Roses on the Beach

Pic is from my trip to Crosby in June.

Something very gothic romance about it.

I think of a young man in 19th century, perhaps a newly qualified lawyer with good prospects, coming to Liverpool to meet the woman he loves, who is to arrive on a ship from America. He buys a bouquet of roses, of course, for roses are her favourite flowers. The ship docks, the passengers disembark, but his beloved is not among them. Heartbroken, the young lawyer suspects she fell in love with another man. He dumps the flowers on the sandy beach and swears never to love again. To escape his disappointment, he leaves for an expedition to West Africa, where he meets his death.

The young lady, his beloved, has in truth not fallen in love with anyone else. She never boarded the ship. Her best friend has had an accident and the young lady rushed to be by her side, as this friend was like a sister to her. She wrote a letter to the young lawyer, explaining she would make the voyage as soon as her friend recovered. How was she to know the young man never read her letter, for he had left before he could have received it?

When she finally arrives to England, she hears of her young man’s death in West Africa and cries many a tear. She vows never to love again, converts to Catholicism and becomes a nun.

Luckily, there’s another version of this story, where the young lawyer has a sister, who tells him he’s being an idiot and that he should trust his beloved–if she was not on the ship, there was probably a good reason and no doubt soon some news would come. Which it does. He reads the letter and it makes him love his beloved even more. “Isn’t she just the best, look how she cares about her friend!” he gushes to his sister. The sister wears her biggest told-you-so face.

Some weeks later, the lovely lady at last arrives on another ship, he waits for her with a fresh bouquet of roses. They get married and live happily ever after.

A Murder Mystery. In Pictures.

You are invited to Heaton Hall, the country seat of Lord Ballingdon, for a weekend of good old fashioned fun.

The house is imposing and painted cheerful yellow.

After dinner, the host informs his guests he prepared a fun murder mystery game. It kicks off the next morning.

And so the next morning, after breakfast–rich, delicious full English–Lord Ballingdon gives his instructions.

You are to find the dead body.

It is no easy task. The grounds are vast and the body could be anywhere.

But that doesn’t discourage you. Let’s start!

Careful it gets steep!

You think the body might have rolled down this hill. But there’s nothing at the bottom.

Ooh look, a bench! Not very comfortable sitting on that stone. You reckon the victim must have sat here at some point, before they were killed.

Careful now!

Were they pushed off the ha-ha? If so, the murderer must have moved the body because it is not here.

You check under the ferns for clues. Nothing here.

Aaah, look, a folly. You bet that’s where the body was hidden.

The folly is locked. You peer through the windows, but the only thing you see is a broken electric heater.

It occurs to you that the body might actually be inside the house. Your host never said it was on the grounds.

Hmmm, your host… This is the first time you’ve been invited to Lord Ballingdon’s party. You’ve heard of him a lot, of course, everyone gushes how entertaining he is, people leave his gatherings with smiles on their faces. And he’s so charming! “He’s the biggest prankster I’ve ever met,” says your cousin, and coming from him, it means something. Your cousin has been playing pranks on people since he was eight.

Prankster. Of course!

You got it. Murder? Here’s the murder:

Lord Ballingdon bursts into booming laughter. You win the game.


Pictures are from Heaton Park in Manchester. The house is indeed called Heaton Hall, but it is not a seat of any lord, as it belongs to the city council. Lord Ballingdon is a fictional character. No murder mystery games take place at Heaton Park, however the place does share initials with the great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, so make of it what you will.

Photographs curling in the heat

Well, I’m pleased to report that both me and my cat Pepper got through it unscathed.

By which I mean the extreme heat the UK experienced on Monday and Tuesday; that’s 18th and 19th July 2022. Tuesday the temperature reached 39°C here in Manchester, in some places it went to over 40°C, for the first time in history.

The photos I have hung on a string of lights started curling.

I contemplated going into the office on Tuesday, as it has air-con, but then I decided to stick with working from home, as I was worried about Pepper and wanted to keep an eye on her, besides, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to even get into the office–the tram lines might have started melting or something. Pepper stayed in my bedroom for the whole day, I kept checking on her every now and then and each time she gave me a look that said: “why you make me suffer like this?” like it was my fault. Cats…

As for me, I was more stressed about the thought of the heatwave than the actual heatwave. In the end, the trick was a wet towel on my head.

What a relief today’s very pleasant 21°C was!

But I’m afraid we’re in for heatwaves and extreme weather like this for the foreseeable future…


I thought this would fit this week’s Weekly Posts Wednesday Challenge – Extreme.

Agatha Christie did it first

And I’m here to prove it.

Note: Mild spoiler for Three Act Tragedy.

You think the characters of Dr Strange, Hermione and James Bond are creations of Marvel comics, JK Rowling and Ian Fleming respectively? Welllllll, not necessarily. They were all created by the Queen of Crime Agatha Christie.

Or it depends which ones!

In book Three Act Tragedy, (also published as Murder In Three Acts in USA) there is a character named Dr Strange, namesake of the Marvel character Dr Strange.

Although he’s referred to as Sir Bartholomew throughout the story, he is a doctor and his surname is Strange.

Three Act Tragedy was first published in 1934. It’s a Hercule Poirot mystery, which also features Mr Satterthwaite, who appears in the Mysterious Mr Quin stories. (Speaking of which, Mr Quin’s first name is Harley, so he’s Harley Quin–a very similar to the character in DC comic universe, except hers is spelled Quinn, therefore I have not included this in the post.) Dr Strange’s first appearance in the Marvel comics was in 1963, almost three decades later.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe he’s played by Benedict Cumberbatch–who is also well known for his role as Sherlock Holmes, the other famous detective! (He was also in Murder Is Easy, but that was incorrectly adapted with Miss Marple, who is not in the story.)

In the same book, we meet a character of Hermione.

Okay, so I admit this one is a bit of a stretch, as it just happens to be a character with the same first name as the beloved witch of Harry Potter fame. But it’s not like it’s a very common name, is it? Besides, if you took the character of Hermione Granger and put her in a murder mystery, you’d have her do some sleuthing, wouldn’t you? Just like the Three Act Tragedy Hermione, nicknamed Egg, does. Well, Hermione Granger does a sort of sleuthing in Harry Potter too; I always insist that the HP books are in the most part mysteries, it’s just that they include the elements of magic. It’s no wonder that the author turned to writing mystery novels. Though I for one wish she’d rather shut up… Sigh. But let’s not get derailed.

The first HP book was released in 1997.

Save the best one for the end.

One instance of the same surname, one of the same, unusual, first name–but now we have the full name.

Yup, that’s right, it was Agatha Christie who first introduced the character of James Bond! In the short story The Rajah’s Emerald, published for the first time in 1934. Same as Three Act Tragedy, as it happens.

It’s a different James Bond, of course, but it’s interesting.

The famous spy James Bond made his first appearance in 1953 in Ian Fleming’s book Casino Royale. These days he’s better known from the films. James Bond of The Rajah’s Emerald is but a humble man–but he does stumble upon a mysterious jewel, the titular emerald, while holidaying at a seaside resort, not exactly enjoying himself.

And so my mind goes on a wander…

James Bond was last (as of this blog entry, July 2022) played by Daniel Craig. And Daniel also plays the detective Benoit Blanc in the film Knives Out (which is shortly to have a sequel), one of my most favourite films of all time. If you’ve seen it, you know it’s pretty much an Agatha Christie mystery, set in modern times in America (it’s its own thing enough so as not to cause trouble with the Agatha Christie estate). It also stars Ana de Armas, who made appearance in the latest (as of this blog entry, July 2022) James Bond film No Time To Die. And Chris Evans, who was Steve Rogers aka Captain America in the above mentioned Marvel films!

Thus I come the full circle.

Anyway, the point of this blog post was:

Agatha Christie was a trailblazer.