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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Allotment Video Update 13th June 2017

It’s been over a month since I last made a video at the allotment. Mostly this is because I wasn’t able to get down to the plot with my camera when it wasn’t raining, but things have really moved on.

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Quick Links 12th 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. – A General Election week, which I think it would be fair to say didn’t go the way the Prime Minister intended! For me I went and voted, and watched the outcome and analysis.

It would seem to be that for a Prime Minister who went for a snap election with a clear 20 point lead, and came out with a hung parliament that the future does not look bright, even with what appears to be quite a shaky deal with the DUP, given that the two parties have some clear differences.

I suspect she probably has a few months at worst or a couple of years at most. There are two clear points that her party may decide to ditch her. Either just after the Queens speech – they need her for that to keep Jeremy Corbyn and Labour from laying claim to being the party of Government. Beyond that they don’t need her for the Brexit negotiations, but they might see an opportunity to keep her and if the deal isn’t great, having a suitable scapegoat to lay the blame on. There are a lot of potential, but what’s certain is that I can’t see her leading the Tory party into the next general election. They simply can’t take that risk given her performance this time around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside of that I’ve mostly been doing family stuff. I picked up my Dad’s ashes from the undertaker’s, we’re getting ready to scatter them in the near future.

Three years ago this week was the first time that we met Ruby:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s grown a bit since then:

I’ve also been seeing a lot of baby birds this week too. Mostly sparrows and robins, still dependent on their parents for food, but it seems able to fly.


Work – Working on a few different things this week, little bits of effort on lots of different things. A proposal that I’d agreed to be a part of didn’t progress, another one looks like it might be delayed due to timings.


Allotment. – The weeds are really growing well, I spent a lot of time at the weekend clearing as many as I could. The weather has helped them more than some of the other plants it seems. The courgettes and cucumber plants that I planted out last week are not doing well. The cucumbers have failed completely (although I have some more which are nearly ready to be planted out) but I don’t have any more courgettes, so will have to sow some more.

I lifted my garlic and overwintering red onions. Neither were particularly impressive, the onions weren’t too bad, but the garlic was particularly disappointing. That’s just the way it is though, some things do better than others and it isn’t consistent from year to year.


Currently Reading

I started The Delicate Storm by Giles Blunt [LINK] at the beginning of the week and had finished by the end. I like crime novels, and it’s always good to discover a new author. This year I’ve only read a couple so far, my tastes tending more towards non-fiction. I did start another not long afterwards though – The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home [LINK].

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


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


A Tour of Dave Goulson’s Garden – Entomologist, Professor, author and YouTuber Dave Goulson takes us on a tour of his garden.


It looks like it’s going to be another year when a lot of the people who were famous to me in my childhood sadly pass away. I guess that’s inevitable in a way, they were my age or thereabouts when I was a child, and now they’re that much older. So far it’s been Roger Moore and John Noakes in particular, and now Adam West – the Batman of my childhood:

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Quick Links 5th 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’s been a pretty shit week outside of my own little world; the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement; another terrorist attack, this one in London. Inside my own bubble things have been much quieter. I’ve been getting on with various work related things, and doing some family related stuff.


Work – A lot of business development work this week; some meetings related to that; and I feel like I’ve packed a lot in for a four-day week after the bank holiday.


Allotment. – The weeds have been having a whale of a time with all the recent wet and sunny spells, but so also have some of the plants. the broad beans are doing phenomenally well, but the radishes are now over, although the second sowing is coming along. I’ve had to pull up all of the rocket and mustard due to flea beetle. I might sow some more, but I’ll need to get the bed ready again first. My courgette, sweetcorn and first lot a cucumbers all went out onto the plot at the weekend. If the weather holds, it won’t be long before they’re producing.


Currently Reading

I’ve not had much time for reading this week, and have gone to bed pretty tired out most evenings, so haven’t managed anything other than a few pages of Song of Susannah by Stephen King [GoodReads] – which I’m reading for an online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Truffle Shuffle Pizza


When I was  at primary school about 5 or 6 years old, we were studying the Blue Whale. The biggest mammal on the planet. We tried to build a life size drawing on the wall of our classroom, needless to say we were unsuccessful, although we did manage to get the length, other dimensions were not to scale. It went from the playground entrance, through the cloakroom area into the classroom and all the way to the fire exit at the other side of the room. I remember it to this day, over 40 years later. Maybe it was that memory, but I enjoyed this Atlantic article even more, probably as a result of that experience and memory. [LINK]


Apparently if you can explain to the security guy at the airport why you have a 3-D printed mouse penis in your luggage, you can explain any kind of science to anyone [LINK]


Paris Climate Change Agreement – There has been plenty of media coverage on Donald Trump’s announcement regarding leaving the Paris Climate Change Agreement, so I’m not going to link to any one particular piece here. You also probably know what I’m going to say next. It’s a bad decision. It’s a stupid decision. It’s a decision by someone who probably hasn’t bothered to look at the facts.

It matters, and it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter because it won’t stop many others taking action. It doesn’t matter, because there is time for the USA to retract it’s decision.

It matters because there are several hundred thousand US jobs in the renewables industry, if the US shift towards oil and coal (where jobs are declining, and are unlikely to grow due to automation in those industries), those jobs will be at risk as production ramps up in China and Europe. It matters because other countries are already talking about additional taxes on American goods.

It’s too early to say exactly how this will play out, but I am in no doubt in my mind that it is a bad decision.

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Quick Links 29th May 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 bit of a week with things that have been happening nationally, it hasn’t directly affected me and I’ve been plugging on with some work things and also trying to do things around the garden.

After have quite a wet spell the weather has shifted in the other direction and now we are getting some really hot sunny days, broken by thunderstorms. It feels like summer is just around the corner, and so far the predictions of the drier and hotter weather outweighing the cooler wetter weather seem to be holding true.

We’ve bought the dogs a paddling pool to allow them to cool off if they want to. So far they’re just seeing it as a giant outdoor water-bowl, but maybe they’ll get the idea sooner or later?


Work – I’ve had a couple of work related meetings this week, and outside of those have been working on some ideas based on the report completed by Solent University from the presentation that I attended last week. The ideas are good, the pricing points are never going to make me rich but I’m okay with that.


Allotment. – The dry weather has been a challenge, and watering has been the main order of the day, particularly for the Cavlo Nero plants that went in last weekend. They need some additional support to make sure that they “take” properly, particularly on the watering side, as they will not yet have developed a proper root system. The rain that accompanied the thunderstorms has helped in that department.

Broad beans and radishes are still very much the current harvest.

My tomatoes are doing well in the potting shed, and there are signs of the first tomato of the season (hopefully being one of many).


Currently Reading

I read Empire Games by Charles Stross [GoodReads] this week. It’s going to be book one of a trilogy (I think), and I really wish I’d waited to read it until all three were available. I think things will make more sense reading them all together, rather than what will probably be three or more years apart.

This also meant that I hit my target of reading 25 books this year a little earlier than planned. Six-and-a-half months earlier in fact. So I’m going to keep going and see where we end up. This always feels like a bit of an arbitrary challenge anyway, so we’ll just see where it gets too.

I started reading Sharpe’s Fortress by Bernard Cornwell [GoodReads], which is the next book in the Sharpe series.

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


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Raven Vs. Rubbish Bin


 Chop With Chris – Rocking Chair – I meant to post this last week, but forgot. YouTube has been recommending this guys videos, and he’s a pretty skilled craftsman.


Dave Goulson – Comfrey

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Quick Links 22nd May 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. – I’ve had a doctors appointment this week, and I’ve also taken my Mum to see a hospital consultant about getting a knee replacement. There’s quite a lot more involved in having a knee replaced than the hip replacement that she had a few years ago.

Otherwise it’s been a fairly quiet but depressing week, with the various political parties revealing their manifesto. Right now I think if I could leave the country I probably would, particularly if we do end up with yet another Tory government.


Work – I mentioned last week about a meeting I had on Monday with the students at Solent University. I’ve been working with two groups who have been looking at different aspects of my business (or potential business). The group I went to see on Monday was looking at the potential business of how I might be able to turn growing your own veg into a greater business opportunity. They’ve done some great work, and there are some opportunities there, although it will never make me a millionaire (not that I actually want to be one btw). If I do decide that I want to make something of this, then it’s down to me to take it forward. I’ll be thinking about that going forward.

I’ve also been working on a proposal at the request of a client. They asked for a draft for a meeting, which I duly completed and then the meeting was postponed, so that’s on-hold for now at least.


Allotment. – A lot more rain this week, which has done wonders for many of the crops. I harvested the first of the broad beans on Saturday and expect to be getting a steady supply for the next few weeks at least.

I’ve also planted out some Cavlo Nero (black kale) plants into their final growing place. Many of the other plants are showing signs of maturing quite quickly, but unfortunately so are the weeds.

I spent some time going through the branches of the apple tree, taking off some of the pollinated flowers that are turning to fruit, so that there aren’t too many apples weighing down the branches. It’s a shame to have to take off potentially viable fruit but the bees have been so successful this year, that there would have been a good chance of broken branches if I’d left all of that fruit on there. Hopefully by sacrificing a few now, we’ll get a bet harvest in the autumn!


Currently Reading

I’m just finishing up Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King [GoodReads] – which I am reading for an online group, and starting the next book in the series Song of Susannah [GoodReads].

I’ve also been reading The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland by John Lewis-Stempel [GoodReads], and may well have finished it by the time this goes live. I’ve been reading quite a lot of natural history books and the standard is very high, this one is no exception.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


There’s a new trailer for the War of the Planet of the Apes. I’ve enjoyed the rebooted franchise so far, so I’m looking forward to the next installment.


Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who covered David Bowie’s Space Oddity from the International Space Station has a new YouTube series “Rare Earth” coming.


This rerun article on the Last Word on Nothing Blog [LINK] had me really thinking about different ways to store all sorts of things. In the modern age digital storage just doesn’t seem that reliable to me. I’ve had a number of hard drives fail on me, and have lost things each time. Cloud storage seems more reliable, but it’s not fully your own, and you’re relying on a third party to store your data and keep it up to date. Hard copy still seems to be the strongest in a number of ways. Over the last few months I’ve been looking through a lot of old photographs, mostly of family.

My Grandfather At The Local Village Fair (1970’s)

I’ve scanned a number of these, so that I can make additional prints and share them with other members of the family. The fact that I still have the “originals” makes me feel a little more secure in terms of keeping them for the longer term, and I wonder how the newly printed copies will fare compared to the older prints.


I’ve also been reading this Atlas Obscura [LINK] article on forgotten bike lanes. It’s a shame that this country didn’t go the way of other European states, having separate lanes for motorised vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians, instead of the current state of play which simply doesn’t work for any mode of transport. Perhaps these forgotten lanes could be resurrected.


Ed Yong, the author of I Contain Multitudes [GoodReads] has a new video series too [LINK]

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