Photo Diary

Archive for June, 2008


Saturday, June 28th, 2008

DSC_0028.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

And after a week of trotting off all over this and other counties, I finished up last Thursday in Wales at the Neath Port Talbot library with Medieval Murderers. A fun gig, with all the other local fellows there. Great to see them – and good to have such a large audience – more than sixty turned up, walking through torrential downpours that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Monsoon time.

Philip and I were late, sadly. No one told my Tom Tom about the roadworks on the M4, which meant that we were left sitting in the car for an hour or so, covering less than a mile. Not fun. Still, Bernard and Susanna held the fort until we appeared, fifteen minutes late, and heckled them from the back.

Thanks to all at the library for their hospitality and enthusiasm!


Saturday, June 28th, 2008

_MG_5350, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Just when I thought I’d no photos of the main event this year – the Dartmoor Literary Festival – I met Chris Chapman. Don’t know him? You should. Go and look at his website – you can get to it from my links page.

Chris is a wonderful guy who came down to Devon on a holiday some years ago and hasn’t managed to escape yet. A dedicated photographer of the ways of Dartmoor in particular, the quality of his work has to be seen to be appreciated. Unknown to me, he’d taken some photos of me at the festival. Here’s the one I like the most. Me listening and laughing, as usual.

I was laughing a whole lot more later, when we Morris danced outside the festival hall. Not that evening, though. I had a marvellous little tie/lapel pin of a Colt series 80 Mk IV – perfect in every detail, it was. Damn thing fell off, and I couldn’t find it. That’s one pin I’ll never be able to replace. If you know where such items can be bought, I’d be eternally grateful for the contact details!


Saturday, June 28th, 2008

DSC_0006.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Well, there’s been too much going on recently, what with the two books being launched, so we have taken a day off. Actually, only part of a day.

Trouble is, the day of this photo I was actually opening a professional book fair in Topsham. Day before, I was off the whole day (Saturday) to sit on a stage with the wonderful Frances Fyfield in Bromley. Bromley from Devon meant leaving home at about nine and getting back at about nine. A long day – but at least I could get cracking with the copy edit of book 26, the King Of Thieves. A fun story, if I say so myself.

And the real problem of all these events is the cost in time and money. OK, when I go to give a professional job, I will be paid. But when we went to launch the Medieval Murderers’ latest at Toppings’, that cost me money. I saw a book on medieval mercenaries which was essential.

Bromley was OK, because it was in a library, and that is always safe. But Topsham was a professional booksellers’ event. And they were very professional. I walked out of there £80 lighter. So I needed a little time by the beach!


Monday, June 23rd, 2008

DSC_0002.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

The great thing about some book launches is, that you get to meet some great people. This was taken with Claire from the Roman Gate Waterstone’s, always a good place to sign books, because she and the other folks there always work really hard to sell vast quantities.

This year has been enormously busy, though, what with signings in all the main shops in Devon, travelling up to London to sign more, and then going on the circuit with Medieval Murderers too. All in all it adds up to a hectic time. Last weekend I had to travel 500 miles in a round trip while giving a talk with Frances Fyfield (who is a delightful companion on a stage, I have to admit – erudite, sharp and deliciously amusing) on the Saturday, and then on Sunday I was wandering the wilds of Devon opening a PBFA book fair.

Not a good idea, that. Just as I managed to blow a bit too much at the launch party for THE LOST PROPHECIES in Bath, buying books, I wasted a tidy sum in Topsham at the Exeter Book Fair. But they were all very important for research – books on superstition, on clothing in medieval England, a book on Exeter itself, and others.

Shame there’s not blinkers for authors who wander unwittingly into shops where books might be on sale!


Thursday, June 12th, 2008

DSC_0062.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Another year, another Medieval Murderers book launch. This year it was THE LOST PROPHECIES, a great little anthology taking the Book of Brân, or The Black Book, which was a suite of predictions, rather like Nostradamus’ own. However, anyone who gets too interested in the book is likely to find his life growing infinitely more interested, although probably only for a limited period!

This book was launched at Topping’s Bookshop in Bath. A wonderful little shop which complements beautifully the other store in Ely. Well worth a visit – especially since the coffee and hospitality there are superb. And even more worthwhile if you’re going there to buy a copy of the latest MM book, or my own!

The Youngest Member

Monday, June 9th, 2008

DSC_0192.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

And the latest photo is: Morris Dancing again!

Well, I couldn’t leave out a picture like this. My friends in Tinners’ Morris, all dancing by invitation at the Royal Cornwall Show near Wadebridge. A great couple of days away, and we were made very welcome. And we owe particular thanks to St Austell Breweries for their hospitality. And Skinner’s Brewery. And Guinness.

People have asked me why I want to Morris Dance. Well, there’s one easy answer. What else could you do, where people ask you to do what you enjoy, when you enjoy it, and then give you beer in gratitude? And I have to admit, I’ve made more friends in Morris dancing than in any other pastime.

Jingle those bells!


Monday, June 9th, 2008

DSC_0117.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

This place is truly incredible. It beggars belief that this once thriving community was created, and then destroyed in the reign of Henry VIII, purely because of his argument with the Pope, his greed, and his determination to rule as he pleased, with the right to marry whomsoever he wished. Please look at some of the other pictures on my Flickr site to see the scale of this place. The height of the remaining walls is fantastic, and when you see how high, for example, the arches are that you can just see in the centre, you begin to understand how the walls must have soared over any man’s head. Truly an expression of God’s magnificence in the eyes of any visitor. It was intended to overwhelm, and I think it would have succeeded. Enormous.

It was the second most wealthy of the great ecclesiastical institutions. Only Westminster took more money, and there was a good reason for that. Glastonbury was rumoured to be the burial place of King Arthur and Guinevere. King Edward I decided that when he needed a rallying news item for the realm when he was keen to instil some patriotism in the late 1200s. So he thought up the publicity scam that was the discovery of Arthur’s tomb. It had two purposes: first it gave a fillip to his British subjects; second, it denied the same fillip to the Welsh, who were trying to claim Arthur as their own. If he had the bones, clearly no Welsh King Arthur would rise to protect the Welsh from the English.

Oh, and the Abbot was keen to support the King’s claim. Well, there were many pilgrims who’d be sure to travel to the abbey to see Arthur’s relics. Such bones were worth a fortune.

If you go to Glastonbury, you’ll see a pub that’s prominent on the High Street. Stop and enter the George and Pilgrims. Look up at the lintels inside there. The place was built to accommodate pilgrims from 1470 or so. And it is still an inn and hotel now. Not many businesses have proved so successful over 550 years or so!

St Patrick’s Chapel

Monday, June 9th, 2008

DSC_0091.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

And then I was off to Glastonbury last Wednesday to give a talk to some delightful Canadian and American visitors (on their way to Crime Fest in Bristol). And after my talk, I had time to wander around the Abbey’s grounds. This is the little chapel you encounter as you enter the Abbey’s land. A wonderful little haven of peace.

And then on holiday

Monday, June 9th, 2008

DSC_0053.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Well, life’s not all a tedious round of invention, research and desperate, furious typing. After some weeks of strenuous effort, we all went away to a camp site in Cornwall in late May, and there we relaxed. A lovely camp site near Mevagissy, with one of the best activity centres for kids I’ve ever seen, and several beautiful beaches.

I’m not only a medievalist. Any little castle or fortress will interest me. This was a tiny pill box on the south coast. During the Second World War these thing sprung up like a nasty rash all over the south of England, at any site where it was felt Germans could attempt an invasion, as well as along all main lines of communication to deny the land to the enemy. It’s rather sad to see them just rotting. None, to my knowledge, has any of the original equipment inside. All the guns have been melted down, the sighting equipment trashed. Yet it’s touching to look at them and investigate them. In the late 1930s and early 1940s boys and old men stood guard in them, prepared to die in the defence of the realm. These little fortresses should be treasured in their memory.

A Walk in the Past

Monday, June 9th, 2008

DSC_0010.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

It’s always enormously enjoyable to see Ian Mortimer. I’ve mentioned him several times in the “Acknowledgement” sections of my books, but on this day there was a special reason for seeing him – I’d dedicated the latest book to him!

An excellent lunch, and then the Mortimers and my own family set off on one of Ian’s walks, out of Moretonhampstead and up to Butterdon Down, where we found this little stone. It’s not enormous, only about a man’s height – but who cares? It’s got that atmosphere of age and stolidity that so characterises the moors.