Sunday Snippet, Complications.

A Formulaic Romance

This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.

The story starts with Rachel, Lady Hayforth, throwing the dice in a desperate try at the marriage mart and coming up short when her carriage breaks down in the middle of nowhere. After a complicated string of happenings, she ends up engaged to Rupert, Lord Hartshorne, an aspiring chemist who did mysterious things for the war office in the recent past. His notebooks have gone missing, and a mysterious Mr Oliver is involved. Last week Rachel and her friends went to look at the stars after an eventful afternoon.  George has left for the village. One might think that Rachel’s life would get simpler without this distraction, but that would be no fun.

Rupert showed he has something that connects his shoulders to his hips. Last week, the start of a new chapter shows that another of his talents is important.  We discovered why it was so important that Rupert come with Sir Roger recently. Rachel awoke below decks in a ship (a channel barge). Despite the sterling reputation of the English as cooks, the crew ask Rachel to cook for them. Her choice of seasonings has their desired effect. The morning after she gave thanks for her deliverance she writes to let her friends know where she is. Things, however, are afoot and the game is on – especially with the reappearance of Mr Oliver.

When you’ve finished with this tripe, take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.


Rachel’s resolve to warn her host grew as she walked back to the vicarage. When she opened the door, the sound of two familiar voices greeted her. Dr Fowler and

“George! You’re here.”

“I came as soon as I could. I must say you’re looking radiant. Simple muslins become you.”

“Yes, yes. Thank you for the compliments. Oliver is here.”

“What!”

“Mr Oliver, or Harding or … Dr Fowler, you and your daughter know him as Mr Richards.”

“Him, here? I forbid her from talking to that man.”

“At the inn. A clandestine communication.”

“And you know this, how?”

“We went there together so I could post my letter to Lord Hartshorne.”

“Lord Hartshorne, yes,” George said with a peculiar dry tone to his voice.

“How is he? Healthy I hope.”

“Badly shaken. Char- Miss Deacon is attending him. Much to my mother’s distress.”

Rachel thought However apparently not yours.

Dr Fowler pushed himself back into the conversation, “You can talk later, what about my disobedient little Miss?”

“I think they were planning an elopement. At least your daughter was. Mr Richards, who knows?”

“Did she say anything?”

“No. But she was far more excited about a letter than I’d be.”

George coughed, “You, Lady Hayforth, are an exceptionally level-headed woman. At least that’s what Captain Lewis said. It’s how I knew to find you.”

“Who is Captain Lewis? Oh the preventive. You know, I didn’t ask his name. How is he?”

“Basking in the glow as the man of the hour.”

Dr Fowler rather abruptly said, “I must find my daughter before she makes a fool of herself. The inn, you said?”

“Yes.”

“If you’ll pardon me, I.”

“No,” George said, “Please don’t. I’m afraid this is a matter for the crown. Lady Hayforth, did they mention something on that ship?”

“Something?”

“I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Was there a Frenchman, or did they talk about one.”

“Oh … yes. Henri, they never used his last name. They said something about … similar to ‘Vive L’emporer’ and talked about Saint Helena. I don’t understand.”

Dr Fowler paled, “I do. That’s where Napoleon is in prison. Isn’t it?”

George said, “Yes. I’m afraid Mr Richards is involved in a plot to free him.”

Dr Fowler put his face in his hands, “Oh Elizabeth, what have you gotten into? I don’t want to lose two children to this war. I thought it was over.”

“It shouldn’t come to that, and yes, it is over.” George paused, “Ra- Lady Hayforth, do you mind waiting a day before I return you to Oulten Hall? I need to alert … some friends of mine.”

“No. It won’t do.”

“What?”

“I can’t stay. If Mr Oliver sees me, he’ll know he’s been seen.”

“Damn. Sorry. I didn’t bring. I mean I rode. I mean.”

“No chaperone?”

“Yes, and I drove a curricle. Not exactly suitable.” George drew a deep breath, “Though I should think you’ll be safe with me. I am a gentleman, after all. Almost a married one.”

Alone with you? I trust you; it’s me I don’t. “What would people say, especially people like Miss Deacon?”

“Charity won’t mind. She likes you.”

And Rupert even more. “It’s not her I’m worried about.”

Dr Fowler interrupted them, “Lord Bedlington, I can lend you a maid.”

“Don’t bother. No one could possibly think there’s anything improper with my driving together with my intended niece.”

This discussion would have continued, but the front door to the vicarage slammed. Then the door to the parlour burst open and Miss Fowler shot in.

“You!” she pointed at Rachel, “You, you viper, you heartless … vixen!”

Then as suddenly as she appeared, she retreated. They heard her run up the stairs to her room, then the door slam behind her.

“What was that about?” Rachel asked.

“I think our cover is blown.” George replied, “If you’ll pardon me, I must dash.”


No history this time. Instead, a question about writing. It’s beginning to look like Amelia and I are really writing a series. “The art of deception” is volume 1, “The Divinity School” (working on a cover) is volume 2, Volume 3 – tentatively called “O Zeitung O Mores” is about half complete. This work is volume 5, and volume 6 “Freddy and the Bird of Paradise” is well underway. No idea what we’ll call volume 4, but since volume 3 takes place in 1811 Hamburg and parts beyond – including Aarhus, and this one is 1816 or so there’s a gap.

Is it ok to release a series out of sequence?

By the way, O Zeitung O Mores, is a bad pun on the epigram O Tempora O Mores (The Times, The Morals).

 



Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page.  The first book in our series, The Art of Deception is now available for sale with an extract on instafreebie as a teaser.

Aarhus

From Amelia:
More field research. Aarhus is hosting a summer school in crystallography and I tagged along as an ex-crystallographer. It was refreshing, especially compared to my dear university. GSU is in the first circle of hell for academics. (probably even lower than that -R).

A scene in volume 3 of our regency spies will occur in this city.

Aarhus itself is a fairly modern city, with nominally friendly Danes. Most of them speak English because my Danish is non-extant. Danish itself is interesting, because the roots or the words are clearly evident when written, and almost impossible to hear when the Danes speak. A large part of English comes from old Norse, with the word endings, conjugations, and declensions stripped away.


This shows a section through the old town. A half-timbered building and a bicyclist.
Beware of bicyclists; they will run you down and they ride in dense packs, big dense packs, big dense fast packs. Most of the time, at least, they follow the traffic rules.

One difference between Danish and English buildings is the use of pastel colours.

Right now they’re having a big music and beer beer, festival. Danish popular music is an acquired taste. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard “smoke gets in your eyes” in Danish. The (white) singer had Louis Armstrong’s gravelly voice down pat. We left when he started in on “It’s a beautiful world.” Danish rap is best left to the imagination.

The featured image shows the aftermath of an M32 sailing race in the harbour. The water on this part of the Baltic is flat. I suspect that’s not always the case, but right now I could use a sail canoe on it without problems.

She’s sent me a few more:
This shows Aarhus in 1850 – not too long after the period of the book we’re writing. The church is still there, but apparently it’s all built up since then.

Another from that boat race. Oh, and she likes the beer.

97% Totality.

The top of G-deck turned out to be a good decision. There were a few other people there, but nothing like the crowds in Woodruff park (where I understand fights broke out over viewing equipment.)

I used a regular photographic tripod, which is decidedly sup-optimal for astronomy, but good enough for this purpose.

You can see how the shadow appears to roll over the sun in the sequence below.

Ready for the eclipse.

I ordered a solar filter for my long lense. It looks something like a very fragile and expensive piece of tinfoil, but works.

Even with that filter, getting the exposure correct can be a bugger. I ended up in manual mode 1/4000 s f29 iso2000.  The featured image shows the results, and, yes, those dots in the middle of the sun are sunspots. So we’re ready to go.  I’ll probably play around a bit with the film speed to reduce noise, but this is decent enough to work.  I’ll use a tripod tomorrow and be at the top of G-deck.

 

If you don’t adjust the exposure, the sun is completely washed out. Not at all what you want.

 

Birth of a new business.

Very preliminary, but we’re announcing Treadco – bespoke machine learning and datamining for the discriminating user.

The name and form might change, but we specialize in highly efficient and highly accurate machine learning and data analysis.

  • Generative models such at the Restricted Boltzmann Machine. Our algorithm is 14 or more times faster than the standard approach. This makes it fast enough to implement in javascript or other interpreted languages and still get results in near real time. Web-based data analysis anyone?
  • Fuzzy and probabilistic/possibilistic modeling. Correct handling of uncertainty in both the independent and dependent data improves the robustness of the models.
  • Big supervised or unsupervised data problems.
  • Model development. Not sure what’s best? Ask us.

Dunster Loop #Exmoor #UKwalks

I’ve been queuing up a series of walks – mostly about 10 km (6 miles for us colonials), and this is the second.

This started out as a “pub walk” from the house we hired in Wootton Courtenay – and we did get to one, about seven miles in. After several missed turns and places where the map … deviated from the trails on the ground.

This shows our GPS trace overlaid on the most current Ordinance Survey map. These differences made it a bit interesting.

I covered the first part of the hike on an earlier post where we hunted a local pub. So you can read that post for details. We take this walk up at the village of Timberscombe.

Saint Petrock’s church in Timberscombe

We headed uphill on the wrong road, but eventually found our way to where we could see Dunster in the distance.

Dunster’s there, somewhere.

If you get to this carved bird (the buzzard), you’ve gone too far.

Some of the local landmarks have a decidedly sci-fi name. Is Gallox bridge in Gallifrey?

Gallox Bridge
Inside the Stag.

We stopped in the Stag – which is an excellent pub – and let two sweaty, dirty, and tired hikers enjoy their pints inside. It had a guitar in the corner so if you were a better player than I am, you could entertain the crowds (or if you were a better runner you might escape the disapprobriation.)

 

 

The path heads uphill, of course, from the town. It winds its way past St. Leonard’s well (Shades of Blackadder) along a ridge.

St Leonard’s well. Locked, but making the footpath mucky for the last thousand years.

There is an excellent set of views of Minehead from the exposed ridge. The sun is shining on Butlin’s holiday camp.

Minehead.
Minehead in the distance

We also wanted to look for this weird feature – seen on google maps.

Unfortunately, it’s nothing special.

Sunday Snippet, A Familiar Face

A Formulaic Romance

This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.

The story starts with Rachel, Lady Hayforth, throwing the dice in a desperate try at the marriage mart and coming up short when her carriage breaks down in the middle of nowhere. After a complicated string of happenings, she ends up engaged to Rupert, Lord Hartshorne, an aspiring chemist who did mysterious things for the war office in the recent past. His notebooks have gone missing, and a mysterious Mr Oliver is involved. Last week Rachel and her friends went to look at the stars after an eventful afternoon.  George has left for the village. One might think that Rachel’s life would get simpler without this distraction, but that would be no fun.

Rupert showed he has something that connects his shoulders to his hips. Last week, the start of a new chapter shows that another of his talents is important.  We discovered why it was so important that Rupert come with Sir Roger recently. Rachel awoke below decks in a ship (a channel barge). Despite the sterling reputation of the English as cooks, the crew ask Rachel to cook for them. Her choice of seasonings has their desired effect. The morning after she gave thanks for her deliverance she writes to let her friends know where she is. Things, however, are afoot and the game is on.

When you’ve finished with this tripe, take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.


Rachel finished her letter the next morning. She folded the letter in thirds and thirds again; then looked up from her desk. “Oh, Elizabeth, I didn’t see you. Is there a wafer?”

Elizabeth rather shyly indicated where the coloured wafers were. “What is his favourite colour?”

“I don’t know … but this will do.” She chose a pale red one and sealed the letter with it. While she addressed the other side, she asked, “Will a servant take these to the post?”

“I thought … if you might … well, maybe we could walk together.” When Rachel studied her face, Elizabeth quickly, all too quickly, added, “I’d like to show you Hook.”

I’d wager a monkey to a farthing you have another reason. “Sure, it would be my pleasure, but I will need to borrow a bonnet.”

Elizabeth gushed her agreement and pranced upstairs to retrieve a spare bonnet and pelisse from her closet.

“Are you ready?”

“I’ve just finished the address.”

“Then what are you waiting for? Let’s go.”

Rachel followed Elizabeth out of the house as she raced off. It’s only a letter, what could be so important?

“Elizabeth, please slow down. I haven’t even had time to adjust this pelisse or properly tie my bonnet.”

“Yes, yes, it’s just.”

“Let me guess, a letter from an admirer, one that Dr Fowler does not approve?”

Elizabeth slowly nodded, “You won’t tell him?”

A clandestine communication, how improper … I sound just like an aunt. “No, but please remember your decorum. If anyone saw you racing off like this, they’d know what you were about.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought that.”

It seems to me you hadn’t thought much at all. “Tell me about him, while we walk to the posting inn.”

“He’s tall, handsome.”

Aren’t they all?

“And he’s working as a spy. To uncover those awful rebels and machine breakers.”

What? Rachel interrupted her, “His name wouldn’t be William Oliver?”

“William’s his first name, William Richards. William J Richards, my sweet William.”

Stunned, Rachel stopped where she stood. I know that name, Richards, that was the other alias.

Elizabeth asked, “What’s wrong, do you know him?”

“Maybe. Is he an older man, about 35?”

“Why yes, I’m so proud to have conquered such an accomplished man. It was when we, my mother and I, visited Leeds last month. To shop and dance at the assembly. He visited two weeks ago.”

“Does your mother approve of him?”

“It’s my father who objects. He’s just being stubborn. That’s what fathers are for, isn’t it?”

I’d say wise, a good judge of character. “I’m sure he only wants the best for you.” Damn, now I am going to have to tell your parents.

“I know what I want. My darling William.”

When they arrived at the inn, just off High Street in the centre of the village, Elizabeth found a letter waiting for her. She gladly paid her shilling, quickly gave it a kiss and went off to read it, alone.

Rachel asked, “Is there a pen I can use? I need to add a line to my letter.”

“Might have one.” The innkeeper replied, “Don’t know that it’s a good one.”

“I just need to add a small note to the back of the letter. Only a sentence.”

He led her to the back of the inn and showed her a desk. “You can try.” He was right, the pen had a poorly sharpened point and the ink had dried bits floating in it. Still Rachel managed to scratch out, “Come at once, Mr O. is here.”

Finished with the letter, Rachel stopped on her way back to the front when she heard a voice, the last one she wanted to hear, right this instant or for that matter, ever again. “Is Miss Fowler here?”

It was Mr Oliver, or Harding or Richards.

“I’ll see sir.” Rachel heard the innkeeper say. “She picked up a letter this morning. Should be in the garden.”

“Excellent.” The man said, “I’ll find my own way.”

Rachel did her best to step back into the shadows, to blend into the wall. After the man passed by, Rachel brought her letter to the innkeeper. “This is for the next post, to Leeds.”

“Ah, Wakefield,” the man said, “On the way. Be there tomorrow.”

I hope that’s in time.

“Would you tell my friend, Miss Fowler, that I’ve returned to the vicarage?”

“Of course, Miss. Anything else?”

“That man who was just here, did he give you a name?”

“A Mr Harding, he said.”

Rachel nodded, “It would be just as well, if you didn’t mention my name to him.”

The innkeeper nodded, “Good thing I don’t know it. Avoiding an old acquaintance?”

“You might say that. He’s not the most honourable of men. Do you have a maid who can chaperone Miss Fowler?”

“Ah, I see. Seemed dashed odd when she picked up that letter of hers. I’ll have my Elaine watch them. Can’t have the Vicar’s daughter get in trouble, now can we.”

“Thank you.” Now to warn Dr Fowler.

Rachel’s resolve to warn her host grew as she walked back to the vicarage. When she opened the door, the sound of two familiar voices greeted her. Dr Fowler and

“George! You’re here.”


It’s been more than 200 years since Waterloo and people tend to forget just how wrenching the Napoleonic wars were. It truly was a world war with the same dislocations and disruptions that occurred in the 20th century. To support this effort the British government re-organized in ways that would have been unbelievable in the 18th century. Clerks had to pass civil service exams – no longer could you be appointed based on who you (or your father or uncle) knew. You actually had to be literate. Supporting a world war required minimizing (although not eliminating) a great deal of graft and jobbery. Reforming “purchase” would take another 60 years or so, but the reforms made the British soldiers and sailors the best fed and supported fighting men that the world had seen. It showed when the tide turned against that dastardly Corsican.

This Gilray cartoon shows the political storm – figuratively bees fighting wasps (and other creatures) to preserve good governance.


Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page.  The first book in our series, The Art of Deception is now available for sale with an extract on instafreebie as a teaser.