The Birds

You know that scene in the Hitchcock movie where all the birds are lined up on the telegraph lines and the ridge lines of the houses, they’re on the ground, they’re everywhere. Well the garden is a bit like that at the moment. I just went out and filled the bird feeders and the word obviously got out because there are birds everywhere.

I daren’t move either, I’m afraid that if I move this will scare away the birds. So I think I can sit here and type, the movement of my fingers on the keyboard doesn’t seem to be too alarming to them, but I suspect getting up to make a coffee might not be feasible.

The North Wind Blows

Just back from my morning dog walk and I have to say the wind chill is something else. The temperature is around 4ºC but the windchill is pushing that way down below zero. Not the coldest place in the world but we’ve had an unseasonably mild spell just recently so the sudden change is noticeable.

Gloves and wooly-hat weather!

Currently Reading / Read

I’ve finished reading March Violets by Philip Kerr, which was quite an enjoyable read. A skillful blend of history (pre-war Nazi Germany, the Berlin Olympics in 1936) with fiction. This is the second book in this series that I’ve read, and the first book in the series, the other one that I’ve read comes much later in the sequence. I think I’ll be returning to read more of these, and have the next couple on my kindle as they are part of an omnibus. At the moment though I’m reading Chasing Arizona by Ken Lamberton which is both interesting but also totally irrelevant to me having never visited the US state which the book is all about.

Reacher

Now I didn’t mind the Tom Cruise films, they both had their moments, but Tom was no Jack or at least not as he’s written in the books. So I’m kinda looking forward to seeing if this is any better. At least physically they’re closer.

Goals

Each year about this time I sit down and look at the goals and targets I want to set myself for next year.

I start with a final reviewof the previous (current) year and a look back over the last five or so years. The last couple have been heavily disrupted by Covid but I’ve been pretty successful in meeting my targets, which makes me feel I should have been a bit more ambitious.

Next years will be, although perhaps again coloured by some uncertainty around Covid. These cover work and personal goals, although admittedly there is crossover between the two.

Do you do something similar?

A Post a Day In December

Public Service Announcement

Back in 2016 and early 2017 I did an experiment of posting everyday, short snippets and the occasional longer post. I’m going to aim to do something similar through December and post everyday.

My plan is that rather than get a weekly round-up on a Sunday as now, you’ll get something each day, probably shorter, perhaps just a picture or some audio. Sometimes there might be something a little bit longer. I’m putting this out there now, as I know that many people subscribe here by email, rather than come to the site each time, if that’s you and the thought of receiving something from me everyday fills you with horror, then you might want to unsubscribe. Obviously I hope you won’t, but I understand if you feel the need.

Anyway to that end…..


Boosted

We went and got our booster jabs yesterday, we both received a Moderna jab, which wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I’m grateful to get it anyway. So far I have some very minor side effects – sore arm and general aches all over – but if that’s all then I’m pretty sure that it’s far better than getting full blown Covid. Obviously the science isn’t there yet on how effective the vaccines are going to be against Omicron but I’m pretty sure that against Delta and previous variants it offers good protection. In the meantime I’m taking it relatively easy today and hope that the side effects don’t last for too long.

Whatever you’re up to, Stay Safe and Take Care.

Tree’s Up TWTW # 154

Well it’s a little windy out there at the moment. I’ve just come back from my morning dog walk and we have a fair breeze blowing. I dare say it’s not the 100mph winds that have been reported for storm Arwen in other parts of the country. Although you can’t see it easily from the photo that blue dot is us, and we’re right on the edge of one of the weather warnings so hopefully will escape the worst. If you’re in one of the other areas then I hope you stay safe and take care if you have to venture outdoors, probably better to stay inside in the warm and dry though if you can.

This week has been mostly been about the work again, trying to move some things forward and finish off others. I’m aiming to take the Christmas and New Year period completely work free, so would like to tie things up before then.

Outside of that I’ve been booking booster jabs, which has proven to be quite a torturous process with the website insisting that the nearest centre with appointments available is on the Isle of Wight which is an expensive ferry ride away. Eventually we managed to get booked in a little closer to home and without the sea crossing.

We also put up our Christmas tree. I suspect we would have done it this weekend anyway so we were probably a few days early but it feels like we should make the most of having it up, rather than putting it up last minute and then taking it down a week later.

So we put on the original Now Christmas album (on vinyl) and decorated the tree. Just need to write Christmas cards now.

I’m also planning to make our Christmas pudding over the weekend at some point. A few years ago I made a video about it here:


Work

As mentioned above I’ve been busy on different projects this week. I was also supposed to be at a couple of workshops yesterday and today, but mysteriously they were cancelled without notice or explanation on Tuesday. My assumption is because of the bad weather but I haven’t been able to contact the organiser to find out the reason. I’m not disappointed that they were cancelled due to the rising Covid numbers, I wasn’t looking forward to being in a room of potentially hostile members of the public.


Allotment

Nothing to report today, I’ll pop down there once the storm has passed to see if there is any damage but it’s probably best to stay away while the wind is so strong.


Reading

I mentioned that I’d started The Small Heart of Things by Julian Hoffman last week, well I finished that in fairly short order. It was a quick but brilliant read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Given it’s been tucked up in my “to be read” pile for so long it was a delight to read it. I hope there are more of the same in that pile of books. Since then I’ve been reading March Violets by Phillip Kerr, which is a Bernie Gunther mystery novel.

During the week I read an article – which I now can’t find – that said men don’t read much fiction. I initially dismissed this thinking that I read a lot of fiction. Later in the week I was looking through a book list of mine and realised that it was almost entirely non-fiction, so I had a look at the books I’ve read so far this year on GoodReads, and it’s pretty much a fifty-fifty split between fiction and non-fiction at the moment, so maybe there is something to that article after all?


TV

Nothing much to report this week, a lot of the things we have been watching have come to the end of their run, and Shetland finished this week. So not sure whether there’ll be much to report over the coming weeks.


Well that’s it for this week. As mentioned I’m off to be boosted next week, otherwise I’ll probably be working on client things. Whatever you’re up to Stay Safe and Take Care.

All The Leaves Are Brown TWTW # 153

Welcome to Autumn

This week has been a mixture of many things. It started bright and early on Monday working remotely while a carpenter fitted a new external door. So many doors these days are known as engineered doors and are made at a standard size to fit a standard door frame, this frame wasn’t a standard size and you can’t cut an engineered door (because they’re basically a sandwich of wood with a pulp filler). Engineered doors are relatively cheap, but a door to fit this frame wasn’t and I didn’t want to risk trying to do it myself with my rudimentary skills. The chance of catastrophe would be high as would the length of time it would take me. While the carpenter sawed and chiselled, planed and sanded, I finished a report for a client. By the end of the day the door was fitted and my report was finished.

I came back a couple of days later and painted it, I can be trusted with a paintbrush. While the paint dried I went for a walk with my camera and took some autumn photos. The beech trees this year are pretty spectacular and were so inviting to the camera’s eye.

Later in the week I had to take Wilson to the vets for yet more tests. We’re trying to decide whether to change his treatment or persevere with what we’re doing at the moment which isn’t completely working. There’s no guarantee that something different will work any better, so it feels a bit like reaching into the dark for a solution that might not even be there.

On Friday I did something that I haven’t done since February 2020, and drew some cash out from a cash point. With the pandemic, the shift to contactless and card payments I’ve had very little need for cash but I was down to my last fiver from what I drew out 20 months ago. I wonder if I’ll have enough to take me to 2023 or perhaps 2024?


Reading

I finished Alistair Maclean’s Floodgate which was really hard going. Not his best work by a long way and if you’re thinking of reading something of his it’s not a good place to start. Instead try Puppet on a Chain, Where Eight Bells Toll, Golden Rendezvous or Ice Station Zebra. As a rule of thumb his older novels are better than the newer ones (although St Andreas which came straight after Floodgate is one of my favourites), the later ones are reported to mostly have been written by ghostwriters and then reviewed by Maclean. Not sure if this is true but it would explain the patchy quality of the later novels.

After that I’ve started reading Julian Hoffman’s The Small Heart of Things which is a complete change of pace – non-fiction, natural history and place.


Watching

We watched the season finale of Foundation on Friday night. I’m glad it’s over and I’m glad my Apple TV subscription is a freebie. I’m pretty sure I won’t be renewing it, there just isn’t enough on there that can make me justify the cost.

We’re continuing to watch both Shetland and Adam Dalgliesh both of which are excellent, the season finale for the former next week and the latter ended this week.

I didn’t watch much of Children in Need but I did catch bit of the Drumathon:

An audience with Richard Mabey


Links

RIP Cedric Robinson – Queen’s Guide to the Sands

Key Outcomes Agreed at COP26: Summary

Everything You Thought You Knew About Hobo Code is Wrong

Net Zero / Not Zero/


Allotment

I harvested our Brussel Sprouts and some leeks on Saturday and converted them into a rather acceptable pasta, leek, sprout and onion dish in a rich cheese sauce. Probably not a cholesterol buster, but very tasty.


Well that’s it for this week. I’m expecting a fairly busy week ahead work wise, but not sure what else I’ll be up to, whatever you’re doing, stay safe and take care.

The Amethyst Deceiver TWTW # 152

This week has been has been focussed on work related things without much time for other things apart from dog walks, eating and sleeping. In part because I have less time for work in the week ahead but lots to do and want to be ahead if I can.

We did manage an afternoon walk in the woods this week and I spotted this bright purple mushroom. The app on my phone, confirmed by my field guide when I got home, told me that it was an Amethyst Deceiver. Despite the colour it is apparently edible, although known to absorb arsenic if it’s present in the surrounding environment, so maybe not totally safe. It’s quite late in the season for this particular mushroom, but a first for me as I don’t recall ever seeing one before.


Reading

I finished reading Daily Rituals by Mason Currey this week, it’s the sort of book that you only dip into now and again, which to be honest has been just what I needed this week when I haven’t had space for extended reading. It did get me thinking about my own daily routine which has been pretty fixed for a while now, particularly when I have work on.

I’ve been reading Alistair MacLean’s Floodgate since, but haven’t made many pages of progress.


Allotment

Last week’s rain has left the plot pretty damp so I’ve been focussing on doing some tasks that don’t require me to be on the main beds. I’ve been cutting out last years old growth from the loganberries. As they are spring fruiting they’ll produce that fruit on this years new growth, which needs tying in.

I harvested some leeks which became leek and potato soup for supper on Saturday, with enough left for lunch today, homemade rolls to boot.


Watching

A bit more Apple TV this week (and I’m now pretty sure that I won’t be paying for it when my freebie membership comes to an end). As the first Season of Foundation comes to an end I’m quite glad I don’t remember the story from the books – although I think I will reread them once it’s done – as it’s really unclear as to just what is going on. The other show we’ve been watching, we’ve decided not to bother with from now on, Invasion, is just a mess.

We have been enjoying the BBC’s Shetland, based on the Ann Cleeves novels and also the adaptations of P D James’ Adam Dalgliesh series being shown on Channel 5. The latter I’m pleased to see has tried to stay faithful to the time period of the novels, which other versions haven’t. I’m hoping that it will get a second season, as we’ve really enjoyed the first.


Links

Neil Gaiman – Art and Climate

Honey and Co – The Food Sessions: Red Sands with Caroline Eden

The Accounting Trick That Could Wreck The Planet


Following on from that who doesn’t need to see a singing banana playing the guitar?


Well that’s all I have for this week. Next week I’m going to be hanging about waiting for a door to be fitted, and hopefully working while that’s taking place, and then probably painting the same door. Whatever you’re up to – Stay Safe and Take Care.

Boots Made for Walking TWTW # 151

I wear boots a lot of the time. Hiking boots, wellingtons, steel toe safety boots. In fact when I’m out of the house I’m most likely to be wearing a pair of boots rather than any other type of footwear.

This week has been a bit of a disaster when it comes to boot wearing. Firstly at the start of the week I noticed that my wellingtons had sprung a leak. In time honoured fashion I discovered this when I had to wade through a large puddle and realised that my foot was wet. They’d split on the seam and in an awkward place which made even a temporary repair impossible. Then on Friday I noticed that my hiking boots had also had a failure, this time the sole had split across not just on one boot but on both. I hadn’t realised but now suspect they might have been like this for a while and possibly explain why an old injury had been causing me problems.

So now I need to get replacement boots – two pairs. New wellingtons will be here on Monday, but I’m having trouble finding hiking boots in my size.

Given the amount I wear them I’m not surprised that they wear out, they cover a lot of miles in a week.


Reading

I’ve been reading and finished Diary of a War Artist by Edward Ardizzone and The Potter’s Field by Ellis Peters this week. I often pick up an Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael mystery when I’m between books and don’t know what to read next. I’ve only got a couple more in the series to read and then I’ll have to find something else that fills that role. I don’t have any idea what that might be. For now I’ve pivoted back to non-fiction and am reading Daily Rituals by Mason Currey – all about the daily habits of famous figures across history. There’s some interesting habits in there, some quite curious and others that aren’t all that unusual and are the sort of thing that many people do today.

There’s lots of discussion on the internet about the new kindle paperwhite this week. I’ve been looking at some of it even though I certainly don’t need a new kindle. I’ve had my current one, which is the previous generation, for nearly two-and-a-half years. It’s been a workhorse for me, but the new version doesn’t look like a significant step forward to justify a purchase I don’t really need. I’ll be sticking with what I’ve got.


Watching

More Foundation and Invasion watching this week, I’m really not sure where the former series is going, and there’s only two episodes left (I think) in this season and I can’t see how they’re going to bring it all together in a satisfying way – then I suppose they don’t need to if they’re going to be making more. As for the latter, I feel like I could stop watching it now and not miss it. I did read a review that said it didn’t get going until episode 5, and we’re only at episode 4, so I might watch one more, but if it doesn’t then I can’t see that we’ll watch the rest of it.

We also watched the new Tom Hanks movie – Finch which was okay but didn’t really do much more than that. All of these are Apple TV+ which I got a free subscription for when I upgraded my iPad earlier this year, however I can’t see that we’ll stick with the paid version when my freebie runs out.


Work

I’ve mostly been focussed on one client’s work this week. When I can working on something in a concentrated way works best for me, so to be able to spend some extended time in this way has delivered real dividends both for me and hopefully also the client. I’ve only got a few more days allocated to this particular piece of work and it looks like I’ll complete it on time and budget.


Allotment

It looks like my onion sets are starting to germinate but no sign of my broad beans as yet. I harvested some leeks this week and we’ve had a lovely leek, brussel sprout, cheese and mashed potato pie over a couple of nights.


Links

Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagne recipe

Do Not Eat, Touch, Or Even Inhale the Air Around the Manchineel Tree

Ridley Scott Films – Ranked


Well that’s it for this week, there’s nothing much in my diary for the week ahead, so I’ll be cracking on with client work and trying to get things finished perhaps a little earlier than I might otherwise. Whatever you’re up to stay safe and take care.