The 2nd Adventure Club Podcast: On Guns & Pipes

Since ‘The Riddle of the Sands‘ is so specific about dates, we’ve decided to tackle the book a day at a time. In this podcast, it’s all about September 24, in which Carruthers has the task of responding to the  various requests in Davies’s letter (listen to last week’s episode for full details).

Specifically, the task has been to find a pound of Raven Mixture tobacco, a gun and shells for duck shooting, and a portable stove.

In this episode, we discover the addictive delights of pipe smoking, track down a place where we might all go and learn how to shoot, discuss the portability of Rippingille stoves and mourn the fate of Dresden  – and then, bathed in a nicotine haze, we cover a range of ‘Club Business’ items. From Hugh Childers setting us straight about his grandfather through to the near-universal love of Arthur Beale (although Aunt Liz prefers ‘The Welsh Harp’…?) and on to themed biscuits, membership badges, the sizing of rigging screws and the delightful offer of day’s small boat sailing in the Dengie peninsula. Surely you want to join the Club now.

We’ve taken up pipe smoking – and Lloyd has found us our own version of Raven mixture.


Missions for next week – members assistance required.

1. Flushing steamers and European train timetables for 1894. We need to be accurate about how Carruthers gets to Flensburg. Can you match Lloyd’s impressive (if not to say obsessive) interest in timetables and transport? Can you confirm what a Flushing steamer is and where it would have set sail from?

2. A prismatic compass. It’s the trickiest and most unusual thing that Carruthers has to find and take on his adventure. But why is it needed, how does it work and where would we find one today? In particular, we’re interested to know if this is a normal nautical item, or is Childers trying to drop a hint that there’s something more militaristic going on here…?

3. Oilskins. We’re going to need the old-fashioned orange kind. Anyone out there got any? And what exactly do they smell like?

4. The Store. We think this is the Army & Navy on Victoria Street. Do you think any different?


5 thoughts on “The 2nd Adventure Club Podcast: On Guns & Pipes

  1. Ahoy! Wondering if, as the journey you’re about to embark on will probably take you through out of the way areas where you won’t have wifi, you’ll be able to make the podcasts available for download? Would be a great help to us more adventurous types, when tucked up in our bivouacs miles from the nearest 4G signal, we could be lulled to sleep by the dulcet tones of Davies & Carruthers whispering in our ears. In a manly way, of course.


    1. If you have a Soundcloud account you should be able to download it quite straightforwardly. I did find though that the pilot episode contained very little in the way of metadata so my media player called it an unknown thing by unknown people, which Carruthers would have probably not have called “sub-optimal”.


  2. I suspect a ‘prismatic compass’ is just another term for a marine hand bearing compass. A very useful and ordinary bit of kit you can find in any chandlery. Used mine just the other day, in fact. suggests that they have been ‘used by small-boat or inshore sailors since at least the 1920s’ although there’s not a good citation provided, and it would surprise me if they weren’t used as far back as the end of the 19th century.


  3. I think prismatic compasses were originally developed for use by the army and were issued to officers for mapping purposes. The prismatic term referred to a prism which allowed accurate sighting of a target whilst reading a bearing off a compass ring. I have owned simpler, cheaper versions incorporating a mirror instead of a prism for the last 60 years.
    However for use on a small boat they are a bit fiddly, and normal practice in the old days would be to sight over the top of the compass binacle to read an approx. bearing. Bigger vessels used a pelorus.
    In the Riddle I think it may suggest that the prismatic compass was intended to be used for precise measurement on terra firma, perhaps for plotting the directions of channels at low water, or even for simple plane table map drawing.


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