Round and Around – (Quick Links 124)

The end of the week at last! It’s been a busy one for all sorts of reasons, but none of them being really work related. I’ve had a couple of nights of disturbed sleep with a poorly dog, and a few things to do with my Mum.

It was also Ruby’s birthday. She’s now 4 but it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since we collected her, the time has flown by.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time on the allotment (it’s about this time every year when I wonder if it’s all worth while).

I’m coming to the end of the week feeling pretty tired and worn out. Next week’s looking like being busy too (at least the first half).


I went to see Avengers: Infinity War on Wednesday.

I enjoyed the film, but felt a bit underwhelmed by it. Maybe it’s because it’s had so much hype for so long, but I felt that both of the two previous “Avengers” films were better. I also haven’t seen Dr Strange or Thor: Rangnorok, which I think probably meant that I missed a few things that might otherwise have made sense.

It’s still a good film though, and the next installment, next year should be the best of the bunch if they don’t mess it up.


Craig Mod Newsletter – I may have mentioned the excellent Roden Explorers newsletter from Craig Mod before (or I may not, I can’t remember). It’s an infrequent but excellent read. The latest edition [LINK] contains all sorts of interesting stuff, but the thing that stuck in my mind was his walk where he ended up with blisters and how he dealt with them. It made me positively wince as I read it. It’s well worth a read, and you can always sign up via the link at the top of the newsletter page.


Work – A quiet week overall, a few emails exchanged with a prospective client and a phone call with a recruitment consultant but otherwise that’s about it. I’ve been looking at possibly expanding my grow-your-own work, but not made any decisions about that yet.


Allotment – Busy week here. It’s that time of the year when everything is ready to go out onto the plot. This week I’ve transplanted runner beans, cucumbers, sweetcorn, courgettes, pumpkins, squash, Brussels sprouts and sown seed for more radish, lettuce, purple sprouting broccoli & rocket.

img_20180518_103314_490.jpgThe sweetcorn entailed the building of an enclosure to try and keep the badgers at bay should they try and eat it. Not sure I’ll be very successful in keeping them out if they’re determined, but at the end of the day I only need to try and dissuade them and hope they move on.

I’ve been doing similar in Mum’s garden, trying to get her plants out as well (very similar combinations to my own – probably because I’ve grown them for her). I also mowed her lawn and a few other odd jobs around the house.


Currently Reading – I’ve just finished reading “Under The Rock” by Ben Myers [LINK], I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not sure what’s up next.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


I’m thinking about taking a break from writing on the blog for a while. I know I’ve said that before but I feel like what I’m saying isn’t much, and it’s certainly not exciting. I’m also haven’t had the time to actually find much in the way of interesting stuff that I normally add for some time. I’m also getting a lot of spam comments and email sign ups, although the filters are catching just about all of them they’re pretty annoying, and I wonder if a break might stop them, if there are no new posts for a while. So there may not be a post next week or for some time. If you have any thoughts on what you like to read here then do leave me a comment. I’ll likely still be updating in places such as Instagram and Twitter where you can find me as @tontowilliams, but in the meantime take care until next time!

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Posted in books, Garden / Allotment, Quick Links, tech, walking, work | Tagged , ,

The Short One – (Quick Links 123)

I’m a little late posting this week, having not had the time to write much of this update in advance this week, so I’m not sure how long this is going to end up being. Here goes!

I avoided the Bank Holiday crowds at the start of the week, and instead did a bit of a coastal walk on Tuesday. The tide was out which meant I was able to walk around the section of the coast path that the signs guide you away from, and make you walk inland. When the tide is in, this part of the path is not that accessible but at low water there’s plenty of time to make the trip. Even got to see a couple of Wheatears across one of the fields, but had to wait until today to see my first Swift of the year.

It feels a bit like Summer has arrived this week, with daytime temperatures reaching the mid to upper 20’s, we’ve had a few rain showers over the weekend, but it’s warming up again.


GDPR – If you haven’t received multiple emails from people about this then you’ve been very lucky. It seems most people have been getting it completely wrong when it comes to what you’re actually supposed to do, with the major corporations being the biggest offenders. I’ve been using it as an opportunity to “unsubscribe” to a lot things.

I’d be a bit remiss though if I didn’t remind you that if you receive this post and other posts via email, you can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link provided. Of course I hope you don’t but it’s your choice. If you have provided me with your email address it only get used to send you posts from this site and nothing else, and it will never be shared with anyone else.


Work – There’s been a bit of movement with a client on some work, but it’s still not clear whether this will go ahead. If they don’t make a decision by the end of the month, then it definitely won’t be proceeding, so there’s still plenty of time, and for me nothing much to do other than wait!


Allotment – Been doing a fair bit this week, I’ve been getting ready to plant out things like squash, pumpkin and courgette, and they’ll be going out probably in the next week or two. I’ve also been preparing the ground and have now planted out the Cavlo Nero on the end of the existing brassica bed. Everything is starting to come alive at last. There’s plenty of soft fruit stating to form, in particular gooseberries, and seeds sown a couple of weeks ago are growing well. Of these I’ve even harvested the first radishes of the year!


Currently Reading – I’ve been reading “Under The Rock” by Ben Myers [LINK] this week and jolly good it is too. It’s likely to be one of my favourite books of the year.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Sean Bonner – Citizen Science


I’m outta here, otherwise this thing is never going to get posted. Have a good week.

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They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore – (Quick Links 122)

It’s been a fairly busy week for me, and also an election week for local councils.

We had an opportunity to vote this week. Despite our current Councillor retiring, I hadn’t expected any change in political party even if the face changed. This proved to be true with the new Councillor getting over 50% of the vote, although given the campaigning before the day, you’d have thought there was only one candidate standing as we heard nothing from any of the other three, although I did see a representative of one of the other candidates campaigning in town on the Saturday before polling day. Sadly he was being pretty offensive and rude to people he spoke to, and not doing his candidate any favours in the process, he put me off voting for his candidate.


I was sitting doing my end of month accounts when I realised that my calculator had stopped working. I thought it was just the battery that had died, but it appears that’s not the case and this is probably an end of life failure. A little sad because I was given this calculator for either a Christmas or Birthday present (I can’t remember which) when I was starting my science classes at school. It’s seen me through all my school, college and university career, and on it to my working life. It’s done more than a few project appraisals, as well as month after month of household accounts. As I said on Instagram – We’ve done some maths together. By my reckoning this calculator is 35 years old, and that is some serious service for something that probably now we would be surprised if it lasted more than a few years. They don’t make them like that anymore.


I’ve never really wanted a “fitness band”. Not the musical kind, one of those things that you wear on your wrist that measures your steps, and heart rate and a few other things. My phone counts my steps and I’ve been pretty happy with that.

Well this week this happened:

The jury is still out for me on this at the moment. It seems pretty accurate at counting steps (compared to my phone the two seem broadly in alignment). It also measures sleep, but I’m not sure this is terribly accurate as it can’t seem to discern between “light” sleep and being awake but resting quietly. I’ll keep giving this a try to see how I get on with it


Mythos – I’ve been listening to this BBC radio drama on iplayer this week on my travels [LINK] – (this might not work outside the UK, but it is worth the try). It’s a good mix of mythology and humour with some interesting story lines. A bit of a shame it was only three episodes, and I hope they make some more. If you’re a fan of Charles Stross’s Laundry novels [LINK], you’ll probably enjoy it.


War On The Walker – I walk as much as I can, if I can get somewhere without using the car I try to do so. I get annoyed by cyclist riding on pavements where there is no cycle lane and insufficient room, and by people who are inconsiderate and park on the pavement blocking it. It seems that our current government is pretty set on the car, despite the fact that there are too many of them and not enough room for them. The solution is to build more roads. My local council’s view of how to overcome congestion and air pollution is essentially to build more roads – go figure. It also seems that even for electric vehicles, we haven’t gotten this right yet [LINK] and the Transport Secretary isn’t much better [LINK].


Nuclear Titanic – In times of crisis nuclear powered vessels can be used to provide power to communities where their normal power supply has been lost. In some ways I think this is possibly what Russia was thinking with the Akademik Lomonosov [LINK] but I’m not altogether sure that this is the best idea in the world.


Work – A bit of prep for, and time at a meeting mid-week but otherwise it’s been another quiet week on the work front. The outcome of the meeting however means they’ll be a bit to do in the coming weeks (subject to the response from the client).


Allotment – The weather turned for the better midweek (and is due to last until after the Bank Holiday Monday). As well as the allotment I managed to get a few things done in the garden at home.

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I had a little help in the garden as I was replacing some of the supports for our climbing roses that grow up the wall between us and one of our neighbours. It was lovely to be out in the sun doing some of those small jobs that often get forgotten in the garden because of lack of time.

On the plot things have been doing pretty well, despite a couple of late frosts this week. I’ve planted out some leeks, mowed the paths and gave the beetroot seedlings a good weed, they’re looking the better for it.


Currently Reading – I’ve been reading “On The Moor” by Richard Carter [LINK] on and off this week. It’s an interesting mix of science, landscape and natural history. I’ve also been dipping in and out of a few other things.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Ant Man & The Wasp


Monday’s a Bank Holiday, and if the weather holds beyond then I’ve got a couple of plans, but then you know what they say about the best laid plans! Have a good week.

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Swallows Return (Quick Links 121)

My car went in for it’s annual MOT this week, unfortunately it failed and needed some work, but all has been put right now, and it’s good to go for another year. I’ll need to get a couple of new tyres soon as well, but they’re good for a few more miles.

Not having a car for a couple of days meant a slight change in plans but I managed to get everything done, just perhaps not in the order I’d originally planned.


I mentioned last week about the blue tits gathering dog hair from the garden. Well I managed to capture them in action in this short video.


I saw my first Swallow of the year this week (a week later than last year). I haven’t seen any Swifts or House Martins yet, but they’re normally later sightings for me anyway. I also saw a couple of black caps just across the road from my house. They used to be regular garden visitors but I haven’t seen one in the garden for a couple of years, so it’s good to know that they’re still about, and maybe they might find the garden again.


Work – I heard back about the work that I was involved for the tender for a few weeks ago and unfortunately we were unsuccessful. This was very disappointing as I thought the bid was strong. As yet we’ve not had detailed feedback so I don’t know where we fell short, but I am quite interested to find out. This means that at the moment there is no paid work on the horizon, so I need to hustle a bit and get that changed around.

Had a couple of work related meetings but they’ve been in the diary for a while.


Allotment – The forecast for the weekend was wet, but in reality it has mostly been dry to this point at least. It meant I managed to finish clearing the old purple sprouting broccoli patch, dig it over and add some compost, ready for new crops. It will likely be the site of the coming years leeks and sweetcorn. For the latter I still need to devise my badger proof enclosure to stop them eating all the cobs before we get a chance.


Currently Reading – I finished   “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee [LINK]. Haven’t really gotten into anything else at this point, been a bit busy with other things.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Total Ban on Neonicotinoids – [LINK] I’ve written about this numerous times here, but at long last a total ban on these chemical pesticides has been declared. Hopefully it’s in the nick-of-time, but it is good news for once. Understandably the manufacturers are not happy about it (but they wouldn’t be really would they), but everybody else seems happy.

 


A short one this week, hope you all have a good week ahead.

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Marathon Man (Quick Links 120)

Well this week has seen a real change in the weather, suddenly much warmer and brighter, I’ve made the switch from wellingtons to hiking boots on my dog walks and if this keeps up there’s a real danger of shorts – you have been warned! We ended the week with some thunderstorms last evening and a drop of rain, but the sun was back out again this morning.

It gave me a proper opportunity to get into our garden at the start of the week and do a few jobs that I’ve been putting off because it was too cold / wet / unappealing. It was really nice to be out in the garden and an opportunity to see what’s going on. I saw more butterflies in one afternoon than I’ve seen all year so far. It’s a far cry from those snow-days of just one month ago!

I also gave my Mum’s lawn it’s first cut. It had dried out sufficiently to allow a mower on without sinking in. The mower started (nearly) first time, which is always a relief after being in the shed for the winter. I also took her over some seeds and planted out some cabbage plants in her raised beds.


I had a dental check-up this week. I really don’t like going to the dentist. It’s not a phobia – I just don’t like going. Don’t like my dentist much or the way he treats his staff, and I think he charges too much (although to be fair I have no comparison). I keep saying that I should move to another practice, particularly as my current one isn’t that close to home and the only reason I keep going is because it’s where I went as a kid, but the guy who was my dentist then has long since retired. Anyway check-up was fine, nothing needs doing, so now I have 12 months to source another dentist.


 

Work – A couple of virtual meetings this week, but quite quiet on the work front.


Allotment – The seeds that I sowed last week are starting to germinate. I was worried that they might get frazzled as they are under plastic at the moment, and had visions of having to resow every single one, but my fears were unfounded and they seem to be doing okay. I gave them a good water and covered them up again.

I also harvested our first rhubarb and made a crumble with it – yum!


Currently Reading – I finished  “Travels” by Michael Crichton [LINK], and started reading “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee [LINK]. The latter got me thinking about how I learnt to swim, and I wrote a short post on it.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Hummingbird “Love Charms” la chuparosa – Until I read this National Geographic article, I had no idea that this was even a thing. We don’t get hummingbirds in this country, but I know if we did I’d be trying to attract them to the garden like I do the other birds – as I sit typing this there’s a blue tit pulling some of Ruby’s fur out of a feeder that we’ve put out for the birds to provide nesting material, Ruby provides this cast-off fur when we brush her.

I suppose in a way I shouldn’t be surprised. As a species we humans have exploited just about everything else and every other species on the planet for our own ends. For birds the records on shooting song birds in Malta [LINK], and the persecution of birds of prey in the UK in favour of providing a few rich people some “sport” [LINK] are equally abhorrent. Why is it that we just can’t respect other life on this planet? When are we going to stop destroying our own home?


Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom – I was looking forward to this, but now I’ve seen this trailer, I think I’ll wait until it comes out on DVD, seems to be more of a rehash of Jurrasic Park: The Lost World, than fresh ideas.


The Meg – Looks like it might be fun in a bad B-movie kind of way, but again I’ll probably be waiting for the DVD or Amazon Prime release.


Solo: A Star Wars Story – I think they’re releasing this a little soon after Episode VIII, but I’ll probably go see this on the big screen because, well, Star Wars etc. etc.


That’s all folks, my car’s due an MOT next week and I’ve got a couple of meetings in my diary but otherwise if this nice spell of weather continues I want to try and get out and about.

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Learning To Swim

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Memories are a funny thing, I’m not sure how accurate mine are and whether or not the sequence of events is actually the way it happened sometimes, but I have been reading “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee, this week and she writes about learning to swim. This got me to thinking about how I learnt.

I learnt to swim when I was at primary school, so between the ages of 5 and 11. Once a week we’d be taken by bus to the swimming pool in the nearest city. It probably took us longer to get there and back than it did actually at the pool and so it took up all of a morning for our lessons. If you were unfortunate to have a verruca then you weren’t allowed to go, and had to stay at school. We had our feet checked at the start of each term, lining up and having to lift each foot in turn like a horse being shod so that the instructors could check.

If you couldn’t already swim then you started in the shallow end of the pool, and as you got more confident and able you got to progress along the length of the pool into deeper water. We learnt “doggy-paddle” at first moving on to breast-stroke later. We undertook our distance badges (starting at 10m and working up to miles upon miles), and also learn’t personal survival (swimming in our pyjamas and making floats out of the legs of the trousers) – I always thought that we used pyjamas because what else would you be wearing when your luxury liner sank at night? The highlight of my school memories was coming third in the breast-stroke heats at the County swimming gala (unfortunately only the first two got to progress to the quarter finals).

Neither of my parents could swim and I used to pester my Mum to take me swimming, so in the end I used to go with friends to the seaside or the local pool, until my Mum learnt (probably to stop me whining about wanting to go swimming). As a result we used to go swimming off of the shore at Emsworth and the seafront at Hayling Island, West Wittering and Bracklesham Bay in the school holidays.

My Mum continued to swim, going to classes one night a week, with a friend. When I was old enough (you had to be over 16 for insurance reasons) I joined them. 9 to 10 pm on a Monday night, which meant we didn’t get home until 11 pm and then still got up for college on Tuesdays. I had a lot of fun with those lessons, and ended up with a trophy (I think for best improved technique), and some life-saving certificates.

I don’t seem to swim as much anymore, a bit at Emsworth still (in the summer with the dogs), but that’s about it. I must admit though that reading a book about wild swimming (and not the first one btw), maybe I’ll start again. Who knows.

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Unstable Times (Quick Links 119)

The world feels like it’s a lot less stable this week than it was last. I won’t go into all the news from around the world as it’s easy enough to find. What worries me is that the people who are “in charge” do not really feel competent to me.


I used the Hive website this week to order a couple of books. It’s the first time I’ve used them and I was really impressed. Primarily they are there to support local bookshops in the UK, and you can order anything in their catalogue and have it delivered to your local independent bookshop – they will also deliver to you directly.

As a result of my order (which was cheaper than on either Amazon or Waterstones) I discovered an independent bookshop that I didn’t even know existed, and is less than 5 miles from my house. Ordered on a Tuesday morning, they were ready to be collected by lunchtime on the Wednesday. The bookshop I collected it from is a great little store, and I’ll probably be going back again some when soon. See below for what I ordered.


I didn’t write a quarterly update at the end of March. Nobody seems to have noticed. I felt that I was repeating myself a little bit doing them, so I just didn’t write it. Probably won’t with quarters 2, 3 or 4 either.


Work – I’ve been writing some workshop proposals and outlines this week, a lot of hours in front of a computer screen.


Allotment – Although we had a really wet start to the week, things had dried up by Wednesday and stayed dry for the rest of the week. This enabled me to get some seeds sown (beetroot, radish, lettuce & rainbow chard), and also plant some Horseradish.


Currently Reading – I finished “A Time of Gifts” by Patrick Leigh Fermor [LINK] and started “Travels” by Michael Crichton [LINK].

The two books I ordered from from Hive are: “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee [LINK] and “Floating: A Return to Waterlog” by Joe Minihane [LINK]


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Bosch Season 4 – This is now available on Amazon Prime Video. Seasons 1 to 3 were amazing, so hoping this one will be too. I’ve watch the first couple of episodes already, and they were really good – bodes well for the rest.


Swimming with Sperm Wales in Sri- Lanka – [LINK]


That’s all folks, next week we have a mini-heatwave forecast, if this proves to be true I hope to get some time in the garden and on the allotment. I  should also hear about one of the tenders that was submitted a while back, and I have a dental check-up to look forward to. Assuming of course that we don’t all get incinerated in a nuclear fireball. Hope to see you all next week.

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