Monthly Archives: May 2015

My Day in Court

Last month, while on holiday in Cornwall, I got to do jury service. But it was a case with a difference. It was for a real murder that took place over 160 years ago on Bodmin Moor. Here’s the blurb from the visitor booklet, The Courtroom Experience:

In 1844 on the windswept slopes of Bodmin Moor, the body of a local girl, Charlotte Dymond was found. Matthew Weeks, her boyfriend was arrested and charged with her murder. But was he guilty? Who do you think was the guilty party?

Come and act as a member of the jury in a re-enactment of Matthew’s trial in the very building in which the trial took place. Guilty or not guilty, you must decide!

SAM_0720Well this sounded too intriguing to miss. So we, along with ten other visitors, became the jury for an hour while the evidence was given via moving wax figures (spooky in itself) and recorded summaries of evidence given at the time. During the trial, I found myself getting more and more angry for poor Matthew Weeks. If ever a boy was set up, it was this poor lad. Even on Charlotte’s death certificate the coroner had recorded that she was murdered…by Matthew Weeks! Can you imagine that happening today? The only real evidence was that Matthew was seen chatting to Charlotte on the morning of her murder. The rest was pure speculation.SAM_0721 (Apologies for the poor quality of the photo of the death certificate.)

Both Matthew and Charlotte worked as farm servants at Penhale Farm on the north west of the moor, and Charlotte was said to be very attractive and flirted with quite a number of would-be suitors. In fact, I had very strong suspicions that one of these suitors was the actual murderer, as all avenues of investigation seemed to lead back to him. But the verdict passed in 1844 was that Matthew was guilty and he was subsequently hanged for murder.

At the end of the trial, we were asked to press a button to indicate whether we thought Matthew was guilty or not guilty. Moments later, we were told that we’d passed a unanimous verdict of not guilty and much debate followed from that. Part of me hoped poor Matthew somehow knew that all these years later people were passionately defending him, and showing their fury at such blatant use of a young boy as scapegoat.

SAM_0716After the trial, we were taken down to the holding cells. It was here Matthew would have been held awaiting trial. In the photo you can see the individual cells along the sides where people were held for hours, sometimes days, at a time (the space at the top was the lavatory). We were invited to experience the incredibly cramped space, where with arms held at our sides we couldn’t move, and it was virtually impossible to turn around. As you can imagine, we couldn’t wait to get out of there. It was very sobering, especially when we heard tales of women being held there for days awaiting trial for having stolen a piece of cheese to feed their children.

There might be a lot wrong with our world today, but I’d like to think that most people get a fair trial. This was certainly not Matthew’s experience. I was compelled to find Matthew’s grave and put some flowers there, but apparently the spot where public hangings took place has long been developed. All I can hope is that he rests in peace. Which, if rumours are to be believed, is not the case for Charlotte. Her unhappy ghost is said to haunt the moor, and many people tell of strange and disturbing encounters with her near the place she was murdered. Hmm. Interesting.

What secret is troubling Charlotte’s ghost? Was an innocent man hanged? Did the murdered escape detection? Only Charlotte knows the answers to these questions and she took them with her to her restless grave.” (from The Charlotte Dymond Murder Trial)

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Marie Force

22668793When we set up the structure for Over The Backyard Fence we reserved the last Monday of the month for book reviews. But since Laurie and I only take two blogs a month each, this Monday is sometimes open and I have to confess when I’ve had it I haven’t been adhering to posting a review.

It certainly isn’t that I don’t read. Oh my gosh I love to read and no matter how busy life is I manage to do more than I probably should.

So correcting my oversight here goes a review. Actually it’s more about the author then the book, Have you ever ‘found’ an new author that isn’t new at all and wondered how you’d missed reading her work? I do this and it’s like waking up Christmas morning to all the wonder of surprises.

In this case I’m even on Marie Force’s blog list. Duh! The only excuse is as much fact as excuse. I have a huge TBR (to be read) pile. But this time I didn’t find “And I Love Her” in it. I picked it up at Safeway two days ago, and yes have already read it. It’s part of her Green Mountain Romance series and I so fell in love with not only Hunter the hot oldest brother but the whole family.

Okay a little about the story. Ms. Force is strong in bringing characters to life. Even the secondary characters, in this case mainly the Abbott family, make you want to read more about them. The book is fast paced with pretty high heat levels that blend into the plot and enhance it. The small town is almost a character in itself and made me feel like I could walk out the door and ‘see’ it.

I’ve been reading some pretty dark mysteries and suspense and “And I Love Her” was a good respite for me. Kind of like cleaning your palatte with sherbert. (I love sherbert too. ☺)

“And I Love Her” is a recent release, March 2015, but Ms. Force has a large backlist to tap into. Thank heavens in todays world they are easy to find and purchase.

For more about the story click here and enter the world of Green Mountain with the Abbotts.

Waiting on Peaches

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This is our lone little peach tree. It’s got a couple other fruit trees to keep it company (pear and plum and cherry) but we’ve only the one peach tree. And I love peaches. This one is called a Frost Peach and is supposed to grow well in our cooler area. It’s a hardy little tree and has been giving us peaches for about ten years now.

I’ve found out that peach yields are somewhat cyclical, with a three to four year cycle. Last year, we got enough peaches for two pies. The year before about the same. But the year before that, I made several pies, ate peaches for days on my cereal in the morning, and we canned 12 quarts to last through the winter.

I know you probably can’t see it well, if at all, from this picture, but our tree is totally full of little, baby peaches. It might be another summer of pie baking for me if they don’t cull themselves. And I am SO hopeful.

I’ve chatted in the past about how liquidy my peach pies turn out. Someone mentioned adding a little cornstarch, so I’m anxious to give it a whirl this year and hone my pie-making skills. Although, I don’t think I’ll ever make a pie as good as my mother’s apple pie. But it’s definitely passable. And I can hardly wait.

Grow, baby peaches. Grow!

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SOFTBALL AND PARENTS

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As most of you know Jim and I are avid softball fans, (and football, soccer, and basketball).  Softball, of course, is in full swing so we have been sitting at a lot of ball games the last few weeks.  My Fitbit … Continue reading

I’m Baaaaack!

Hobbes here. Jillian has been a grumble-puss around here for the last couple of weeks so I decided to help her out and tell you what’s been happening. She had some issue with her tooth hurting and had to have two separate oral surgeries 6 days apart. Since the woman thinks she’s never going to have another pain-free day and keeps moaning about it, I took pity on the poor soul and took this task on to give her a chance to rest. Aren’t I some kind of awesome? Wouldn’t I make great hero material?

photo-27Anyway, I’ve been having a really successful spring. I’ve caught quite a number of moths and flies. They’re great fun to chase around. Lizards are also a particularly fun kind of prey. Jillian thinks I look like I have a mustache when I bring them in to her- with the head sticking out one side of my mouth and the tail out the other, I think it makes me look suave and debonair.

Jillian was not happy with me the other night though. I was excited to bring her my latest prey (after all, I am a great hunter and gatherer). As I leapt up on the french doors to get her attention, I knew in my heart of hearts that she would be pleased with my catch of the day. Imagine my shock when I came in and dropped it at her feet and she squealed, “Eek, Hobbes has a big ole frog. Get it, get it.”

Well, that was some how-do-you-do. Here I was, giving her a gift and she was flipping her wig and carrying on like a crazy woman calling for the man to come get the toad. Guess what I did? I batted that reptile (the frog, not the man) around for a second, picked him back up in my mouth and returned to the porch. Who needs the ungrateful wretch? I was hoping my present would make her feel better with that pesky tooth. Humpf. That’s gratitude for you. Heck, she probably won’t even thank me for handling this post for her.  What do you think? Is Jillian  unreasonable about my gifts?

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I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar…Part Deux by Valerie J. Patterson

You might recall that back in 2012 I regaled you with a tale about using power tools, namely the power washer.  I’m sure it was one of those purely unforgettable stories that you then repeated many times around a campfire, the dinner table, and at the office water cooler!

When you’re done either laughing at my recollection or scratching your head while trying to recall what I am talking about, let’s move on to today’s “Roar”.

I am woman hear me roar…with a mower too big to ignore!

Steve and I bought a new lawn tractor and I am the operator of said tractor.  My first ride, I could feel the power as I zoomed up the driveway toward the front lawn.  I turned toward the lawn, lowered the blades, and smiled as thousands of pieces of grass confetti shot out the right side of the cutting deck.  My hair was pulled back, the wind was blowing across my face…and so was the grass I had just cut!

Note to self:  never mow into the wind unless you LIKE the taste of cut grass!

These days, I whip around the yard and zoom up and down the driveway.  It’s fun!

I’ve made good use of that power washer, too.  My porch furniture never looks better than after a fresh power washing!  It has a way of making everything shiny and new!

Plus, I can also add the snow blower to the list of power tools I have mastered.  Had plenty of opportunity to use that baby this past winter.  Kind of glad it’s been exchanged for the lawn tractor, though!

Until next time, may there be power tools in your life that make your life easier, comfier, and more beautiful!  Happy Spring, Y’all!!

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Remington

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Today I get to introduce Remington, a 3 month old Giant Schnauzer. Right now he is topping the scales at 40 lbs. Barb and I went down with Kristi to get him from Skansens a kennel just north of San … Continue reading