The Real Gentlemen Captains, Redux, Part I

In the lead-up to my appearance on 13 March at Weymouth Leviathan, Britain’s first maritime literary festival, I thought I’d reblog some of my very earliest posts on this site, from November 2011, about some of the characters who will be making appearances during my talk. Here’s the first of them! People often ask me […]

The Sailors’ (and Soldiers’) Graves

Last week’s post about naval and maritime graves in west Wales got a very positive response, so I thought I’d return to a similar theme this time. I spent the second half of last week further north, on the shores of Cardigan Bay, dodging torrential downpours, visiting a few places of naval interest (both expected […]

The Comfort Zone

One of the challenges and delights of working on my new non-fiction book, Britannia’s Dragon: A Naval History of Wales, is that it’s taking me into all sorts of uncharted territory and, in some cases, territory I’m revisiting after many years. The book is meant to cover the entire time period from the Romans (AD 60, to […]

Navy and Nation

Last week I attended the ‘Navy is the Nation’ conference at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth naval base. Despite being held against a backdrop of intermittent storms sweeping in from the Solent, this proved to be a very enjoyable affair, superbly organised by Simon Williams and Matt Chorley. I was one […]

1665: The Second Blast

In the summer of 1665, while plague was beginning to spread in London, one of the greatest battles of the sailing era took place. The Battle of Lowestoft ‘was one of the most blue-blooded battles of the age of sail. The British fleet was commanded in person by James, Duke of York, Lord High Admiral, heir […]

The Princes, the Removal Men and the Big Hole in the Ground

It’s been a busy week! On Saturday I chaired the Naval Dockyards Society AGM at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, before joining a party of society members on a walking tour of the site of the old Deptford royal dockyard. This is currently the location of a huge and ongoing archaeological dig preparatory to redevelopment […]

Captains and Kings

First, apologies for not posting last week. As I mentioned on Twitter, I paid the price for getting too carried away on ‘Quinton 4’, The Lion of Midnight, and typing over 8,000 words in two days with little regard for ‘elf ‘n’ safety’. The result was that I woke up the next morning with a hand […]

Flash Pepys, Saviour of the Universe

Last week saw the anniversary of Samuel Pepys’s birth in 1633, and Twitter was abuzz with the inevitable superlatives – the greatest English diarist! the founder of the modern Royal Navy! One only needed Queen to belt out ‘Pepys, Saviour of the Universe’, with Brian Blessed bellowing ‘Sam’s alive?!’, and the hyperbolic overdose would have […]

The Real Tarpaulins, Part 3: Or, Getting It Wrong and Getting It Right

My original intention for this week was to do a ‘straight’ factual outline of the careers of the three most famous ‘tarpaulin’ officers of the Restoration period, the closely inter-connected Sir Christopher Myngs, Sir John Narbrough and Sir Cloudesley Shovell. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there was a […]

Don’t Tell Your Mother

Apologies for missing my usual posting date last week. I’ve been in Wales for 10 days or so, packing in a lot of research and fieldwork for my new non-fiction book Britannia’s Dragon. I’ve had intermittent internet access and also managed to forget my access codes for the blog… Anyway, I thought I’d get back […]