Quick Links 15th October 2017

Life In General – Had some DIY jobs to do at my Mum’s house this week. Her curtain pole had become detached, so after the application of some glue and new screws I managed to get that fixed back up again. There were a couple of other things to do while I was there too.

I had to replace a headlight bulb on the car this week, after recovering from the shock of how much a new bulb is (£35), it took me the best part of an hour to make the change. It’s interesting that the autopart store offered to install it for me (for a £5) charge, but I thought it would be easy enough to do myself! Of course what I won’t ever know is how long it would have taken the autopart technician to complete. I took the opportunity to check the anti-freeze / coolant levels as well, so in theory we’re all set for the winter.

I gave the central heating a quick test run too, bled the radiators etc. and all seems well. I need to get the boiler serviced, so I’ll try and book that in sometime soon.

I’ve also been using the Headspace app this week to get back into meditation again, it’s been pretty good, but I don’t think I’ll be progressing from a free account, as I can’t really afford it, and I think it’s a little overpriced. That said, what I’ve had for free is pretty good, so I’d recommend a free trial. It’s certainly been helping me to de-stress a bit from some of the family related things that have been going on over the last year.

Work  Ongoing development work this week and an update meeting. Things are moving forward slowly.


I’ve got my broad beans sown this week, so they should be ready around May time next year all being well. The garlic that I sowed last week is already shooting which is great, no sign of similar activity on the onions yet though. Otherwise it’s pretty much tidying and digging.

The mower has refused to start, and probably needs a new spark plug, so I’ll give that a try, but I’m not going to spend too much money on it, as it’s pretty much on it’s last legs anyway.

Currently Reading – You’ve heard of Amundsen and Scott, and probably Shackleton, but like me you might not have heard of Douglas Mawson. I read Mawson’s Will by Lennard Bickel [GoodReads] this week, and was surprised at how I’d missed this adventure tale until now. It wasn’t an easy read, both in terms of it’s content and also the way it was written, but it was very definitely worth sticking with.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Octlantis – A city created by octopuses [LINK]

H is for Hawk – I’m really looking forward to watching this. Having read the book, it will be interesting to see how they are going to translate that to television for an hour.

London Green Spaces Map – I hope my copy of this map is on the way, I managed to snag a free one (had to pay the postage), but it looks really interesting, and I love maps (as you probably already know). If you fancy grabbing one yourself, they’re taking pre-orders for the next printing. I’ll update when mine arrives.

Gunpowder – This looks interesting, will probably make an effort to watch.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – You’ve probably already seen this, but just in case you missed it…

Posted in Quick Links | 2 Comments

Quick Links 8th October 2017


Life In General – I had to spend an afternoon fixing the garage door again this week. I think I might have said that I wasn’t certain that I had put enough tension in the spring at the last repair, well I was right. It didn’t take me all that long to put right, and I was a lot quicker second time around!

We had a nice afternoon walk alongside a local river. I’m not sure what it’s actually called, and it doesn’t appear to be named on any of my maps. It was a nice sunny autumn afternoon, and made a nice break in the middle of the week.

I also had a couple of appointments with my Mum at the end of the week, and on Friday the sale of my Grandma’s old house completed, so another chapter closes.

Work  Still doing development work, and moving forward with planning for the remainder of this year and into next.

Allotment. – I’ve been planting my over wintering onion sets and garlic, and starting to tidy the plot up for the winter. There are still quite a few autumn jobs to do, and I’ll be progressing with those over the coming weeks. I’ve had some slug damage on my over-wintering broccoli which is annoying, but hopefully the damage won’t cause too much lasting damage.

Currently Reading – I’ve been reading Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz [LINK] this week. It’s really a book of homage to many things from other authors, tv series, characters and locations in other books, pen manufacturers and a whole variety of other things. It’s a good story but all the hat tipping became a little tiresome towards the end, and particularly when the author wrapped that into the story as well.

2017-10-05 10.17.19I also received a copy of The Almanac – A Seasonal Guide to 2018 by Lia Leendertz [LINK] This is one of those books that traditionally you would have bought each year, but is a tradition that has pretty much died out. I’m hoping that perhaps this will be revitalised with this publication. Each month has details of natural events that are happening that month, seasonal recipes, what you should be planting / harvesting in the garden and a whole host of other useful natural information. I’m going to use it as a kind of daily reader through next year, and I expect it will teach me a few things in the process.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

City Sparrowhawks more successful than their country cousins – [LINK]

Critical moment in fight to save internationally important Gwent Levels – [LINK]

Posted in Quick Links | Leave a comment

Runnin’ Down A Dream

It would have been the summer of about 1990 or 1991 and I was mowing lawns to earn a little money, and listening to “Full Moon Fever” on my cassette walkman [turned up loud so I could hear it over the mower engine].

Posted in Memories, music | Tagged ,

Quick Links 1st October 2017

Life In General – I get a bit of a sense of deja vu for what I’ve been up to this week, being very much like last week. A few family things with my Mum, including getting her back to driving again following her knee replacement – a milestone achieved. Otherwise I’ve been at home working (see below), and nothing really exciting to report.

img_20170924_114444907.jpgI did get to try the gherkins that I pickled a month ago. There are mixed views on how long you should leave them before trying, but I went for a straight month.

They were pretty good if I do say so myself, and had retained the crunchy texture and not gone soft! I only made two jars, so they’ll be relatively short lived but I am encouraged to perhaps try them again next year.

Following up on last weeks post about maps, I picked up the latest version of my local sheet this week. My how things have changed. It now comes with a digital download, so that you can have the map on your smartphone (or other device). I’ve yet to try this, but it seems like it might be handy. At first glance there are some minor differences but nothing as significant as the changes I post last week comparing the my two older versions.

I also succumbed and bought my first Christmas presents this week. All are items that, in my experience, sell quickly and therefore although I’m a little ahead of time I know that at least I’ll be able to give them as presents. I’m not planning on doing anymore Christmas shopping for a while longer.

Work  Development work all week long, which isn’t particularly exciting to talk about, as it’s mostly involved spreadsheets.

Allotment. – The weather hasn’t really been on my side this week, I’d hoped to get garlic and onion sets in the ground, but due to rain the ground is just a bit too wet to work without compacting it, so I’ve delayed that. No big deal, still plenty of time to get them in.

Currently Reading – I finished rereading J R R Tolkein’s “The Two Towers” [GoodReads], it’s still as good as I remember it to be. Haven’t started anything else yet, not quite sure what I want to read next.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

How Writing 1000 words a Day Changed My Life – [LINK]

Our desire for goods is at the heart of this’: Why Bruce Parry wants us all to live more sustainably – [LINK]

Posted in Quick Links | 2 Comments

Third 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 and Quarter Two is here if you’re interested.

Work – The third quarter has continued in the way quarter two went – a lot of effort on preparing proposals and looking for clients but no luck. There were a couple of proposals in there that I was really looking forward to delivering, so I’m disappointed that I won’t be – but that’s the way it goes.

Allotment – It’s been a good season this year, probably not as good as last year, but not shabby, and some things like pumpkins and cucumbers have been much better than last year. We’ve had a lot of our food from the allotment. As the quarter ends though, the season is winding down, but I’m planning for the winter season and next year.

Books – I’ve exceeded my GoodReads target of reading 25 books. That said, this still feels like an arbitrary number, particularly when there are only a couple of books that stood out for me this quarter. They were “Santorini” by Alistair MacLean [GoodReads] and “risingtidefallingstar” by Philip Hoare [GoodReads]. The former was a reread, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. The latter I enjoyed because of the personal content as well as the historical and biographical content.

Films & TV – I’m pretty disappointed with TV at the moment, there seems to be nothing on. That’s pretty normal for the summer months, as most of the new programming starts in the autumn. There are a few things that stick in my mind as I enjoyed them:

Strike [LINK] – This is the adaptation of the novels of Robert Galbraith (a.k.a J.K. Rowling), so far they’ve adapted “The Cuckoo’s Calling” & “The Silkworm”. I thought they were well acted and as far as I can tell were pretty faithful to the original books. It’s also supposed to be coming back for further adaptations next year. I’d recommend checking it out, even if you haven’t read the books.

Arrival [LINK] – I watched this on Amazon Prime with little expectation, but enjoyed it. I’d say though that this is perhaps a film that you’ll either like or find really boring.

The Martian [LINK] – I know I’m pretty late to the party on this one and I’ve had the DVD for a little while before getting around to watching it, but I did really enjoy it. A nice Saturday evening in film – if that makes any sense?

Life In General – It’s been a hectic quarter with family things. My Mum has had her knee replaced, and so I’ve been spending a lot of time with her. In some ways the fact that work has been quiet has been helpful to me. I’ve got lots of things to do around the house and garden, as well as continuing to help sort out my Dad’s things and my Grandma’s house. Hopefully the latter is almost complete as there’s a buyer in place and it’s just waiting for things to go through.


Posted in Being Positive, books, Film, Fork To Fork, Garden / Allotment, Life, Self-sufficient, tv, Video | Tagged , , , , , ,

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 | 2 Comments

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