Scotland 2022: The Tour of Ardnamurchan Distillery

An account of a tour of the Ardnamurchan Distillery.

Welcome to the latest in my series of posts about my recent Scottish holiday. This post covers the tour of Ardnamurchan Distillery on the day of my birthday, now eight days ago.


The Ardnamurchan distillery was built over the course of 2011 and 2012 and produced its first whisky in 2014. The tour was very comprehensive, taking in the warehouse and every stage of the distilling process. It ended with a sample of the product, which is very distinctive – virtually no smokiness or peatiness to it and sweeter than most whiskies. I rate it very highly myself. I will leave photographs to tell the rest of the story – click on an image to view it full size…

England In Control

An update on the test match, a bit of mathematics and some photographs.


The weather may yet baulk England in the current test match in Manchester, but the West Indies will not be doing so.


When I wrote yesterday’s post the West Indies were just starting their response to England’s 369. England took wickets regularly throughout yesterday’s play, the West Indies reaching the close at 137-6, with Holder and Dowrich together. This meant that enforcing the follow-on was still a possibility to be considered.


England were possibly over mindful of the chance of enforcing the follow on, and hoping to keep Broad and Anderson to use the new ball in an envisaged West Indies second innings they opened up with Archer and Woakes. Holder and Dowrich were still together 53 minutes into the day when Broad was finally called upon to bowl. He proceeded to whip out the last four wickets, limiting the West Indies to 197, 172 less than England jad scored. Broad’s four wickets today gave him innings figures of 6-31, the 12th time he has taken six or more in a test innings, equalling Sydney Barnes (who however needed only 27 test matches to take his 12 six plus wicket hauls. Broad also scored 62 in the England first innings. At Melbourne in 1883 Billy Bates scored 55 with the bat and took seven wickets in each Aussie innings, including England’s first ever test cricket. In 1980 Ian Botham scored 114 not out and took 6-58 and 7-48 vs India in what was then Bombay (now Mumbai). Shortly after this match he injured his back and was never quite the same bowler again, although he still took plenty of wickets by sheer force of character. At Edgbaston in 2005 Andrew Flintoff scored 73 and 68 and took four wickets in each innings.

England have not altered their batting order for the second innings thus far – Sibley and Burns are in action, but in view of the forecast for tomorrow they would be well advised to be thinking in terms of declaring today so that even if tomorrow is a total washout they still have one full day in which to bowl West Indies out again. West Indies keeper Dowrich is off the field injured, with Shai Hope briefly taking over while Da Silva the reserve keeper got himself padded and gloved for action, and he is now behind the stumps. England when playing against New Zealand in 1986 used four keepers in a single innings – French was injured, Athey took over briefly before Bob Taylor was summoned from a hospitality tent to act as sub for the rest of that day, while Bobby Parks of Hampshire (son of James M Parks, grandson of James H Parks, grand nephew of HW Parks) responded to an SOS and did the job the following day. Da Silva has just made a complete horlicks of a stumping chance, knocking the stumps over without having the ball in his hands.


There is a friendly match between Surrey and Middlesex at The Oval which is being used to trial the carefully managed return of spectators – 1,000 (900 Surrey members and 100 Middlesex members) have been allowed into the ground, the spectators seated singly or in small groups, with at least two empty seats between each separate spectator or group of spectators. It appears to be going well so far. In terms of the cricket Surrey are batting today, and Middlesex will bat tomorrow. Will Jacks, one of Surrey’s better young players is batting well according to reports.


This section of the post has three parts, beginning with…


Yesterday I offered you a calcdoku courtesy of with the task being to work out the sum of the numbers in the diagonal from top left to bottom right. Here is the solution:


The diagonal thus contains two 2s and two 1s for a sum of 6. The key to solving this is the ’64X’  block, which can contain only the numbers 1,2 and 4. It has three quarters of a row and three quarters of a column, and so all three numbers are needed to go in those five squares – the corner being the overlap. That corner contains a 2, which means that the numbers in the other four squares are two 1s and two 4s, making the sixth number a second two. These numbers then force the ‘9+’ block to be 3,4, 2, which in turn force the placing of the remaining of the numbers.


Emmy Noether was a German mathematician who changed the face of physics by linking two important concepts, conservation laws and symmetries. 102 years and three days ago Noether unveiled her theorem. Emily Conover has an article about this on Here is what have to say about Noether.


This problem is a splendid one which was somewhat spoiled by the conditions as I shall explain:


I will make this multiple choice, but not with the options given on brilliant, which were the spoiler – the answers I offer you to pick from are:


Solution and explanation tomorrow.


My usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Cultural XI v Player-Authors XI

Today’s variation upon an ‘all time XI’ cricket theme is built around cultural connections.


Welcome to the latest in my series of variations on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. This one pits a team of cricketers who share names with people who have made cultural contributions against a team of cricketers who wrote books after retirement.


  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. See yesterday’s post among others for more about him. I have sneaked him in by adding an e to his surname for the cultural reference – to Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan, and also author of one of the pieces included in “The Portable Atheist” edited by Christopher Hitchens.
  2. Roy Marshall – right handed opening batter. A massively successful batter for Hampshire for many years. My cultural reference is to another Marshall with middle initial e, HE Marshall, author of “Our Island Story”.
  3. Michael Vaughan – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. A bit of reaching here, as the reference is to Pip Vaughan-Hughes, a historical novelist whose books I have enjoyed reading.
  4. ‘Tup’ Scott – right handed batter. An early Aussie middle order batter, he claims his place in this team as analogue to Manda Scott, a historical novelist whose books include the Pantera series of Roman novels and the Dreaming series of novels about Boudicca.
  5. Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He averaged 56.68 in test cricket, so I was particularly please to be able to include him by reference to Charles Doolittle Walcott, the USian palaeontologist who discovered the Burgess Shale, one of the most important of all fossil beds. The best known writer to have covered the Burgess Shale is Stephen Jay Gould.
  6. Adrian Kuiper – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. He gets in as analogue to Gerard Peter Kuiper, a USian astronomer after whom the Kuiper Belt, considered a frontier in our solar system, is named.
    Illustration of Kuiper Belt and Spacecraft locations
  7. George Rubens Cox – right handed batter, left arm medium pace bowler, left arm orthodox spinner. I give him his full name to distinguish from another George Cox who also played for Sussex. Although he shares his middle name with Peter Paul Rubens, the Belgian artist, I am actually including him as a hat tip to professor Brian Cox.
  8. *Tony Lock – left arm orthodox spinner. For those wondering about my naming him as captain he was the first ever to captain Western Australia to a Sheffield Shield title, and his years in that role also saw him usher Dennis Lillee on to the cricketing stage. He also had a telling effect on the fortunes of Leicestershire when he became their captain. His analogue is crime writer Joan Lock, two of whose novels “Dean Born” and “Dead Image” I can recommend. Also, addition of an e to his surname brings in philosopher John Locke and engineer Joseph Locke, the latter of whom is commemorated in the name of Locke Park in Barnsley.
  9. +Eric Petrie – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was by reputation a brilliant wicket keeper, but a very limited batter, who I mentioned in passing in my New Zealand post. His inclusion here links to Egyptologist sir Flinders Petrie. Readers of the late Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series will recognize Petrie as one of the few among his fellow Egyptologists about whom Radcliffe Emerson is other than utterly scathing.
  10. Tich Freeman – leg spinner. The second leading wicket taker in first class history, with 3,776, of which all bar 29 were taken after the age of 30. The 5’2″ legspinner is here as analogue to Freeman Dyson, one of the world’s leading scientists and author of “From Eros to Gaia”.
  11. Jeff Thomson – right arm fast bowler. One of the quickest and nastiest ever. His analogue is June Thomson, author of six books of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and the overview/dual biography “Holmes and Watson”. I rate her very high among those  who have chronicled adventures of the Baker Street pair since Conan Doyle finsihed.

This team has a strong top five, two all rounders, a splendid keeper and three ifne bowlers. It is somewhat short in the pace bowling department, with one of Cox or Kuiper likely to open the bowling with Thomson. However, they do have a very shrewd captain in Lock.


  1. Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. 8,900 test runs, more runs in first class and list A combined than anyone else in the game’s history. He is the author of “Captaincy”.
  2. David Lloyd – left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. As well as having a test double century to his credit, ‘Bumble’ as he is nicknamed is the author of “The World According to Bumble” and “The Ashes According to Bumble”.
  3. Tom Graveney – right handed batter. The second leading scorer of first class runs in the post World War Two era with over 47,000 of them.  He is the author of “The Ten Greatest Test Teams”, a book which analyses ten famous combinations and rates which is the very best.
  4. *Greg Chappell – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium (earlier bowled leg spin), brilliant slip fielder. The first Aussie to record 7,000 test runs, he book ended his test career with centuries, 108 v England at Perth to start and 182 v Pakistan to finish. He is the author of “The 100th Summer”, which details the test matches of the 1976-7 season, when he was captain of Australia.
  5. Doug Walters – right handed abtter, occasional right arm medium pace. A stroke maker who succeeded everywhere except England, where never managed a century. His highest test score of 250 came against New Zealand and featured a 217 run partnership with Gary Gilmour who racked up his one and only test ton. He twice scored over 100 runs in a test match session. He was also noted as a partnership breaker. He is the author of “One For The Road”.
  6. Ian Botham – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Author of “The Botham Report” and “Botham’s Century” among other books.
  7. +Tiger Smith – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He actually first played for Warwickshire as a batter, while Dick Lilley retained the gloves. He gave a series of interviews to Pat Murphy, which ultimately became “Tiger Smith”.
  8. Shane Warne – leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. Author of “Warne’s Century”.
  9. Jim Laker – off spinner. An excellent ‘spin twin’ for Warne, who holds the record for wickets in an Ashes series – 46 at less than 10 each in 1956. He earns his place in this role by dint of being the author of “Cricket Contrasts”.
  10. Fred Trueman – right arm fast bowler. The first to record 300 test wickets, an unquestioned great of the game. He is the author of “As It Was” and co-author with John Arlott of “The Thoughts of Trueman Now”.
  11. Matthew Hoggard – right arm fast medium. An ideal type of bowler to share the new ball with Trueman, a position for which he qualifies b y being author of “Welcome To My World”.

This team has a fine top five, a top class all rounder at six, a keeper who can bat and a splendid foursome of bowlers. There is no front line left arm option but I feel that lack can be coped with – overall it looks a fine side.


The second of my two teams would clearly start as favourites, but both have some fine players and I would expect the contest to be a splendid one.


I have introduced the two teams, but just before I sign off in my usual fashion I have a link to share. Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has produced an excellent post about funding government spending, available here. Below is a ‘mind-map’ included in the post:

Finally it is time for my usual sign off…

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The first 13 pictures here come from Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution Is True”, a book that has subsequently spawned a website which you visit by clicking here.

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May be a shieldbug (three pictures)

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Literary Clash
The two teams in tabulated form.

Solutions (And New Problems)

Solutions to my .last set of problems and a new set. Also some photographs.


It has been a few days since my last post, and the principal reason for this will made clear in my next post. Meantime I am starting proceedings for today by answering the questions I included in my previous post, and then setting a couple of new ones.


Here is the original problem, from brilliant:


Here is the answer:


To explain, here is Alex Warneke’s published solution (one of a number, but the one I like best)

Draw a circle around each figure. The circle drawn around each polygon has a larger circumference than the polygon and therefore a larger radius than the circle. If we consider the ratio of circumference of a circle to perimeter of inscribed regular n-gon we see it is bigger for smaller n and smallest for n = 3.


This was the problem:


The two blue circles are exactly the same size. Here is an edited version of the above, deliberately clumsy so that my method of editing it can be seen by all:

Ebbinghaus Disillusion


The first of two new problems from brilliant that I am sharing in this post:

Card problem

This is a multi-choice question, the possible answers being:

a) Less than 50%
b) More than 50%
c) Exactly 50%


Again from brilliant:

Groyne Q

As the title of this section indicates I have identified a clear-cut mistake in the wording of the question – there may be room for doubt as to whether the indicated structure is a groyne or a jetty, but it is most definitely not a ‘breakwater’ – such would be entirely out at sea, not stretching from the land into the sea. 


MinsterMajestic Clock TurretGreyfriars Tower

In Between Auctions

Brief mentions of last week’s auctions and a longer look ahead to the March auction.


Last week James and Sons had two auctions, a small postcard auction on Tuesday and a much larger Postal History and Ephemera Auction on Wednesday. We are now moving towards completing the catalogue for an auction on March 28th which will feature a wide variety of stuff. We have snow around at present, which is provoking the usual British display of wimpiness about rough weather – I was supposed to be attending a meeting in Swaffham this morning but it has been cancelled due to concerns about the weather. This was the view out of my door at 8:30 yesterday morning as I set off to catch the bus to work.


The view is similar today.


With only 134 lots going under the hammer this sale was over and done with quickly. Most of the lots found buyers.


The centrepiece of this auction was a collection of the Ecclesiastical and Political Correspondence of the Rev J Marriott. The people currently in charge of the property he bought had got wind of this collection, which meant some big money sales, because they were determined to secure as much of it as they could to reunite it with his old home. Lot 18 on its own went for over £2,000:

The stock for this auction as displayed in the shop.

The original image of lot 18. It must have taken a lot of brass neck to produce this petition.

Lot 18
Lot 18 in its folder

Big Screen
The big screen.


Our auction on March 28th will start with some sporting memorabilia, including a framed ticket for the 1923 FA Cup Final (the first to be played at Wembley, just three weeks after that stadium was completed). For the record Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United to win that year’s FA Cup. I do not yet have a lot number for this item, but it will be early in the auction.

A standard price for a ticket from this fixture in this condition is in the region of £800.

We have some old fishing reels and som billiards stuff as well…

Lot 23 (two images, a sample of the fishing reels)


The billiards memorabilia begin at lot 44 with the first of two scoreboards


From lot 46-58 inclusive are cues, first four lots of large numbers of loose cues, and then individual cues in cases or bags, starting with lot 50 pictured here.


Then from lot 59 to 71 we have sets of balls – note that in billiards there are two cue balls, one of which is distinguished from the other by the presence of a black spot, and the only other ball used is one red one.


We also have some bygones, of which I will feature a few that particularly caught my eye while I was imaging them:

Lot 124 – the fiugurines are made of some sort of balck ceramic, and as the second image, a close-up of two them shows, they are of very good quality.


Lot 147 – a brass fly…

…that can be used to store trinkets.

Lot 146, a brass grasshopper…

…which is also a mini stapler.

Other categories featured include toys, crockery, and though I have not yet had any to image, stamps. Here are some toys and crockery…

Toys in a box that has been disguised to look like a book (lot 262)


Lots 264 and 265 occupy the next four images.


The next 12 images encompass lots 301-4.


Lot 346 (two images)


Lot 350 (again two images).



We have a vast collection of railway photographs, taken with a Soviet-era camera which is also in our possession and will be going under the hammer. Obviously we need to identify our images of these pictures as just that – our images – in order to stop unscrupulous types from printing the pictures out for no more than the cost of ink and the appropriate paper. Hence, I have been looking into watermarking the online pictures. I am aiming at marking the pictures in a way that will not interfere with anyone viewing them, but will prevent anyone from cheating. Here is a sample of what I have arrived at us possibly the best solution:


The positioning of the watermark does not spoil the picture, but does prevent it from being removed, since cropping the image sufficiently to eliminate it most certainly does damage the picture.

Puzzles and Solutions

Some solutions and some new problems/ questions. Also details a thank you card for TFL and some photos.


I have solutions/ answers to some problems and a few new problems for you. I was going to be blogging about my activities on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but that will have to wait until tomorrow now.


In my post “Coming Up – A Trip To Cornwall I set this juicy little puzzle:


Each of the three filled in columns contains one large number and several smaller numbers. In each case the big number is the sum of all the smaller numbers – 6 = 3+2+1, 28 = 14 + 7 + 4 + 2 + 1 and 496 = 248 + 124 + 62 + 31 + 16 +8 + 4 + 2 + 1. In each case the smaller numbers listed below the large number turn out to be all of that number’s factors. A number that is equal to the sum of all its factors is called a perfect number. Looking closer still we that 6 = 3 x 2, 28 = 7 x 4 and 496 = 31 x 16. In each case these multiplications consist of a larger number that can be expressed in the form (2 ^ n)-1 and the smaller number is equal to 2 ^ (n-1). Further, the larger multiplier is in each case a prime number. Investigation reveals that the next prime number of the form (2 ^ n)-1 is 127, and the other multiplier must therefore by 64. Multiplying these two numbers gives 8,128. Thus the final panel will consist of 8128, with vertically below it the numbers 4064, 2032, 1016, 508, 254, 127, 64, 32, 16, 8, 4, 2 and 1. This was a tough puzzle but it would have been downright vicious had I made the door’s mechanism consist of five panels, these four and the fifth for you to work out – for a bonus can you explain why?

I also asked if anyone could identify to the real life door that I had used as the basis for the “Door of Death”. It is one of the doors to King’s Lynn Town Hall and in reality of course it is not remotely deadly (indeed barring dying of boredom during a council meeting there I can think of no risk of death anywhere in that building).


This one appeared in my post “The Gaywood River”. The answers are below:

Quiz - answers


I have three problems for you. The first comes from Trivia Hive. Unfortunately I cannot present it to you in their format without giving away the answer, so instead I present in plain text:

In which country is Europe’s only desert located?


Puzzle number two comes by way of the twitter feed of estate agents Abbot Fox:


Can you reveal the street name?

My third and final problem comes courtesy of the mathematical website brilliant and sends you on a treasure hunt:



I was delighted to receive an email from campaigning organisation sumofus inviting me to sign a thank you card to TFL for having given Uber the boot. I have already shared this invitation on facebook and twitter and ‘pressed’ it to my London transport themed website. I now invite my followers here to add their names to this thank you card: 



These photographs were taken in Norwich…


Mural 1
This is on the ‘ceiling’ portion of a covered passage near…

…the castle

Haart Map
This map is in the office of Haart in Norwich, and I could not resist trying to photograph it from the street.


Super Sharing Saturday – The Last Post

The last of my series of “Super sharing Saturday” posts, includes some of the lighter moments of the last few days.


I finish this day of sharing with my last few bits. These are in the main fairly light-hearted pieces, although more than one touches on serious issues.


For more about this statue, possibly of Ramesses II, please click on the image below to read the article posted on


This comes in video from courtesy of mashable and is great fun to watch. SPOT A FUNNY SPELLING ERROR

Somebody failed to proofread a church bulletin, resulting it being much funnier than intended. The image is below, and links to the piece on whyevolutionistrue where I first saw it. 

Screenshot 2017-03-11 at 5.20.39 PM - Edited


This one was also brought to my attention by WEIT and is a classic example of the fictional (and very foul-mouthed – you have been warned) newscaster at his best. Here he is getting seriously aerated by the fact that there is ban on public swearing in Salford (where the BBC are based these days):


Here are some of my pictures to end this post:

Close up of Norfolk cost tea towel.

This tea towel is in the window of the coffee shop.


Three prints side by side – from L to R as you look these are of Greyfriars tower, the Custom House and the almshouses on Queen Street.

NAS branches map

London has its own branches map on the reverse.

A Very Successful Three Day Auction

An account of James and Sons auction, which took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.


On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week James and Sons had its second ever three day auction. This one had the additional twist that two different venues were being used, our own premises in Fakenham on days 1 and 2 and the Maids Head Hotel, Norwich on day 3. 


I caught the 7:30 bus from Lynn to Fakenham, thus arriving at James and Sons at just before 8:30AM (this bus doubles as a school bus, so follows a more circuitous route from Lynn to Fakenham than the usual X29 route and therefore takes 15 minutes longer to make the journey than a regular bus). Thus I was able to get the setup done in plenty of time, and the auction got underway at the appointed hour of 10AM. On this day stamps, postal history and first day covers were being sold. There were a couple of room bidders, and thankfully large numbers of online bidders (over 250 by the end of day 3). Although there were not many things going for big amounts of money a lot of stuff did sell, and the auction had started well. I have no pictures from day 1 of this auction, but here are some images of items that will be going under the hammer in our March auction, which will be on the 27th, 28th and 29th of that month. 

These first two pictures of lot 1031 in the March auction, which has an interesting story. This item is a grass sledge, designed and built by a craftsman in Sussex for use on the Downs.


The remaining images here are cigarette cards photographed after day 1 of the auction finished and before I went home.



The routine was the same as on day 1, but the items under the hammer were different. This day featured photographs, postcards, a few books, records, ephemera, Liebig cards, cigarette cards, cheques and coin first day covers. For most of the day there was no one present at the venue who was not a James and Sons employee, but the internet was very lively for much of the time. I had two moments of good fortune. The first featured…

LOT 864

Here are the official images of this lot:


My opening bid of £10 was unopposed, and here are the photographs I took this morning showing the entire booklet in all its glory:


About 10 minutes later we got to…

LOT 891

Here is the image gallery for this lot:


My opening bid of £8 again went uncontested, and here is a much more comprehensive set of pictures of this lot…

We start with front and back images of the cards in sets of six (the complete set contains 30)


Then we have close ups of some of the more interesting cards – this one is Richard Trevithick’s Pen-y-Darren (that y is pronounced roughly as a “uh” sound), the first commercially operated steam locomotive ever. Steam engine technology predates this by approximately 1800 years – Heron of Alexandria designed a steam operated device for opening temple doors.


The most famous of all the very early locos – Stephenson’s rocket.


This Metropolitan Railway locomotive was designed specifically for operating in tunnels.


Luxury travel on the Brighton Belle


I travelled on this stock when I visited Scotland in 1993.

The only other stock in this set of 30 that I have travelled on, the legendary Intercity 125.


Overall this was a better day than we had expected – there were only a few quiet spots.


The fact that we were in Norwich for the final day of this auction meant that the stuff had to be loaded up to be transported over there, which was done at the end of day 2. It also meant that since I was going to have be in Norwich earlier than I could get there using the X29 that I claimed £5.50 in excess travel expenses as the cost of travelling there on the First Eastern Counties X1 is £11 as opposed to £5.50 if I can use the Stagecoach X29 route.

As intended I left my flat at 5:15AM and was on the 5:30 bus from King’s Lynn to Norwich, arriving at the venue at 7:30. I had my laptop with me because James and Sons were one laptop short (two working machines when we needed three). The setup was just about completed before the first viewers started turning up, and there were no issues of any sort. 

Here are some photos from that early period:


This item sold for a fair amount of money.

The rostrum – the black machine belongs to my employer, and we ran the operator screen (my responsibility) from it, while the white machine is mine, and we ran the auctioneer screen from that.


Only a few of these big stamp lots sold, although both helmets found buyers.


A distant view of the main display area, and visible through the window, the wall of the Cathedral Close.


There were no headline making prices, but most of these lots sold, some doing very well. We had decided to have a 15 minute break after lot 1,300 (we started the day at lot 1,000). Just before the end of the session we came to some commemorative medallions from the Gigantic Wheel, which was a feature of Earls Court between 1897 and 1906. The first was lot 1,286, which I ignored as being beyond my means. Lot 1287 however, which was only a little inferior in quality was cheaper, and my bid of £10 duly secured it. Here for comparative purposes are first the official images, scanned at 600 dpi and brightened up a bit, and then the two photographs I took today:

For auction purposes I scan each face and then produce a combined image as well as c,lose ups of each face


The photographs from earlier today.


For the record, these medallions are approximately the same size as a Queen Victoria penny.


The Militaria sold well. A chess set with German markings achieved barely credible £170. Here is the official image gallery:


Plenty of other things did well as well. The stamps predictably enough did not fare very well, but everything else had done enough that the auction was an unequivocal success.


I had considered staying on in Norwich to attend a Green Party public meeting at which Richard Murphy would be speaking, but in the end after three demanding days I was too tired to even contemplate not being home until 11PM which is what that would have meant, and so after a visit to Norwich Millennium Library I took the bus home, arriving back in my flat just after 6PM.

James and Sons July Auction

An account of yesterday’s auction, complete with photos, a link to a book review and a (well-merited) swipe at Stagecoach.


This is my account of the latest auction held by my employers, James and Sons, which took place yesterday at the Maid’s Head Hotel in Norwich.


Stagecoach, who have subsumed Norfolk Green, have very recently and without anything approaching proper communication cut a large number of services. One casualty of this piece of axe wielding is the 6:10 AM from King’s Lynn to Fakenham, which used to become the 6:55 from Fakenham to Norwich, and would see me arrive at the venue around about 8am, as needed. Fortunately, having been alerted to the mayhem while at work on Tuesday I had the foresight to check the timetables posted at King’s Lynn Bus Station and was able to come up with a back-up plan – I bought a single ticket on the X1 to Dereham and Norwich which is run by First Eastern Counties, departing at 5:55am and was in Norwich at the appointed time. This single fare and the single fare back from Fakenham (having travelled from Norwich to Fakenham as a passenger in the company van) amounted to £10 between them (£6 and £4 respectively) instead of £5.50 for a Dayrider Plus, to say nothing of the uncertainty created by the ham-fisted way in which these cuts were made. Surely if significant cuts to services are to be made (and I consider cutting what was the first bus of the morning on a particular route to be significant on its own – and I also know that half of the services that used to run between Fakenham and Norwich have been axed) the announcement should be made long in advance of the cuts happening, and every bus travelling on an affected route should be well stocked with new timetables that accurately reflect the planned reduction in services. Also, especially given the parlous state of public transport services in Norfolk, I consider any cuts to be unacceptable in any case.


With people arriving to view stuff not long after we had got there, there was not a lot of scope laying stuff out artistically, especially given how much of it there was, but a couple of areas were reasonably well done nevertheless…

Part of the toy display – inside that suitcase marked is lot 363 was a large collection of items of rolling stock.

A little cluttered, but at least the three smartest hats got due prominence.


I am glad to be able to report that there were no IT issues at any stage of the sale. While the coins & tokens, some of the militaria and some of the ephemera sold well, the stamps did not go well, and the vinyls did less well than we would have liked.

Once the auction finished we picked out all the stuff that had sold to bidders not in the room, loaded the van up for the return journey and were able to head back. I was able to catch the 17:38 rather than have the dicey prospect of relying on the 18:35 not having been cut (if they can cut the first bus of the day, why not the last?). However, I was not yet at liberty to relax – there was still the matter of watering a few plants at Hampton Court, Nelson Street. Thus, it was almost exactly 14 hours after I had left my flat that my time was my own again.


There are two members of James and Sons staff who can manage the IT during the auction, so we swap duties during the day (auction days are the only time I regularly do front-line customer service). My colleague did an IT session between lots 200 and 300, at which point we had a scheduled break. I then did the first 75 lots after the break, before swapping for 100 lots or so, for a period when a few things I was interested in were coming up, before I then went back to IT duties until the end of the sale.

The first items that I was interested in were five sets of railway postcards, lots 391-5:


These as expected went beyond my possible price range. Next to command attention was lot 403, a book of views of Cambridge:


Again, to no great surprise this rapidly went beyond my price range.

The next items of interest were some antique maps, which I was fully aware I would not be able to afford but enjoyed seeing go under the hammer. This set the stage for the last lot to command my interest, and unlike any of the foregoing it was one that I was determined to get if at all possible. Lot 450, “The Bus We Loved: London’s Affair With the Routemaster”, was not an item that I as someone who runs a London transport themed website could happily countenance going elsewhere. There was a mini bidding war as someone else was also interested, but when I went to £10 that secured the item. For more about the book please visit my review of it that is on my website.



Yesterday was a very demanding day, both physically and mentally. However, everything went fairly smoothly. Given the Stagecoach schemozzle referred to earlier, the travel element of the day was as good as I could have hoped for.