The Raleigh Gallimaufry 5

Welcome back to the fifth in our weekly gallimaufry of Frank and Ella Raleigh’s wonderful world of East Devon. Retirement, as before, is anything but dull.

Frank said, “I ate a clock yesterday, it was very time consuming.”

After years of being aware of scams and viruses, of taking great care to not download dubious software, of putting the phone down on dodgy callers, this week we were scammed and so nearly hacked….

We took a phone call from a believable, honest man called Jack who said that we were being scammed on Amazon. He convinced us to install TeamViewer so that he could prove we were victims of a malicious scam attack. He was willing to install some software that would help us out and catch these scammers.

He had transferred some money to our bank account and if we were able to go on online and see in our bank account we would know he was telling the truth. At that point, the penny belatedly dropped and we put the phone down, uninstalled TeamViewer and disconnected the router.

We are not the only ones to fall for this dishonest practice. TeamViewer issued this statement on their website:

Unfortunately, there have been some instances of malicious use of our software, “TeamViewer”. Scammers attempt to sell their services via phone by claiming that your device is infected by malware.

TeamViewer GmbH is a legitimate software development company. We take the privacy and security of our customers’ and partners’ personal information very seriously. We can assure you, TeamViewer GmbH is not associated with, or responsible for, any of these instances.

We advise TeamViewer users to be careful with unsolicited phone calls and to not grant access to your devices (e.g. PC or mobile) to anyone you do not know or trust. TeamViewer does not provide remote support services of any kind. Our activities are limited to developing and selling the software tools that providers use to offer remote support services.

The whole experience was frightening, scary and made us very angry. We felt stupid that we as reasonably technologically aware people could be caught out so easily.

So we have made a vow to never answer the phone to unknown numbers and never believe in unsolicited offers of help from plausible strangers. Sad old world, isn’t it?

Excerpt from Chapter 5 of The Dudleys of Budleigh

The safe door swung open with quiet ease.

“What’s inside?” asked Ella expectantly.

PC Alf Hydon pulled out a sheaf of paper. He took a look at the top piece and then shuffled through the remainder.

“Well, I never. Looks like letters. They’re all letters. No envelopes, just letters.”

He turned back to the topmost letter and began reading it silently to himself.

“How could I missed these? I just assumed.” He tutted and pointed a finger at himself. “Never assume, Alf, never assume!”

“What does it say?” Ella was getting more than a little exasperated. She was normally a patient person.

“It’s letter of complaint from a Dudley Widworthy.”

“He’s our poisoner, then!” Ella jumped and made as if to leave the room.

“Where are you going?”

“To telephone Frank and WPC Knowle.”

“No. Wait. There’s more.”

“What do you mean?”

“The next letter is from Dudley.”

“Dudley as well?”

“No, Dudley Musbury. It’s a letter of complaint.”

“Check the next one.”

“Another Dudley. This one’s from Dudley Weston.”

“Another one?”

“Yes, except this one is also from Dudley Weston. And this one. And this one. And another.”

PC Hydon continued leafing through the papers. “Ten of them. All from Dudley Weston.” “Fascinating! Our Mr Buckerell was not a popular person with Dudleys!”

“Yes, here’s another Dudley. This one’s called Dudley Gosford-Feniton.”


“No, that’s the last one. Four Dudleys.”

Last week’s Mystery Snap was Jacob’s Ladder in Sidmouth. This week? Where is this? Somewhere in East Devon?

Irfanview, pronounced “EarfanView”, should just be a simple image viewer-it supports enough formats. But it’s much more than that! It’s a resizer, a converter, re-scaler, scanner, either singly or as a batch. It supports some excellent plugins and is very easy to use.

The software can “flip images horizontally or vertically, modify their size and sampling method to custom values (with or without keeping the aspect ratio), change the canvas size by setting new dimensions for either the borders or entire canvas, as well as create picture frames with customized sizes and colours, together with numerous styles (e.g. dark gradient, warm, inside fading frame).”

IrfanView is a fast, simple freeware image viewer and editor that supports all major graphic formats, including BMP, DIB, JPEG, GIF, animated GIF, PNG, PCX, multi-page TIFF, TGA, and more. In addition, it features drag-and-drop support, directory viewing, TWAIN support, slide shows, batch conversion, and modifications such as colour depth, crop, blur, and sharpen.”

According to Softpedia News Irfanview’s “interface may not be particularly attractive and some of its commands may not be particularly intuitive, but IrfanView remains a versatile graphic viewer capable of reading numerous file types. Those familiarized with it already know that its true power lies in the ability to load external multipurpose plugins, extending its options to limitless possibilities.”

It’s free to download from and works with Windows XP,Vista,7,8 and 10 in both 32 and 64 bit version.

Why Irfanview? The software was designed by Irfan Skiljan from Jajce in Bosnia.

Once again, that’s all for this week. See you next Monday.

The Raleigh Gallimaufry 4

Welcome back to the fourth in our weekly gallimaufry of Frank and Ella Raleigh’s wonderful world of East Devon. Retirement, as before, is anything but dull.

Frank said to me, “What rhymes with orange?” I said, “No, it doesn’t!”

A noticeable event for me this week was a request from The Old Bakery Tea Room in Branscombe to stock my books. This was a first and hopefully not the last request. The good people at the National Trust site at The Old Bakery Tea Room are worth a visit.

I think I should include them in a future book!

As their web page states:- “The licensed Old Bakery is a welcoming and relaxing place to enjoy homemade cakes with teas and coffees or a delicious light lunch with a glass of wine or beer. The Old Bakery displays some if its baking equipment and through scrapbooks and photographs tells of his baking past. Look out for the old wood-fire bread oven on the ground floor thought to be one of the oldest in the country.”

Having enjoyed Sunday Afternoon tea there, I can concur with the above comments. The building made of stone with a trimmed thatch roof obviously used to be a bakery. It was taken over by the National Trust in 1965.   Sadly, it ceased being a bakery in 1987. It was, at that time the last traditional working bakery in the county. You can see the old baking equipment preserved in the baking room. Scrapbooks and old photographs tell the story of the Collier Brothers, the bakers, and the simple process of how bread was made there.

In the near vicinity can be the Forge and Manor Mill. As with the Old Bakery, both are run by the National Trust.

You can find out more about the Old Bakery Tea Room on Facebook and Instagram and on the National Trust site.

The final cover

Excerpt from Chapter 9 of Cidered in Sidmouth

On the drive back from a visit to Sowdon Valley Farm…..

.After a couple of gentle miles, Frank frowned, “That’s strange.”
“Well, there’s an old rusty landrover behind us. I swear he was behind us on the way into Cullompton. I think we might be being followed.”
“I don’t know. I’m going to take a right here. Signposted Luton and Clyst William.”
They turned off the Honiton road.
Ella checked in her wing mirror. “They’ve turned off as well. Could just be an unfortunate coincidence.”
“OK. Let’s go through Luton and head for Payhembury.”
Frank kept a watchful eye on their followers in his rear-view mirror. Ella kept her gaze on the wing mirror. “They’re still behind us. Frank, I don’t like this.”
Then she screamed, “Watch out!!”
Frank was confronted by a large tractor towing a muck spreader manoeuvring itself around the approaching t-junction. The road was only wide enough for one vehicle. Frank skidded to a halt, swerved onto the grass and narrowly avoided scratches from the overhanging hedges. He missed the tractor by what seemed like millimetres and slid back on to the narrow winding road.
The tractor was slower to react and stumbled to a standstill some 10 metres later blocking the whole road. The rusty landrover screeched to a halt and despite a cacophony of horn blasts, was forced to reverse. The front seat passenger wound down his window and shouted, “Stop! Wait! Stop!”
Ella turned to Frank. “I don’t think so. Drive on whilst they’re stuck.”
Frank sped onwards towards the main road. When he reached it, he turned left back towards Cullompton. He sped up when the road was straight, took the corners and bends as quickly but as carefully as he dared. It wasn’t a road for over-taking, very few Devon roads are. There were too many occasions when they were travelling too slowly for their liking.
“Must be the slowest car chase ever!” scrawled Ella.
Frank was too busy checking the rear-view mirror.
“Still behind us. A couple of cars back but still behind.”
“What do we do now?”
“Well, we could stop and confront them. Or we could head to the motorway and try to lose them. This car is surely faster than an old landrover.”
Ella’s face had turned paler than usual but there was steely determination in her voice. “I hope we don’t regret this but let’s lose them on the motorway.”
“How many in the landrover? It looks like three of them?”
Ella tried to use the wing mirror but with the speed they were travelling at, it was shaking and wobbling all over the place.
“It’s difficult to be sure. I think, there’s three. There’s definitely two, the driver and a front seat companion. It looks like there’s just one in the back. They’re all wearing sunglasses. On a day like today!!”
They reached the junction that led down to the motorway. The M5 had its usual share of lorries and vans. Frank weaved a bit around a couple of large lorries before heading for the outside lane.
With a cry of “Geronimo!” he put his foot down. The car responded and soon reached triple figures. It didn’t feel that fast until Ella glanced out of the window at the crash barrier posts flashing by her.
In no time at all, Frank was pulling off the motorway at Junction 30. Thankfully, he had driven the eleven miles without attracting the attention of the traffic police.
“I’ve never driven so fast before in my life. And I don’t want to ever again!” Frank breathed an enormous sigh of relief that they had left the motorway and were still in one piece. However, he was forced to wait, for what appeared to be forever, at the traffic lights at the foot of the slip-road.
“Come on, change!”
“Can I open my eyes now?” Ella looked over at Frank. He was sweating. She looked in her passenger windshield mirror. She was still a whiter shade of pale.
The car now appeared to be travelling really slowly as they settled into the usual 40mph on the A3052. They were headed for home.
“They’re still behind us. About three cars back.”
“Oh no, I thought we’d lost them. Right, I think it’s time to put Plan B into action.”
“I hope it’s less scary than Plan A.”
“Let’s wait and see. It involves a little bit of a confrontation.”
“Oh, go for it, I’m right beside you!”
Without warning, Frank turned sharp left off the main road towards a village signposted Farringdon. At a convenient passing place, he screeched to a halt.

Last week’s Mystery Snap was the Parish Church at Ottery St Mary featured in The Ottery Lottery. This week? Where is this? Somewhere in East Devon?

Wouldn’t it be nice if authors could just give their books away? Well, no!!

However, it’s been a good idea in the past to give one of my books away free for a limited period. Cidered in Sidmouth was free for a few days last summer and 1500 copies were downloaded!

When I’m looking for free kindle books I head to eReaderiQ. Here there’s a choice of free books, books for under £1 or price drops. As the people at EReaderIQ sayeReaderIQ is a price tracking service for Kindle books. Our goal is to help you make faster, easier and smarter decisions when it comes to managing your Kindle. We strive to help you spend less time shopping and more time reading.”

Harpford Woods Railway Walk

Newton Poppleford started as a Saxon ‘new town’ by the pebbly ford. The Roman road from Exeter to the port at Axmouth crossed the River Otter not far from the present A3052 road bridge which was built in 1840 by James Green, the first County Surveyor for Devon. It was one of only three bridges on the Otter to survive a great flood in 1968.  

  1. Leave the Recreation Ground car park in Newton Poppleford by turning left at the main entrance into Back lane. As the road bends left go through the gates and follow the footpath alongside the river for about 200 metres. Cross the footbridge over the River Otter and continue to the road.

You are now on the East Devon Way, a long-distance path from Exmouth to Lyme Regis, passes through both Newton Poppleford and Harpford. The Village Hall, on the right before you reach the church, was built in 1902. It fell into disrepair and by the early 1980s was unusable and derelict with a leaking roof. Due to village volunteers the Hall was completely renovated by 2004 with a new roof, floor and heating. In 2014 the Village Hall was bought from the Diocese and run by the villagers for the village.

  1. Turn left at the road towards the church. At the church turn left and then turn right up Knapp’s Lane.

Harpford, previously known as Happerford,  has a church described in 1878 by White’s Devonshire as “a venerable fabric, consisting of nave, chancel, south aisle and a tower containing three bells. It has a wagon roof which has some curious carving.” Harpford Church is dedicated to St. Gregory, but confusion with Harford in the Archdeaconry of Totnes has led to its being referred to sometimes as St. Nicholas. Augustus Toplady was Harpford’s vicar from 1766 to 1768. The churchyard cross was restored in his memory with an inscription and quotation from his hymn ‘Rock of Ages’. 

  1. As Knapp’s Lane road bends to the left keep straight on and follow the East Devon Way footpath. Go through a kissing gate to enter Harpford Woods. Keep on this footpath ignoring any paths that branch to the left, including the East Devon Way as it branches to the left going under a tunnel. Keep the stream to your right and follow the path through the woods until you reach the road by the Bowd.
  1. You may wish to stop for refreshments at The Bowd Pub. If not, then just before reaching the road turn a sharp left and follow the path of the old Sidmouth railway back through the woods.

The branch line from Feniton to Sidmouth was built by the Sidmouth Railway company and opened in July 1874. Feniton station was immediately renamed Sidmouth Junction. The line from the Bowd to Tipton has 1 in 45 downhill run for 2 miles. The first decades of the twentieth century saw the branch line at its most popular. In 1923 the Sidmouth Railway was absorbed into the Southern Railway. In the 1930s there was a peak of 24 services making the 30 minute journey each way between Sidmouth and Sidmouth Junction. The line eventually closed in 1967.

  1. Just before crossing under a road bridge take the path to the right. This leads up to Knapp Lane, turn left and cross over the railway path following Knapp’s Lane to Harpford Church. Retrace your steps back to the Recreation Ground car-park.

Once again, that’s all for this week. See you next Monday.

The Raleigh Gallimaufry 3

Welcome back to the third in our weekly gallimaufry of Frank and Ella Raleigh’s wonderful world of East Devon. Retirement is anything but dull.

Why do fish live in saltwater? Because pepper makes them sneeze!

This week we look at some extraordinary weather from the past. We’ve enjoyed warm winters in East Devon more often than not. When it has snowed, we are inconvenienced only for a short while. However, back in 1607, things in Britain were not so easy.

The Great Winter of 1607-1608 caused trees to die due to the severity of the frost, ships to be stranded by ice several miles out into the North Sea – much commerce was done by ship.

The severe weather lasted in parts of England until about 20th February, though with variations in depth of cold. For example, in records from Kendal (Westmorland / Cumbria) ‘hard frost’ is noted from November 3rd, 1607 to March 6th, 1608.
Our River Exe also experienced major ice formation by the latter-third of January with damage being  caused to a local weir. Up in Scotland, the Firth of Forth is noted as being ‘frozen’ during January 1608.

Meteorologists have since blamed a Peruvian volcano for spewing more than 12 cubic miles of rock and ash into the atmosphere. This caused rapid global cooling and catastrophic weather events for a decade. A Russian famine killed two million people, there were epic mudflows in California, great droughts and freezes that affected the Popham and Jamestown colonies in Virginia, and die-offs in European vineyards. The far-off Peruvian volcano also affected Great Britain.

The River Thames froze in London and the term Frost Fair is first used. In the city, the Frost Fair meant that shops could set up market tents on the frozen river that “shows like grey marble roughly hewn” and sell souvenirs and winter clothing and shoes, serve alcohol from bars on wheels, gamble on sports or animal baiting, provide hot fair food from fires built on the ice and have sleigh rides up and down the river. Ice skating was well-known in the Netherlands and Germany, and perhaps the English tried it. They also played football, and shot arrows and muskets.

A booklet printed by a shop situated on London Bridge described a talk between a country-man and a citizen. The Citizen said: “Both men, women, and children walked over, and up and downe in such companies, that I verily believe, and I dare almost sweare it, that one half (if not three parts) of the people in the Citie, have been seene going on the Thames.” 

The Great Frost was harsh, and it wasn’t the only time the Thames froze, but it was the most memorable. It lasted a little more than three months until the ice broke up and life returned to normal.

I found a lot of information about the Great Frost from William and Mary Dyer, a fascinating blog run by Christy K Robinson. You can find it here –

Chapter 1

Since all that beat about in Nature’s range, Or veer or vanish; why should’st thou remain The only constant in a world of change

“Sometimes you make me want to kill you!” Christine screamed.

“The feeling’s mutual.” Caleb turned towards her, almost spitting out the words.

“Why? After all the hard work. Why?”

“Because it’s my money and I want to have some fun with it.”

“What about me?”

“You’re well provided for. You always have been and you always will be.”

“I don’t understand you. I’m not sure I ever will!”

“Perhaps that’s the problem.”

Christine changed tack.

“Doesn’t Kenneth mean anything to you?”

“Yes, it’s about time he stood on his own two feet.”

“And Fabian and Carl? Have you told them? Don’t they have a say?”

“Why do you think I asked them both to come here this evening? They’re only directors. They can’t outvote me. They’ll do what I say. They always do.”

A moment of silence descended upon the room as if they were preparing for the next onslaught. The calm before the storm.

There was a knock at the front door and Caleb went to open it.

“Come in, Fabian. Is Carl not with you?”

“No. Am I late?”

“You’re never late. Come into the drawing-room and I’ll pour you a drink.”

Fabian followed Caleb into the room and sat down in one of the comfortable armchairs by the piano.

“Good evening, Fabian.” A curt sharp voice greeted the man.

“Good evening, Mrs Kennaway.” He would never dare to call her Christine.

Caleb brought Fabian his drink and handed another to Christine. She looked at him and for a moment, Caleb thought she might throw it back into his face.

“Where’s Kenneth?”

“I’ll call him,” muttered Christine. She pulled out her mobile phone from her trouser pocket and dialled a number. “Kenneth, come down. We’re almost ready to start.”

Within half a minute they could hear the echo of footsteps on the stone stairs leading down into the front hall. There was another knock at the front door.

“I’ll get it,” a voice from the hall shouted.

“Good evening, Carl. We’re in the drawing-room. Come through!”

Kenneth ushered the well-built man into the room. He was puffing and appeared out of breath. “Sorry, meeting finished a bit late.”

“Sit down, Carl. Drink?”

“Yes, please.”

After drinks had been dispensed and sipped, everyone sat down. Over the past few years, they each seemed to possess their allotted chair and drink. They all sat and drank as if in a trance. Caleb was the last to be seated. The rest of the room turned their eyes towards him. He had their undivided attention.

“I’ve brought you together this evening because I thought you deserved to hear the news, straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.”

He smiled but no-one smiled back.

“I’ve decided to give up the chair and ownership of Kennaway Coopers. I’m retiring. I have enough money saved to keep on enjoying my lovely lifestyle, so I’ve….” He stopped to savour the moment.

“Oh, Caleb, stop messing around and tell them.” Christine’s voice stabbed into the expectant atmosphere.

“Alright, my dear.” Caleb had a twinkle in his eyes and a smile upon his lips.

“I’ve already communicated this information with my wife. If you were anywhere in Ottery St Mary you will have heard her reaction!”

He took a sip of his drink.

“Get on with it!” his wife snapped.

“I’m retiring and none of you will be taking my place as Chair or owner.”

There was a sharp intake of breath from the gathered group.

“What do you mean?” blustered Kenneth.

“What I mean is that the company I’ve built from nothing, Kennaway Coopers – well, I will be giving it away.”

There was an explosion of noise in the room.

Caleb held up his hand and shouted above the tumult. “I’m giving it away to the winner of the Ottery Lottery!”

Last week’s Mystery Snap was the ford across the River Sid in Sidmouth. This week? Where is this? Somewhere in East Devon?

If you need stunning free images and royalty-free stock, there’s a place with over 1,000,000 (one million) high-quality stock images and videos shared by members. The place is called Pixabay.

The onlinezerotohero website concluded that  “Pixabay is a legit and easy-to-use free stock photo platform. Before using it, you just need to be aware of certain limitations and the rules you need to follow not to violate any copyright rules. If you are aware of this and it fits your needs, then Pixabay can be a great way to get access to free images and videos.

As Pixabay themselves say “Pixabay is a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under the Pixabay License, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.

Try it out and see for yourself.

Ice Cream PDF Converter. This app is such a useful discovery. The software is free to use with a few limitations. It “lets you convert to and from PDF format. While converting DOC to PDF, EPUB to PDF, JPG to PDF and more, you can merge all files in one PDF document, as well as use various output file settings. You can convert PDF to JPG, BMP, EPS and other formats without any limits to pages or number of files.”

I use the bulk conversion option a lot. Being able to select page ranges from within a pdf file is also very useful. If you’re stuck with how to use the software IceCream Apps provide 17 How Tos to help you become unstuck.

All Icream Apps are free to use, although some have limited features. There are upgrades to PRO versions. These have more features and no limitations.

Once again, that’s all for this week. See you next Monday.

The Raleigh Gallimaufry 2


Welcome back to the second in our weekly gallimaufry of Frank and Ella Raleigh’s wonderful world of East Devon. Retirement is anything but dull.

Ella Smile

I got a new pair of gloves today, but they’re both ‘lefts’ which, on the one hand, is great, but on the other, it’s just not right.


After last week’s fatberg, this week we took to the skies and celebrated the charity parachute jump of 83-year-old Derek Hunt from Budleigh Salterton. Six years ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Now he’s just jumped out of a plane form 14,000 feet in Westen Australia.

“I’ve had some very strong comments from my friends about my sanity,” he admitted.

“Going down during the skydive bit, you’re going rather fast and the wind in your face makes you look like one of those horror films,” he said.

“I was so preoccupied with doing what I was supposed to do, I didn’t really take it in.

“The parachute opens at 5,000 to 4,000 feet and then you’re floating down quite gently and you’ve got plenty of time to look at the scenery and enjoy the view.

“When I got down there was a slight sense of relief, I think I said, ‘I’ve done it!'”.

Derek did the jump to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK and Kidney Care UK. So far he has raised £2,700 through the Virgin Giving site and direct donations. Visit Virgin Money Giving here to support Derek’s fundraising.

Read the whole story at

The Dudleys of Budleigh

Frank and Ella made their debut appearance in Cidered in Sidmouth, the first book in the East Devon Cosy Mystery series. Here’s some edited excerpt from the first two chapters:

Chapter 1

Parking the car on the gravel drive, Frank heard the phone ringing inside the house. He rushed indoors and picked it up just in time to hear the caller. “Thank heavens you’re there, Elsie. Come quickly, I think Dudley’s out to get me! He sent me a horrible warning…”

“Hello, this is 3511543?” said Frank.

There was a pause.

”Ah, you’re not Elsie? That’s not 3511534, is it?”

The phone went dead.


“3511534…3511534…3511534.” Frank repeated the number out loud whilst gesturing to Ella to find him a pencil or pen.

“I’m writing it down. You can relax. The last two digits were accidentally reversed. What was all that about?”

Frank sat down and explained to Ella. “A man said Dudley’s out to get him. He thought he was phoning Elsie. He said that wasn’t 3511534 and then put the phone down.”

“Who’s Elsie?”

“The only Elsie I know is WPC Knowle.”

“I think you should try that number and see if it goes through to this Elsie. Explain to her what happened. Whilst you’re doing that, I’ll put the kettle on!”

Ella went into the kitchen. Before Frank called the number, he found out and wrote down the number of the person who had called him. As the caller needed to urgently speak to Elsie, he saw no point in calling back. Frank dialled 3511534.

It rang for about ten seconds and Frank was about to cut off the call when a female voice said: “Hello, how can I help?”

“Hello,” replied Frank. “Is that Elsie?”

“Yes, it is. I recognise that voice. It’s Frank, isn’t it? Frank Raleigh?”

“How did you know?”

“You’re speaking to a policewoman. We’re trained to remember things.”

“Elsie, WPC Knowle,” Frank interrupted.

“Yes, that’s me. It’s good to hear from you again. Is everything all right with Ella? She was such a brave lady.”

“Yes, everything’s great. I’ve just had a strange phone call. I think it was a wrong number. Someone said Dudley was out to get him and you had to come quickly.”

“Ah, that’s not the first time. I bet you’ve had a call from Anthony Buckerell. He’s a solicitor over in Budleigh Salterton. He thinks someone is trying to kill him. He seems to me as somewhat of a lonely old soul. A bit pompous and self-righteous. For a solicitor, he gets very muddle-headed. He needs a friend and he needs to get a life!”


Anthony worked in an office in the High Street above one of the flourishing gift shops that regularly blossom for a while in seaside towns.

WPC Knowle parked right outside the office and she pushed open a neat wooden door beside the shop-front. They both climbed the stairs before WPC Knowle knocked on another door that had faded gold lettering announcing that they were entering the offices of Anthony Buckerell LLB, LLP.

No-one answered her knock so she turned the door handle. The door was unlocked so they walked in.

A quiet, strained voice mumbled, “Come in.”

“Too late, Anthony. We’re already in!”

“Oh, it’s you. Thank heavens!”

Anthony Buckerell was sat, or rather slumped, in a wooden varnished but padded Bankers Chair behind a large mahogany Executive desk. The desk was clear except for a pristine blotter, an old fashioned telephone and a couple of leather bound A4 books. The wording appeared to read “Law Society” on the front cover.

“Dudley wants to kill me!”

“Good afternoon, Anthony, may we sit down?”

“Yes, pull up a chair. I see you’ve brought a detective with you. Good afternoon, Chief Inspector, are you from Exeter?”

Frank sat down and smiled.

“Anthony, this is the gentleman you accidentally called earlier today. He’s a sort of consultant. He’s shadowing me and providing valuable feedback. You can rest assured that anything you say to either of us will be treated in a professional manner and in the strictest confidence.

“Good. I need all the help I can get!” Anthony was sweating and repeatedly ran his hand through his receding hair as if brushing it back out of his eyes.

“Where’s Mrs Aylesbeare?”

“She doesn’t work today. She’s part-time now. I don’t want to speak about her. She’s always nagging me.”

WPC Knowle sat down and took out her notebook. “OK, Anthony, how may we help you?”

Anthony looked up at Frank before his eyes travelled around to WPC Knowle. Then he looked down at his desk. “Dudley’s out to get me. He sent me a letter. It said that I would…”

He buried his face in one hand. With the other hand, he pushed a piece of paper across the desk.

Frank picked it up and read aloud the printed words:

“You will die in the seventh hour of the night on the seventh day of the year.”

Frank turned the piece of paper over. Nothing else. Just those seventeen words.



The answer to last week’s Mystery Snap was Budleigh Salterton, where The Dudleys of Budleigh live!

This week? Where is this? Somewhere in East Devon?

Once more, find out if you were right next week.

Its Amazing Surfing

Enjoy a new website each week as Ella brings you one of her surfing discoveries.

This week Ella’s visited

When you need a face but don’t want to use a photo, then create an avatar. Simple to use. Just choose your faces, eyes, hair, clothes and background. Download it and use the avatar wherever you like!


Ella’s Mystery book of the month

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None

According to Wikipedia, this is the world’s bestselling mystery book with over 100 million copies sold. First published in November 1939 under the title Ten Little N****** (my asterisks, not the original title!!) It was also renamed as Ten Little Indians and Ten Little Soldiers before settling on the title you know today. It is set off the South Devon coast on Burgh Island. Agatha Christie described it as her most difficult book to write.

Two reviews capture the varying moods of readers.

Maurice Percy Ashley in The Times Literary Supplement in November 1939, wrote, “If her latest story has scarcely any detection in it there is no scarcity of murders… There is a certain feeling of monotony inescapable in the regularity of the deaths which is better suited to a serialized newspaper story than a full-length novel. Yet there is an ingenious problem to solve in naming the murderer”, he continued. “It will be an extremely astute reader who guesses correctly.”

Isaac Anderson writing in February 1940 for The New York Times Book Review arrived at the point where “the voice” accuses the ten “guests” of their past crimes, which have all resulted in the deaths of humans, and then said, “When you read what happens after that you will not believe it, but you will keep on reading, and as one incredible event is followed by another even more incredible you will still keep on reading. The whole thing is utterly impossible and utterly fascinating. It is the most baffling mystery that Agatha Christie has ever written, and if any other writer has ever surpassed it for sheer puzzlement the name escapes our memory. We are referring, of course, to mysteries that have logical explanations, as this one has. It is a tall story, to be sure, but it could have happened.”

There have been films, plays, computer games, a graphic novel, a board game and a ten-part live-action TV series called Ten Little Roosters where the viewers had to guess who would die next in order to win prizes!

That’s all for this week. See you next Monday,


The Raleigh Gallimaufry 1


A weekly gallimaufry of Frank and Ella Raleigh’s wonderful world of East Devon. Retirement is anything but dull.

Ella Smile

My three favourite things are eating my family and not using commas.


We both read recently about the Sidmouth fatberg – a massive build-up of fat found deep within the Sidmouth sewers. The fatberg was 210 feet long and made up of solid fat, wet wipes and grease. South West Water (SWW) said the fatberg was the biggest it had seen and took nearly eight weeks to remove. The water provider said 36 tanker loads of debris, each containing 3,000 gallons, were excavated by its team.

The BBC reported on it:

The Guardian newspaper followed the story:

The local Sidmouth Herald covered it:


The final cover

Frank and Ella made their debut appearance in Cidered in Sidmouth, the first book in the East Devon Cosy Mystery series. Here’s some edited excerpt from the first two chapters:

Chapter 1

You’ve ruined everything. How dare you think you can get away with it.

The vase was within reach. Picking it up in anger with no thought for the consequences, it was a simple and automatic action to crash it down on his head. The man stumbled backwards, ricocheted off the single armchair in the room and fell headfirst on the stone floor.

There was silence. Not even a moan.

I’ve killed him.

Chapter 2

At home, hidden somewhat obviously beside the green garden waste bin, was a small brown paper package that wouldn’t fit through their letterbox. Ella picked it up before heading indoors. They made their usual cups of coffee and tea before Ella went to open the package. She wasn’t expecting a delivery because she had bought nothing online in the last week. Ella stopped and examined the writing on the front.


“This package. It’s not for us. It should be for River Street in Sidmouth.”

“Not again. Surely someone must be able to read in the Post Office. This never used to happen when we were in Kent. Well, not as often.”

?They sort it by machine these days, Frank!”

“Well, they ought to sort it out. Can I see how they messed it up this time?”


Eventually, they found what appeared to be the right address. It was the end house of a terrace, a small trio of mellow red brick Edwardian dwellings. Frank called them two up, two downs. Ella called them quaint. Next door, separated by a walled alleyway, was The Mariner pub.

“I didn’t know this pub was here. I’ve never heard of it before.”

“Doesn’t look too grand. Could be one to explore in the future.” Frank added as he opened the black rusting metal gate that led up a short, uneven flagstone path.

The blue painted door was flanked by two flowerpots. Both had the remains of last year’s annuals. Ella could not find a bell, so she knocked gently on the door. No-one answered.

“Can’t we just leave the package on the doorstep and go for our ice-cream?” she said.

“Knock again… but louder.”

Ella did so with the same result.

“If this were Otterbury, then someone would have left the key underneath the flowerpot,” Frank chuckled.

“But it’s not! This is Sidmouth.”

“No harm in checking.” Frank knelt down and lifted up the right-hand flowerpot and looked underneath.

“I don’t believe it!” whispered Ella.

Frank picked up a sturdy-looking latchkey and tried it in the lock. The key turned, the door opened, and Frank stuck his head inside before calling out. “Hello, anybody home? We’ve got a package for you!”

No-one answered.

“Hello?” repeated Frank.

“Just leave it on the doormat!” Ella was pleased that no-one was home. It would avoid a discussion about the Post Office, or even worse, the incorrect addressing of too much post these days. They would now just deposit the package and head off towards the seafront.

Frank had other ideas. Taking the package from Ella, he disappeared into, what he assumed to be, a hallway. He put it down on a small circular table hidden behind the front door.

“Wait a minute. I’m going to leave a note with the package. Have you got a pen and paper?”

Ella shook her head.

“Well, in that case, I’m just going to find something to write on in one of the rooms. I’ll be straight back.”

He called out again, “Hello, anybody in?”

There was no reply. As he ventured further into the house, Ella called out to him, “I’m not staying out here in full view of the suspicious Sidmouth public. I’m coming in as well!”

Frank casually walked into the front room. Ella looked around to see if anyone nearby was watching them and then quickly followed.

The room was dark, sparsely furnished and unkempt. A stone floor, a single battered old sea-blue armchair and a couple of stacked wooden chairs. No television, the remains of a coal fire in a dirty grate. The curtains were half-open, but the windows were opaque with smudges of dirt. On the mantelpiece was a photo of a man and a woman, smiling lovingly at each other.

Getting accustomed to the lack of light, they could both see that someone had been having a severe disagreement. A coffee table lay overturned with its magazines and newspapers scattered on a threadbare rug. Two cushions from the armchair were also on the stone floor by the fireplace. Ella bent to pick one up and immediately jumped back with a startled “Oh! Frank, come here. Is this blood on the floor? Here, by the fireplace.”

Frank had just opened the door leading to a back room which appeared to be a kitchen. Before he went in, he turned back towards Ella to examine the patch. Picking the other cushion off the floor, he let out a similar cry.

“You’re right. It certainly looks like blood. Put the cushions back, exactly where you found them. Let’s check out the rest of the house.”

Ella hastily replaced the cushions and stepped around the scattered papers and magazines before following Frank into the kitchen. From here, they could see a sight they would take them a very long time to forget.

“Ella, have you got your phone with you?”

The back door was open and, in full view, on the right-hand side of the tiny paved and gravelled courtyard stood a huge wooden Cider Vat. It was quite the largest barrel that either had ever seen. Sticking out from the top of the vat were two bare legs.

To read more go to the Cidered in Devon Amazon page


Where is this? Somewhere in East Devon? Find out if you were right next week.

Gallimaufry pic1
Its Amazing Surfing

Enjoy a new website each week as Ella brings you one of her surfing discoveries.

This week Ella’s visited

“When you need a word, that’s different and yet the same then you need a synonym.

It’s a very useful, handy, practical, helpful, convenient, suitable, commodious, propitious, productive, conducive website.”

Thesaurus screenshot

Every fortnight Frank will select a piece of software that he has used answering the following questions:

What is it?

Calibre – a free ebook manager.

Why do I need it and what can I use it for?

I’ve been using Calibre for years. It’s a powerful and easy-to-use e-book manager. It takes things a step beyond normal e-book software. It’s completely free and open-source and great for both casual users and computer experts.

  • Save time on managing your e-book collection
  • Use it everywhere and with anything
  • Comprehensive e-book viewer
  • Download news/magazines from the web
  • Share and backup your library easily
  • Edit the books in your collection
  • Satisfy every e-book need and get support

Where do I get it?

Download it from

What do the reviews say?

The verdict at

A brilliant free ebook reader designed with usability in mind, but if your ebook collection originated on the Kindle store you’ll need to stick with Amazon’s own software.

You don’t need a dedicated device to enjoy ebooks. There are some excellent free apps around for reading them on your desktop too, and Calibre is one of the best.

Calibre is a free, open-source ebook reader that?s available for Windows, Mac and Linux, with an extra portable version for Windows PCs. This is particularly handy, because you can keep on an USB stick or other removable storage device along with your book collection, enabling you to read them on any PC.

Calibre also supports RSS feeds, so you can gather news from your favourite magazines and news sites in one place without opening a web browser.

Calibre’s interface has been designed with care and attention, making it easy to manage your ebook archive. The icons are big and bold (great for touchscreens) and even complex options are only a couple of clicks or taps away. All the controls are well labelled, but also have tooltips so you can hover over anything you aren’t certain about for an explanation – a small feature, but one that’s missing from many ebook readers.

Calibre makes it simple to transfer books between your desktop machine and any e-readers you own – either wirelessly or via a USB cable. Just set it up the first time you use the software, and Calibre will automatically convert books to the best format when transferring them to your device.

Unlike most free ebook readers (with the obvious exception of Amazon’s own software), Calibre can open books in AWZ format. It won’t let you read DRM-protected works though, which rules out literature that’s still in copyright. That’s the only real drawback here, but it’s likely to be a deal-breaker for anyone who’s hooked on the Kindle store.


That’s all for this week. See you next Monday,


The Ottery Lottery

After a few weeks of revision and redrafting the Ottery Lottery is published. I’ve had a fun time finding out about the town of Ottery St Mary and its long and glorious history. Without writing the book, I would never have found out about the Misericords or the Pixies Parlour. And as for Coleridge’s granite stones, well that was a joy to discover as well.

I’ve planted a few in-jokes into the text. The pilot of the original airplane crash gets a mention as do a few local villages. Search amongst the gravestones in the churchyard and you’ll find a rich choice of local surnames!

As usual, the walk is there to be discovered. I know, it’s not on the South West Coast Path but then neither is Ottery St Mary!

The snippets of local history dotted throughout the book are based on true events. Any historical errors are mine and mine alone!

The artwork and book design is all down to me. I took all the photographs and used photoshop and a great little app called Prisma to assist me with the sketches.

The quotes at the beginning of each chapter are from the poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Hope you enjoy the book. It’s my longest one yet!

On to number four – the Siege of Lyme Regis.