Photo Diary

Archive for January, 2008


Sunday, January 27th, 2008

DSC_0034.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

I perhaps shouldn’t admit this. After all, yesterday I had a copyedited manuscript arrive, and I’ve got to go through it all with a very fine tooth comb. And last Friday Comma asked me to write a short story for them. And I still have book 26 to write, so it’s not like I have all the spare time in the world. And yet, I was sitting at home today, staring at page 160 of the manuscript, while outside the sun was shining, and both dogs were bored, and I thought, “What the heck, it’s ruddy Sunday, after all!’

So I packed the camera, pulled on a fleece and a coat, fitted my boots on, took some biscuits, and set off for the triple row up on the side of Cosdon Beacon. A nice walk (see the photos in

There was only one problem. It was so bloody lovely up there, I couldn’t just stop at the cemetery . . . I had to carry on to Little Hound Tor. And then Hound Tor. And then I was going to carry on farther, but guilt hit me. Instead I sadly turned away and returned over the top of Cosdon.

This little circle is one of those ancient rings which abound on Dartmoor. It must have held significant religious meaning for the people who lived here then. Sadly no one knows, of course.

I had a very good time, anyway. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be refreshed. And so, hopefully, will the dogs! Tonight, both seem to have been hit by sledgehammers. Either that, or I succeeded in tiring them both out!


Friday, January 25th, 2008

DSC_0035.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

This is not being a good month to me. I have a book to write. Well, yes, that’s my job. But the deadline is approaching too rapidly for my liking. And then there’s the problem with my coffee machine. Now, Gaggia are very good indeed, and they have some magnificent engineers who will repair it as soon as possible . . . but they had a few machines go in for repair just after Christmas, and it’s two weeks now since I started relying on a cafetiere. I don’t like cafetiere coffee. So now I’m grumpy.

But life’s good generally. Last week I spoke to my phone supplier, and the next morning a nice, shiny, new Motorola Razr2 V8 or something appeared. It’s beautiful. It has a glossy bronzed surface, and it’s ever so clever. But today, when I tried to recharge it for the third time, nothing happened. It’s had some sort of fit or something which has left it heedless of any button I press.

So I picked up my cordless landline phone to ask for aid. It didn’t work either. The battery’s dead.

Which is why, after all the trials and tribulations of modern technology, it was a delight to wander off into the hills of Dartmoor and get away from it all. As you can see here!

Thank God for the moors.


Sunday, January 20th, 2008

DSC_0007.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

There is a great delight in receiving the first production copies of a new book, but this one’s a special one for me. This is going to be book 25 in the series, available from May.

There is no way I would have thought that my series would pass beyond maybe ten books when I started out. The excitement of my first novel was good – but I didn’t dream wildly enough to think that I’d still be sitting at a desk today and banging on the keys to produce yet another book.

But not only have I been enormously lucky from that point of view, I’ve also seen my series win some acclaim. 2007 saw Deathship of Dartmouth chosen as one of the top crime books of the year. At the same time Peter Guttridge of the Observer newspaper chose my short story “A Case Of Identity” from ID – Crimes of Identity, a CWA anthology published by Comma Press, for special mention.

In the last years I have made a number of friends in publishing. I’ve been elected Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, I’ve been sent to America and other countries to meet readers, and I’ve generally had a great time.

So this note is not just a self-congratulatory puff. It’s also a short note to say to all my readers: thanks! You’ve kept me in my house and paid my mortgage for the last fourteen years. I only hope you continue to enjoy the stories!

But it’s not just readers. I would like to thank here all the brilliant salespeople who’ve put my books in front of their clients. Without them, the books wouldn’t be sold.

So to all of you – thanks. All best for 2008, and keep your eyes on my events page, because there’s going to be a certain amount of travelling for me this year. With any luck I may be visiting a store near you!


Friday, January 18th, 2008

DSC_0017.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Just at the time when I’m trying to fill up my diary with new events, going to give talks and planning the launch of the twenty-fifth book in the series, it is enormously relaxing to go and see someone else at word. And especially when it’s the brilliant Ian Mortimer.
Ian first came to my attention when I was looking for a decent book that would tell me a little more about the people of Edward II’s reign. By enormous good fortune, Ian had just published his book “The Greatest Traitor”, which covered the life of Roger Mortimer (no relation!). That book led on to others, and they remain by my desk whenever I write a new story. I depend upon him because I know he is an excellent researcher, and because his writing is excellent. Ian is a throwback to the glorious days of the early twentieth century, when historians would write thrillingly about their subjects. Ian’s books read like thrillers.
However, no matter how much fun it is to see someone else giving a talk, the sad fact is it is all work-avoidance.
I have book 26 to write about now, and that means some efforts, bearing in mind the deadlines. However, never mind. This one’s going to be about the appalling consequences of the King’s decision to let his son go to meet Queen Isabella in Paris. A great story – and one to which I only hope I can do full justice!


Monday, January 7th, 2008

DSC_0008.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

There are so many little details to look at when you walk over Dartmoor. Often you see the big scene, and the details are missed. I spend a lot of my time walking over the same ground looking for inspiration, and then I find that the smaller features are more noticeable. However today I saw this old hedge, from which all the soil has been eroded, and was fascinated by that ridiculous tangle of roots. Fantastic!


Friday, January 4th, 2008

DSC_0014.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

This was from my first walk of the New Year – in fact, because of the damage done to my leg last year, it was more or less the first walk in nine months. I went up with my daughter to see what the eastern flank of Cosdon looked like, both of us testing our new Meindl boots.
The boots were fantastic. I had a little rubbing on one shin after the first couple of hours, but that was all. My daughter didn’t even have that!
This was the view I was looking for, though. It’s a prehistoric stone row. Oddly, it’s a triple row. Most are more commonly only two or even one. This was recorded by Worth in his monumental work, “Worth’s Dartmoor”, and appears to be little changed. The position is taking the photo from the eastern edge of the row, looking west to the burial chamber (the darker area).
There are several of these rows on Dartmoor, and it’s thought that they were the graves of bronze-age chieftains who were buried in their chambers with the row indicating the importance of the man. Which means this guy was a pretty important fellow.
Not as important as the man on Stall Moor, though. He only had a single row of rocks, but his row was 11,500 feet long – say, about two and a half miles!


Friday, January 4th, 2008

DSC_0039.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

As if there wasn’t enough excitement over Christmas, then we have New Year’s Day as well.
As ever, there was competition for Tinners’ Morris, with the ladies (hah!) of Sticklepath’s Cogs and Wheels Morris side taking to the taverns and dancing. Shortly after them came the mummers, the actors of the medieval plays who still embarrass audiences in northern Dartmoor. Oh, and finally there was a little session in the King’s Arms for the musicians and singers who wanted to hang around a little.
The two in this photo are Jackie Oates, a truly wonderful singer and fiddle player. If you haven’t heard of her, you should go to Amazon now and buy her debut album. She has a wonderful voice and the choice of songs and tunes is just great.
The slightly more haggard person is the great Nick Groom. A keen devotee of the strange, he took up the hurdy-gurdy some six or so years ago. Now he’s incredibly proficient . . . and on his third set of neighbours.
Joking apart, he is a skilled and enthusiastic player. He supports braslers (pronounced “brawlers”, which, if you see their medieval dancing, you can quite understand the term!), regularly joins in sessions in pubs, and in the few spare moments he can gather, he is the Chair of English at Exeter University.
We all had a great New Year’s Eve. Let’s hope it’s an enjoyable, profitable one for all of us!
Best wishes to all my readers!


Friday, January 4th, 2008

DSC_0063.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Well, as you can see, my ankle is now mended and I am wandering the country aimlessly with the men of Tinners’ Morris, jumping around foolishly in front of audiences. This photo just goes to show how good a camera mine is – I allowed my eight-year-old daughter to take some photos from her perspective. Luckily, that means she didn’t get my beer glass into the shot.
This picture was taken on Boxing Day, when we regularly meet up at the Duke of York’s, a marvellous pub in Iddesleigh, where, as keen readers of my works will know, I set “A Friar’s Bloodfeud”. It’s a truly great pub, with a fire roaring in the hearth, with excellent beers and ales, and the very best fresh food of any pub in Devon, certainly. Perhaps throughout the whole of England. I wouldn’t be surprised. In any event, while Jamie owns the place, I will be patronising it!
I hope you all had as merry a Christmas as we did!