Quick Links 24th September 2017

Life In General.

I’ve spent some time making chutney and jam this week. As you’ll know we’ve had a bumper crop of apples, and also have a few large pumpkins, so I’ve been focusing on what I can do with one or both of those. So I’ve made pumpkin and apple chutney and pumpkin and ginger jam. We’ve also had some roast pumpkin to go with various meals – still plenty of pumpkin left!

I’ve also been looking at an old (c.1974) map of my area, and comparing it to a more recent – but still 12 years old (c.2005) – map of my local area. It reminds me that next time I’m near a bookstore to try and see if there’s something more up-to-date. There’s been a lot of change, mostly development, in the area in between the two editions. I’ve been trying to explore more of my local area on foot, partly to find different routes that I can walk the dogs, but also because I’m aware that so much is changing it all the time, some areas have changed a lot since I was last there.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Work  A couple of meetings and a few things going on this week. I seem to be back in the development zone of work for the time being, with all of the outstanding proposals etc. now known quantities. I suspect that’s how it will be for the next week or so too.

Allotment. – I’ve been mostly digging this week. Getting beds ready for my garlic and onions, and I think that I’m just about ready to start planting. Still more digging on the rest of the plot, but I have prepared enough space for my aliums, and also my overwintering broad beans, which I’ll put in a little later on next month.

Otherwise the turning of the seasons and the colder nights have caused a few things to start dying back, my cucumbers plants are turning brown due to those colder nights.

Currently Reading – I finished reading “Moods of Future Joys” by Alastair Humpreys [GoodReads], the first part of his epic cycling adventure around the world. It was interesting to read how his journey changed from his original plan following the September 2001 attacks and how his plans of going through Iraq and Afghanistan changed, instead going through Syria and through Africa. I’m not sure now with the current geopolitical climate that even his revised route would be viable now. I haven’t started the second book yet.

Instead I started a reread of J R R Tolkein’s “The Two Towers” [GoodReads]. I read The Fellowship of the Ring last year, meaning to reread the entire trilogy, but with other events taking over I never got a chance. I might go onto the Return of the King after I finish The Two Towers or I might save that for another time.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Books for Sixth Graders – My good friends Will and Maria are sixth grade teachers at a school in Tijuana, Mexico. Their school library has become pretty denuded of  books and they’re trying to build the library back up. The schools budget is stretched and isn’t able to support buying all the books needed, so they’ve launched a wishlist of the books they’d like. I’ve bought a couple of my own personal favourites from the list and they’re on the way (nice to see that some of the books I read when I was at school, are still on the curriculum lists). If you’d like to help them too, please click on the link, the books are delivered directly to them via Amazon. If not no problem.

IT – I haven’t been to see IT yet, although I do intend to if I can find a free afternoon at some point. There are of course lots of articles out there with backstories to the film and comparisons to the earlier TV mini-series. There are a couple that I’m going to link to, but there are many more out there along the same lines if you’re interested.

The first is the authors experience reading IT over the summer ahead of the film coming out in the autumn.

The second is a tour of some of the places in and around Bangor, Maine that inspired or featured in some of King’s books and films.

Still On A Stephen King Theme

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I picked up a couple of DVDs which were on offer at the local supermarket when I was there doing my grocery shopping this week. Both are adaptations of Stephen King’s books of Salem’s Lot and The Stand. I’ve never seen The Stand, but I remember Salem’s Lot giving me a good scare when I was a kid. I was curious to see how they stood up. I haven’t watched Salem’s Lot again yet, but I was told it is still a good watch. I did however watch The Stand, or at least started to. It’s pretty dire, and I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be finishing it.


Posted in Quick Links | Leave a comment

Quick Links 17th September 2017

Life In General. – A busy week this week, several appointments with my Mum, including a follow up with the physiotherapists at the hospital, all is going well with her knee.

The parts for the garage door arrived, and I managed to get it repaired – I may need to add a little more tension into the spring – and it was quite straight forward. I’ve also got a new handle for my broken hammer, but haven’t had a chance to fit that.

The mornings have been cold and misty, and I’ve even starting wearing a woolly hat in the mornings when walking the dog, autumn definitely seems to be approaching.

Work  A bit of follow-up from the showcase event last week but otherwise it’s been a quiet week.

Allotment. – I think we’ve had some pretty cold nights this week, and it looks like some of the plants on the allotment are coming to the end of their season. We’ve also had a lot of rain, so it’s making the plot difficult to get on without compacting the soil. It’ll be a while before I need to sow over-wintering crops, so no great urgency, but I will need to do some digging before that can happen. I’ll be planting onion sets, garlic and broad beans in the next few weeks.

Currently Reading – After starting “A Year with Thomas Merton – Daily Meditations from his Journals” [GoodReads] over a year ago, I finished it this week. I’ve been reading each days entry on the same day over the past year, so I start reading last September. I’ve been reading on my kindle and have lots of highlighted passages and notes, which I’m going to look back through.

I’ve also started reading “Moods of Future Joys” by Alastair Humpreys [GoodReads], the first part of his epic cycling adventure around the world.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Dave Goulson – Creatures of the (French) Riverbank


Posted in Quick Links | Leave a comment

Quick Links 10th September 2017

Life In General. – I’ve had a touch of man-flu the second-half of the week, so haven’t been feeling like doing much at all, although life hasn’t given me an opportunity to slow down that much. When I get sick I always seem to have quite vivid dreams, and that has certainly been true this time – some really odd dreams – a part mixture of reality and complete oddness.

We’ve also managed to break a few things this week – they say these things come in threes, and I hope these are my three – the toilet flush handle (now replaced), the garage door cables (spares ordered), and my allotment club hammer:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Work  I had a late-afternoon / evening event on Monday. Showcasing my work and trying to drum-up some more business. It was a good event and I’ve been following up on a few things since. It feels like it was worthwhile, and hopefully it will draw in some new work.

Also heard that the proposal I submitted a couple of weeks ago won’t be going forward, which is a shame. It means I’ll have a little more time on my hands between now and Christmas if nothing else comes up.

Allotment. – I’ve done a little bit of research on my apple tree here’s a sample of what I found out:

named after its parents the Cox and the Bramley and combining the best of both of them. The Cobra is a terrific early cooker – ready in early September and then, left on the tree, makes the most delicious dessert apple to pick from mid October onwards

What I haven’t been able to find out is how well the fruit are supposed to keep, although I do know that both the “parents” generally keep well, so that’s a good sign.

Currently Reading – I started and finished reading “Swimming with Seals” by Victoria Whitworth [LINK] this week.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Dave Goulson – Meeting the wildlife in my French Meadow Part I

and Part II

A River Raft Adventure – This reminded me a little of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, mostly because of the raft, but a nice adventure none the less.

It led me to watch a few other videos from the same YouTube channel including the one below, inspired by Roger Deakin

I’m quite enjoying other videos on this channel too, so worth checking out I think.


Posted in Quick Links

Quick Links 3rd September 2017

Life In General. – A Bank Holiday week, and the end of another month! I’ve been doing quite a bit more baking this week with an aim to trying to use up some our apple crop. Both Dorset Apple Cake and Apple & Walnut muffins have been made and consumed, and barely has the Apple crop been reduced.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In other news there has been a lot of family stuff going on, that I’m not going to be talking about here. In fact I may well take a break from writing on the blog completely for a while. Haven’t decided yet, but if I do decide to take a break, I’ll post something here.

Work  A few bits and pieces this week in preparation for what will be a slightly busier week next week, but nothing significant happening.

Allotment. – The seasons are shifting slowly in the background, and I already seem to be preparing for the autumn and winter. I’m preparing the ground for over-wintering crops such as broad beans and onions, whilst still harvesting summer crops like courgette and cucumber.

Currently Reading – I started reading Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang [GoodReads], although I got there after watching Arrival [LINK], which is based upon the title story of the book. The film was a bit of a surprise for me and I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. It takes on a wider scope than the story but it is pretty faithful to the original work. The book is good too, a collection of short stories, all very well imagined and written.

I’ve also made a resolution with myself to not buy any new books this month. I’ve a huge backlog of things to read, and don’t need to add to it. So other than freebies, or possibly secondhand bargains if I go into the secondhand bookshop I’m trying not to add to my “to be read” pile. I’ll be adding them to a wishlist instead, so that I don’t forget them completely.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Terry Pratchett’s unfinished novels destroyed by steamroller – Something quite poetic about this [LINK]

The Story of How Big Businesses Are Proffiting From Vulnerable Adults – [LINK] Sadly this story doesn’t surprise me, and looking further it appears not to be all that uncommon.

Hay Festival – Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry, Chris Riddell & Amanda Palmer

Posted in Quick Links | 2 Comments

Quick Links 27th August 2017

Life In General. – It’s been a relatively quiet week for me, I’ve had a few things to do for my Mum, including taking her shopping – it’ll be at least another 3 weeks until she can drive again – but she is up to going around the supermarket under her own steam which is a good thing. I’ve also been trying to make a dent on some of the jobs that need doing in her garden. The lawns are a regular task, but there are other things that need doing at this time of the year.

We did manage to sneak an afternoon out towards the end of the week and took the dogs to the beach for a swim:


A post shared by Alan Williams (@tontowilliams) on

Work  I’ve been working on a few things this week, and I am reaching the limit of my patients in one particular area where I seem to be doing more than a colleague and picking up the slack that they’re leaving. We’ll see what happens there, but things might be changing soon.

Allotment. – I’ve been pickling gherkins this week. It’ll be another month before I can eat them, but this is the first time that I’ve grown my own.

I’ve also harvested all of the apples from our one apple tree. It’s been a bumper crop, and I’ve already made the first apple crumble [LINK] of the year. I’m planning some relishes and chutneys with some of the remaining apples, assuming I can find enough jars and lids!

Unfortunately the local badger population have decimated my sweetcorn crop, they’ve left me a couple of ears but that’s it, they’ve had the rest and have pushed over most of the plants – apart from the ones that had no ears on them, not sure how they know the difference – so I’ll be clearing those in the next week. I don’t begrudge them the corn, although I wish they’d leave them alone, and it’s down to me really to make sure that they are better protected. A lesson learned for next year.

Currently Reading – “RisingTideFallingStar” by Philip Hoare [LINK], I’ve actually finished this, and really enjoyed it. Particularly some of the authors own experiences at Cape Cod, these are some of the better “memoir” pieces that I’ve read.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

NHS – Plenty of coverage of the virtual discussion between the Health Secretary (Jeremy Hunt), and one of the worlds most respected scientists (Professor Stephen Hawking). In case you missed it here are a couple of links [LINK] & [LINK]. On the back of this came the news that our local hospital is about to go into special measures, if they don’t improve from the inadequate rating they’ve been given [LINK]. Having seen things for myself, I can’t say I’m surprised by the local news or that which has been playing out nationally. I think there are real problems. Locally the staff are under significant pressure, this one hospital covers a huge geographic area, and the through put of patients is huge. I think that the staff are doing a great job – although I’ve seen some individual exceptions of staff who perhaps aren’t doing the best job – the majority are working above and beyond.

Sooner or later if nothing changes I think this system is about to collapse and in my opinion it is being driven there by government.

Brian Aldis – I’ve only read one or two of Brian Aldis’ books but I’m conscious as to his impact on science fiction and literature in general. He passed away at the end of last week [LINK].

Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling – The dramatisation of the novels by J K Rowling’s (aka Robert Galbraith) comes to BBC this evening. I’m quite looking forward to it.

Posted in Quick Links

Quick Links 20th August 2017

Life In General. – It’s Sunday already. I’ve really noticed how much shorter the days are getting, it’s still not quite light when I first get up in the morning. The security light comes on in the garden when I let the dogs out first thing, and the sun is often down before we lock up at night. It’s strange how this creeps up every year.

Otherwise this week has been a few family appointments, and doing things for my Mum. It’s been three weeks since her op and it will be at least the same again until she can drive, so shopping trips and other similar things are going to be on for a little while yet.

On Friday I was at Portchester Castle. It’s probably close to 40 years since I was last inside the Castle proper – we walk the dogs around the outside fairly regularly – and it’s been on my list of things to do for a while now. I tried to get a trip in last year, but that didn’t happen, so a year later we were there.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also got to see the new aircraft carrier (currently without aircraft) from the top of the Castle tower.

Work  I finished the proposal that I was working on mid-week and submitted it. I won’t hear the outcome until early September probably. I’ve also been working on some other things for early September, so it’s been quite a busy week with different things on the work front.

Allotment. – Harvested my first pumpkin of the season this week. It will soon be pumpkin soup, and a few other things. It weighed in at 9.5 kilos. In case you don’t know, here’s how to tell whether your pumpkin is ripe or not:

Currently Reading – I started reading “RisingTideFallingStar” by Philip Hoare [LINK], and although I’m not even a hundred pages in yet, I’m really enjoying it. I think it’s probably one of those books that you’d either really like or hate. For me it’s the former.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Cats Eyes Signs Removed – Seriously? [LINK]


Posted in Quick Links | 3 Comments

Quick Links 13th August 2017

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.

I’ve been thinking about when these posts get published, and am moving them to a Sunday instead of Monday. I might switch between the two days, depending on what I’m doing and what my plans are, and I may yet get around transitioning it all to a weekly newsletter, but that’s a little way off yet.

Life In General. It feels like it’s been a pretty full week. I phoned the garage first thing Monday morning, and they were able to look at the car straight away. Although they couldn’t be certain that they found the fault, it seems like they have (fingers-crossed).

I spent the day doing train journeys to get me about, but managed to get my Mum’s shopping done for her.

The lawnmower repair shop phoned to say that they’d fixed her lawnmower, so I went and collected it, and mowed her lawn (it’s in tip-top shape, they did an excellent job). As I was finishing up I had a call asking me to go and have a look at the drains at my Grandma’s house. The people who are buying it had a report from their surveyor that the drains were blocked. Long story short, they were blocked and I spent Wednesday clearing them. Unfortunately Wednesday was a very wet day, so it wasn’t a very pleasant job, and my boots still aren’t fully dry!

Friday Mum had the staples removed from her knee. That seems to be progressing well.

Work  I’ve been fitting work around things this week. Mostly I’ve been working on a proposal, and I had meetings on Thursday. These were all in town, so I was able to walk to them.

Allotment. – Mostly I’ve just been popping into the plot to harvest. Lots of courgettes, broccoli and kale at the moment. Also harvested the first of my gherkins, although I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do with them.

Currently Reading – I finished Down to the Sea in Ships by Horatio Clare [GoodReads], which I really enjoyed. On my way back from my meetings on Thursday I stopped in to the secondhand bookstore in town and picked up a few books, including a couple which I was really pleased to find.I started reading Transgemination by Glenn Gray [LINK]


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Tea & Cake Anyone? – [LINK] – Hundred-Year-Old Antarctic Fruitcake Found in “Excellent Condition”

Arthur C. Clarke – was / is a bit of a hero of mine. Although it’s a few years old I stumbled across this post about his home in Sri Lanka this week. His home is kind of how I imagined it might be.

Posted in Quick Links | 2 Comments