Knox Box of Miscellany

Dawn Knox – A rearranger of words into something hopefully meaningful…

12th September 2020
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on 1940s Readers and Writers Zoom Event

1940s Readers and Writers Zoom Event

Exhibits from 1940s in Biggin Hill
Exhibits from 1940s in Biggin Hill

If you enjoy reading or writing stories set in 1940s – or indeed, both, you might be interested in a Zoom event hosted by publisher, Gill James, of Bridge House Publishing who has a special interest in this time period. She has written a fascinating series of books entitled ‘The Schellberg Cycle’ set in Nazi Germany which you can find here on Gill’s Amazon Author page.

The House on Schellberg Street: A Holocaust survival story (The Schellberg Cycle Book 1) – Renate Edler loves to visit her grandmother in the house on Schellberg Street. She often meets up with her friend Hani Gödde who lives nearby. This year, though, it is not to be. Just a few weeks after a night when synagogues are burned and businesses owned by Jews are looted, Renate finds out a terrible secret about her family.
At a time when the world is at war and the horrors of the Holocaust are slowly becoming apparent, Renate has to leave behind her home and her friends, and become somebody she never thought she could be.
The house on Schellberg Street needs to stay strong. Will it and those who work in it be strong enough? Will Renate ever feel at home again? And what of those left behind?

Gill has organised a Zoom event in which she will be talking with several authors, Lin Treadgold, Stuart Larner and me which will take place on Thursday 17th September at 20:00 to 21:30 BST and is a free event. If you are interested, please book your place here Eventbrite.

The authors will discuss what they are reading and writing, how they conduct their research and what draws them to the 1940s as well as answering questions in a Q&A session. They will also be reading examples of their work and there will be free giveaways.

If you’d like to see my books, most of which are set during 1940s, you can see a list here on my Amazon Author page or on my Romance page.

Welcome to Plotlands – (Set during 1930s but leading on to others in the series) – 1930: Joanna Marshall lives with her beloved mother in the household of her somewhat less-beloved aunt, who wishes the pair of them gone. When her mother dies, a grief-stricken Joanna sees an opportunity to escape – Ma’s title deed to a rural patch of land. Welcomed into the Plotlands community, Joanna begins to make a new life for herself, and meets handsome solicitor Ben Richardson. But he wouldn’t be interested in an ordinary girl like her…would he?

A Touch of the Exotic – From India to war-torn London to a grand estate in Essex, Samira’s life is one of rootlessness and unpredictability. With her half-Indian heritage, wherever she goes, she’s seen as ‘exotic’, never quite fitting in despite her best efforts. To add to her troubles, her beauty attracts attention from men that she’s not sure how to handle. But when she falls for handsome RAF pilot, Luke, none of her charms seem to work, as it appears his heart is already bestowed elsewhere… 

Touched by Two Wars – France, 1914: Isabelle and her mother are pleased to take in British soldiers as they pass through the countryside on their way to the front. But Isabelle’s attempt to comfort a distressed soldier leaves her with an illegitimate yet dearly beloved daughter, Madeleine. As Isabelle and her own mother struggle with the upkeep of Chateau Bellevais, another soldier, James, comes into her life – and out again. During the ensuing chaos of yet another war, Isabelle flees to England. Is it possible that she and James could find each other once more?

Wild Spirit – It’s Rae’s dream to sail away across oceans on her family’s boat, the WILD SPIRIT – but in 1939 the world is once again plunged into conflict, and her travel plans must be postponed. When Hitler’s forces trap the Allies on the beaches of Dunkirk, Rae sails with a fleet of volunteer ships to attempt the impossible and rescue the desperate servicemen. However, her bravery places more lives than her own in jeopardy – including that of Jamie MacKenzie, the man she’s known and loved for years…

All available from The Reading House, here

22nd August 2020
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on ‘Wild Spirit’ a New Romance

‘Wild Spirit’ a New Romance

My latest romance, ‘Wild Spirit’ came out at the beginning of August, published in large print by Linford Romance Library.

It’s part of the Plotland Saga Series of books which are mainly set in Essex although in this book, the heroine, Rae, starts life in Sussex. The previous books in the series are:
“Welcome to Plotlands”, “A Touch of the Exotic” and “Touched by Two Wars”

Information about all three can be found here and can be purchased here in The Reading House. They are also available on Amazon but prices can be much higher than in The Reading House – although very occasionally much cheaper too, so it’s worth a look! You can find my Amazon Author’s page here with all my books. And perhaps a better idea might be to support your local library and borrow a copy from there. If you’ve read “Welcome to Plotlands” and you remember the character Joanna Richardson who moved from East London in 1930 to the Plotlands of Dunton in Essex – Rae, the irrepressible, heroine of “Wild Spirit”, is Joanna’s second cousin.

Blurb: “It’s Rae’s dream to sail away across oceans on her family’s boat, the WILD SPIRIT – but in 1939 the world is once again plunged into conflict, and her travel plans must be postponed. When Hitler’s forces trap the Allies on the beaches of Dunkirk, Rae sails with a fleet of volunteer ships to attempt the impossible and rescue the desperate servicemen. However, her bravery places more lives than her own in jeopardy – including that of Jamie MacKenzie, the man she’s known and loved for years…”

There are three more romances linked to “Wild Spirit” coming out during the coming months – all set in World War Two.

During the research I carried out to write “Wild Spirit”, I was interested to learn that several of the ‘Small Ships’ which sailed to Dunkirk to rescue our troops, sailed from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. These included the cockleboats, the Letitia, the Endeavour, the Resolute, the Reliant, the Defender and the Renown which set off on May 31, 1940, at 00.30 hours, travelling across the Channel with a convoy commanded by the Navy. Read more about the brave cockle fishermen from Leigh who rescued many of our troops here. Tragically, the Renown went over a mine and her crew of four were killed in the explosion.

There is an excellent museum in Leigh-on-Sea which is well worth a visit, with a fisherman’s cottage furnished as it would have been during past times with its fishing nets hanging in the stairwell!

Fisherman's nets hanging in stairwell
Fisherman’s nets hanging on the right of the stairwell of the period cottage

Interestingly, during my visit, I took the following photograph which looks like it might well have been taken in the same place as the photo on the cover, although, of course, in my picture, the tide is out! What do you think?

Leigh-on-Sea
View of Leigh-on-Sea

If you read “Wild Spirit”, I’d be thrilled if you’d leave a review on Amazon to let me know what you think. Thanks.

13th July 2020
by Dawnknox
2 Comments

Interview with Author, Paula R.C. Readman

An Interview with Author Paula R.C. Readman

The Writing Slut’s Blog: Guest Book Tour and Blog Swap. 

Author Paula RC Readman
Author, Paula RC Readman

Paula – Good morning, Dawn. Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog.

Dawn – Nice to have you here Paula. Before we start, can I say, that’s a very unusual title for your blog!

 Paula – (LOL) It’s okay Dawn, please allow me to explain my new title The Writing Slut since finding a publisher for my crime novel, Stone Angels, I’ve been touting for business on Twitter, Facebook and  any other street corner I can find. You spend years writing, editing and rewriting to produce a book that someone wants to publish, but in that time you haven’t really thought about what happens next. Yes, I was aware I might have to do a certain amount of promoting and marketing, but I had always imagined sitting in a bookshop or being on the radio, doing something physical. Instead, I’m strutting my stuff across an invisible place with no idea whether its making a difference or not.

Dawn – Well, Paula, perhaps you’d like to tell us a bit about your writing experience.

1)      When did you first begin your writing journey and what drew you to choose that genre?

I guess it was my nature, Dawn. I have always been interested in the dark and mysterious side of people and the world as a whole. Ancient history, the supernatural, ghost stories that sort of thing. The unspoken and unsaid part of life. As humans we all have two sides, the side we show to the world, and the part we keep hidden. I like writing about the hidden side. 

2)      What writing elements do you think are your strongest points, and what would you like to be better at?

I like to think that I think outside the box and come up with an original story line. Hmm, tricky question, Dawn…What would I like to do better, or be better at? I suppose the main thing is to have more self-belief, and be better at editing. It’s tough to let go of what you see as perfect writing, especially, after putting in long hours to get it right, only to cut it in the end. 

3)      Tell us a little about your latest writing project – is it a new idea or one you have been mulling over for some time?

I’m working on a novel I wrote in 2004. It’s a vampire novel with a twist. Of course.  I have a publisher who’s interested in the novel, but I need to cut the word count by half. I’m also working on a new novel. It’s a follow on novel using the characters from The Funeral Birds. The Funeral Birds tells the tale of Dave Cavendish and his failing detective agency. In the crime novella published by Demain Publishing  is a murder, a witch and owls in a ruined church.   My next book finds Dave setting up business with his wife, Joan, and his long dead ancestor, Granny Wenlock. 

4)      How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer at the moment?

When I first started writing, I couldn’t channel my thoughts to one thing at a time. I started quite a few projects. My first novel had some promising feedback but wasn’t taken up, so for a while I focused on writing short stories while learning my craft. This means I have plenty of short stories as well as unfinished novels. I tried my hand at writing a sci-fi novel, but the subject matter was too big for my writing ability at the time. 

5)      Do you write a synopsis first or dive in to the first chapter? If you’re writing a short story, do you plan your story or let the characters lead you?

Usually, I map out a basic story line. A sentence i.e. the story is about a man buying a dog. Then I start asking myself a series of questions. The who, what and why. Who is he? Why does he want to buy a dog? And what is his reason for buying a dog and not a cat? 

     6) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I’m up early as my husband starts work at five in the morning. I try to write all day when working on a story or novel. I do have breaks and try to exercise as much as possible in between. Sitting too long isn’t good for the body.  

7) Do you set yourself a daily word count?

No, not at the moment as I’m editing, but once I’m back working on my next novel, I’ll try to set targets to keep myself motivated 

8) How do you select the names of your characters and do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?

Well, I have several books on surnames and baby names.  There has been an occasion when I’ve glanced up at my bookshelf and taken a name off the spine of a book, if I needed one in a hurry.  No, I don’t know everything about them, I like the characters to show me their true colours as the story unfolds.  

9) What sort of scenes do you find it hardest to write?

For me it’s writing tension and pace. As I write horror and psychological crime, I’m never sure whether I’ve achieved enough tension to scare the pants off my readers without turning to writing blood, guts and gore. My aim has always been to have my readers turning pages and not their stomachs.      

10) How long on average does it take you to write a book?

My first crime novel Stone Angels took me a year to write, but another five years to knock into shape. Of course, life has a habit of getting in the way as I lost my mum during the five years I was busy rewriting, editing and cutting the book about. I’m hoping my next novel doesn’t take me as long as I’ve learnt a lot more about editing since its completion.  

 Dawn – Thanks Paula, it’s great to find out a bit more about you and your writing.

Paula – It’s been great chatting with you, Dawn. You make a great cup of virtual tea too!

Stone Angels Cover Art
‘Stone Angels’ by Paula RC Readman

Paula R.C. Readman, Author of ‘Stone Angels’:  mybook.to/stoneangels

Find out more about Paula R.C. Readman here:

Blog: http://paulareadman1.wordpress.com

Twitter: PaulaReadman@Darkfantasy13

Facebook: Paula.readman.1@facebook.com

Goodreads: Paula R C Readman

Amazon author’s page: Paula R C Readman

Cafelit.co.uk Meet the author. Paula R C Readman

Email:Paula.readman1@btinternet.com

24th June 2020
by Dawnknox
2 Comments

Desert Islands I Have Known – Part 2

Desert Island Maldives
Desert Island Maldives

Desert Islands I Have Known – Part 2
Have you ever dreamed of being castaway on a desert island? Perhaps at this time of pandemic with all its accompanying restrictions, for many, the idea of such solitude would be quite alarming. It would certainly be the ultimate lockdown.

In my last post I wrote about a desert island on which I’d been castaway for several hours in the middle of the Red Sea. You can read about it here.

That particular island was memorable not because of its lush, tropical vegetation and pristine beaches but because it was the complete opposite – barren and featureless. But once I’d started thinking about desert islands, I remembered another one I’d visited in the Maldives.

Again, my husband and I were on a diving boat and strictly speaking, I wasn’t exactly cast away because a group of us were escorted to an uninhabited island by the dive guide, Chris. But this island lived up to my expectations, with its beaches and waving palm trees. What I hadn’t expected to find, was the reason why Chris took us there.

On each diving trip, he stopped off on the island with a group of that week’s divers and two black plastic rubbish sacks and he carried out a litter pick along one of the beaches. And each week, sadly, he filled two sacks easily. There was no more room to store rubbish on the dive boat and therefore he couldn’t take more than two sacks per week although that meant a lot of the rubbish on the beach was left behind. But each time he visited, unfortunately, more debris had been washed up to litter the sand.

Rubbish found on desert island
Rubbish found on the beach of a desert island

As you might expect, there were remnants of fisherman’s nets and line and other marine paraphernalia as well as assorted flip-flops but there were also more surprising items such as an old television and a fluorescent tube. If you want to see more photos of that litter pick, you can see them here.

It was so sad to see what had been washed up on the tide line and to know that if Chris hadn’t been so conscientious, what should have been pristine beaches, would have been rubbish tips.

So, this desert island memory was bitter sweet with the beauty of nature and the diligence of Chris, alongside the obvious contempt of some people towards the environment.

And as my mind moved on, I wondered what it would really be like to be washed up on a desert island and have to wait to be rescued. With BBC Radio 4’s programme Desert Island Discs in mind, I wondered what luxury item I would want with me. And that, of course, led to me wondering which book and songs I’d want to accompany me but that’s a topic for another post…

20th June 2020
by Dawnknox
3 Comments

Desert Islands I Have Known Part 1…

Island in the Red Sea
Desert Island in the Red Sea

Desert Islands I Have Known Part 1

Isn’t it amazing how thoughts can wander, starting in one place and ending up somewhere completely different? I was thinking about desert islands yesterday – not because I was going stir-crazy and wanted a change of scenery – I was actually quite content where I was – but because I spotted a weed. I was actually in my garden, where, during lockdown I’ve been taking my exercise each morning. It’s been such a pleasure to look at the plants every day and to watch them as the flowers open and then gradually fade. And of course, it’s helping me to keep fit as well!

But yesterday, I spotted a weed where a weed shouldn’t have been – in a tiny gap between the path and the wall and I marvelled at its tenacity and cheek before yanking it out of its stronghold! Isn’t it strange that whatever weed-proofing methods you use there is always one hardy specimen which manages to push through the tiniest crack into the sunlight? It was that single weed which reminded me of the time I was cast away on one particular deserted shore.

But it wasn’t the usual sort of desert island with dazzling white beaches fringed with beautiful palms, – it was more like a barren piece of rock which jutted out of the Red Sea.

Desert Island in the Red Sea
Desert Island in the Red Sea

When I say ‘cast away’, that’s definitely an overstatement because I was only there on my own for a few hours before I was rescued. Oh, okay, you’ve got me again – I was picked up as arranged, not exactly ‘rescued’!

It was about ten years ago and my husband and I were on a liveaboard boat with other divers in the Red Sea and one afternoon while they were all diving, the crew dropped me off on the desert island.

When someone suggested that I go to my own island for a few hours, I was rather excited but it wasn’t quite what I’d expected because other than the two structures which you can see in the photos and one seabird which might or might not be an Osprey, (I’m not very good at identifying birds), there was nothing else there. And when I say ‘nothing’, there really was nothing there. It was astonishingly barren and stark with not one tree, bush, blade of grass or even one of those ubiquitous weeds which usually manage to grow everywhere else. And that’s why the wayward weed in my garden prompted me to remember the time when I simply couldn’t believe that not one single seedling was sprouting.

I wandered around the shore and meandered over the hills, then spent the rest of my time taking photographs of the bird of prey. As I walked around its perch trying to take photos from different angles, it eyed me warily or perhaps hungrily and I wondered if I was too large to be considered prey and how desperate it was for a meal, until the crew brought the others who’d finished their dive to join me on my arid island so they could explore. Then, there were safety in numbers! There are some more photos here, if you’d like to see.

Eagle
Bird of Prey, possibly and Osprey, the only inhabitant of the Desert Island

And as my mind is in the habit of doing during my lockdown walks, it wandered to another desert island on which I’ve been cast away, but I’ll post about that another day.

Have you ever been cast away on a desert island? Can you identify my bird? Why no let me know!

15th May 2020
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Last Survivors – Uncover the Truth

Last Survivors – Uncover the Truth

If during this lockdown period, you’d like to do something different one evening (or any other time of day, of course!), why not try the Last Survivors – Uncover the Truth online experience. Check out the trailer on YouTube, here to find out more.

The Last Survivors
The Last Survivors – Online Experience

You can read more about the experience and book your session on the Last Survivors website here. Here’s some information from the site:
Can you Uncover The Truth? From the creative team behind The Last Survivors comes our first online experience. You will help an agent from the I.R.F (an agency dedicated to bringing down corrupt private companies) explore the underground bunker and testing facility of the C.I.D.C.
The immersive experience will have you solving puzzles and communicating with the agent through audio and video footage through an online interface. The experience should take around an hour to complete. The entire event is set inside a real Government Nuclear Bunker with everything shot on location.
You will need to use a laptop for the best experience. This can be played with Zoom Screen Share.

Once you’ve paid the fee (it’s half price at the time of publishing this post) you’ll receive an email with a unique code and directions to get to The C.I.D.C website. Your game begins there!

We played our session as a family and I wondered if we’d perhaps get stuck and not be able to move on but there were plenty of clues and it isn’t time-limited like the escape rooms I’ve been to, so we had time to make a cuppa and get back to helping the agent out!

It’s a brilliant way of passing an evening with plenty of excitement and problem-solving but not so difficult that it’s completely baffling and frustrating. I’d give it five out of five for creativity and ingenuity! Definitely worth a play!

8th May 2020
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Video Conferencing with Zoom, FaceTime, Jitsi…

Video Conferencing with Zoom, FaceTime, Jitsi…

Video Conferencing with Zoom, FaceTime, Jitsi, Messenger, Skype and more…

Video conferencing in action with my virtual background.
My Zoom Virtual Background

During the COVID-19 pandemic, those of us who live in countries which have imposed a lockdown, may have been cut off from family and friends. If this has happened to you and you’re a natural loner, it may not worry you as much as it would those who are more gregarious. But, however much you enjoy your own company, it’s always lovely to see the faces of family and friends and those of us who are fortunate enough to have access to the Internet will probably have been making good use of the various video conferencing services such as Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Messenger and Jitsi – to name but a few.

Although I’d used FaceTime, Skype and Messenger before the outbreak of the virus, I must admit I’d not used Zoom or Jitsi before. But since the lockdown, I’ve used all of them to link up with different friends.

My most unusual video meeting was via Jitsi, when I was asked to join a book club meeting in Kapolei, Hawaii a short while ago. The members had been reading my book ‘THE BASILWADE CHRONICLES’ and I was invited to answer questions about the stories and characters. Fortunately for me, they met at 9am local time which was 8pm for me, so I didn’t have to get up during the night to take part. It was very interesting to hear the suggestions for another book, based on some of the characters and if you’ve read ‘THE BASILWADE CHRONICLES’, you may remember Hettie Forbes-Snell, the vicar’s sister. It was suggested I might explain what happened to her. As a result of linking up with the Hawaiian Book Club, I was invited to join, so for the foreseeable future, while we are locked down, I hope to meet with them via video conferencing each month.

If you want to read more about ‘THE BASILWADE CHRONICLES’, you can see it here on Amazon or on my books page, here

I also now regularly link up with members of a Face Book group for pocket novelists each week as well as my school friends and various family members and friends who I don’t often see.

My favourite platform is Zoom because I like to change the virtual background to something new and I have loaded a photo taken in the desert as well as one in a Roman bath at Pompeii. The photo above shows the front cover of ‘THE BASILWADE CHRONICLES’, painted by Neill C. Woods.

Have you just discovered video conferencing? Which is your favourite? Why not let me know. And if you’re new to it, you can find out more information here:

Zoom Video Tutorials
FaceTime Tutorials
Skype Getting Started
Jitsi FAQs

20th March 2020
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on A Magnet Book for Readers and Writers

A Magnet Book for Readers and Writers

Magnetism - a magnet book of short stories
‘Magnetism’ – A Collection of Short Stories

A Magnet Book for Readers and Writers – And it’s free!

Not a book about magnetism, but a magnet book to show what the authors of Chapeltown and Bridge House Publishing can do. It is a collection of short stories written by some of Publisher, Gill James’, regular authors such as Allison Symes, Paula R C Readman, Gail Aldwin, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, Jim Bates, Hannah Retallick to name but a few. Oh, and I have a story in there too!

It has been edited and compiled by Gill James to be given away free to anyone who subscribes to her Books Books Books mailing list which you can find by clicking here. The list goes out every Friday with offers on Gill’s back list as well as introductions to new books.

Several months ago, Gill asked her authors to submit a story which they thought best represented their style of writing to give readers an idea of the sort of stories they might find in any of the Chapeltown or Bridge House books. In addition, it also illustrates the house style, to writers who are interested in submitting a piece of writing to Gill.

The story which I submitted to be included in the Magnet Book is ‘Timothy and Pandora’s Box’ which appeared in the 2018 anthology, ‘Crackers’. It can be found here in Kindle and paperback on Amazon. It’s written in a similar style to the stories in ‘The Basilwade Chronicles’. You can read about how that book came into being here which you might find interesting if you intend to submit a story to Gill for publication. if you’d like to buy a copy of ‘The Basilwade Chronicles’ you’ll find it here on Amazon.

You won’t find the magnet book ‘Magnetism’ on sale anywhere, it’s simply available for download free when you subscribe to Gill’s mailing list, so why not hop over to the form which you can find here.

And once you’ve read it, why not let me know what you think!

8th March 2020
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on ‘Touched by Two Wars’ – A Historical Romance

‘Touched by Two Wars’ – A Historical Romance

‘Touched by Two Wars’ – A Historical Romance

Touched by Two Wars - A historical romance
Touched by Two Wars

When I started writing the historical romance, ‘Welcome to Plotlands’, I only intended to write a short story to submit to a magazine. The Plotlands at Dunton in Essex and its history had fascinated me for many years and I wanted to try my hand at a romance set in that area, in the 1930s. I soon realised that ‘Welcome to Plotlands was not going to be a short story because I was having too much fun with the main character, Joanna Marshall!

By the time I’d finished, the story was long enough to submit to My Weekly Pocket Novels which I did and to my surprise and delight, it was accepted by editor, Maggie Swinburne. The Pocket Novel came out in May 2017 and was available for two weeks, after which, the rights reverted to me and on the recommendation of a fellow author, Roberta Grieve, I submitted to Ulverscroft Publishing, who accepted it and published as a large print paperback.

Welcome to Plotlands book cover
Welcome to Plotlands

I’d enjoyed writing about my character, Joanna, so much, I followed that with another story involving her and the Plotlands, entitled ‘A Touch of the Exotic’ which you can read about here.

A Touch of the Exotic book cover
A Touch of the Exotic

And that led to yet another romance that involves Joanna and is set in both Northern France and the Plotlands. It’s entitled ‘Touched by Two Wars’ which has just come out as a large print paperback, published by Ulverscroft Publishing.

Here’s what the blurb says: France, 1914: Isabelle and her mother are pleased to take in British soldiers as they pass through the countryside on their way to the front. But Isabelle’s attempt to comfort a distressed soldier leaves her with an illegitimate yet dearly beloved daughter, Madeleine. As Isabelle and her own mother struggle with the upkeep of Chateau Bellevais, another soldier, James, comes into her life – and out again. During the ensuing chaos of yet another war, Isabelle flees to England. Is it possible that she and James could find each other once more?

It’s now available on Amazon as a large print paperback which you can find here. Or why not support your local library and borrow it from there? You’ll find all three books amongst the large print romance books.

And if you read them, please leave a review on Amazon, thanks!

3rd March 2020
by Dawnknox
4 Comments

What’s Afoot in London?

What’s Afoot in London?
It doesn’t matter how many times I go to London and visit the same places, I always see something I’ve never noticed before and I learn something new.

pair of discarded shoes
What’s afoot here?

Today was no different. I went to the area known as EC3 with my sister-in-law – and revisited many of the places I’ve been to before. We started by looking at St Botolph’s Hall which was originally an infants school, with its two stone figures of a schoolboy and girl in early nineteenth century costumes. It was shortly after that I spotted the stiletto shoes which someone had either lost or discarded. A strange sight in a churchyard.

We stopped at St Dunstan’s in the East, the church which I’ve visited before and you can see some photos here. The church was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The only part of his design that still exists today is the tower. The remainder of the church was built in 1817 but it was destroyed by enemy action in 1941. However, rather than flattening what was left and building something else on the site, a garden was created in and around the walls which gets busy at midday as office workers eat their lunch in this peaceful haven.

Model posing
Model posing in St Dunstan’s in the East

There was obviously a modelling photoshoot going on with a scantily-clad lad who shuffled into position wearing towelling slippers which didn’t really go with his outfit. However, he soon slipped them off and very gamely posed barefoot. As it was very early March, the ground must have been freezing but he ignored the cold and did his best to tie himself in knots as the photographer requested.

Next, we made our way to St Margaret Pattens where, on previous visits, I’d seen a display of pattens (a type of undershoe consisting of a wooden sole fitted with leather straps and mounted on a large metal ring to raise the wearer above the mud and detritus which littered the roads.) However, when we arrived at the church, the glass case was empty and the exhibits had all been placed in boxes. Luckily, the beadle of the Pattenmakers Guild passed by and offered to get a few examples out of storage for us to see. The first ones he showed us had once belonged to a child.

Child's pattens for wearing over shoes
A child’s pattens
Child's pattens for wearing over shoes
A child’s pattens

As the beadle pointed out, it was probably very difficult for a child to balance on those metal rings whilst walking on cobbles.

The next pattens he showed us belonged to a woman and a very small child.

Woman's and child's pattens for wearing over shoes
Woman’s patten with a tiny child’s patten on the top

If you want to know more about pattens and their history, click here to go to the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers’ website

So, what’s afoot in London? Well, apparently, all sorts of things, if you know where to look!