Author Paul Rance's website

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Peterborough Cathedral's Hedda Stone - Photos by Francesca Heaney

The Hedda Stone is one of the most important items in Peterborough Cathedral. Created in the 9th Century, there is much conjecture regarding who the twelve characters depicted on the Stone actually are. But, there is no doubt that the Hedda Stone has religious significance, whether the figures on the Stone immortalise murdered monks during a Viking raid, or include Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

These photographs, reproduced here with permission, were taken by Francesca Heaney, daughter of esteemed history professors Helli and Dorothy Koenigsberger. 

Click on an image to enlarge.

Writer Paul Rance and Peterborough Cathedral guide Peter Larke (far right) studying the images on the Hedda Stone.

Photos © Francesca Heaney

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Dinosaurs in the Cathedral: Peterborough Cathedral Hosts the Iconic Giants of Our Past

The animatronic dinosaur exhibition inside the magnificent setting of Peterborough Cathedral did not disappoint. Amidst the terror of seeing a moving T. rex close up, the guy with the little arms (you can tell him/her as I won't...) wasn't the only star of the show. Ankylosaurus, Tenontosaurus, Sauronitholestes, Deinonychus, Edmontosaurus and Dromaeosaurus were among some of the other dinosaurs wowing small children and adults alike. While the dinosaur babies on display were undeniably cute, with some even seen to be hatching.

Entitled T. Rex: The Killer Question, the exhibition happened to end the day my friend Francesca Heaney and I visited last Saturday. Over the course of the near 7 weeks the exhibition ran some 50,000 visitors came to be awed by creatures that continue to fascinate. One little boy exclaimed on seeing a T. rex: "A beautiful dinosaur!" Beauty wasn't really one of Rexy's attributes, but I loved the child's sense of wonder.

With nine animatronic dinosaurs, and some static ones too, plus skeletons, bones and skulls all supplied by the Natural History Museum in London, one wonders what Catherine of Aragon, who lies in the Cathedral, would have made of the roaring dinos. I'm sure ex-hubby Henry VIII would have given a T. rex a good meal.

A terrified Paul Rance evades a T. rex just in the nick of time
Photo © Francesca Heaney

Paul Rance and Francesca Heaney outside Peterborough Cathedral
Photo © Francesca Heaney

Edmontosaurus babies hatching
Photo © Paul Rance

Don't look behind you, Ankylosaurus!
Photo © Paul Rance

A sweet Edmontosaurus curious about her new temporary home
Photo © Paul Rance

A cheerful T. rex
Photo © Paul Rance

Links of interest 

Available from Amazon UK (click on the image below to reach the relevant page): First Dinosaur Encyclopedia: A First Reference Book for Children (DK First Reference) Paperback 


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Art Advice for Beginners

There's no need to be afraid of drawing. A pencil and a piece of paper can't harm you! So, if you are nervous about drawing, take heart and read on.

A lot of people do think that they can't draw. It can be down to something which was said to them at school, or just something they believe because it's so long since they did actually draw, and have forgotten the skills they may have had.

It is important to realise that nobody is telling you to draw and then show relatives and friends your early efforts. If you are going to feel stressed at feeling that you have to draw to please other people, then please think again. All you really should be concerning yourself with is getting something down on paper when you are beginning.

You'll need to get a sketchbook, and a quality pencil, and in the sketchbook you can draw or sketch whatever you want to. If you are a beginner, you are better off working with photos, but if you feel confident enough to go out in the fresh air and sketch or draw a tree, or an idyllic scene, then that's perfectly okay. The more you draw, the better you will become, and you shouldn't really be worried about whether your work is brilliant or not at such an early stage. This early stage should be about enjoyment more than anything else. You'll learn more if you're enjoying what you're doing.

Think about what you love to draw, and experiment with rough sketches of the image or images that you want to capture. Don't get frustrated if you can't get the sketches right quickly. This is really early practice, and you should be having fun, and by learning in a step-by-step way. you will actually learn from your mistakes, and these early sketches will sharpen your skills.

As you progress, you will gain the confidence to become more elaborate with your drawing. You should begin with sketches, then try more studied drawings, but drawings lacking fine detail. Once you are skilled in sketching and preliminary style drawings, then you should attempt to draw in more detail.

Draw because you want to, and it's up to you what you do with your work, who you show it to - if anyone. Enjoy it, and don't take it too seriously. You never know, though, you may become so good that you'll want to shout about your talent from the rooftops!

Here's one of my old drawings and links to some of my work. 

Art by Paul Rance

Illustrations from my environmental novel From Ecocide to Eden on these two pages below.

Paul Rance's Blog: Some of the Illustrations from the Environmental Novel From Ecocide to Eden by Paul Rance (

From Ecocide to Eden by Paul Rance; Chapter One and Illustrations of Some of the Main Characters

Monday, August 15, 2022

Freya the Walrus: Another Victim of Man's Arrogance and Cruelty

The killing of Freya the Walrus in Norway is typical of man’s arrogance and nastiness. Anything that gets in the way has to be killed. The same was true of Geronimo the Alpaca last year, when the cold George Eustice (a Conservative that encapsulates the unpleasantness that pervades his party) and the lacklustre Labour leader Keir Starmer both thought that killing Geronimo was the right thing to do. 

So, animal lovers like me witnessed on social media videos of dreadful barbarism as Geronimo was brutally dragged away to his death. Not a squeak from Eustice or Starmer about animal cruelty - or triggering depression issues for those of us with a soul. While the police showed whose side they were on. The state - as always.

People who care passionately about animals should ask themselves why should they vote for political parties that don’t value the lives of animals. But millions will still vote for men and women who only care about power. 

Paul Rance wearing a Geronimo Forever t-shirt

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Pea-Leaf Weevil Climbing a Pinky

"Come on little fella you can do it!" Which indeed he/she did, as the summit was reached shortly after this photo was taken. It's worth looking at macro images of pea-leaf weevils as they have the face of a cute animal.


Copyright © 2022 Paul Rance

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Peterborough 30 Days Wild Swanfest

I love swans and I photographed these guys by the River Nene in Peterborough as part of 30 Days Wild last month. One guy looked particularly menacing as I had no food...

Copyright © 2022 Paul Rance

Thursday, June 23, 2022

30 Days Wild 2022

With so much bad news around in recent years it's nice to get out and lose oneself in the beauty of nature. Thanks to the Wildlife Trusts for encouraging people to make June 30 Days Wild month. The hashtag #30DaysWild on various social media sites will open up some great photos and videos that people have uploaded from all over the UK.

Click on the photos below to see them enlarged.

A bee embracing a flower in Crowland, Lincs during 30 Days Wild 2022

Water lily, Crowland

This dog rose in Crowland has some small visitors...

A small tortoiseshell butterfly enjoying life by the River Welland, Crowland

Copyright © 2022 Paul Rance

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Family Tragedies from Made in Luton

I'm currently working on a book, provisionally entitled Made in Luton, about growing up in Luton from the early '60s to when I left the town in 1983. But the book won't just be about me. It will look into my roots, and the culture, events and environment that shaped me. Looking into my roots there were a lot of tragedies in my family, and here's an extract from what will probably end up in the finished book.

Family Tragedies

Some of the names of my Great-Grandmothers could have been the names of characters in a Jane Austen novel: Caroline Foxlee, Tabitha Tompkins, Rosanna Dollimore, Hannah Bedford, Sarah Pepper, Sarah Goldthorp, Sophia Williams. But tragedies seemed all too frequent for my ancestors. My second Great-Grandmother Caroline Foxlee's Father Job died after falling off a haycart.

While one of the hardest things to deal with looking into the family history is coming across the distressing number of infant deaths. My Great-Greatparents x 5 Joseph Bedford and his wife Susannah lost a son called Joseph in 1773, when he was just a baby. In 1776 they had another son called Joseph (it seemed a custom to give a later child the same name of a child who had died young). He also died when just a baby.

My fifth Great-Grandmother Lucy Carter died during childbirth in 1790. Her husband George Doggett was a yeoman, so they were a middle class couple, and probably had a comfortable life up to that point.

My first cousin four times removed, Mary Williams Gascoigne, was married and had her first child before she was 17. Both Mary and her husband, James Olney, died in their 30s.

The family of William Doggett (my second Great-Granduncle) certainly endured their fair share of tragedies. William who, when 22, married 19-year-old Hannah Sutton in Clophill in 1866, died in a well. Though it was never established whether William’s death was suicide or not. One can imagine the impact on his wife and their 16 children.

William’s son John was killed in the First World War. He was 42, and was an example that not all British WWI soldiers were young men. John, brought up in Clophill, had been living with his wife Frances Swann and their five children in Derbyshire, where he worked as a coal miner.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Happy 80th Birthday Paul McCartney - the Greatest Living Englishman

It's not just all the great songs Paul McCartney has written (more than any other British composer) that make him, in my opinion, the greatest living Englishman. As one of The Beatles, Paul had a massive cultural influence in the 1960s, whether it be music, fashion, or encouraging people to appreciate art through The Beatles album covers of Klaus Voormann (Revolver), Peter Blake and Jann Haworth (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band).

In addition, Paul's support of animal rights has encouraged people to be more compassionate. It seems then that love being a common theme in the music of The Beatles is no coincidence. 

Here's a piece I wrote about Paul McCartney a few years ago, and this page also features an appreciation of Paul McCartney by Andy Savage written in 1988.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Photos of Nature in Crowland, Lincolnshire by Paul Rance

I wasn't expecting to see so many swans in Crowland today. Chuffed to capture these two flying over the River Welland, and the damselfly that posed for me. Plenty of buttercups out too, and here's just a few.

Swans flying over the River Welland in Crowland

Damselfly just chilling


Copyright © 2022 Paul Rance

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Some Old Articles

I'm currently working on putting some old articles online. You'll find a list of them here. There'll be a wide variety of subjects to read, including a brief history of aerial photography, the mystery of Atlantis and a brief appreciation of Doctor Who.

Top of the Pops Blog by Angelo; Top of the Pops CD Compilation

Brotherhood of Man may or may not have dedicated a song to him, but Angelo's Top of the Pops blog is a labour of love, and details repeated episodes on BBC4 of the popular TV chart show. Angelo must also have a strong stomach, as amidst the good stuff there's a lot of dross that would reduce lesser men to mush. The comments are interesting too.


Amazon UK are selling an interesting three disc box set of hits that featured on Top of the Pops from 1975 to 1979. 1975 was the year that I really got into music, and so this box set contains a lot of songs I remember liking at the time - Sailor's A Glass of Champagne, Roxy Music's Love Is the Drug, Jim Capaldi's Love Hurts, even The Stylistics Can't Give You Anything (But My Love). While 10cc's I'm Not in Love got me heavily into their music. 

Top of the Pops 1975-1979 is a good compilation of songs from this period, but it would have been better to have had the songs in some kind of chronological order.

Top Of The Pops 1975-1979

Track Listings from the first disc

1 M / Pop Muzik
2 Roxy Music / Love Is The Drug
3 Sailor / Glass Of Champagne
4 Abba / Mamma Mia
5 The Buggles / Video Killed The Radio Star
6 Squeeze /Cool For Cats
7 Siouxsie & The Banshees / Hong Kong Garden
8 The Stranglers / No More Heroes
9 Sparks Get In The Swing
10 Joe Jackson / Is She Really Going Out With Him?
11 Bay City Rollers / Bye Bye Baby
12 Status Quo / Rockin' All Over The World
13 Thin Lizzy / The Boys Are Back In Town
14 Jim Capaldi / Love Hurts
15 Mud / Oh Boy
16 Elkie Brooks / Pearl's A Singer
17 Boney M / Rivers Of Babylon
18 Mike Oldfield / In Dulce Jubilo
19 10CC / I'm Not In Love
20 Kate Bush / Wuthering Heights

Click on the image below to see more details at Amazon UK.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Birds Photographed in Crowland by Paul Rance


A screenshot of some of the Crowland birds I've photographed. See bigger images of some of 'em here.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Some of the Illustrations from the Environmental Novel From Ecocide to Eden by Paul Rance

Some of the illustrations of the characters from my upcoming adult fairytale for the climate conscious (but not for the squeamish) - From Ecocide to Eden

Available as an ebook from January 29th on Amazon. You can see more illustrations from my environmental novel, and read the first chapter here.

Marcus the Mole
Klar the Kestrel
Ferdinand the Frog

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Peace & Freedom Spring 2020 Climate Change, Nature Special Paperback

Peace & Freedom Spring 2020 - Paperback (also available in Kindle)

Climate change, nature special 

Poetry by the likes of Nancy L. Dahl, Dorothy Koenigsberger, Francesca Heaney, Jane Foulger, Janine Booth, Cardinal Cox, Sylvia Maclagan, Vivien Foster, Wendy Webb, Phil Knight, Keith Murdoch and Paul Rance.

Click on the image to purchase from

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Google Cricket Game Personal Bests

Probably never going to have such a great day again playing the Google cricket game - two highest scores in consecutive innings (210 and 113 - only two innings of the day). Heard that someone scored over 800 in an innings, though I choose not to believe that, as that snail bowler is relentless.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Peace & Freedom Band - Alien Landscapes

An Andrew Bruce instrumental that featured on the Peace & Freedom Band album 'Earth' - which, when released in 2000, was an early example of mp3s being released in an album format.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Suburban Homeowner

The suburban homeowner is rarely looked upon kindly. They are normally portrayed as conservative, snooty, and narrow-minded. As a huge percentage of any population aspire to living in the suburbs, this stereotypical image seems unfair.

A Symbol of Aspiration

In the West in the last century, especially for the aspirational working classes, having a home in the suburbs was a status symbol as much as a home. Inner city ghettoes in the 20th Century either crushed people, or provoked many to try and get out of them.

The suburban homeowner in the United States is traditionally seen as someone who is happy with their lot. They are often portrayed in movies as reaching a certain level in life, and then feeling no motivation to push themselves further.

The role of the suburban homeowner is, though, a symbol of aspiration. Suburbia is portrayed as an idyllic place where the only thing to concern the suburban homeowner is to try and attain the perfect lawn. Not true, of course, as no one gets through life without bad things happening.

The Perfect Family

Cheesy TV commercials of the 1950s and 1960s would portray the bliss of the American Dream. The perfect family trying out the local kitchen appliance or electrical goods would nearly always be a suburban one. The family would always seem to be squeaky clean, and the viewer could be forgiven for thinking that they had never done anything wrong in their whole life.

Whether the suburban homeowner began to believe the TV commercials and consider themselves superior to city dwellers, town dwellers, or people from rural areas is open to question. The TV commercials didn't do the suburbanites any favors, as they soon became perceived as rather shallow members of society, who were obsessed with status symbols.

There is a good and bad aspect to the perceived role of families living in the suburbs. Because of how untroubled a suburbanite's life appears to be, living in the suburbs seems inviting. But, becoming like a suburbanite is not.

A Sense of Community

Despite their perceived faults, the suburban homeowner is recognized as being a good neighbour. Another positive effect of living in the suburbs is that there is a feeling of community, and a certain amount of healthy competition. If everyone in the street has an immaculate garden, then there is pressure on all the individuals in the street to keep their standards up. Thus, anyone moving into a suburban street will be instantly aware of one major way of being accepted. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

How Writing Frees the Mind

Though writing can be hard work, it can be a release from the stress of everyday life. We all have problems to deal with, and we sometimes need a creative outlet to lift our spirits. Writing is a great way to break free of the intensity of 21st Century living.
How Writing Can Be an Escape
Writing frees the mind in that a writer can immerse themselves in a story, or just simply by writing about something that they love, or by writing a poem about a loved one. Writing can be at its most uplifting for the writer, when the writer just writes about their own personal feelings - an extension of writing a diary if you like. The mind then isn't cluttered by concerns about correct research or merely appealing to other people. You can just write for yourself, and it may well help you cope with some of your problems along the way.
It can be strange in seeing how some writers actually do manage to muster the motivation to write when the world around them is falling in on them. Sometimes it must seem like writing is the one thing that a writer is in control of, and maybe that is the key. The words are yours, and though you can't fully control life's events, you can control what you write.
A writer who has an otherwise dull life will see writing as an escape also. All human beings do need something to grab hold of if their lives aren't happy or joyful, whether it's music, art, writing, reading, or having a nice walk in the country. All these may not only free the mind, but can have an uplifting effect on the soul, too.
Writing Is Good for Us
Writers can begin writing in an unhappy state, but within minutes they can be lost in writing, and though the troubles of the world are still there, during the time a writer writes then at least all the sadness is in abeyance. Even when a writer writes about sad things in their own lives, then that can be a cathartic experience for the writer. Writing, by itself, won't solve life's problems, but it can help the mind take a time-out from those problems, and consequently make them a little easier to deal with.
Nobody should really write with money being their main objective. Writing is a powerful force, and it can have an amazing impact on our wellbeing. There can't be a much better reason to write than that.
From the Paul Rance book, Made of the Write Stuff.

Kindle version of Made of the Write Stuff

Amazon UK

Amazon US
More extracts from Made of the Write Stuff by Paul Rance here.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Peace & Freedom Magazine Summer, 2019

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 is now available via Amazon. Featuring a tribute to Steve Sneyd by Pete Cardinal Cox, articles from the likes of Elizabeth Beebe and Donna Salisbury, poetry from Francesca Heaney, Sylvia Evelyn, Gwynn Watt and Lady Samantha - among others. Reviews of the No Fracking album by Ralf Bevis and Federico Balducci, and the book, Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets by Steve Andrews.

UK links

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 - Paperback

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 - Kindle

US links

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 - Paperback

Peace & Freedom Summer, 2019 - Kindle

Monday, December 24, 2018

Ken Barrington, extract from Paul Rance's England's 50 Greatest Cricketers


Ken Barrington's Test average of 58.67 in 82 Tests underlined his importance to the England side of the 1950s and 1960s. Ken was probably at his peak in the mid-1960s, and this period included his Testbest score of 256 (also his best score in his firstclass career) against Australia at Old Trafford in 1964. That is still the highest innings for England against Australia since Len Hutton's 364. Barrington scored 6,806 Test runs, and reached the century mark for England 20 times. 

A major reason for Surrey's dominance in the 1950s, Ken Barrington was a big match player. He averaged just under 40 in the County Championship, but nearly 64 in Tests against Australia. He made his Test debut in 1955 against South Africa, but like many great players he failed to trouble the scorers in his first Test innings. 

Ken scored 76 first-class hundreds, and scored 31,714 runs in his first-class career. His outstanding Test average helped to boost his overall first-class batting average to 45.63. A useful bowler, Barrington took 5 wickets in an innings 8 times, with a best of 7-40, and a remarkable best of 3-4 in Tests. 

A heart attack in 1968 ended Barrington's career prematurely. In 1981, when England's assistant tour manager, Ken Barrington died aged only 50 following another heart attack. England's outstanding young players of the time respected him, and Graham Gooch described Ken as a mentor to him, David Gower, Ian Botham and Mike Gatting. That Barrington is seemingly not so revered as other batsmen of his generation, such as May, Cowdrey and Tom Graveney, is perhaps because of a reputation for slow scoring. That, though, seems to be a contradiction of the facts. He hit the quickest Test hundred of 1966, and also had another reputation - of reaching a Test hundred with a six. Of retired players who scored 6,000 Test runs or more, only Don Bradman has a better average than Barrington's.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Being St. Francis - Chapter 11 - Emotional Involvement

A chapter from my latest book, Being St. Francis.

"In Being St. Francis the author looks at ways that we can improve as individuals and as a society. The focus in this book is on love and kindness, and to value all living things – just as St. Francis did. If you care about human rights, animal rights/animal welfare issues, environmental issues, green left politics this book should appeal to you."

Chapter 11 - Emotional Involvement

Being sensitive is ALWAYS something to be proud of. But it has its obvious dangers. Bullies tend to home in on you if you are sensitive. Consequently, being sensitive doesn't mean that you shouldn't be scared of showing your teeth, or physically fighting back in self defence. That combination of sensitivity and combativeness is always a winning combination, whereas being too aggressive never appeals to anyone but similarly aggressive types.

Where sensitivity can lead to problems is when becoming emotionally involved in causes. Because there are always people out there who will harm other people, animals and nature without a second thought. For anyone who is sensitive, this type of vicious behaviour will typically be hard to fathom. Not even if they come out with the lame “I'm just doing my job” excuse. There is such a thing as having a social and moral conscience after all.

In March, 2018 I was getting increasingly depressed by environmental issues. Sudan, the last northern white rhino had died, and on the same day the destruction of healthy street trees was gathering pace again in Sheffield. Two days later I was watching a livestream of a beautiful tree being cut down. Then, as I was on Twitter, I saw that the tree was Duchess Lime. We followed each other, and communicated. Yeah, I know, it was a human behind the account... It's not every day you see a living thing you mutually follow on Twitter being killed live.

Two days earlier I had gone to bed thinking I was never going to be happy however long I live, because of the way humans continue to trash Earth. The killing of Duchess was unthinking, brutal humanity writ large. I went to bed, and cried my eyes out, and took a break from social media for a week. This is the danger of becoming emotionally involved with causes. But, apart from those who are emotionless, there will always be something that will compel us to throw our support behind something. Whether it's trying to save our local football club, or a beautiful tree. There is, though, the risk of what happens when all that time and effort seems futile, and hope becomes lost. That's when depression can kick in.

This doesn't mean we should step back forever from ever doing good, but we sometimes DO need to step back for a week or two to recharge.

Also avoid the negative influences, the naysayers who will always tell you: “Why bother? You won't make any difference.” Obviously, some causes are doomed to failure from a very early stage, but it's still important not to give up completely. If a local library is, for instance, facing closure, and no one tries to stop that action, then that just emboldens other local authorities to maybe shut down a library in their area, as they will expect an easy ride.

The negative influences are everywhere on social media. They can be subtle enough to not seem like trolls, but they are even worse if anything. Because they will seem reasonable and engage in a discussion, when nothing will change their view. Thus, they waste your time and energy, which was their intention all along. Not wanting to get into conspiracy theories, these people are not necessarily plants, but just wind-up merchants.

There may be also a feeling of jealousy with these types, because they lack empathy, and indeed know themselves that they have no real values. So, all they have left is to sneer and attempt to pull down those people who do care. An attempt to bring people down to their level.

Emotional involvement in a cause is a sign of love. Love can be painful, but without the ability to love we are an empty shell.

Chapter 15 - The Kirby Misperton Effect

Being St. Francis Cover by Paul Rance