A weekly gallimaufry of Frank and Ella Raleigh’s wonderful world of East Devon. Retirement is anything but dull.
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:
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:
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.
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!”
“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.
Enjoy a new website each week as Ella brings you one of her surfing discoveries.
This week Ella’s visited https://www.thesaurus.com/
“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.”
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 https://calibre-ebook.com/
What do the reviews say?
The verdict at https://www.techradar.com/reviews/calibre
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,