Quick Links 10th December 2017

Ever have the feeling someone is watching your every move?

It’s been a pretty busy week both with work (see below) and other stuff. Next week is looking the same (although less work related busyness and more personal stuff). Unfortunately on Thursday afternoon on the way back from a meeting the dashboard of the car lit up like a Christmas tree. I’m not sure exactly what’s wrong suffice to say it needs a trip to the garage. The earliest they can fit me in is Monday, so it meant our plans for the weekend had to be tweaked (we’ve had a pre-Christmas thing with a part of the family) and I’llbe unable to attend a service of remembrance that I was planning on going to. There is another one on Tuesday, which fingers-crossed and the car gods permitting I will be able to make. I have several other things in my diary for next week too, I can work around most of them apart from the one on Tuesday  and a book reading / signing I have a ticket for on Friday.

Work – I was at another business networking event on Monday evening. I think it went well and it’s the last one for a while. Earlier in the day I had an unexpected phone call about some work. If it happens it will mean that I’ll be pretty busy pretty much all the way the first quarter of next year. I’m not holding my breath, but to be honest I could do with the money so I am hopeful. The rest of the week was mostly spent catching up with myself to ensure that I can take some time off completely from work over the Christmas period.

Allotment – With everything that’s been going on this week, and the family commitments at the weekend there’s not much to report from the allotment. It’s really the dormant season anyway so I’m comfortable with not having time down there this weekend.

Currently Reading

I’ve started listening to the audiobook of “Persephone” by Julian Stockwin [LINK] when I’m in the car. I’m enjoying it so far, although I think I’m just starting the third (of 10) CD so I have a little way to go.

I’ve also been reading “From Source to Sea: Notes from a 215 Mile Walk Along the River Thames” by Tom Chesshyre [GoodReads], it’s a good read so far, not too heavy and would probably act as a pretty good guide for someone thinking of doing the same thing.

Thomas The Tank Engine Does Stunts – 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – 

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The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

I’d Like To Visit this bookshop if I get a chance to the next time I’m in London.

My top nine #2017bestnine Instagram photos this year are all allotment related.


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Quick Links 3rd December 2017 ☃️🎄☃️

Merry Christmas, okay well maybe not just yet. Greetings!

Our Christmas tree went up early (for us), normally we start on putting up the Christmas tree and other decorations on the first weekend of December, but this year because of our family arrangements we need to be a little bit ahead of our normal routine. This means that we’ve pretty much finished our Christmas shopping – with the exception of groceries etc. – and we’re progressing with decorations. I suspect I’ll still be glad when it’s all over.

I also sat and wrote all of our Christmas cards, although I didn’t post them until yesterday  as I felt that just because our Christmas plans were moving like a runaway train maybe the recipients would appreciate a little more hiatus before being bombarded (and then we received our first card in Saturdays mail, so someone is even further ahead than we are).

Other than work (see below) this week has been fairly quiet. I’ve been trying to catch up on a few TV programmes that I’ve recorded over the last few months / year and wondering how so much time has passed so quickly when looking at some of the dates of the recordings!

Work – A bit of an odd week workwise. I had a call on Monday asking if I had some time to help with a particular project, and what I would charge. Although I had reservations about the deadline within which I would have to work, I did have enough time around other things, and gave a price which they seemed to be happy with. As so often happens, things moved on and I didn’t end up doing anything to help, although this might come back again later on. In between that I’ve spent time preparing for another networking event that I am attending on Monday evening, and some thoughts to another workshop that I’m involved in later on in the week.

I also had a follow up email from someone who asked me a while ago if I would be interested in some work, but there were never able to progress it due  to lack of funding. Well it would appear that it might be back on the cards again. They’re going to send through a spec to which I can respond.

Allotment – Still digging and doing winter chores on the allotment. I recorded an update video last weekend, but didn’t include it in last weeks Quick Links, so here it is:

Currently Reading – This has been another week of not really reading anything specific, but I did sit down and look through what I’ve read this year and prepared a post on some of the books that I would recommend as potentially being suitable for Christmas presents.

I also received the CD audiobook of “Persephone” by Julian Stockwin [LINK] in the post. It was a prize for entering Julian’s Lucky Dip competition a few weeks ago on Twitter. A nice surprise to win.

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The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Rats Of New York  – Are you an uptown rat or a downtown rat? [LINK] What the genetics of the rat population of New York has taught researchers.

Avengers: Infinity War

The Longplayer Conversation – Chris Watson & David Attenborough

Thanks to @Documentally for the link to this one in his newsletter.

That’s it for this week. In case you haven’t had enough Christmas yet, here’s another pic of our preparations.

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A Christmas Book List

I’ve read a lot of books this year, and I thought with Christmas approaching I’d pull together a list of those that I’ve enjoyed the most in case you’re stuck for a present to buy someone or just looking for something to read over the festive period yourself. Some have been published this year, but others have been around for a while. Links are to the books page on GoodReads, rather than a particular online or other bookseller. I’m sure you can work that bit out, but I’d recommend your local bookstore as a first port of call.

If you have any suggestions yourself, then do please leave a comment below.






Yellowstone: A Journey through America’s Wild Heart by David Quammen [LINK] There are some amazing images in this book coupled with the writing of David Quammen it’s a great overview of one of America’s best know national parks. It’s a great coffee table type book, but also a great read generally.












Scorched Noir by Garnett Elliot [LINK] This is a great collection of eight (I think) short crime stories set down in the American SouthWest. You can feel the climate and surroundings on each page, and the heroes and villains are well written and in your face.












The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry by Wendell Berry [LINK] If you’re not familiar with Wendell Berry this is probably a good place to start as this book is a collection of his writing from across his entire life. He explores many issues in the natural world and the world in general, and this book will certainly make you stop and think not only about the world around you, but also your place in it.












RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR by Philip Hoare [LINK] This is very much a set of personal reflections but also how water, the sea and the animals and plants around it have interacted with the author and authors and poets before him. The book looks backwards in time, but also forward to what may come to pass. I found myself totally drawn into the telling of tales, many of which I knew very little about.












Moods of Future Joys by Alastair Humphreys [LINK] modern day adventurer Alastair Humphreys set off to ride by bicycle from his home in the UK to Australia. Along the way his journey changed as a result of world events, and his route took him through the middle-east and Africa (and perhaps on a journey that wouldn’t be possible now. This is the first volume in his adventures, and I am thoroughly looking forward to reading the next one, but I’d recommend this if you want to read about some solo adventuring.












Floating: A Life Regained by Joe Minihane [LINK] If you like wild swimming or have read Roger Deakins “Waterlog”, then this is probably the book for you. Minihane re-swims the lakes and rivers and watercourses that Roger Deakin first wrote about. At the same time Minihane has his own journey of self-discovery. If you haven’t read “Waterlog” then this is still worth a read, but if you have then you’ll be interested to see how things have changed since Roger Deakin swam his book, and how perhaps he took some licence with what he wrote.











Mawson’s Will by Lennard Bickel [LINK] Possibly, like me, you have never heard of Douglas Mawson, but his adventure and tale of survival ranks up there with the likes of Scott, and Shackleton. How Mawson survived and overcame the conditions in Antarctica that threaten his life on a daily basis is quite incredible.

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Quick Links 26th November 2017


Welcome to a frosty part of the world (at least it is at the moment as I type, but I suspect it will be unseasonably warm again soon enough). It feels like it’s been busy this week and time has been passing quickly.

I’ve been doing a few jobs around the house and garden this week, trying to tidy things up for winter. Still plenty to do but it’s getting there.

Work – I’ve had meetings in Southampton this weeks as well as some telephone conferences all related to potential work. Nothing that I can comment on further yet, so once again a waiting game.

Allotment – I’ve harvested the broccoli with the hope that it will grow some side shoots in the springtime, if I had let it grow it would have spoilt, so although we won’t necessarily have broccoli in the spring we had some nice broccoli and Stilton soup this week.

I’ve also been progressing with the digging of the site, getting it ready for next season, and keeping me warm when I’m down there!

Currently Reading – I’ve not been reading much this week, bits and pieces now and then, but not consistently.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

I’ve mostly been trying to avoid the Black Friday nonsense, every other advert seems to be related to it, and clearly the best way to save money on Black Friday is not to buy anything. I think we have enough “stuff”, probably more than we need and I certainly don’t need to buy any more! [LINK]

When the solution to building a road is not to build it in the first place –  [LINK] I’ve been on this road many a time, and it is a bit of a nightmare, but to be honest given the alternatives I’d rather that no new bypass was built. We seem determined to trash the environment and I really don’t see why we can’t just stop.


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Quick Links 19th November 2017

Greetings! As I mentioned last week it was the anniversary of my Dad’s death this week. We went to where his ashes are scattered and spent some quiet time there, and that’s where my thoughts have been for a lot of the week.

Otherwise it’s been a little bit of an odd week. Our cooker died quite spectacularly on Tuesday (including sparks) it was the oven that was the problem, so we still had the hob that we could use. We have a domestic appliance store in town that is a non-chain business, and I went in there the following day and they had a suitable replacement in stock which they delivered, fitted and removed the broken one on Thursday afternoon. The new one is British made, and we’re really pleased with it. I doubt that a chainstore would have been able to do that as quickly or as cheaply (they charged significantly less for the delivery, installation and removal of the old one than the chainstores quote on their websites).


Work – I’ve been preparing some documents ahead of a meeting next week, and had a related pre-meeting with a colleague. Also had a tender invitation that I was expecting months ago. Not quite decided what I’m going to do with it yet – it’s a significant amount of work, over quite a tight timetable, and the tender returns are due in just over two weeks. Given how quite it’s been for paid work just recently though it would be difficult to turn down.

Allotment – The last couple of weekends have been wet so I haven’t been able to do much on the plot. This weekend was similar, but I did manage to squeeze some digging in between showers. I also noticed that my broccoli is already putting up heads. It shouldn’t really be doing that as it is supposed to over-winter and do it in the early spring. I guess this is because of the exceptionally mild weather we’ve had so far this autumn. I think I’m going to have to pick it soon or it will spoil.

Currently Reading – I’ve been reading “Vacationland” by John Hodgman [GoodReads] this week. After seeing some publicity on social media about it, I downloaded a sample to my kindle, and then followed it up with the full version. Kind of a cross between A J Jacobs and Bill Bryson.

I also received my copy of “My House of Sky: A Life of J A Baker” by Hetty Saunders [GoodReads], which I backed through a crowdfunder earlier this year. It’s an incredibly beautiful book and I’m so glad I backed it.

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For those who don’t know who J A Baker is, he’s the author of one of the classic nature books – The Peregrine [LINK], and a couple of other books, but The Peregrine is the one that he’s best known for.

My House of Sky by Hetty Saunders from Little Toller Books on Vimeo.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Moby Dick Big Read – There’s a podcast [LINK] where you can listen to different narrators read Moby Dick an episode at a time. There’s also a public event each year where you can go and listen in person [LINK] .

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Quick Links 12th November 2017

Greetings from the house with fresh paint on (some of) the walls – yes that’s right this week I’ve been doing a little decorating. It’s really to freshen up a couple of spots, but we’ve got some plans to do more after Christmas, once we’ve decided on the colour. I’ve been painting, walking the dogs and doing mostly domestic stuff this week.

We seem to have shifted our colds and bugs too which is good, I hate being sick, who doesn’t!

The week ahead is the anniversary of my Dad’s death. I remember quite clearly the events of a year ago, and those last few days of his life. Not quite sure what we’ll be doing to commemorate it, but I’m sure we will be doing something.

Work – With all the painting I’ve not been doing much on the work front this week. I did have a meeting on Friday morning, which was planning for another meeting in a couple of weeks time,and the remainder of the time I’ve mostly been working from my phone in between coats of paint.

Allotment – Not much action on the plot this week due to the wet weather. I’m not too bothered because things are quite up together, although if the weather continues this way, I’ll have to start tarping areas of the plot so that I can dig them in between the wet spells otherwise the ground won’t dry out sufficiently to let me dig.

Currently Reading – I’ve been dipping into Hunting Hitlers Nukes by Damien Lewis this last week [GoodReads] it reminds me that a lot of what happened in WWII runs the risk of being forgotten, and perhaps that this isn’t a good thing.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Politics – Quite a bit happening in UK politics at the moment. It used to be that politicians were – in the main – upstanding members of the community who were there to represent and do the best for the people who elected them. Over the last couple of weeks a lot of things have been coming to light that demonstrate that this is most definitely no longer the case.

If things continue this way it’s possible that there will be another general election soon, technically it’s possible for it to be before the end of 2017, although that doesn’t seem likely.

An extraordinary battle between sperm whales and orcas – in pictures [LINK]

The Detectorists – Pretty sure I’ve mentioned this series before, but if not you should check it out. Series 3 started this week.

Peter Rabbit – The Movie – I’m not sure about  this, but so long as this trailer isn’t just all the best bits, this could be quite a fun movie.

As The Silly Season ahead of the Christmas period kicks off at full speed, the major retailers are launching their Christmas adverts. They’re quite a good crop this year, I particularly like the M&S one with Paddington Bear.

30 Day Time Lapse At Sea
I find this kind of hypnotic, and I particularly enjoyed the night sequences.

“The evidence points in one direction – we must ban neonicotinoids” – Michael Gove

I was a little surprised when I read this article [LINK] in the week, as Gove’s predecessors as SoS for DEFRA have been almost exactly the opposite in terms of their views. So I give this a warm but cautious welcome, given that I’m sure the pesticide companies will sure to be lobbying strongly to stop any ban. In related news though [LINK] it seems that the problem is probably a lot worse than was thought. I can’t say that this surprises me at all when you think about the linkages and also the food chains / webs involved.

I’ve never had much time for Michael Gove before, but I wonder whether he might have found his calling at DEFRA?

From Pesticides to Fertilisers – Again this [LINK] is something that we should have been able to foresee and prevent. As a species, we are particularly dumb.


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Quick Links 5th November 2017

Greetings From The Plague House – where we all seem to have come down with something, even the dogs are coughing and sneezing. I blame the event I was at last Monday, where I spent most of the evening in the lee of a draughty doorway.

Not only is this weeks post a little later in the day as a result it will also be a bit shorter than usual.

As well as the clocks going back last weekend, and we’re now on Greenwich Mean Time again, but we’re also celebrating the failure of someone to blow something up with gunpowder, by blowing up things with gunpowder and other explosives. The beginning of November marks the fireworks silly season which will now last until well after Chinese New Year.

(The mornings are lighter again (for a while), here’s a quick read relating to that hours change).


Work  I was at a showcase / networking event on Monday. I think it went well (apart from it seems catching a chill), I had some good conversations with a number of different people. It hasn’t generated anything further as yet but sometimes these things take a little time to generate further leads. Following on from that I’ve been doing my end of month accounts etc.

Allotment – It was a bit wet to get much done this week. I did notice however that the broad beans are going from strength to strength. I also got asked to help unload a lorry of manure (s***** job!), but all for the good as it will help plants to grow.

Currently Reading – I haven’t settled on a book at all this week, I’ve read a little from several different ones, but nothing has really taken my attention. Partly because I haven’t felt like it. So I’ve been catching up on some podcasts instead.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Most of UK’s fruit and veg is from other EU nations ‘so Brexit impact may be dramatic’ [LINK] Glad I’ve got the allotment!

Casey Neistat Halloween Star Wars Speeder Bike Video

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