Vera goes interactive

Fancy a jaunt down to Harbour Street? 

Vera as your guide?

Screen shot 2016-02-07 at 15.20.43

Already a successful post on the blog, we’ve updated it and mapped out all the locations in the book – some film locations and where a place is fictional, we show you the best places to go to evoke the setting Vera sees.

On the new site you can click and visit these places for real. Use the little yellow man to step into the book yourself!

Tonight’s fairground based story was filmed on the Town Moor in Newcastle where each year a huge fun fair visits the North East and stays a short time during the summer months. Well I say summer, it normally rains but it never dampens the fun! Seeing Vera film in a makeshift fun fair was a lot of fun and will be brilliant to see it on screen for real!

Visit Harbour Street before you go

 

Vera Day on ITV

VERA DAY IS HERE AGAIN!!

Come and see where Ann’s books are set and filmed 

I am so excited Vera is back on the television.  After having loved and read all of Ann’s books and watched all of Vera’s  episodes, never has the North East looked so mesmerizing and creepy at the same time. Brenda Blethyn was on the Jonathan Ross show last night talking about how she came into acting rather late  and when she got the part of Vera, this middle aged dumpy and bedraggled woman,  and worried about why they had cast her. She plays the part so well and I see her every time I pick up a vera novel now (and I don’t just mean on the cover)

Brenda Blethyn on the Jonathan Ross Show Jan2016

It was a real honour to film a piece for local television (ITV Tyne Tees)  this week in order to launch the new booktrail site and to talk more about the locations featured in Ann Cleeves novels. Ooh how I wished we’d had time to go to Tyne Valley, Amble and all the rest – but even just on the Quayside, around the corner from the Church where Harbour Street opens and the Lit and Phil  where Vera praises as a haven for every booklover (true) On tonight’s episode, we see Vera and Joe talk to a waiter/manager on an open balcony overlooking the Tyne (Brave). In the winds the North East has had recently, nearly everyone is wearing Vera style macs ( or they should be)

  Brenda Blethyn in her role as Vera on ITV

Vera pet you bring so much enjoyment to  the television screens and having bumped into you in various places in and around Newcastle (there was a pop up Fairground on the Town Moor where Vera films a few scenes and Brenda spoke last night on Jonathan Ross’s show about how they’d filmed the entire sequence only for a woman to come out of the nearby toilets, spot her and shout ‘ Vera!!’

Now if I hadn’t been with my mother that day, this is just the kind of thing she would have done. Everyone loves Vera.

So – ITV tonight 8pm. Vera Day is announced. Enjoy!

See the book The Moth Catcher come to life here 

VERA – Telling Tales – East Yorkshire – Ann Cleeves

telling-tales-ann-cleeves-paperback-cover-art

Why  a booktrail?

This time Vera heads to East Yorkshire and the bird watching landscape of Spurn Point. Vera however is watching and waiting for criminals…

Story in a nutshell

Ten years ago Jeanie Long was charged with the murder of fifteen-year-old Abigail Mantel. But now it turns out that she may in fact have been innocent all along – and if that weren’t bad enough this means the killer is still at large.

Emma Bennett was Abigail’s friend who found her that day and it’s something she has never forgotten. Justice now for her best friend is what she wants.

Enter Vera and her straight talking investigation which takes the villagers of East Elvet back to a time they would rather forget. Just what is it they wish to remain buried?

Place and setting

Hull The nearest large town to fictional Elvet which is east of the city Spurn Point - http://www.ywt.org.uk/reserves/spurn-nature-reserve and http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk/ Humber River The home of the coxwains Humber Life boat station Humber is the only lifeboat station with a full-time crew and a 200-year history. Coxswain Robert Cross who worked at the station has received many medals including gold and the George Medal.
Hull
The nearest large town to fictional Elvet which is east of the city
Spurn Pointhttp://www.ywt.org.uk/reserves/spurn-nature-reserve and
http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk/
Humber River
The home of the coxwains
Humber Life boat station
Humber is the only lifeboat station with a full-time crew and a 200-year history. Coxswain Robert Cross who worked at the station has received many medals including gold and the George Medal.

The inspirational setting for much of the action

Elvet may be fictional yet the area around Spurn Point and the region of East Yorkshire as a whole is clearly the setting for the third Vera novel. The point is geographically similar to Spurn but its not all the same. A fictional landscape somewhere East of Hull which is very reminiscent of the area however,

The fictional Elvet is a small town with many secrets of its own-

And this closed community seems reluctant to have its secrets looked into or for the old investigation to be reopened and reexamined. Vera has a lot on her plate but her presence, even if not on her usual home patch is necessary to reveal the secrets of this place

Hull and the Humber River

The raw and rocky storm wrecked coast at the mouth of the Humber River is an unique setting – the ships which go up and down the coast here in and out of the port make for a unique history of the area –

He joined ships at the mouth of the Huber and brought them safely into the docks at Hull, Goole or Immingham

The activity of pilots on the Humber illustrates a certain way of life which brings the area evoked to life. The life of the Coxswains is one we’d never read much about in literature –

Most of their life was spent waiting. The coxwains of the pilot launches waited for the tide and the crew of the sole permanently manned lifeboat

In real life, the pilots have moved out of their old office in Hull but to the author’s knowledge the office has not been sold for redevelopment, and the coxwains of the pilot launch don’t live there for real.

Spurn Point from the air as seen on Wikipedia
Spurn Point from the air as seen on Wikipedia

Spurn Point

Spurn Point’s a very distinctive place. Ann Cleeves speaks of a place she knows well since her husband is a keen bird watcher as is she and they have spent much time near here. The open spaces, the fact that the land is slowly merging into the sea as it erodes away and the sense of impermanence of the area with the migrating birds and the changing weather and waters.

It was skinnier than it had been, a spit of land shaped like a dropping wasted phallus hanging into the mouth of the river from the north bank

Bookish musings

Vera is back in her second literary outing and this time heading to East Yorkshire we see Vera venturing out to solve the murder of a young girl who was strangled 10 years previous. Together with a new killing, Vera has two problems to solve and the biggest one has to be the deceit and insular small village by the name of Elvet.

There’s something about small and insular villages or island communities which is fascinating in crime fiction and I loved the way Vera edged or rather barged her way in. She enters the novel earlier than in book one and so I felt I got to know her better. She’s quite a character and if she were real, I would love to meet her in real life, over a beer or a cup of tea.

The two murder threads and the strange police in a closed co,,unity setting are great features of this book and it’s not easy to discover who is guilty. What appears at times clear cut is not and the case is a lot more complicated than it seems.

Love Ann’s writing – so evocative of place and deep in characterisation so you can clearly picture everything you read. It was also lovely to find out more about Spurn Point and the birdlife there since this is a love close to the author’s heart.

A unique Vera adventure for sure.

Vera – the true Angel of the North – North East England in fiction

Vera – that no nonsense DCI from North East England is back on our screens this Easter Sunday for an adventure not in any of the books. We can’t tell you how excited we are to have this great drama series back on the television since it showcases both the writing talents of Ann Cleeves, the scriptwriters who come up with even more drama and witty one liners for Vera, and the whole crew working to promote the North East as a good location for crime fiction fans.

The Vera liine up –

Vera-lineup

These books are not only a great set of mysteries, police procedurals and great crime stories, they also showcase the North East of England where they are set in a very interesting light. Most of the locations in the books are real and if not they are based on real places or are inspired by places you can visit for real.

Take the first Vera adventure for example –

The Crow Trap 

Set in the stunning North Pennines which becomes a landscape of murder and hidden secrets when placed in the very capable hands of Ann Cleeves.

Locations featured – Newcastle, Craster, Kimmerton and the North Pennines of course which can be visited here –

The North Pennines The main setting for the novel and  the landscape of the environmental study. Baikie’s cottage is here too. http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx Cauldron Snout Could this be Hope Crag as it made us think of it when we saw it Kimmerston Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella  has connections  Craster Anne seems to have a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied –http://www.kipper.co.uk/  Newcastle Farnons is sadly no more but you can still visit M&S and Bainbridges although the latter is now John Lewis
The North Pennines
The main setting for the novel and the landscape of the environmental study. Baikie’s cottage is here too.
http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx
Cauldron Snout
Could this be Hope Crag as it made us think of it when we saw it
Kimmerston
Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella has connections
Craster
Anne seems to have a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied –http://www.kipper.co.uk/
Newcastle
Farnons is sadly no more but you can still visit M&S and Bainbridges although the latter is now John Lewis

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/the-crow-trap-north-pennines-northumberland-ann-cleeves/

Harbour Street

Set mainly in Newcastle and Northumberland. Mardle and Partington may be fictional names but the places they represent on the map are Amble and the Northumberland coast  –

Amble Harbour Where Harbour street is said to be located near to. Cliff House The building which appears on the HB and PB editions of the book Alnmouth Some of the filming for the TV show took place here Newcastle Fenwicks Where Vera is unexpectedly found shopping Newcastle Lit and Phil The Lit and Phil library?.. It’s where book -lovers hang out’
Amble Harbour
Where Harbour street is said to be located near to.
Cliff House, Amble
The building which appears on the HB and PB editions of the book
Alnmouth
Some of the filming for the TV show took place here
Newcastle Fenwicks
Where Vera is unexpectedly found shopping
Newcastle Lit and Phil
The Lit and Phil library?.. It’s where book -lovers hang out’

Here’s the full article on the book and its setting

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/vera-harbour-street-a-northumberland-booktrail/

So who will be watching the new series of Vera this weekend? We will! Great to see places you know and discover ones you didn’t. Maybe even discover a new book in the Vera series while you’re at it.

The Crow Trap – North Pennines, Northumberland – Ann Cleeves

crow-trap-ann-cleeves-paperback-cover-art

Why a booktrail? Vera burst into the literary scenes back in 1999 and both she and her creator Ann Cleeves have put the North East of England firmly on the literary map.

The area of the North Pennines
The area of the North Pennines

Story in a nutshell

Set mainly in the remote landscape of the  North Pennines, three very different women come together to complete an environmental survey.

They are to stay at a local cottage and live together whilst their work is completed. But each of the woman comes with more baggage that than which contains their soil collecting samples and landscaping equipment.

Each has a link to the land in some way and a personal search for answers of some sort. The land is of interest to a local quarry business and the local farm is at the centre of the area being studied.

But what Rachel finds there on arrival shocks her to the core and reveals a deep seated mine of intrigue and ultimately murder.

Cue Vera and her acerbic wit and investigative style – this is a Northern DCI with a harsh exterior but a softer centre – just don’t underestimate her that’s all we’re saying. This is her patch and she is after the truth…..

Place and setting

The North Pennines The main setting for the novel and  the landscape of the environmental study. Baikie’s cottage is here too. http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx Cauldron Snout Could this be Hope Crag as it made us think of it when we saw it Kimmerston Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella  has connections  Craster Anne seems to have a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied –http://www.kipper.co.uk/  Newcastle Farnons is sadly no more but you can still visit M&S and Bainbridges although the latter is now John Lewis
The North Pennines
The main setting for the novel and the landscape of the environmental study. Baikie’s cottage is here too.
http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx
Cauldron Snout
Could this be Hope Crag as it made us think of it when we saw it
Kimmerston
Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella has connections
Craster
Anne seems to have a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied –http://www.kipper.co.uk/
Newcastle
Farnons is sadly no more but you can still visit M&S and Bainbridge although the latter is now John Lewis

For the whole range of wonderful locations – two websites have it all – http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx

For the Northumberland locations – 

http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/

In the Crow Trap, we head over the North Pennines for the windswept and desolate moors, but not before visiting the stunning sights of Northumberland such as Wooler, RAF Boulmer , Kimmerston and the stunning surroundings of this beautiful part of the world

For this is where three women have gathered in order to carry out an environmental study. But it turns out that the environment is not really what they are concerned with and that they each separately have reasons for being there and secrets that they are careful to keep hidden.

THE NORTH PENNINES

The North Pennines where the team are carrying out a environmental study – the rocks, crags and natural habitat are described with the Ann Cleeves magic. As Rachel, one of the women in the study starts to prepare the area to study –

The moorland patch was less easy to define. The map showed drainage ditches, a dry stone wall, but even in good visibility she knew it would be hard to keep to the transect lines in such a featureless landscape.

This is a region where a lot of natural studies do take place as the North Pennines information page shows –

http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx

KIMMERSTON

Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella  has connections –

Dougie, still fit an active then. Brought all other supplies from Kimmerston once a week in his landrover

CRASTER

The area also comes to life with little snippets of insights into the woman’s lives such as –

Anne seemed to survive on scrambled egg and smoked salmon. It seemed she had a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied.

(For the famous Craster kipper and other delights – this is a must – http://www.kipper.co.uk/ )

A place known as Cauldron snout in the North Pennines. Is this similar to the view the ladies saw from the Hope Crag?
A place known as Cauldron snout in the North Pennines. Is this similar to the view the ladies saw from the Hope Crag?

The area as a whole –

But throughout there is  sense of the rawness, the remoteness and the starkness of the landscape – a perfect backdrop to the novel’s underlying theme of secrets, betrayal and hidden agendas….

From the mine Rachel broke away from the  track and took the direct climb to the top of Hope Crag. From there she could lock onto her moorland survey square.  The land sloped gently  in a series of plateaux to the horizon which was softened by woodland…..

There is a disused lead mine, a quarry, and the mystery of the crow trap, as featured in the title –

The trap was a large wire mesh cage with a funnel in the top.Inside a live, tame crow fluttered provocatively, inviting in another to defend its territory. Once in through the funnel there was not way out. Presumably they had to find some form of co-existence until the keeper came along to put the intruder out of its misery.

Crows were territorial creatures…

crow 1

Newcastle of course gets a mention and for any one who remembers the days of old, this should make you smile –

Farnons for school uniform, Bainbridges for curtain material, lunch in the studenty cafe  opposite the Theatre Royal, M and S for knickers and back to the Haymarket for the 3 o’clock bus

Welcome to the North Pennines and Northumberland

Bookish musings

Vera is everything that you could hope for from a North East DCI. She’s hardy, gritty and no nonsense in her approach. Yet from her appearance and manner you would hardly take her for a DCI.  Shabby, and looking like a bag lady who has wandered in off the street, she may not look the part but that’s sometimes what makes her so effective – people and criminals don’t expect she’ll ever get the upper hand. Haha more fool them.

The mystery of the three women on the environmental survey evokes a lot of the landscape and settings in and around Northumberland and the Pennines. The mystery is neatly done and the threads which appear loose all come together with skill.

Vera has a unique way of solving mysteries, interviewing witnesses and suspects and likes to observe. A very cool character and this first outing is a must read.