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Surfeit Of Lampreys
2022-08-16 18:00
A review of Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh Originally published in 1941 and going by the rather prosaic title of Death of a Peer in the States, this is considered to be Marsh&rsqu… Read More
The Nurseries Of London
2022-08-15 18:00
In 2021 UK households spent around £7.6 billion on plants, flowers, and other garden goods, estimate Statista, up from £6.2 billion the previous year. The grateful recipients… Read More
Suggestion Of The Week
2022-08-14 09:00
For those of a certain vintage, the current long hot summer and the absence of rainfall brings back memories of the summer of 1976 and water shortages. That drought was a long time in th… Read More
Own Goal Of The Week
2022-08-13 09:00
And there it was, gone. BBC Radio 5 Love quietly dropped its reading of the classified football results last Saturday as part of the station’s shakeup to accommodate its broadcasti… Read More
Thirty-Nine Of The Gang
2022-08-12 18:00
These days the activities of the Salvation Army provoke little in the way of public disquiet but that was from the case in the late 19th century. Their brand of militant Christianity ali… Read More
Makar Original Dry Gin
2022-08-11 18:00
It is worth being reminded from time to time that gin is supposed to be juniper-led, something that is often forgotten by distillers who believe that the key to gaining edge in the crowd… Read More
Pilgrim’s Rest
2022-08-10 18:00
A review of Pilgrim’s Rest by Patricia Wentworth There have always been Pilgrims at Pilgrim’s Rest. Any member of the family who has the audacity to suggest putting the pr… Read More
The Dusky Hour
2022-08-09 18:00
A review of The Dusky Hour by E R Punshon This is the ninth in Punshon’s Bobby Owen series, also known as Death in the Chalkpits, originally published in 1937 and reissued by De… Read More
How Coffee Is Decaffeinated
2022-08-08 18:00
Doctor Poison might have risen to Goethe’s challenge and discovered caffeine, but the solution to the playwright’s sleep problem was almost a century away and was discovered… Read More
Device Of The Week (5)
2022-08-07 09:00
Good news for hot dogs (and cats). Until it starts raining cats and dogs again, if it ever does, one problem facing pet owners is how to keep their furry friends cool. A Tokyo-based mate… Read More
Sporting Event Of The Week (31)
2022-08-06 09:00
England’s women might have won the Euro championships, but Scotland has just crowned its first national tree-hugging champion. The Inaugural Scottish Hugging Championship was held… Read More
Thirty-Eight Of The Gang
2022-08-05 18:00
According to James Ware in his Passing English of a Victorian Era, there were compensations to be had from a spell of wet weather. Pavement were rudimentary and soon turned into a sea of… Read More
Barra Atlantic Gin
2022-08-04 18:00
Barra, the second southernmost inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides, is known as the “Garden of the Hebrides”, home to an abundance of flora and fauna including over a thou… Read More
Coroner’s Pidgin
2022-08-03 18:00
A review if Coroner’s Pidgin by Margery Allingham It must be very disconcerting to come back home after three years’ service overseas and find the body of a dead woman who… Read More
House With Crooked Walls
2022-08-02 18:00
A review of House with Crooked Walls by Bruce Graeme In writing these book reviews I try to find something good to say about even those books which try my patience to the extreme, but… Read More
Goethe, Dr Poison, And Decaf Coffee
2022-08-01 18:00
Until recently those eschewing alcohol, meat or gluten had a pretty thin time of it, the options available limited and distinctly ersatz in quality and calibre. Now, though, the market f… Read More
Mastication Advice Of The Week
2022-07-31 09:00
Ever since I was a small child, I had it drummed into me that I should eat with my mouth closed and, indeed, there is nothing more off-putting at the dining table than seeing someone mov… Read More
Trip Of The Week (3)
2022-07-30 09:00
It seems to be increasingly difficult to get anywhere these days what with long queues at ports, a Brexit dividend, cancellations, strikes, and transport infrastructures unable to cope w… Read More
Thirty-Seven Of The Gang
2022-07-29 18:00
According to James Ware in his Passing English of a Victorian Era, to see the elephant was to see something out to its conclusion. This colourful phrase owes its origin to the world of t… Read More
Gin D’Azur
2022-07-28 18:00
A discernible trend spawned by the ginaissance is the entry of long-established spirits producers, who see the burgeoning popularity of gin as an opportunity to extend their product rang… Read More
The Case Of The Missing Minutes
2022-07-27 18:00
A review of The Case of the Missing Minutes by Christopher Bush There is a distinct change of mood in this, the sixteenth in Bush’s Ludovic Travers series, originally published… Read More
Bleeding Hooks
2022-07-26 18:00
A review of Bleeding Hooks by Harriet Rutland Originally published in 1940 and now reissued by Dean Street Press, Bleeding Hooks, which went by the alternative title of The Poison Fly… Read More
Crinkle-Crankle Walls
2022-07-25 18:00
The crinkle-crankle wall at Frimhurst, Frimley Green. Picture courtesy of Pauline Robertson Nikolaus Pevsner defined in his Architectural Glossary (2010) a crinkle-crankle wall as “… Read More
Restaurant Of The Week (4)
2022-07-24 09:00
There is a restaurant, it seems, to suit all tastes and pockets these days, but seeking to make its own particular mark on the British culinary scene is Karen’s Diner, which origin… Read More
Climax Of The Week
2022-07-23 09:00
Who would be a male bee? When drone bees experience extreme heat, such as we have experienced this week, they ejaculate out their internal penis-equivalent organ known as an endophallus… Read More
Thirty-Six Of The Gang
2022-07-22 18:00
According to James Ware in his Passing English of a Victorian Era, sapper was music hall slang for a gay, irresistible dog, derived from the chorus of a song popularised by Therese, a fa… Read More
Boatyard Double Gin
2022-07-21 18:00
Readers, I use the plural optimistically, of my explorations of the ginaissance will have realised by now that my preference is for a gin which celebrates first and foremost the principa… Read More
The Sussex Cuckoo
2022-07-20 18:00
A review of The Sussex Cuckoo by Brian Flynn We live in a world of instant communication where a carefully targeted use of social media can whet the interest of your intended audience… Read More
Two And Two Make Twenty-Two
2022-07-19 18:00
A review of Two and Two make Twenty-Two by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning This is another fascinating murder mystery, originally published in 1932, that has been rescued from obscurit… Read More
The First Commercial Passenger Jet Flight
2022-07-18 18:00
The development of the jet engine revolutionised air travel, an advance driven by the prospect of war and the desire to gain an advantage over the potential enemy rather than commercial… Read More
Text Book Of The Week
2022-07-17 09:00
Who would have thought it? There was me thinking that the Gradgrindian chore of learning lists of vocabulary, the declensions of nouns and to parse verbs, taking the care to select the c… Read More
Retreat Of The Week
2022-07-16 09:00
In a sport famed for its use of the term “love” in its scoring system, for excessive grunting on the courts, and a former champion lost all after a quick bunk up in a cupboar… Read More
Thirty-Five Of The Gang
2022-07-15 18:00
According to James Ware in his Passing English of a Victorian Era, St Lubbock was slang for an orgy or drunken riot. It owed its origin to the tendency of drunken holidaymakers to run am… Read More
Tappers Brightside Coastal London Dry Gin
2022-07-14 18:00
It is always brightens up my day and lightens my wallet when the buyers at Waitrose extend the range of gins spawned by the ginaissance that they stock, a recent addition to which is Tap… Read More
Hangman’s Curfew
2022-07-13 18:00
A review of Hangman’s Curfew by Gladys Mitchell Reading a novel by Gladys Mitchell is always a bit of a rollercoaster. They are never easy reading, always challenging, always st… Read More
Traveller’s Return
2022-07-12 18:00
A review of Traveller’s Return by Patricia Wentworth Picking up a Miss Silver book by Patricia Wentworth is the equivalent of comfort eating. You know it is going to be enjoyabl… Read More
The First Passenger Airline
2022-07-11 18:00
It was New Year’s Day, 1914. A crowd of 3,000 spectators, having paraded through the streets of St Petersburg in Florida to the accompaniment of what the local newspaper described… Read More
Innovation Of The Week (8)
2022-07-10 09:00
I have so far been able to resist the siren charms of Alexa, a stubborn piece of resistance that raises eyebrows and provokes head shaking amongst the younger generations. I am even less… Read More
Thirty-Four Of The Gang
2022-07-08 18:00
In Elizabethan times the seeds of ferns were thought to be invisible, except for a few moments around midnight on Midsummer Eve, when they could be seen falling to the ground. Anyone who… Read More
Tarquin’s Black Cherry Gin
2022-07-07 18:00
Thanks to the ginaissance Cornwall is a hotspot for gin distillers, but the man who sparked it all off, arguably, is Tarquin Leadbetter who in 2012 and at the tender age of just twenty-t… Read More
The Case Of The Late Pig
2022-07-06 18:00
A review of The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham This is the ninth in Allingham’s Albert Campion series, originally published in 1937. It has a couple of unusual featur… Read More
Measure For Murder
2022-07-05 18:00
A review of Measure for Murder by Clifford Witting Originally published in 1941, this is the fifth in Witting’s Inspector Harry Charlton series and shows greater ambition in its… Read More
Fern Lore (2)
2022-07-04 18:00
Fern seeds were long associated with invisibility, a power especially useful for those up to no good. In Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part I Act II, Scene 1 (1596-7), Gladshill tries to… Read More
Names Of The Week (14)
2022-07-03 09:00
Don’t be misled by its size. Moffatt may only be a town with 120 residents on the edge of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley… Read More
Recycling Scheme Of The Week
2022-07-02 09:00
There’s gold in your urine, or at least a bit of cash. I had not realised but there is money to be made from the urine that you carry around in your bladder. The price has risen fr… Read More
Thirty-Three Of The Gang
2022-07-01 18:00
Poor people had much to put up with. To put a steam on the table was used to mean earning enough money to be able to afford a hot meal on Sunday. Failing that you might have to try a put… Read More
2022-06-30 18:00
The ginaissance demands that each distiller has a story to tell and the one behind Darnley’s Original London Dry Gin is rooted in Scottish history. The Wemyss family, pronounced We… Read More
The Two Tickets Puzzle
2022-06-29 18:00
A review of The Two Tickets Puzzle by J J Connington Connington, the nom de plume of chemistry professor, Alfred Stewart, took the bold step of “retiring” his normal polic… Read More
Five To Five
2022-06-28 18:00
A review of Five to Five by Dorothy Erskine Muir I am going through a phase of sampling authors from the so-called Golden Age of detective fiction who are new to me. Dorothy Erskine M… Read More
Fern Lore
2022-06-27 18:00
Dense stands of Britain’s most common fern, Pteridium aquilinum, bracken, carpet the floor of the woodlands near where I live, marking the progress of the year. Their tightly cu… Read More
Acrostic Of The Week
2022-06-25 09:00
Getting the right choice of words to put on the gravestone of a loved one can be a tricky business. There are so many pitfalls that most of the inscriptions are little more than a variat… Read More
Thirty-Two Of The Gang
2022-06-24 18:00
What is a pig month? According to James Ware in his Passing English of a Victorian Era it was any of the eight months without an R in their name when it was said to be safe to eat pork… Read More
Artingstall’s Brilliant London Dry Gin
2022-06-23 18:00
Think Hollywood, think glamour, style, and, occasionally, quality. One of the increasing number of “celebrities” who have been drawn to put their own stamp on the ginaissance… Read More
Death At The Bar
2022-06-22 18:00
A review of Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh It has taken me a while to warm to Ngaio Marsh, but the books written in the late 1930s and early 40s see her in fine form. Written in 1939… Read More
Post After Post-Mortem
2022-06-21 18:00
A review of Post after Post-Mortem by E C R Lorac One of the literary world’s most intriguing questions is why some writers are remembered long after they had finished writing w… Read More
The Ploughman And His Lunch
2022-06-20 18:00
If there is a dish designed to evoke images of a bucolic England lost forever, it is the ploughman’s lunch, a simple repast of bread and cheese, designed to fill the stomachs of ag… Read More
Worm Of The Week
2022-06-19 09:00
Microbial Genomics as a journal can be a tad indigestible but they have got their teeth into a good story with a report on research into the eating habits of the larvae of Zophobas morio… Read More
Croissant Of The Week
2022-06-18 09:00
Selling like hot cakes at Café Zavertailo is a new croissant which is described as a croissant pastry crust, with custard vans, baked apples, Italian meringue, and crowned with a… Read More
Thirty-One Of The Gang
2022-06-17 18:00
Pepper’s ghost is an illusion technique, named after John Henry Pepper. A brightly lit figure out of the audience’s sight below the stage is reflected in a pane of angled gla… Read More
Bayab African Grown Gin
2022-06-16 18:00
One of the most distinctive sights of the sub-Saharan savannas is a tree whose branches look like branches, the baobab, known as the “upside-down tree”. According to African… Read More
Mystery Of Mr Jessop
2022-06-15 18:00
A review of Mystery of Mr Jessop by E R Punshon In this the eighth in Punshon’s Bobby Owen, originally published in 1937 and now reissued by Dean Street Press, the aspiring youn… Read More
The Trail Of The Three Lean Men
2022-06-14 18:00
A review of The Trail of the Three Lean Men by Christopher Bush By the time The Trail of The Three Lean Men was published in 1932, Christopher Bush had given up his full-time employme… Read More
The Man Who Invented The Pneumatic Tyre
2022-06-13 18:00
As well as that all-important spark of ingenuity a successful inventor needs a healthy slice of good fortune and perfect timing. The footnotes of history are littered with inventors who… Read More
Cruise Of The Week
2022-06-12 09:00
Covering an area of at least 500,000 square miles and with vertices at Miami, San Jose in Puerto Rico, and Bermuda, the Bermuda Triangle continues to fascinate. At least 75 aeroplanes an… Read More
Fish Of The Week (3)
2022-06-11 09:00
When is a bee a fish? When it comes to interpreting California’s 1970 Endangered Species Act, it would seem. Four types of bumble bee in the state are on the endangered list but… Read More
Thirty Of The Gang
2022-06-10 18:00
A penny was a coin of relatively low value and, unsurprisingly, was used to describe something of little worth. Penny death traps were glass paraffin lamps which were made in Germany, wh… Read More
G’Vine Nouaison Gin
2022-06-09 18:00
One of the delights of the ginaissance is the realisation that there are gin distillers operating outside of the UK and that their products are as good as if not better than those produc… Read More
Knock, Murderer, Knock
2022-06-08 18:00
A review of Knock, Murderer, Knock by Harriet Rutland Harriet Rutland is another new author to me, the pen name of Olive Shimwell, whose three crime fiction novels have been rescued f… Read More
The Franchise Affair
2022-06-07 18:00
A review of The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey It has taken me a long time to discover Josephine Tey, but I am determined to make up for lost time. Originally published in 1948, an… Read More
Is The Tomato Poisonous?
2022-06-06 18:00
The first British reference to a tomato appeared in Henry Lyte’s A nieuwe Herball (1578), a direct translation of a Dutch work, and it is unlikely that he actually grew one. John G… Read More
Bottle Of The Week (2)
2022-06-05 09:00
With Father’s Day just around the corner, an American import inspired indirectly by that country’s largest mining disaster, thoughts turn to a suitable gift for the paterf… Read More
Names Of The Week (13)
2022-06-04 09:00
For the pizza lover, the Welsh Italian Pizza Company seems to be just the ticket, offering authentic hand-made Neapolitan pizzas from their wood-fired pizza oven. Based in South Wales an… Read More
Twenty-Nine Of The Gang
2022-06-03 18:00
Not the cheese, according to James Ware in his Passing English of a Victorian Era, meant not satisfactory. According to Dr Brewer, it came from the Persian and Hindu word for a thing che… Read More
Inginious Gin
2022-06-02 06:00
As someone unable to spot a trend until its rear lights are disappearing over the horizon, I have been a latecomer to the world of NoLo, no alcohol or low alcohol drinks. I have always s… Read More
The Key
2022-06-01 18:00
A review of The Key by Patricia Wentworth This, the eighth in Wentworth’s Miss Silver series, originally published in 1944, is straight out of her playbook. There is a murder, a… Read More
The Case Of The Purple Calf
2022-05-31 18:00
A review of The Case of the Purple Calf by Brian Flynn Even the most ardent fan of Brian Flynn would be hard pressed to make a convincing case that this, the sixteenth in his Anthony… Read More
Royal Jubilees
2022-05-30 18:00
Royal jubilees were much more infrequent than religious jubilees, depending upon the longevity of the monarch and originally marked fifty years on the throne. The first English monarch t… Read More
Find Of The Week (4)
2022-05-29 09:00
One of the only reasons to go into a charity shop, apart from supporting a good cause, is in anticipation of finding an item that is being retailed for far less than its monetary value… Read More
Smile Of The Week
2022-05-28 09:00
I never find shopping a pleasurable experience. It never fails to astonish me when the person behind whom I have been (im)patiently queuing is astonished to find, after painstakingly loa… Read More
Twenty-Eight Of The Gang
2022-05-27 18:00
Our language has lost some marvellous words along the way. Mawwormy was an adjective used to describe someone being picky or the act of fault finding. It owed its origin to a character i… Read More
Inverroche Verdant Gin
2022-05-26 18:00
Based in the Western Cape in Stilbaai, Inverroche distillery is the brainchild of Lorna Scott, its name paying homage to her Scottish ancestry – inver meaning a confluence of water… Read More
Seven Clues In Search Of A Crime
2022-05-25 18:00
A review of Seven Clues in search of a Crime by Bruce Graeme It is always a pleasure to find a new author and Bruce Graeme, a nom de plume of Graham Montague Jeffries, is a new one on… Read More
Shadows Before
2022-05-24 18:00
A review of Shadows Before by Dorothy Bowers This is the second of Dorothy Bowers’ Inspector Pardoe mystery murders, originally published in 1939 and now reissued by Moonstone P… Read More
A Fruit Or A Vegetable?
2022-05-23 18:00
Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? It is a superfood. Britons eat half around half a million tonnes of them a year, the equivalent of two per person per week. According to a YouGov survey… Read More
Toilet Of The Week (33)
2022-05-22 09:00
The older I get, the more I value a public toilet in easy reach. News of plans to introduce a form of public toilet apartheid filled me with horror. It is difficult to find a public… Read More
Names Of The Week (12)
2022-05-21 09:00
It has not been a good week for Vogue magazine. If it was not enough to provoke the ire of Melania trump for putting Jill Biden on the front cover and not her, the magazine has managed t… Read More
Twenty-Seven Of The Gang
2022-05-20 18:00
James “Jem” Mace was a Norfolk-born boxing champion who operated, primarily, during the bare-knuckle era. He held the English Welterweight, Middleweight, and Heavyweight titl… Read More
Bathtub Gin – Grapefruit And Rosemary
2022-05-19 18:00
The ginaissance has spawned a crowded marketplace and distillers need to be on top of their game, or at least their marketeers, to carve out a comfortable niche. Bathtub Gin has one of t… Read More
The Cheyne Mystery
2022-05-18 18:00
A review of The Cheyne Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts This is the second in Freeman Wills Crofts’ Inspector French series, originally published in 1926, and quite different fro… Read More
Overture To Death
2022-05-17 18:00
A review of Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh If nothing else, Ngaio Marsh is highly inventive when it comes to designing the way in which her latest victim will meet their death. Idri… Read More
Jubilees – The Story Shofar
2022-05-16 18:00
Until this year fifteen monarchs around the world had reigned for at least seventy years, the grand-père of them all being Louis XIV whose 72 years and 110 days on the French thro… Read More
Reaction Of The Week
2022-05-15 09:00
What is it with cats and cucumbers? Social media is full of, frankly, inexplicable trends that go viral. One of the lates is videos of cat owners placing a cucumber behind their pet… Read More
2022-05-14 09:00
To what lengths would you go to retrieve your mobile phone? An unnamed woman dropped her mobile phone down a toilet, one of those chemical jobbies with a big septic tank, near the top… Read More
Twenty-Six Of The Gang
2022-05-13 18:00
If you are looking for a different form of profane expression with which to vent your anger or frustration, why not try Lady in the straw. This was a popular oath and refers to the Virgi… Read More
Kyrő Pink Gin
2022-05-12 18:00
In England all the best ideas are hatched in a pub. In Finland, it would seem, are laid in a sauna. While drinking rye whisky in a sauna, a group of friends began pondering why rye whisk… Read More
Brazen Tongue
2022-05-11 18:00
A review of Brazen Tongue by Gladys Mitchell For those of us who like to follow an author’s series in chronological order, it is always a little disappointing when the next one… Read More
The Bath Mysteries
2022-05-10 18:00
A review of The Bath Mysteries by E R Punshon I am glad I use my bath to store my coal rather to cleanse myself in as this is yet another murder mystery where the victims, and there a… Read More
Plant-based Milks
2022-05-09 18:00
A historical perspective gives a lie to the contention that plant-based milks are just a modern fad, whose fortunes will wane as quickly as they have risen. After all, the milk of a coco… Read More
Bottle Of The Week
2022-05-08 09:00
The drinks industry is slowly embracing sustainability and making strides to reduce its carbon footprint. Single-use glass bottles and their transportation make up 39% of the overall win… Read More
Typo Of The Week (2)
2022-05-07 09:00
Typographical errors are the bane of the lives of all those associated with the production of books, journals, and newspapers. When Robert Barker and Martin Lucas printed 1,000 copies of… Read More

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