also active in the Labour Party, serving on Tamworth Town Council, and he stood in the Tamworth by-election, 1922, taking a distant second place, with 31.2% of the vote.[1][2] Eventually, he served as Mayor of Tamworth.[3] At the 1931 and 1935 UK general elections, he stood unsuccessfully in Lichfield.[4][5]

In about 1930, Jones was elected as secretary of the Midland Miners’ Federation, to which all his previous unions were affiliated; he remained leader of the Warwickshire Miners. He served on the executive of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain (MFGB). He remained in post as the MFGB became the National Union of Mineworkers, but left his trade union posts in 1947, to become Labour Director of the West Midlands Coal Board, then in 1950 became its vice-chair.[3] He retired in 1952, although he continued to serve as a part-time member of the board until his death, four years later.[6]

  1. ^  a b c The Labour Who’s Who. London: The Labour Publishing Company. 1924. p. 94.
  2. ^ Debrett’s House of Commons & Judicial Bench, 1922
  3. ^ a b “Obituary: George Henry Jones”. Report of the 58th Annual Conference of the Labour Party: 52. 1957.
  4. ^ Kimber, Richard. “UK General Election results October 1931”. Political Science Resources. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  5. ^ Kimber, Richard. “UK General Election results November 1935”. Political Science Resources. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  6. ^ “National Coal Board: Changes at West Midlands and South Western Headquarters”. Information Bulletin. National Union of Mineworkers. 1952.

Our next port of call as it was near was a place I had always wanted to visit. The church and vicarage which were at the centre of the novel by Julian Barnes ‘Arthur and George’. This was based on a true story about a solicitor George Edalji whose mother and father’s home this was. Unusually his father the vicar was a convert from a Bombay Parsi family. Anyhow George was accused of maiming animals at night in and around the village, a series of events that came to be known as the Great Wyrley Outrages. In a case of gross injustice he was found guilty and sentenced to 3 years in prison. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took an interest and ensured that the matter of George’s conviction became a national issue. After a long campaign Doyle’s efforts led to a Court of Inquiry and a pardon. Some good came out of the whole affair as Edalji’s case and the associated campaign were factors in the creation of England’s Court of Criminal Appeal in 1907.        I have to say that our visit here was a great disappointment to me. There was absolutely no mention anywhere whatsoever of all of this case. I know the church’s business is religion and worship. But the vicarage and the church and Edalji’s father’s position were integral to the whole affair. Surely it might help draw people to this now anonymous suburb of Walsall to at least outline the story? Would that not be a good thing? Anyhow I am glad I came.

20190326_144956 copy.jpg20190326_145332-copy.jpg20190326_145050 copy.jpg20190326_145201.jpegOn the way back to our cottage we called one more time at Sandbach to have a further look around and shop at Waitrose for our evening meal (I said this town had everything!). It didn’t disappoint and we found even more lovely lovely areas….20190326_165719 copy.jpg20190326_165813 copy.jpg20190326_165851 copy.jpg20190326_170030 copy.jpeg20190326_170441 copy.jpgThe next day we set out reasonably early as we were undertaking the journey back to Cornwall not the way we had come by Motorway nearly all the way but on the ‘old’ route down the border country of Shropshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Gwent. It was a good decision. Marvellous weather, fantastic countryside and the bonus of stopping for lunch in Ludlow one of my favourite places…..20190327_135803 copy.jpeg20190327_140005 copy.jpgAs it happened, the Charlton Arms Hotel had just stopped serving so we made do with a drink and a bag of crisps, but with this view who cares?20190327_141112 copy.jpg

A week in the heart of rural England…..part 4

20190324_113352 copy.jpegOur cottage was near Holmes Chapel, but we hadn’t had a look there yet. So this morning  we parked up and explored. Not much to see except a perfectly pleasant town with everything you would want, well-kept, with a station (as have most towns around here), and a charming area around the church. A nice place to live, but too expensive for us (as are most ‘nice places’!).20190324_113443 copy.jpg20190324_113532 copy.jpegIt must have a good community spirit as you see from the herb bins..20190324_113658 copy.jpegOur prime destination today a Sunday was Capesthorne Hall which we could visit free with our HHA cards. A very imposing building, the red brick hall was built in the Jacobean style between 1719 and 1732, the turrets and pinnacles being added a hundred years later. Much remodeling was carried out by the architect Anthony Salvin following a disastrous fire at the hall in 1861.20190324_121510 copy.jpeg20190324_121548 copy.jpgWe were early, so we had chance of a bite to eat in the cafe and we walked around the gardens to visit the chapel 20190324_121745 copy.jpg20190324_125858 copy.jpeg20190324_125909 copy.jpg20190324_130102 copy.jpeg20190324_130244 copy.jpegAfterwards we built up our daily steps with a walk around the nearest lake. I say the nearest because there are several……20190324_130558 copy.jpeg20190324_130638 copy.jpg20190324_131011 copy.jpgOn our return to the Hall I took this pic of the front ‘veranda’ where every alcove held a glass case complete with stuffed bird, an unusual feature to say the least.20190324_132908 copy.jpeg                           As is normal with ‘private’ houses, no photography allowed inside, so a couple of shots from on-line. The staff were very friendly which is great and as I was asking after one or two of the paintings, a kind lady member of staff lent me her guide for the duration of our visit. Terrific.Capesthorne-Hall-interior copy.jpgholdenby.jpgWe wanted to see Northwich having visited the other two wiches, but didn’t linger very long as it is both industrial (salt and chemicals) and run down. Obviously there will be parts of interest but we didn’t want to waste any time looking for them! Instead we headed off into the countryside North and stopped at the extremely pretty Great Budworth. Could any village be pleasanter? Should you be able to afford living here, you might want to think about the cons of living on a film-set with thousands and thousands of  visitors………20190324_154658 copy.jpeg20190324_154457 copy.jpeg20190324_154630 copy.jpg20190324_155504 copy.jpg20190324_154709 copy.jpg20190324_154819 copy.jpg20190324_155635 copy.jpg20190324_154849.jpg20190324_154901 copy.jpg20190324_155106 copy.jpg20190324_155150 copy.jpg                  …..and then as Great Budworth sits atop a hill you have a fine view, admittedly in the far distance, of the nearby chemical works!20190324_163454 copy.jpgTo cap our day off Martin had recommended we visit Mow Cop a folly high up with a 360 degree view of the Cheshire plain and chunks of Staffordshire. It was well worth the effort in finding it (not simple).  20190325_180723 copy.jpeg20190325_181330 copy.jpeg20190325_181334 copy.jpg