Blogging

Light of My Life


I wrote yesterday about how brass banding has been a big part of my life since childhood (if you want to read it, click here) and today I was struck by a nice coincidence I noticed on the bandroom wall.

The big picture is of the Pemberton band as national champions in 2017 (I’m not on this picture as I didn’t play in that contest. My son and his girlfriend are though), and the little one by the side is a calendar. Let me show you a close up of the calendar’s picture:

How fab is that?! In that one photograph, of these two items side by side, my life is summed up right there in front of me. “The Lord is my light and my salvation” on the left, and my brass band on the right.

I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed this before tonight, but at a point where I am yet again conflicted about a few things going on in my life, it served to help remind me where my heart is and where my path is leading. I can only describe it as a “God moment” this evening.

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Blogging

View From the PamCam – Area Rehearsal


I am going to be playing in a band contest on Sunday afternoon in the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. You may know that I play in a brass band already, but if you don’t, I have played in bands throughout my life and am currently playing with Pemberton band on 3rd cornet. There’s a poetic roundness to the fact that when I first played in a band about 40 years ago, I was sat on bottom 3rd cornet in the Blackley Band and now, at the end (ish) of my playing career I am once again on bottom 3rd cornet. This time however, instead of competing in the 4th Section I am in the Championship Section, so I suppose you could say that I’ve worked my way from the bottom to the top!

In case you didn’t know, brass bands are ranked in “leagues” a little like the Football Association leagues, only, we call them “sections” instead. There are the local neighbourhood bands that make up the 4th and 3rd Sections, which are usually players who live locally and are either at the start of their playing career – youngsters, or adult beginners/medium standard players – or those who have been there, done it, got the trophy players who have competed at the top and are now gliding nicely towards retirement with a lower section band. These are the bands who usually work most weekends at engagements that bring in their bread and butter funding, and contesting is juggled alongside those commitments. It’s not always an easy thing to try and balance, and spending lots of time on one particular piece to get it to competition standard is not really something that they can do with all the other musical preparation they have to do.

Next up are the 2nd Section bands. These are the better standard of local bands, and draw players perhaps from wider afield. They would usually have players who are keen on contesting and hence spend more time preparing for contests than concerts. They are pretty decent bands and know what they are doing when it comes to a good fortissimo!

Next are the 1st Section bands. These are the very good bands who are better than the 2nd Section bands, focus more on contests than anything and can more than hold their own in the contest arena. The players here are usually of a good standard, some even semi-professional maybe.

And then there are the Championship bands. Now this is a tricky one, because there is an element of “elite” in this section, just as there is in the Premiership football. Think of a team like Manchester City, or Liverpool. They are the “elite” clubs in football, and in a similar way, bands like Brighouse and Rastrick, Black Dyke, or Foden’s bands are their equivalent in banding circles. Then you have the clubs like Fulham, Huddersfield or Burnley. These are the clubs that probably bob about from the league below and back again depending on relegation points etc each year. There are bands like that too. It would probably be unfair to point any of those out so I won’t. But then there are the bands in the middle like the football clubs of say Crystal Palace or Newcastle. Pretty decent teams who can hold their own and on a good day will see off one of the elite teams. That’s the bit where Pemberton are. We are a Championship Section band so are counted as in the “premier league”, but we are up against four other bands in the section who are most definitely of the elite calibre.

So, the contest on Sunday is a regional competition where the top 2 or 3 bands from each section will qualify for a place in the national finals to be held later in the year. This weekend is the North West Area competition, and next weekend will be the Yorkshire Area. Other areas will compete in the next couple of weeks around the country. And here’s the (possibly) strange bit: we all play the same piece of music as each other in our particular sections.

Yes, that’s right. The Championship bands are playing a piece called “Seascapes”, and the 1st Section are playing “Symphony of Marches”. That’s to level the playing field so to speak so that bands of the same sort of skill level can be judged fairly across the country. I’ll perhaps write a bit more about the actual running of the contest on Sunday and maybe even a live stream of updates if I can get the tech to work if you would like to follow along.

But for now, here’s a view from the rehearsal tonight.

We rehearsed in a neighbouring church tonight because our sister band in the organisation was practicing in the band room. Pemberton Band is a great organisation and has three bands – the “A” band (my band, the championship section one), the “B” band (2nd section, pretty close to the top of that and likely to be promoted next year) and a youth/training band which doesn’t compete but is full of lively youngsters all wanting to play brass. We have our own dedicated rehearsal facilities, but as the B band are also playing at the same contest on Sunday we take turns in either rehearsing at “home” in the bandroom or “away” in the local church. It sounds lovely in there and I love this inscription above the organ pipes. It says everything really!

Blogging

Listen…


When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new – Dalai Lama

Books and Reading, Craft

Bookbinding Part Two – My Finished Book


I began a project a couple of weeks ago to make my own hardback notebook, which I have been dying to get back to but what with one thing and another (assignment deadlines, family illness, sermon writing etc) I haven’t had time to get back to it until today.

The first bits of it are on my blog post here, but basically, the two halves of the project are to first of all to make a “text block”, and then make a cover for it. I made the text block and it has been sitting patiently for me to finish it for a little while.

My first step today was to straighten up all the edges of the text block, so with the use of a set square, long ruler and a sharp craft knife, I trimmed the top, bottom and edge so that all the pages lined up and were square.

Next was to create the cover.

This was a multi-step process involving lots of glue, swearing, sticky fingers, tears (that’s weeping, not ripping – although there was a bit of that too!) and several rethinks of how to hold down more bits of paper than I had available fingers. This is what I did.

First, I measured the size of the book and transferred that to a piece of board, plus and minus the odd half inch along the edges to create the overhang. Click here for Jennifer’s tutorial if you want to see how it should go, but this is what mine looked like after I’d cut out the front and back pieces and the spine.

I tried to mount the boards on some sugar paper, but it was way too thin and ended up so soggy that I didn’t have a hope of it being hardwearing enough to be practical, so I had a little think and decided to use a Tesco “bag for life” as it was more durable and had a pretty pattern on it. Here’s the front panel off the bag. The boards are actually stuck to it at this stage although you can’t really see them because of the creases in the material.

Next was to trim the material to size and to stick down the flaps. I didn’t pay attention at this stage and should have just checked with Jennifer’s instructions because I left them a little bit narrow, which made the next bit a little tricky.

What you can’t see in this photo is the PVA glue all over my t-shirt, my arms, the bone folder and the table. It was so fiddly that I had to hold these pieces down for ages just to get them to a position where I could trust the glue to stick properly.

But I managed it in the end…

… more or less!

Next was the really nervy bit of attaching the cover to the text block. I say nervy, but once I got going on it it wasn’t too bad and the anticipation of it going wrong far outweighed the realities of actually doing it.

Again, I made a slight mistake and rushed the last stages of sticking it to the back, and as a result it is slightly out of line within the cover, but on the whole I’m really rather chuffed with it.

It is resting in my book press now to make sure it all dries nice and straight and it should be ready (hopefully) tomorrow or the day after.

I have to say that the instructions I followed from Sea Lemon were brilliant, really easy to understand and put across in such a way that made it easy to follow, so thank you Jennifer. And no, I have not been paid to endorse the website or anything, it’s my genuine recommendation if you want to try her methods for yourself.

It has been a great little project to do and now I have worked out some of the pitfalls and the bits to look out for going wrong, next time will hopefully be less glue-stricken and will be a bit quicker from start to finish. I’ve definitely got the bug though and will be doing some more of these. I’m on the lookout now for paper, boards, fabric or other material to back them with. Can’t wait to do my next one – when this one has vacated my book press!

Blogging

Happy Monday


Happy Monday everyone. What have you been up to today?

My day has been a mixed one today. First was a hospital visit with my daughter, then McDonald’s for breakfast (well, once in a while isn’t too bad is it?), a trip to town and then an afternoon spent writing an essay. This evening I spent with my bandmates as we are in the final few days now before a big contest at the weekend. I’ll be spending every night between now and Sunday with them – it’s a good job we get on so well!

Drop me a line and let me know how your Monday has been.

Christianity, Reflections

Blessings and Woes



I delivered a sermon this morning in my placement church on the readings for today, the third Sunday before Lent. I actually delivered three different versions of it for three different congregations in two churches, but this is the full-length version that they were all based on. I hope it touches you and challenges you a little along the way. 

Jeremiah 17: 5 – 10 (Old Testament); Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 15: 12 – 20 (Epistle);
Luke 6: 17 – 26 (Gospel)

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

So then, why are you a Christian?

Good question! When I was in the earlier stages of my discernment process and wondering about what it was that God was calling me to do and be for him, I had a conversation with the Director of Ordinands for my Diocese. I was expecting a comfy, cosy chat at that stage – maybe tea and cakes and a chinwag about which was my favourite hymn or something – with the more difficult questions coming much later down the line.

But the very first thing he asked me was “Why are you a Christian?”

I was stunned. Nobody had ever asked me that before, and to be honest, I didn’t really know what to say. It didn’t feel enough to say “well, my mum and dad always took me to church and I kinda stayed….” which is true, but doesn’t really tell the whole story. I can’t remember how I began my answer, but as I talked I realised that what he was really asking me was what is it about the Christian faith that draws me in and holds me firm. I heard myself saying that I believed and trusted in Jesus Christ, and that I believed in his death and resurrection. I hadn’t realised until I said the words that that is exactly what I believed in and why I was a Christian and not say a Muslim or a Jew. The conversation went on from there and I managed to get myself understood, but the question has lingered with me ever since.

Why am I a Christian? Why are you a Christian?

Let’s face it, being a follower of Jesus – a disciple –  is not an easy thing to be. Not for the 12 who were called by Jesus initially, not for us today and certainly not for the millions of Christians worldwide who have been persecuted or oppressed for their faith in the 2000 years since.

In our Gospel reading today (Luke 6: 17 – 26), Jesus speaks to the twelve disciples about what it means to follow him. He is basically giving them a job description, and a warning of what it is going to be like to become his follower.

This passage in Luke is not to be confused with the similar passage in Matthew, where Jesus gave what is known as the Sermon on the Mount. Luke’s account is from a different time and place – it is on a level plain, not the mountainside in Matthew, it is addressed to just twelve men and not the big crowd that had gathered. Yes they came to hear Jesus teach, but this was particularly addressed to the disciples, not the crowd.

So what is Jesus saying?

He makes two groups of statements. First group is the “Blessed are” statements. Notice here though, that Jesus says “Blessed are you…” which apart from it being different from Matthew’s “Blessed are them…”, means that he is telling the disciples “make no mistake chaps, this is you I’m talking to here. Not the big crowd who have come for healing and teaching, but you, the ones I have chosen and am going to send out to share the word soon.”

That is also us, by the way. We too have been sent to share God’s word and to spread the gospel. So what Jesus says to the disciples then also applies to us now.

Blessed are you

What does it mean to be blessed? What do you think of when you hear that – you are blessed, blessed is he, etc.

It isn’t what you might think. Being blessed isn’t being rewarded for something. So when Jesus says Blessed are you who are poor, he is not saying Awww, because you’re poor I’ll tell you what I’m going to reward you with the kingdom of God. No, that’s not it at all.

Blessings here mean finding favour in God’s eyes. It is not the same thing as being rewarded.

The other side of that are the “woe to…” statements. And the same here as with the blessings, Jesus firmly addresses his disciples. “Woe to you who…”. Woes are not the temporary inconveniences or misfortune that we might have, but deep inconsolable misery and distress that stop us in our tracks, maybe the things that keep us from seeing God.

So what are these blessings and woes that Jesus talks about?

He speaks to the disciples in such a way that it is easy to remember. There are only four things to remember really, blessed are the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful and the hated. Opposite those are the woes: woes to the rich, the well fed, the laughing and the highly esteemed.

Let’s look at them one by one.

The poor will always be with you. Jesus said that. But he doesn’t mean necessarily those without cash in their pockets, or a roof over their heads.

The Church Urban Fund is a Christian organisation who work hard to raise awareness of poverty and its associated issues, and they describe poverty as a web. According to them, there is no single thing that causes poverty and for everyone who is in that situation, they are there because of a complex web of factors.

The Church Urban Fund talk about the web of poverty being poverty of identity – which happens when people don’t have a sense of self-worth or they don’t believe they have the ability to respond to challenges. It can lead to all sorts of poor mental health issues and carries a sense of hopelessness.

They talk about poverty of relationships – where people have no strong sense of belonging anywhere, where there is a lack of supportive relationships. It can leave people feeling unworthy of love and unable or incapable of showing love themselves. That then leads to feelings of isolation and people often expect to be let down by others.

And they also talk about poverty of resources – not just the lack of money but the overwhelming and profound sense of vulnerability and dependency that comes from living hand-to-mouth, lack of education which can lead to living on a low or insecure income, limited access to the things that other people take for granted, everything from a good education, public transport, libraries and leisure facilities.

And it is into this that Jesus speaks when he talks of blessed are you who are poor. He makes the difference between materially poor and spiritually poor. Because for people who experience any part of that web, they know that by planting themselves in the love of God and the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ, they will receive the kingdom of God. They will be in God’s favour and they will receive the kingdom. By being totally dependent on God, because let’s face it, there’s not much in the world that is dependable for them, they are blessed.

For those who do depend on the things of the world that offer them security – status, wealth, food, esteem from others and so on – that is not of God’s kingdom and therefore is woeful.

When Jesus talks to his disciples, he is spelling out to them what it means to be his follower. That they must understand the poverty of resources, relationships and identity that the Church Urban Fund so neatly identify here in 21st Century Britain, and that to follow him there is a cost. The cost is to risk the security of their jobs – he sends them away from their fishing boats to be fishers of men, we heard that last week; the cost is their relationships – squabbling between brothers as to who is the best and who will sit at Jesus’ right hand; the cost is any sort of esteem that others hold them in – in a hostile world that despises challenges to its authority, those who follow Jesus and also challenge those unjust structures in society are going to be hated, despised, threatened and persecuted.

It’s interesting that the wisdom literature of the Old Testament actually condemns the poor, saying things like they have brought it on themselves because of sloth and irresponsibility. Have a look at Proverbs 6, 10, 13 and 23 if you want the details on that. But does that sound familiar to you? “Oh, people are poor because it’s their own fault. They have brought it on themselves. They are all lazy and feckless.” How many have heard that on TV and in the news – about people not bothering to go and get work, that they have too many kids, it’s their fault they are in debt, they shouldn’t smoke and gamble and so on. How many programmes on TV now – especially channel 5 – who indulge in what has been deemed “poverty porn”, shows that throw a spotlight onto the lives of the poor, not with a view to helping them or relieving any of it, but just so that others can say “see, told you they were all lazy and feckless”. Benefit Street; Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay; the house swap Rich House, Poor House; there’s loads of them and it’s getting worse.

Blessed are the hungry… this is related to the poor, both in spiritual and material terms. If you hunger for God, you will be satisfied because you will find him and are therefore blessed. And the same thing is with the blessed are the sorrowful statement. People who are full of sorrow and look to God for comfort, will find it. They will be blessed. Those who don’t hunger for God, or don’t seek him in sorrow will not find him and therefore are full of woe.

And finally, blessed are those are hated and excluded. The woe partner to that statement is somewhat counterintuitive, especially in our world today where we hold people in high esteem – deserved or not – and where the world celebrates the cult of celebrity. We seem to have gone a step further in this generation, and not only do we hold people in high esteem for what they do, but now, we hold them up despite them doing nothing to warrant it other than be in the press and so on.

It’s worth thinking about that while we hold celebrities up in high esteem simply for being who they are, we also exclude so many people simply for being who they are: women in large parts of the world are not esteemed or valued at all; people who are homosexual, or transgender; the homeless; the elderly who are deemed unworthy of a say in how our country is governed; people of colour and so on. There are millions of people who are rejected and excluded because of who they are, and yet God says blessed are you that…

Jesus came to turn the old order upside down – he tore down the Deuteronomy thinking that poor people brought it on themselves, he taught that the kingdom of God belongs to the least of people, not the highest, he taught that by loving each other would bring the kingdom of God close.

So how are you going to turn your world order upside down? What are the things that you hold so dearly and tightly that are stopping you from seeing God’s kingdom right in front of you?

I’m not saying that being wealthy or joyful is a bad thing, after all, Jesus came to give us life in order that we might enjoy it. Life isn’t to be endured but enjoyed. No, having those things and depending on them to bring you happiness and comfort is not what God wants from us. He wants us to stand in solidarity with the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful and the despised. I would like to think that for those of us who are in a position to do so, should perhaps think about ways to a step further than just standing in solidarity with them and actually going out and helping relieve those situations that keep people in webs that bind them.

And so back to my original question: Why are you a Christian. For me, it is the belief of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that saved humankind. And no matter how costly our discipleship is, it is nothing compared to the cost of his sacrifice made upon the cross for us.

Let us pray

Heavenly Father, you sent your son Jesus Christ to teach the world a new way of living, a way that will bring us to your kingdom. Help us release those things that keep us in our own webs and that keep us from seeing your glory around us. Help us see what it is like for those who are poor, hungry, sorrowful and despised, and we pray that you will reconcile us all to you at the last.

Amen.

Daybook

Daybook Entry – 16th February 2019


For Today… 16th February 2019

Outside my window… it feels like Spring is here! Clear blue skies, sunshine, crocus in the garden. Wonderful.

I am thinking… that I should have done this earlier today instead of leaving it til the last minute again.

I am thankful… for my Mum who made our tea tonight. Thank you Mum!

I am praying for… healing in a very painful situation.

I am wearing… an alb for the first time tomorrow as I deliver my first sermon in my placement church. I have never worn one before, not even tried on one so I just hope I don’t get my sleeves caught up in any candles or anything.

I am creating… a surprise for my classmates at college who are being ordained this summer.

I am going… to have a long day of concentration tomorrow. Three services, preaching a slightly different sermon at all three then a four hour rehearsal for a contest tomorrow before heading home and trying to finish an essay I have to complete by Wednesday.

I am wondering… if I have timed my sermons correctly for tomorrow.

I am reading… “Sticky Valves” by Angela Blythe. It’s a cross genre novel involving vampires and…brass bands?! I only started it the other night but it seems rather good so far.

I am hoping… I sleep tonight. I have a terrible habit when I know I absolutely HAVE to be up early in the morning of not trusting my alarm to go off on time and so spend the whole night cat-napping and checking the clock instead.

I am learning… a lot about church leadership and how it is different from leadership in the secular world. And also about how it’s not that different at all.

In my garden… I am thinking about planting some herbs and vegetables this year. I know I say it every year, but this year I think I mean it more than I usually do. I’ll give it some more thought before I commit though.

In my kitchen… there is broken glass everywhere. I was putting away the clean glasses in the cupboard before and caught one on the edge of the shelf. It shattered into what looked like a million pieces, and it went everywhere including inside the toaster, in my brew and under the bread bin. I gave everywhere a good sweeping but I’m guessing I’m going to be finding shards and clips for a few days yet.

A favourite quote for today… “All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seed of today” Croft M. Pentz

A peek into one of my days…

We are busy rehearsing for a band competition next week in Blackpool. This is the view I had of the cornet section the other night in the bandroom. The band have relocated off the stage area now to rehearse down on the main floor (where you can see the tables in the background) so my view will be different tomorrow.

One of my favourite things… is watching Match of the Day highlights, especially if Manchester City are playing.

Post Script: 
Tomorrow’s Bible readings are concerned with whereabouts you plant yourself and what you hold close to you. The words of Psalm 1 sum it up for me – if you are like the tree that is planted by the stream, your roots will go deep and will draw nourishment from the living water. And the Gospel reading (from Luke 6) tell us why we need deep roots if we are Christ’s disciples; because it is costly to follow Jesus. Expect hostility from people, expect difficulties, expect to be shunned and despised for your discipleship but hold firm because if you have your roots in the God that nourishes and sustains us all, then no matter how poor your circumstances, then the kingdom belongs to you.

Full text of my sermon tomorrow so if you would like to have a read of it, please do call back again tomorrow sometime.

Blogging

Lost Voice Guy


Went to see Lost Voice Guy tonight at the Lowry Quays Theatre in Salford. What a night! Very funny and in places he was very thought provoking too.

Lee talked us through some of the highs and lows he has faced throughout his life living with Cerebral Palsy, including his incredible win on Britain’s Got Talent last year. He is a funny guy, but he has a serious side to him too, putting across some of the realities that disabled people face every day of their lives and how we as so-called able bodied can be so patronising and arrogant towards them without thinking through our actions or words. He started off by challenging the audience to laugh at him – saying that if you don’t laugh at the disabled guy you’ll go to hell. That broke the ice a bit, and for anyone who has never seen Lee perform or heard about his success on the comedy circuit already it paved the way for a really enjoyable set.

Towards the end of the show he talked a bit about how sometimes, without realising it, people – he mentioned Channel 4 – make a big thing about super-talented disabled people which makes life even more difficult for those who don’t have those athletic or sporting abilities. He said that for most disabled people, simply getting through their lives as “normally” as possible is enough, and by setting the bar so high by people like Channel 4, it skews the public’s perception of what it can mean to be disabled and just how difficult life actually is. I guess that’s a life lesson for us all isn’t it? That enough is good enough, and even though we are pressurised by the media and social media to be “super talented” at whatever we do, that really, just getting through life with our sanity intact is absolutely good enough.

I first heard Lee performing in his Radio 4 sitcom “Ability” which was written and aired before BGT last year and I have loved him from then on. I was so pleased for him to see him be successful on the TV, but to see him now flourish as a performer with his own show on tour is amazing.

Well done Lee, loved seeing you in the flesh tonight and hearing your “voice” first-hand. Don’t let the barstids grind you down. You have a wonderful army of Chatterboxes surrounding you now and we’re all rooting for you.

Poetry

The Caveman’s Lament


I take absolutely no credit for this poem, but had to share it with you because it’s so good!

Thought to be the world’s oldest poem, written about 1.5 million years ago.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. To single people, married people, people who don’t want to be single, people who don’t want to be married (!), people in relationships, people where…meh, it’s complicated. But especially to those whose love only goes in one direction. Bless you all.

For credits and the original poem, please head over to Brian Bilston’s page on Facebook.

Book Review

Book Review – The Stone Circle


Background/plot:

This is a continuation of the Ruth Galloway series, and this book centres around the discovery of two sets of bones in very close proximity to each other in the Norfolk saltmarshes. Along the way a baby is kidnapped and a cold case is resolved, but not before another murder takes place.

Who are the main characters?

The two main protagonists are DI Harry Nelson and Dr Ruth Galloway from previous books, and they are supported by Harry’s family (Michelle, Laura and Rebecca), Ruth’s daughter Katie, and the police officers from previous books too, namely Judy, Cloughie and “Super Jo” , the boss. This book sees more of the supporting characters given a prominent role though, and it is less centred on Ruth and Nelson than previous ones.

Where is it set?

It is mainly set in Norfolk, although some of the (irrelevant) action takes place all the way across the country near Salisbury.

My thoughts on the book:

I have very mixed feelings about the book, so let me explain myself. First I have to say that I love this series, and would love to see them on TV, and the characters of Nelson, Ruth, Kate, Cathbad, Judy et al are all superbly drawn and utterly compelling and believable.

But – and it’s a big but – this book suggests that the series has run out of steam and the author has run out of plots and ideas of what to do with the characters. The plot of this one relies heavily on the first one of the series, and there are many similarities between this one and a couple of others that it feels like an updated version of them rather an a standalone, new novel. A buried child, a cold case, a baby’s kidnapping, a “will they won’t they” moment between Nelson and Ruth etc. It seems to have lost some of its mysticism that I love, where Cathbad (Michael) has turned into a boring house-husband now instead of the wonderfully colourful character he has been previously.

Another thing is that it is all written in the present tense, which gets a bit tiresome and difficult to read now and again. I applaud Elly Griffiths’ success in writing her novels in the present tense – I know how difficult it is to do that for any length of storytelling – but I wish that she wouldn’t stick to that particular style. For me, it doesn’t achieve the effect that she is probably aiming for, which is a sense of immediacy and urgency, and a feeling of being right there with the characters as they themselves find out the story as it goes along. Instead, I find myself irritated more times than I like to be that certain sentences or paragraphs would be better not written in the present tense because they sound so simplistic and contrived.

Finally, I am slightly disappointed in this book. Not only because it seems to revisit old plots and situations, but that it just didn’t seem to go anywhere and lacked a bit of oomph. I would have liked it to have been longer too because it felt like it had only just got going by the time it had ended.

It is a lesson to me as an aspiring writer that the characters are more important than the action and the plot. I love the characters as I have already said, but the plot in this one leaves a bit to be desired I’m afraid.

Will I read the next in the series?

Yes I will. I would hope that Elly Griffiths does a better plotting job next time, but yes please, give us more Ruth and Nelson!!!

Would I recommend it to my friends?

Yes, absolutely. If you haven’t read any of this series, then it’s best to read them from book 1 so you get the full ins and outs of the characters and their relationships, and it is great for anyone who likes crime, thrillers, archaeology etc. Nothing gory, not too heavy on procedural or forensics (hurrah!) and plenty about believable characters and believable actions and outcomes. Read them, please do.

Books in the series:

The Crossing Places – book 1
The Janus Stone – book 2
The House at Sea’s End – book 3
A Room Full of Bones – book 4
Ruth’s First Christmas Tree – short story
A Dying Fall – book 5
The Outcast Dead – book 6
The Ghost Fields – book 7
The Woman in Blue – book 8
The Chalk Pit – book 9
The Dark Angel – book 10
The Stone Circle – book 11