Making the blackberry jam from the first batch of the year picked down on Tanners Brook.

Cricket is not supposed to be hysterical; it is meant to be restful to watch and fun to play. Loud noises, at a cricket match, are bad form. Little boys, carried away by emotion, sometimes cheer out loud, but a brisk round of applause is the most noise countenanced at Lord’s - or on the village cricket green. It is this easy, relaxed, pleasant atmosphere that makes cricket delightful.


from Here’s England by Ruth McKenney & Richard Bransten

This is honestly one of my favourite books about England and the English. It was written in the late 1950s and aimed at American tourists as a primer for getting their head around our demure, post-war nation. The thing is, it’s anything but demure, it’s an absolute roar and includes chapters such as ‘The Fossil Called Westminster’ and ‘What to Do with a British Sunday’. A good question in 1958 before Sunday trading laws.

This quote isn’t the best in the book but it does represent my love for cricket having watched the Test Match over the weekend. What can I say? I’m proud to be English, proud to call England home and a grand appreciator of all things English.

Dublin Civic Week handbook by Maurice MacGonigal, 1929

Dublin Civic Week handbook by Maurice MacGonigal, 1929


Westminster Regained by Gordon Cullen, 1949

A post-war scheme for the pedestrianisation and re-development of the area around Parliament Square. It’s delightfully low-key and with more than a touch of the Festival of Britain about it. You could never propose something like this now, where’s the world-class modern sculpture or the anti-terrorist planters?


Poster for the Congress of Roman Frontier Studies by  L C Evetts, 1949

Poster for the Congress of Roman Frontier Studies by  L C Evetts, 1949


Alton, Hampshire

And the last of my photo/travelogues for this week is Alton.

Christopher and I drove up here to catch the farmers market and scout out cheeses for our wedding reception. Whilst it’s not somewhere I would probably ever live I do have an appreciation for the market towns of England and Alton is a really fine example. It has an excellent art gallery and museum, lots of lovely red-brick buildings, a well-hidden market place and a perfectly serviceable high street.

Long live Alton and all the mid-sized market towns of England.

Birmingham, UK

Birmingham is not a city I’m capable of loving. I love parts of it; the city hall is beautiful, the canals are a really interesting network to explore and Moor Street station is a delight but I can’t really enjoy being there for extended periods of time.

Birmingham has all the elements it needs to be an impressive large city but for some reason they don’t meld together and you just end up feeling like it needs some sort of centre or a river that runs through it and divides it up, some more interesting townscaping than just streets and buildings. There’s something wrong with Birmingham, it’s England’s second city and yet it just can’t get its act together.

Lincoln, Lincolnshire

In an effort to make our journey from Birmingham to York slightly more exciting than endless motorways we decided to make a fairly major detour via Lincoln. A city I’ve always wanted to go to but never had the chance. I was not disappointed and although we only had about 20 minutes of looking around at the top of town it was wonderful. I would love to return but I have to wonder when I’d get the chance, it’s so out-of-the-way.