Tomato Update

A quick video update from the potting shed on how the tomatoes are doing.

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Quick Links 17th July 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.


Life In General. – A busy week doing family stuff. My Mum needed taking to a couple of medical appointments, and now has a date for her knee replacement, meaning the next few weeks are likely to be very busy indeed.

I managed to pick up a puncture on the car, so spent a time getting that repaired. Fortunately the garage where I had it done is close to a second-hand bookshop, so although I didn’t actually buy anything I had a pleasant time browsing while the puncture was repaired.


Work – I’ve been moving a few proposals forward and adjusting some plans around when my Mum will be in hospital having her knee done, and afterwards for when she returns home. My diary was reasonably clear anyway over that period so it shouldn’t have too big an impact.


Allotment. – The plot is coming along well. I dug the second row of potatoes at the weekend which means we have easily enough to last until Christmas if not a bit longer. The courgettes are also now starting to produce well, so we should have a steady supply until the first frosts.

In the potting shed the tomatoes are in producing well too, so I’ve not been buying any now for a couple of weeks. It’s reaching the part of the year, where our shopping bill drops considerably, as we have plenty of fresh veg.


Currently Reading

The Dark Tower by Stephen King [GoodReads]- which I’m reading for an online group.

Haven’t had much time for anything other than the tale of Roland and his Ka-tet in the last week.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Fido Family Tree – A quick Guardian pictorial of the family pet’s wilder relatives [LINK]


Sixth Max Extinction Is Already Underway – LINK I actually felt that this was stating the obvious when I read through this article []. I felt for a long time that many species are becoming less frequent or their ranges are changing and / or shrinking. Even locally, changes to insect populations, and also species such as swallows, swifts and housemartins are considerably different to where they were ten years ago when we moved here. Those with the power just don’t seem to care however, they are in it for the short term and not worried about the future or their descendants.


13th – Between watching the F1 British Grand Prix and the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final, the 13th Doctor was revealed.

Not an actor that I know all that well, but one I’ve heard a lot of good things about, and at last a woman. I’m looking forward to the new season, hopefully the series will return to it’s strengths now.

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Quick Links 10th July 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.


Life In General. – It’s been a busy week. I have a couple of medical visits with my Mum, one to the dentist and the second to the hospital for her pre-op assessment ahead of her knee replacement. There’s a follow up dentist visit in the coming week. Between that I’ve been fitting in work.

Our broadband problems have been continuing, we’ve had a few very frustrating days, but things do seem to have improved now (fingers-crossed). It seems that we’ve had multiple faults which have all manifested at the same time, this has included line faults outside of the house, and also a faulty router.

I also had a trip to Otter Farm in Devon on Friday;
This was part of a crowd funding reward following my contribution last Spring towards their new kitchen project. Great day listening to Mark Diacono’s philosophy with respect to his small holding, and also some great food at lunchtime! It’s given me a few ideas towards new things I might try on the allotment.

It’s also been hot again, I’m just not used to the humid heat. Unfortunately I had to spend some of Sunday moving furniture to make way for a “new” desk which is arriving hopefully this coming Wednesday.


Work – Proposal development this week, and also found out about one that I was working on a few weeks back, that has been unsuccessful. Work this week has been interspersed with many other things.


Allotment. – Our first courgette harvest this week, as well as rainbow chard. I’ve cleared a row of potatoes, and there’s another row to go. I recorded a couple of videos which I’ve only recently been able to upload, because of our broadband issues:


Currently Reading

Not much time for reading this week, although I took a book with me to the various appointments with my Mum, I was mostly reading “The Dark Tower” by Stephen King [GoodReads]- which I’m reading for an online group. I did also pick up a copy of “Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey” by Madeleine Bunting [GoodReads] which I’m looking forward to reading in due course.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Parakeet Cull? – There’s one UK bird that I’ve never seen, and that’s the ring-necked parakeets that are resident in London and apparently spreading much more widely. A cull is proposed [LINK], in order to contain the spread and a bit like other invasive species that might well be the best thing. The proposals seem to be to contain the birds in their current urban range in South and West London, rather than being more widespread or aggressive. That approach would though need to be an ongoing plan, as these birds are sure to continue to try to expand their range. My feelings are mixed, and I don’t know enough about the science behind the proposals to be able to judge, however science behind other culls e.g. badgers has in the past proved to be based on poor evidence and bad science, so I have to say I am a little sceptical. For the time being this is something that I want to know and understand more about.


Love A Slug – Going on record here that I don’t like slugs or snails because of what they do to my garden / allotment, but Chris Packham has a valid point here about being a little more tolerant [LINK]. I’m not really impressed with the way the article is written though. It fails to mention that those people who choose to use poisons to deal with slugs, run the risk of that poison being transmitted in the food chain and also harming the hedgehogs and birds who predate on slugs and the mention of the Maltese court case has absolutely no relevance. Pretty shoddy reporting for The Guardian.


Naomi Klein – I wrote about Naomi Klein’s new book “No Is Not Enough” a few weeks ago, there’s an extract from it in The Guardian this week, focused on the Hurricane Katrina “relief” effort. [LINK] Make for shocking reading, and I can almost see the same thing happening in the UK following the Grenfell Tower fire.


Russian Space Shuttles – It’s hard to remember, but the former Soviet Union also a space shuttle programme. In no way do I condone trespassing or what the guys in the video below did, but ut us interesting to see what those old spacecraft look like, now sadly abandoned.

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Quick Links 3rd July 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.


Life In General. – Problems with our broadband and home phone line this last week has meant a slightly frustrating week trying to do anything online, even when I tried to report the fault I had a problem and ended up having to do it on my iPad (which has a cellular connection) rather than our home WiFi. It’s been on and off all week, and isn’t due to be fixed until the 3rd or 4th of July. A good proportion of this post has therefore been written on my phone and IPad.

We took the dogs to the vets this week for their annual health check and vaccinations. No problems, and we’ve now synchronised their visits which means less trips to the vet from now on (hopefully) although the downside is that the bill now comes at the same time!

It’s also three years since Ruby came home with us, leaving her litter mates behind.

On the way back from the vets we stopped on top of Portsdown Hill to let the dogs have a run. There were lots of swallows flying, catching insects which was great to see, and then totally unplanned the Red Arrows flew overhead. Looking at their schedule they were probably on the way to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I’ve seen the Red Arrows a few times, but never intentionally – just in the right place at the right time – so I’ll be adding this to the list.


Work – I’ve been doing mostly end of the month things this week. Making sure my expenses etc. are in order, and preparing for a couple of meetings next week.


Allotment. – The first proper rain in a while this week, which you can almost hear the allotment soaking up. I’ve transplanted my second lot of cucumbers,  hopefully they will do better than the first ones, which seemed to die over night. I’ve also been starting to list the seeds and plants I’ll need for next season. We’ve been harvesting lettuce, broad beans and loganberries this week and also our first potatoes. 


Currently Reading

Started (and by the time this goes live will have finished) Camino Island by John Grisham [GoodReads].

Also reading The Dark Tower by Stephen King [GoodReads]- which I’m reading for an online group. This is the last in the Dark Tower series, and I’ve been reading this series for nearly a year now. Some have been better than others, but I glad I’ve been taking part in this online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Railways – I love train travel, even on our rather creaky and unreliable UK rail network. I enjoyed looking through the pictures in this BBC article [LINK].


Making a chair – love this little monologue about building an office chair by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell [LINK] & [LINK].


 

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Second Quarter Review 2017

Each year for the past few years I’ve been doing a year end review; last year I split that across the year, doing one at the end of each quarter. This year I’m going to try and do the same as last and do a quarterly review – books I’ve read, films/TV programmes I’ve watched and other things related to life, work and the allotment. The 2017 Quarter One Review is here if you’re interested.


Work – It’s been a very quiet quarter. I’ve been doing a lot of proposals and business development work, but it has yet to lead to any paid contracts. I think to an extent that uncertainty around Brexit, the General Election, and a few other things mean that things are quieter than they were this time last year, and as we now enter a traditionally quiet time that will probably continue for a while yet. I’m conscious as to how long a contract drought can last before I need to bring in a wage or income from somewhere else. I’m not there yet, but it is something I’m thinking about at the moment.


Allotment – These second quarter months really mark the start of when things really get going in the new season. Although it’s been a little bit odd with quite a few failed or only partial germination, most notably with sweetcorn, courgettes and cucumbers. Second sowings have been more successful, but the timings have been no different to last year, although the weather has been a little bit cooler in April & May, although June was a scorcher! So far this year doesn’t feel as strong as last year, but that’s just the ups and downs of growing.


Books – I’ve reached my GoodReads target of reading 25 books early. It feels like such an arbitrary number to me, I sometimes wonder why I bother with the challenge, but I’ll leave it alone for now.

Highlights this quarter, include Guests of Summer: A House Martin Love Story by Theunis Piersma and Bee Quest by Dave Goulson. Both excellent natural history books and both sadly showing evidence of decline in many of the amazing species on our planet.


Films & TV – Still watching the reruns of  “All Creatures Great & Small“. Although, apart from the Christmas special all have been shown now, and the channel has started back from the first episode again. I have a good few stacked on our DVR still to watch.

I did enjoy the BBCs Line of Duty, although this is in its fourth season, it’s the first one I’ve watched. Although some of it has been a bit of a stretch, it had me watching each week. I’ve also been watching a few things on Amazon Video. Bosch returned for Season 3, and was excellent, it’s a series that keeps getting stronger. I’ve also been catching up on The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead.

Finally I’m going to mention American Gods. I had great hopes for this adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book, and although there were some high points generally it was a disappointment.


Life In General – Although things are moving on there is still a lot to do following the passing of my Dad and Grandma. I suspect that it will be a running theme of the year and dominate a lot of what I do during the course of the year. I’m more aware that I’m thinking about my Dad and being a bit introspective in terms of my own life and it’s direction.

I’m also waiting to hear about my Mum having a knee replacement, which is likely to be sometime before the end of the calendar year, so the upcoming six months, have a certain level of uncertainty about them.

I’ve also been having car trouble, it’s not let me down, but has been back and forth to the garage for a scheduled repair where a part failed repeatedly, this might mean that I have to replace the car in due course, but I’ll see how that goes.

 

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Quick Links 26th June 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.


Life In General. – We’ve had the hottest June day since 1976 with a spell of several days back to back where the temperature was around 28°C & 29°C, coupled with hot sticky nights it’s been difficult getting much done and getting much sleep.

The car has been back in the garage again, following the repair back in April which failed and was repaired again, well it’s failed again. They had the car for two days, and have replaced the failed part with one from a different manufacturer hoping that this will be a more long term fix. What’s not clear is whether this is just bad luck, a bad batch of the same part or something else. I’ll see what happens but I think I might have to consider a new car in the not too distant future. Not an expense that I need.

Spent the weekend moving furniture and doing some odd jobs for my Mum.


Work – A few things going on this week in terms of development work, but otherwise pretty quiet.


Allotment. – There has been no water at the allotment this week following a week. Not the best timing with the weather also being the hottest of the year, the high on the plot was 31°C. It came on briefly at the weekend, not sure whether that’s permanently or not. The rumours as to why it’s been off are pretty funny, but I’m not going to repeat them here; although they sound plausible I don’t know whether they are actually true.


Currently Reading

I had a few spare minutes in proximity to my local bookshop this week, and picked up a little impulse purchase – The Legend of Podkin One Ear [GoodReads], it had good reviews, but unfortunately I didn’t really enjoy it. It was okay, but nothing special.

Also reading The Dark Tower by Stephen King [GoodReads]- which I’m reading for an online group. This is the last in the Dark Tower series, and I’ve been reading this series for nearly a year now. Some have been better than others, but I glad I’ve been taking part in this online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


The Dogometer– It’s been so hot this week, that we’ve had to employ the Dogometer, to keep a check on the temperature.


Heat Wave Common Sense – There have been a number of news stories and tales of common sense failure with regards to dress codes and the heatwave. Boys in Exeter went to school in skirts [LINK] to protest that they weren’t allowed to wear shorts, and a call centre worker was sent home for wearing shorts so came back in a dress [LINK]. There seems to have been a failure of common sense in some cases. I’m not sure why a call centre has such a strict dress code when their employees are never face to face with the public.

I can understand being appropriately dressed to come to work, but there does need to be a certain amount of managers discretion and common sense. I don’t miss having the “expectation” that I would always have to wear a tie for work. It didn’t make any difference to my performance, and I think being comfortable in what you’re wearing can make a difference in work output.


In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, it’s now emerging that there may be more tower blocks potentially clad in flammable materials [LINK]. It doesn’t seem clear yet whether this is a failure in building regulations i.e. that the material complies with the law as written, or the wrong material was used either accidentally or deliberately. Whatever the reason, there is unsurprisingly a lot of anger about it.


 

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Quick Links 19th June 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.


Life In General. – It won’t have escaped anyone’s attention of the shocking images from London this week. A massive tragedy, followed by more government incompetence, and a demonstration from our PM that she’s really not up to that particular job.

Outside of that I’ve mostly been doing random gardening jobs for my Mum this week. She’s had hedges that needed cutting, a gate that need a hinge replacing and lawns that needed mowing. I’m sure there were a few other things as well, but they’ve slipped my mind for the time being.

I also made a start on sorting out my Dad’s shed. It’s a job that I had put off from the cold weather of winter until now, and emotionally was a lot harder than I was expecting.

​I came across a copy of an old woodworking magazine, it was older than me and had projects for building a surfboard and an ironing board. What I didn’t spot until someone commented on it on Facebook, was the plans for a sewing cabinet.

My Dad started making one for my Mum before I was born, but never finished it. It became a bit of a family joke. I think this magazine was probably the one that contained the plans for that project.

I also came across a few different things that we’d bought him at Christmas over the years, little stocking fillers, things like that. One of those was a little tin clockwork fish. I took it home and let it have a swim in the dog’s pool. ​


Work – Not really that busy this week, gardening jobs have really taken up most of my time, although I have been progressing some of the Solent University work in between. I did move things around on Wednesday to make a meeting at the request of a client, which subsequently turned out to be a waste of time, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.


Allotment. – The plot is really starting to come into it’s own, and I took a moment to record an update video, that I posted here earlier in the week. I also did the same for the potting shed, which I’ll post now:

I replaced the courgette plants with some I bought from one of the local nurseries. Three different courgette plants and one patti pann squash. Hopefully these will fair a little better than the last ones. I’ve also sown some more lettuce and beetroot, so that there’s some succession of crops. I had some gerkin seeds too, and they’ve gone in. I’ve never tried these before but my guess would be that they’re not too dissimilar to cucumbers. Assuming that they grow, I’ll soon find out.


Currently Reading

No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein [GoodReads]

Also Song of Susannah by Stephen King [GoodReads] – which I’m reading for an online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


No Is Not Enough – Naomi Klein – Naomi Klein has a new book, which I have started reading this week. Here’s a link to a recent Guardian interview with the author [LINK]


Recording the Sounds of Extinction – One from @Documentally’s newsletter (subscription link) from last week:

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