Tag Archives: Haynes Bedfordshire

The Greyhound, Haynes, Bedfordshire

DSCN0162Bedfordshire may not be well known, but if you visit you’ll find many great pubs and hotels, some of which feature in ‘Murder Now and Then’. The closest one to both murders in my novel is The Greyhound in Haynes.(real in 1919 and imaginary in 2019!) It was here that the police, incognito, listened in to local gossip, and it was the pub frequented most by the accused, Joanna Thomas.

The Greyhound is a friendly establishment with good food at lunchtime and evenings, where the locals do meet to have a good gossip. I first went to this pub back in the 1980’s when I lived in Haynes. As a church bell-ringer, it was a must to end our practice nights at the pub.

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The Haynes 100

It is a typically English country establishment in the heart of the lovely village of Haynes – a great place for refreshments at the end of a good walk in the surrounding countryside. It adds flavour and a touch of realism to the lives of the characters in my novel ‘Murder, Now and Then‘ and it is only a mile or so from Haynes Park. Above are some of the locals enjoying the passing by of classic and vintage car at The Haynes 100, which will take place on 21st June this year.

This is the first of a short series of blog posts about pubs and hotels featured in my latest novel.

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Filed under Bedfordshire, Murder Now and Then

Author Talk a Resounding Success!

Well over thirty people attended my author talk last night in the small village of Clophill in mid Bedfordshire and they were certainly an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. Many had read ‘Murder, Now and Then’ prior to the evening, so it was a tricky balance to talk to them, as well as not to give too many details away to spoil the plot for the others. I sold a good few books too and much was raised for church funds, which was a major purpose of the evening.

As I tried to sleep last night and the adrenaline was still rushing through my body I began to evaluate ‘success.’ Yesterday evening was certainly a resounding success. You could have heard ‘a pin drop’ (if you’ll excuse the cliche) during the video, in the silence of the church. Here’s a link if you have not seen it before.

No one in the audience noticed the imaginary farmhouse superimposed on the countryside near Haynes Park, where the novel is set, not far from Clophill. It was a perfect introduction to the evening. People seemed genuinely interested in my local research and anecdotes about my writing life, asking pertinent questions – but no – I did not answer when asked what the murder weapon was!

It was a success in the way in which the event spread the word about my writing and to hear that copies had been bought and passed around. Isn’t that wonderful!  The comment was made almost apologetically and it made me evaluate why I write. As long as I continue to have that burning desire to write and that feedback from readers is positive, whether they read on Kindle or new, borrowed or second hand paperback or even from the library – I count that as a resounding success. Don’t you?

What do you think?What I love about evenings like that is not only sharing my own story but listening to theirs afterwards.

Anyway I’d certainly like to thank the Clophill folks for being so welcoming!

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Filed under Bedfordshire, Events, Marketing your novel, Murder Now and Then

Murder Mystery Virtual Tour of Bedfordshire no4 ~ The Shuttleworth Collection, Biggleswade

MNATTour4ShuttleworthAs we explore Bedfordshire together as part of my murder mystery virtual tour we will pause a while at The Shuttleworth Collection, a place that influenced my second novel ‘Ancasta – Guide me Swiftly Home’ and also features in my third novel ‘Murder, now and then.’ The museum is a comprehensive collection of aircraft including a few of the oldest airworthy crafts of their type. My interest has always been to imagine the places where these planes were built and the people who crafted them, as well as the live of those who originally flew them.

Diana with the Avro504K

Diana with the Avro504K

For example, on one visit an engineer pointed out the unique stitching on the wings of the Edwardian aircraft, often carried out by women during WW1.

I have spent many happy hours researching at the Shuttleworth archives under the guidance of John and Jim and I am indebted to their support. Research for an author can be a lonely business, but it is wonderful when people take a genuine interest and give of their time to ensure that the facts gleaned and expanded upon in a novel are authentic.

Shuttleworth is unique in that almost all the aircraft on display are airworthy. There are also exaples of ‘work in progress’ which you can visit in Hanger 1 including the long awaited Spitfire and the De Havilland Comet DH88 which has flown for the first time again since restoration this year and an excellent site it was too.

Here is an account I wrote back in 2012 of an airshow I enjoyed when the Blackburn Monoplane gave her centenary flight from Shuttleworth:

“Last Sunday (7th October 2012) there was a buzz at the Shuttleworth Air Day. Attendance to the show was high, the mood buoyant and we milled around with anticipation as we waited for the display to start.  I did a double take when several pipers, resplendent in their kilts, walked towards us but no, we were still in the heart of Bedfordshire and the Bedford Pipers were to perform for us. The sun shone and folks smiled.

The focus of the day was a Fast Jet Reunion and those watching were certainly not disappointed as the Folland Red Gnats did acrobats in the sky (Hey, I know where they were probably made…. we saw one outside Follands in Hamble near Southampton!) There were others including the Vampire Trainer (Can anyone tell me why it’s called a Vampire?)  and the Hawker Hunter. (1955) As well as the Jets there was the Hawker Demon, 1933, and the Hawker Hind, 1934. (My elderly 103 yr old friend Norman worked at Hawkers back in the 30’s so I felt a connection)

Then we arrived at the part of the show which truly interested me, the World War One planes. I have read about Tommy Sopwith and what a character he was, and then there was the SE5a which features in my novel ‘Ancasta.’ The sun was sinking fast but it was a still evening and so we were filled with hope that the old Edwardians would be able to fly. Our wait was rewarded with the Bristol Boxkite, (although I believe this is a replica) also featured in my novel and the Avro Triplane. I never tire of watching these priceless machines take to the skies.

The Blackburn Monoplane 1912 to 2012

The Blackburn Monoplane 1912 to 2012

For me though, the climax of the day was watching the Blackburn Type D Monoplane, (Impressed… I copied this carefully from the programme) the oldest British plane which can still fly, take off on its 100th birthday. It first flew in December 1912 and Richard Shuttleworth found it in a barn of hay in 1937, before he bought it and had it restored. Thus, on Sunday The Shuttleworth Collection yet again treated us to a precious celebration of history come to life before our eyes!

As we were walking back through the remaining cars to go home I remarked on a lovely e type Jaguar.

‘That’s scary,’ my husband said. ‘You are recognising cars now.’

‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Do you know there are three things you’ve taught me since we’ve been together?’

‘What are those?’ he asked, puffing up proudly in a way only men can.

‘Cars, aeroplanes and how to swear!’ I replied.

Nevertheless it was another memorable flying day at Shuttleworth and as the announcer exclaimed at one point over the loud speaker,

‘We have to thank the RSPB for this unscheduled part of the show,’ as a flock of ducks flew in V formation overhead! “

Shuttleworth plays only a small part in ‘Murder, now and then’ but the museum is certainly a gem in the heart of Bedfordshire and watching an airshow for me is akin to discovering an antique diamond!

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Filed under Ancasta, Bedfordshire, Early Flight, Murder Now and Then, Research, The Shuttleworth Collection, Virtual Tour of Bedfordshire