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,


Third and Final Draft

The first book in the East Devon Cosy Mysteries series is going through its third and final draft at the moment. I’m aiming to have it in the Kindle Store in early May.

I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a book without spending a fortune. I set myself a target to produce these books on a manageable budget but to do things as professionally as possible. Self-publishing is definitely the best way for me to achieve that target.

A self-published author has to do almost everything himself. It’s not just the writing of the book. It’s compiling the book, designing the book cover, setting up social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, producing the website design using WordPress, uploading and promoting the book. Do I just publish it on Kindle as an ebook or get copies printed to sell as a paperback? What about audiobooks? It’s a busy life being a budding novelist.

I use the excellent Scrivener software to write the books, the Serif range of software to design the covers and promotional material and WordPress and GoDaddy to put the website together as well as a few iPad apps to enhance some of the graphics. I’ve taken all the photos and videos on the website. In future posts, I’ll go into greater detail about the resources I use.

As an incentive to sign up for my monthly newsletter, I’m putting together a series of walks in the Sidmouth area that Frank and Ella would enjoy. Indeed, they’ve already walked most of them.

Right, it’s back to the final draft!

Welcome to East Devon

The ancient Jurassic coastline, the Sidmouth Folk Festival, Exmouth’s sandy beaches, Devon cream teas, rolling red hills and rural yet close to the thriving city of Exeter. No wonder many families love to spend their days working and playing in East Devon.

Close to the sea and countryside yet less than an hour from the moorlands of Dartmoor and Exmoor, East Devon has connections by motorway, road, rail and plane to London and the rest of the known world.

Stretching from the Exe river in the west to the county borders of Dorset and Somerset, East Devon is home to such towns as Sidmouth, Exmouth, Honiton, Axminster and Budleigh Salterton.

Its coastline runs from Exmouth to Lyme Regis is part of World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast as well as hosting part of the 633 miles of the South West Coast Path.

In recent years, the area has become a retirement option with a third of the population aged over 60. However, that in itself has helped a growing army of self-employed gardeners, decorators and builders to provide a valued and valuable service industry!

There are two Areas of Outstanding  Natural Beauty – the Blackdown Hills and East Devon itself.

Rivers such as the Otter, Sid and Axe make their way to the sea through vales filled with productive fields, nature-filled woods and picturesque villages. Colyton, Branscombe, Tipton St John, East Budleigh, Musbury, Broadhembury and many other deceptively quiet villages await your exploration.

In such an English paradise, how could anyone want to break the law, let alone murder! If only life were that easy!