Noel Coward’s assertion that the county I call home is “very flat” is a little unfair (locals would suggest that ‘undulating’ is a more accurate description). However if you study the maps where Norfolk heads towards Lincolnshire it is reasonable to say that contour lines are an infrequent occurrence .

Sadly as a result of this the flatlands never seem to get a particularly good press, which is a shame because despite there being a lack of geographical features it’s occasionally a spectacular place to spend time in.

Continuing on the Agatha Christie theme.

Whilst we were away a new set of Christie themed stamps arrived from the Royal Mail, celebrating the centenary of the writing of her first detective story, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

As well as being beautifully illustrated and designed (by Neil Webb and Jim Sutherland of Studio Sutherl& respectively), the stamps also come with a number of clues that help identify the murderer hidden in the artwork. 

Some of the stamps, including the one above, require magnification that’s beyond my somewhat tired eyes to fully appreciate their joy (the design of the stamp apparently appears in it’s entirety on the bottle of poison on the table). However an ever neater trick is deployed on the stamp for the Murder on the Orient Express (as below), as it comes with an area of thermochromic ink that when activated results in the disappearance of a curtain to reveal the killer waiting patiently for their victim. 

That such care and effort is made with an ordinary and often ignored everyday item always impresses me, and whilst the world of philately is not likely to become my second home I wholly approve of an occasional visit.


And after:

(For reference (bit of a theme this) the title of this blogpost comes from I’ve Had It With Blondes by Cud, which itself features on their album When In Rome Kill Me.)

A week ago today Mrs Weir and I (along with a more senior interloper) had just returned from a break in the South West, to be specific the handsome South Devon town of Dartmouth.

Unlike our last trip to the area we remained free of any driving based trauma as most of our journeys during the week took place via the Dartmouth Steam Railway and a variety of ferries travelling along and across the River Dart.

Seems an age ago already.

[I’ve started taking somewhat random audio recordings again, feels more satisfying than hundreds of low quality snaps. Not to say that the recordings are anything more than rudimentary but still. May investigate further how to do low cost audio on the iPhone without the intrusive interruption of wind-noise – any thoughts much appreciated.]

The Dartmouth Steam Railway, on the way to Paignton.

Agatha Christie sounding a little fierce at Greenway, her holiday home for many years.

Walking through the leaves at Dartington Hall (we arrived in unseasonably warm weather but by the end of the week Autumn was well and truly with us).

Back at Greenway, where they had a typewriter of dubious origin (albeit not misrepresented with any signage).

Arriving in Paignton on the Dartmouth Steam Railway.

The River Dart making it’s way into Bayard’s Cove.

*Well just South of the English Riviera but close enough eh?

Print To The People is “an artist led, social enterprise dedicated to the production and promotion of traditional printmaking processes, established in 2009” and based in the fine city of Norwich.

I’ve been aware of what they do for a while now, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I got to finally have a look at their set up as a participant of one of their many print making courses – namely their Screen Printing Taster Day.

Sadly the opportunities to try your hand at screen printing in the wilds of East Anglia are a little thin on the ground, so when I stumbled upon Print To The People’s autumn programme I decided that the opportunity was too good to miss.

Led by Jo Stafford and Toby Rampton (who’s respective work is well worth further investigation over at and, the morning involved a hands-on introduction to the printing process, with the afternoon being dedicated to recalling what we’d been shown earlier through our own attempts at putting ink onto paper.

And I loved it.

A friendlier and more helpful set up than Print To The People would I think be hard to find. I’ll definitely be back at some point soon and if you’re in or around Norfolk’s capital city and are interested in the wonderful world of printing then I’d recommend you pay them a visit too.

Above: My original drawing, scanned and sent to the good folk at Print To The People.

Above: The finished screen, ready to print from.

Above: And finally a print. Printed once in orange, and then overprinted in some kind of non-specific purple (which was itself augmented by some uninvited, although entirely welcome, hot pink).

(For reference the title of this blogpost comes from Images, a track on the very fine Lou Reed and John Cale album Songs For Drella.)

Pole To Pole


BLOG North V South

In the most recent edition of Daniel Benneworth-Gray’s weekly newsletter (which I’d recommend you subscribe to if you’re not already a reader), he says that “If you have ears, you’ll love the North V South podcast, in which Jonathan Elliman and Rob Turpin talk about design and news and pies.”

As it so happens I do indeed have ears and as a result I’m enjoying the North V South podcast enormously.

If nothing else their recent choice for book of the month has meant that I’ve taken my copy of Bill Drummond’s 45 from the bookshelf for a re-read.

“Julian had a new band every week, each with a new manifesto, a built-in history and a moral high ground. This week’s band was called The Teardrop Explodes. I instantly knew this was the greatest name for a band I had ever heard.”

Perhaps I now need to find someone in deepest darkest Wales to set up an East v West podcast in competition.

BLOG - LBirdWBook Main

As you’ll probably be aware if you’ve visited these environs before now, I’m a collector of Ladybird Books.

In a previous post (from December 2013) about the first Ladybird Book I owned, I noted that since being presented with it (from the play-school I was leaving at the time, circa 1975) I’d “added to the collection” and at the last count had “just over seven hundred Ladybird books”.

With the passing of time that number has increased. Increased to a figure just above the twelve hundred mark – which is probably enough eh?

To be honest although the facts of the situation would suggest otherwise I’m quite a low rent collector, in so much that most of the books I own have been gleaned from charity shops or car boot sales, rather than everybody’s favourite internet auction site. That said I am a visitor to the site in question but mainly in my search of (disappointingly scare) Ladybird Book ephemera.

So you can perhaps understand how pleased I was to stumble across a number of untouched Ladybird Book Workbooks in a shop in Harrogate a few months back. The Workbooks were produced for children to use alongside the enormously popular Key Words Reading Scheme series, and the ones I found were particularly handsome copies of the 70s reprint with spectacularly colourful artwork most unlike what you’d normally expect from the folk at Wills & Hepworth.

That said, what I’m really after is a cardboard box . . .

BLOG - LBirdWBook#B
BLOG - LBirdWBook#ABLOG - LBirdWBook#D

BLOG - Shell #a

More ephemera for the collection. This time a handsome guide from the Viewing Gallery on the 25th Floor of Shell Centre in London (317 feet above sea level).

I don’t know a great deal about the Shell Centre other than that it was one of the tallest buildings in London when it was finished in 1961. Although thanks to this guide I do now know that the building is “351 feet high, just 14 feet lower than the cross of St Paul’s Cathedral across the river” and that at the time the guide was printed was “the largest office building in Europe”.

The guide comes with some fine pictorial guides of the various views from the 25th floor. Views which don’t include 20 Fenchurch Street, 8 Walworth Road or the second-tallest free-standing structure in the UK (go Emley Moor!) that is currently found at 32 London Bridge Street.

My how times have changed.

The view South:BLOG - Shell #b
BLOG - Shell #c

The view North West:BLOG - Shell #eBLOG - Shell #d