TWTW # 9

I’m behind. Normally by this point in the week I’ve written this post and it’s scheduled to appear around 10am (GMT). Today although I’m behind it will probably appear a bit before that.

I have an allotment talk coming up at the beginning of April, so I’ve been doing a little bit of prep-work for that this week, making sure that the slides I want to use are still relevant.

I’ve also been following up with a few clients on work that is ongoing or bids that have been submitted but haven’t had a response yet.


My exploration of the Maigret novels continues. I had a book token for my birthday and have purchased a few more to keep my curiosity going. This week I read The Night At The Crossroads which was very good. All these novels are very short, most seem to barely 150 pages, and only take a few hours to read. They are also very good, I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to discover them.

I also read An Arabian Journey by Levison Wood which is an incredible tale of his journey around the Arabian peninsula. He undertook the journey when ISIS were still very much present and there was civil war raging in Syria. This really is a tale of what that part of the world is going through, and if you have any interest in that part of the globe I’d recommend reading it.


Warren Ellis posted about wearing a watch this week. I can’t say that I’ve ever owned or wanted to own a “smart” watch, and I flip between wearing an ordinary timepiece and not wearing one at all.


Beginning to think that Elon Musk is a pretty unstable and a not very nice person.


I wrote a short review and recorded a video about my Pineider Pen Filler, which was  a birthday present.


I also recorded my first allotment video of the year (and actually the first one for quite some time).


I also managed to get my potato trenches dug, I’m hoping to get the potatoes in the ground later on this week. With that and the rate of progress of some of seeds that I’ve sown recently (swede, cauliflower) it won’t be long before the season is really underway.

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Pineider Ink Filler – Demo & Review

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I was given a Pineider Ink Filler (portable ink well) as a birthday present a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had a chance to use it a bit and I have to say for the price (about £20), it’s a great bit of kit. Only downside I can see is the top stopper and how durable that will be in the longer term.

Mine was purchased from Cult Pens but other stationery suppliers are available.

Now that I’ve used it a bit I thought I’d do a short demonstration and review video. You can find the video below.

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TWTW # 8 Another Solar Orbit

Another week, and another year of my life completed. Saturday was my birthday and although I mostly had a quiet day I did have cake!

This one has been pretty quiet overall, particularly when our TV set-top box died. We were able to get a work around going, but it means that we lost all of our recordings. We’ll get a replacement but it seems it’s one of those things where as the technology moves forward there is less choice. We really don’t want to be live streaming everything, some plain old fashioned technology would work. I was wondering if there’s still an old VHS machine in the loft. Maybe we could go retro.

Speaking of retro, one of my favourite tools is a fountain pen. I much prefer them to write with, probably second only to a pencil. For my birthday I was given a portable inkwell. The idea of this is that you can take several refills of ink for a fountain pen with you, without having to carry a whole bottle of ink. There’s a little bit of faith involved in refilling an empty pen, as it requires you to hold the inkwell upside down with the pen you’re trying to refill inside. I’ve had one trial run so far, and the ink stayed in the pen or the inkwell and didn’t end up getting on me or my desk. I look forward to trying it when I am truly out and about.


I ordered a new banetton for bread making, one that is oblong rather than round, which obviously means I get an oblong loaf.

It worked well and the loaf, and sliced bread is a much more usable shape for things like sandwiches.


The allotment is still pretty wet after a few days of rain, I’ve got a few seeds sown in the potting shed, but I’m still not ready to sow directly onto the plot. In another week or two, I’ll get the potatoes in the ground.


I was watching and listening to some of the coverage of the Space-X Crew Dragon this week. Whilst it would appear that everything went very well, there was quite a lot of discussion regarding the “commercialisation of space”. It concerns me that this appears to mean that there is going to be competition for resources in space, particularly on the Moon and Mars. Perhaps someone should be asking the question as to why we should be doing this as we have virtually destroyed earth by our own arrogance, we’re going to do the same (potentially) on the Moon and Mars too.


 

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TWTW # 7 Too Cold For Spuds

Another week is over and another month, 2019 seems to be galloping at a pace. In a weeks time I’ll be another year older. This February has been reported as the hottest on record with temperatures getting into the 20’s on several consecutive days, which  has been mad. A few people seem to have gotten their potatoes in the ground already, including a few on my allotment site. I’m going to hold off for another week or so, as I’ve planted too early before and lost part of the crop due to a late cold snap.

I got round to sowing a few seeds this week, broccoli, cauliflower, swede and leeks all made it into pots. I’ve been thinking of trying some different approaches this year to what I grow on the allotment and am planning to utilise more plants from seed (I hope), and top up from the local nursery with anything I’m missing, doesn’t germinate or for some different varieties. I’ve bought odd plants from them before and they supply good stock, so either way we should be good.


I finished “After The Fire” by Henning Mankell and thoroughly enjoyed it. Starting with a fire – an arson attack – I thought that this was going to be a crime novel, and although there is the crime, the book is about much more than that. As with Mankell’s other books it is incredibly well written and set in the Swedish archipelago so a different pace to life, but one where you sense the scenery is both beautiful and isolating at the same time (sounds like my cup of tea). The multi-stranded story is held together well by the first person narration and ultimately I was a little sad to have finished it, knowing that as the author has sadly passed away there won’t be any chance of a continuation of the characters.

I may well revisit some of Mankell’s other books, and just check that I’ve read all of them.



 

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Spiced Easter Buns (Hot-Cross Buns) Made In A Breadmaker

Ingredients:

Water 240ml
Butter (melted) 50g
Sugar 50g
Egg (beaten) 1
Salt 1 tsp
Strong white bread flour 540g
Fast Action Yeast 2tsp
Ground Sweet Cinnamon 1 tsp
Nutmeg 1/4 tsp
Mix dried cherries and raisins 150g

I make these using my breadmaker to do the heavy lifting of mixing and rising the dough. You could use an ordinary mixer or make the dough by hand. The dough needs a first rise of about an hour (preferably somewhere warm), and then a second rise of about half-an-hour. Full details in the video below.

You can either make a cross in the top of the buns with a serrated blade before you glaze them or make crosses with a simple mix of icing sugar and water applied using a piping bag once they’re cooked.

 

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TWTW # 6 – Home Baked

I’ve mostly been working from home this week, with some interludes for baking, and a few other things.

It’s also been a week where it would appear that Spring has tentatively arrived. The weather has been unseasonably warm, but it may not last. It’s still a bit early to get properly started on the allotment, so for now nothing much is happening there.

We had feedback on the last lot of tests that the vet did for Wilson, and it would seem that everything is normal. This is obviously good news, but doesn’t answer the questions about what might have been wrong in the first. For now we’re going to monitor he and see if there are any changes over the next couple of weeks.

 


I love a good domino toppling!


I’ve been reading Henning Mankell’s “After The Fire”, the last book he wrote before he passed away. I’m only a few chapters in, and I’m not quite sure what is actually going on but it is very good. I’ve always enjoyed Mankell’s books – the Wallander novels in particular – this isn’t a Wallander story but is a character that he’s used before in “Italian Shoes”, you don’t have to have read the previous story to enjoy this one though. Written in the first person, you can really feel the emotion of the character and what he’s going through after his home is destroyed by fire leaving him with only his night clothes and two left-footed wellingtons. I’ll try and remember to do an update next week.


 

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TWTW#5 A Necessary Spectacle

This week has been a bit of a busy one with several trips to and from the vets as the mystery around whatever is wrong with Wilson continues. The good news is that the vet has ruled out a lot serious things but we’re still not 100% certain what is wrong. We’re now waiting the results of some other tests which we should get on Monday or Tuesday.

When I’ve not been doing that I’ve been working on a client proposal and a few business development things.


I’ve been re-reading Empire Games by Charles Stross, mostly because this is the first book in a trilogy and I have the second book to read, but couldn’t remember what happened in the first book or how it ended. It involves multiple timelines, and I understand it better now having reread it. Not altogether sure what’s up next, as I want to read something else before I get started on the second book in the trilogy. The final book should be out later this year but has been a bit delayed already as the author wrote about on his blog.


Will Burrard-Lucas caught a rare black leopard on film for the first time in a while.


I had to get my glasses repaired. They were a new pair that I bought following an eye test just before Christmas and they fell apart almost instantly. I returned them to the opticians and they agreed to replace them free of charge. As I hadn’t heard from them I followed up with a phone call, and miraculously they were ready that afternoon.

Whilst I don’t think the opticians was at fault for the glasses I was a little underwhelmed by their customer service.


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