A binaural recording (best enjoyed via headphones) from this morning’s dog walk. The first half is me waffling on and the remainder is ambient noise as I walk home. Thanks for listening.
I’m struggling a little bit with the fact that it’s past the middle of the year, we’re after the summer solstice and the days get shorter from here on out (at least until the winter solstice at any rate). As I look back over the first half of this year I wonder whether I could have progressed projects faster than I did and whether where I am is a true reflection of where I should / could be.
There are some empty pages in one of my notebooks with prompts that I was going to use for longer term planning but I am still thinking about that and really it makes no sense to do that planning until I’ve finished the thinking and come to some conclusions. Of course the longer I think the less gets planned and the less gets done. I really need to just get on with it, but some of it is new and unfamiliar and a little bit scary. I should also be doing a mid year review, and it seems odd to be doing that when I never really finished the planning. Sometimes I think you have to pivot a bit and not think too deeply about targets and just go with the flow.
I know I haven’t been idle, but I wonder whether I could have been more focussed. This month has been busy but more with non-work related projects. We’ve been having a bathroom refitted and have had quite a few problems with the supplier we chose to get the bath, sink etc. from. We have two sinks turn up broken and had to wait for a third. This meant a delay in starting and then having to start, not knowing whether we’d be able to finish the project with a sink properly fitted or not. We were lucky and the project is more or less finished. There are some final decisions to make over finishing touches but they can be made at leisure.
A quiet month workwise. With a big push on one project at the end of last month, this one has been distinctly quieter. Just as well with the other things that have been going on. I wonder a lot whether I am going to continue with this “career” or whether it is time to move on.
The allotment has been producing a lot of broad beans and lettuce. Soft fruit is now also coming into its own, with a lot of loganberries to harvest. I dug the first of my potatoes last weekend as a bit of a test to see how they were doing, the results were good so no more shop bought potatoes for a while. The garlic has been really good this year, possibly the best ever, but alongside them the onions have been some of the worst. I did have different varieties of both this year, so will probably be looking to get the same garlic again, but I think I’ll be reverting back to the onions I had in 2021 as they were good. Courgettes and climbing beans are slow to start this year. They’re just sitting there not doing much.
I’ve read a few this month. The stand outs are the fifth and sixth volumes of Spike Milligan’s second world war diaries – Where Have All The Bullets Gone and Goodbye Soldier, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s first non-fiction work – The High Sierra: A Love Story. My aim of reading more is going fairly well, but sometimes I just run out of time during the day or am too tired by the time I get into bed to read more than a couple of pages, so fits and starts probably describes it best. The Spike Milligan’s diaries have been a really interesting read, both in terms of his war time experiences but also his experience with mental health. What we would probably call PTSD now, probably lead to his ongoing battles with mental health later in life.
TV / Film
Nothing really sticks in my memory for this month in terms of TV or films. We have been rewatching the first couple of seasons of Blackadder via BBC iPlayer, and I was given a dvd set of an old ’80’s series “Bulman” for Father’s Day which has bought back some memories. Other than that there hasn’t been anything particularly memorable.
Music / Radio / Podcasts
I thought I’d add this as I listen to quite a lot of podcasts in particular. A new show to me this month has been the Curiously Specific Book Club, which I’ve been enjoying. It’s also been AudioMo this month, so I’ve been putting out a short piece of audio via Twitter each day with the hashtag #AudioMo. If you want to find them, I’ve collected them so far in this post.
Well that’s about it I think for this month. At the moment July is looking quite empty. I was expecting work to pick up again, but at the time of writing I’m not sure that is going to happen. There are plenty of things that I can fill the time with though, so I won’t be idle. Whatever you are up to in the weeks ahead, stay safe and take care.
Some thoughts following @katesparkle‘s AudioMo of yesterday
Kate’s original AudioMo can be found here:
For Day 2 of AudioMo I used the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset which records the audio binaurally. So when listening back it’s best to use headphones and you’ll hear the left and right sides of the audio as they were recorded.
Listen to the end for the peregrine falcon. The pictures of the fox and peregrine that I took are below.
About 25 minutes of audio and me burbling on, so if you do make it all the way to the end, thanks for listening.
I taking part in AudioMo again this year – an audio recording of any length each day through the month of June, posted to Twitter with the hashtag #AudioMo.
I’m going to pin this post to the top of the blog for the duration, and update it with a link to each new post (when I remember to do so), so you can find them all on this post during the month.
I seem to have fallen into monthly updates here, whilst still posting my FiftyFromFifty newsletter over there.
It’s been a busy month work wise (see below), and also in a few other areas. I’ve had my film camera out again and have been working my way through a couple of rolls of film some of the results I’ve posted here and there are more to come. I’ve been looking at buying some more rolls of film as I’ve almost used up the small stock that I have. Unsurprisingly the prices have gone up quite a bit, but I have a couple of ideas of different things that I want to try so I don’t feel like I need to buy large quantities of film at the moment.
I’ve also been breathing new life into old photos and slides, scanning boxes and folders of them in fact. I’ve found quite a few that I’ve never seen before and many of relatives in their younger days. Some are obvious as to who they are, others I’m not 100% sure of, possibly because they died before I was born. Some are labelled, but they are in the minority.
I’ve been able to visit my Mum – as opposed to only speaking to her on the phone – now that her care home is covid-free again. It’s strange that we’re now supposed to be “living with covid” and yet hundreds of people are still dying on a nearly daily basis. It really does feel like the government has failed this country in dealing with this killer virus and continues to do so on daily basis, preferring to pretend that there’s nothing to see. Their favourite phrase seems to be that we “just need to move on”.
We’re still planning our house move, and although it’s still a little way off, I’ve made some significant progress this month in making it happen and there’s more to come hopefully next month.
We’ve had a few issues with Wilson’s health which has resulted in more unplanned trips to the vet. He seems to be doing much better now, but he was a cause for a bit of concern earlier in the month.
This month has been busy with a client project and also having to renegotiate a contract. There’s been an exchange of emails over the content of the contract which at the moment I cannot sign. I’m hopeful that we can reach some middle ground but I’ll have to wait and see what comes back from them by way of revisions before being able to make a decision. In the meantime I have delivered on what I have been doing for them and there’s is potentially more work in the pipeline.
It feels very strange knowing that this is probably my last year on the plot with a potential house move imminent. It changes the way you think about things and what you’re going to plant where. At the moment we’re getting a good crop of broad beans and I’m hoping to be able to plant out squash and courgette this week, as well as some climbing beans. I’ve also got some bush tomatoes coming along that look like they are about ready for larger pots or potentially going into the soil.
I’ve read a few books this month, including finally finishing Derek Jarman’s first volume of diaries – Modern Nature – evidently it has taken me nine months to read them and as they’re not very long I’m not sure why. I would definitely like to visit his gardens in Dungeness one day and see just what he was able to do in such an inhospitable space. I’ve since moved on and am reading his Pharmacopoeia: A Dungeness Notebook and a little of his second volume of diaries.
I’ve also read a couple of books that didn’t pass my fifty page rule (or 20% on a kindle if there are no page numbers), I don’t name and shame because I think this can sometimes be as much about personal taste or mood at the time of reading, and I have been known to go back to books that haven’t passed the test and reread and enjoyed them so it’s a rule of the moment rather than to be rigidly applied.
TV / Film
Really not much to report here at all, mostly we’ve been watching repeats, programmes from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, programming that fills the time but ultimately means that I spend more time reading with the telly switched off. I have been enjoying Bosch: Legacy which I think is the only bit of new content I’ve been watching but I think that only has 2 episodes left, so probably by the time this goes out will be finished.
Well I don’t think that there’s much more to say this month.
Stay safe and take care.
Coming to paperback on May 19th is one of my favourite nature books from last year.
You can read my original review here, but now is the perfect time to be picking up this book as Spring moves to Summer.
In his book Lev uses the Japanese system of 72 micro seasons rather than our much broader four, and at this time in the book as this post goes live, is when he first sees Swifts.
This year I’m still looking for my first Swift, I’ve seen Swallows and based on my records I should see Swifts any day, but not yet.
There is a lot of attention to detail in this book, only a naturalist with a keen eye would spot some of the things that Lev does, and he is able to translate those sightings/findings in such a way that you are in the moment with him.
This is a book of the minutiae of nature as well as the broad sweeps of the world around us, whether that be the arrival of the swifts or the beauty of another portion of the natural world.
About The Author
Lev Parikian is a birdwatcher, conductor and author of Into The Tangled Bank (2020) and Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear (2018). He lives in West Norwood, London with his family, who are getting used to his increasing enthusiasm for nature. As a birdwatcher, his most prized sightings are a golden oriole in the Alpujurras and a black redstart at Dungeness Power Station.
Light Rains Sometimes Fall – A British Year Through Japan’s 72 Seasons by Lev Parikian is published by Elliott & Thompson and available in paperbackl from 19th May 2022
If you haven’t seen a Swift yet, keep a look out for the other micro seasons coming up:
The weather was forecast to be good over the long Easter weekend, so I decided that I would load one of my film cameras with a roll of film and restrict myself to shooting that roll over the four days. I was up early most days so had some really great morning light, particularly on the first day (Friday). Here are some of the images I took.
As an aside I used a new local (to me) laboratory to process and scan the film. They advertised a 3 day turnaround (from receipt of film) but actually took nearly ten days. By contrast I sent another roll to my usual processor and they turned it around in 2 days (they advertise a 7 day turnaround).
Well April has been a busy month for me, and mostly productive. My work has been focussed on a key project rolling forward and quite a bit of work to do to keep up with developments, it’s not something that I can say very much about but it has taken up quite a bit of work time. When I’ve not been doing that I’ve been sorting through some very large boxes of slides, negatives and photographs that I found while clearing my parents house. I’ve nearly worked my way through all of the slides, and have found lots of memories there (see above). I’ve been using the SlideScan and FilmBox apps to process as many as I can, although I’d say I’m actually digitising less than 10%, partly because they have no relevance to me now but also because they’re just not of sufficient quality e.g. underexposed, to enable the software to make a decent transfer. It’s been a fun project though and I’ve also been able to surprise a few members of the family with pictures of them or their relatives that they’d not seen before. I still have many more to do, so should keep me going for a number of weeks yet.
I’m still publishing my Fifty From Fifty Newsletter, which is why posts here have been less frequent and I’ve now passed the 20% mark in terms of the 50 posts. You can subscribe via the link above, new posts typically go out on Monday mornings UK time. One of my recent posts was about some of the music from 50 years of life and I created a playlist to reflect this:
I’ve also been picking up my film camera again, particularly as we’ve had some really good spells of weather and I’ve exposed a couple of rolls of film which I’ve sent off to be processed. One I’ve sent to a new lab which is even more local than the one that I’ve been using that I thought of as local. They have slightly let me down however as they advertise a three day turnaround (from receipt of film) however I had an email from them to say that it will be at least seven days before they’ll be able to process mine. It appears that they’ve updated their policy without updating the text on their website. It’s not a big deal, but it is a bit frustrating particularly when trying someone new for the first time.
I was hoping that I’d get them back in time for writing this post but alas not, so I’ll write up something else (assuming the photos are any good) when I get both rolls back.
I’ve been getting the plot going again properly. The potatoes are just peeking through from their ridges and some seeds – beetroot and lettuce – have been sown directly. I’m also bringing some squash, tomato and bean seeds indoors, to plant out later. As we’ll be moving somewhen soon, I’m being a little bit cautious with what I plant, as once the move happens we’ll have to give up the plot.
I read Len Deighton’s Spy Sinker and with it finished the middle trilogy of the three trilogies. Faith; Hope and Charity are the next three books and the final trilogy, but I haven’t started them yet. You can also read my review of David Cranmer’s Dead Burying the Dead Under a Quaking Aspen which is an outstanding collection of poems and I thoroughly recommend. Other than that I am trying to read more and spend less time on social media which seems to be working and have now reached 29 books read this year. Considering how busy work has been that’s a pretty good achievement. I’m not doing it for the numbers but in many ways that is the only metric I have.
We watched the new version of The Ipcress File which we enjoyed but I’m not sure why they needed to make the Harry Palmer character look like Michael Caine. It wasn’t necessary and I found it quite distracting. I think it would have been better if they’d just let the actor play him how they wanted.
Also Slow Horses on Apple TV+ which is very good, and a shame it’s only six episodes, even though they have already completed the second season.
Well that’s about it for this month. Whatever you’re up to stay safe and take care.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
David Cranmer is probably better known as an author and editor of hard boiled noir and as alter-ego Edward A. Grainger the creator of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles. So although not unheard of as a poet – he’s had several pieces included in this collection published separately – this is the first full collection of his poems.
It is both bright and light and at times dark, very dark but these are poems written not from the heart but from the soul. These are life experiences that show through the words on the page and show David’s time in the military and civilian employment; his family – wife and daughter and nephew.
Each poem speaks loud with a softly written style, not afraid to experiment with pattern and tone.
This is a brief collection of brilliance, one to be read again and again.
David Cranmer’s poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared in publications such as Live Nude Poems, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly, LitReactor, Punk Noir Magazine, Macmillan’s Criminal Element, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. He’s a dedicated Whovian who enjoys jazz and backgammon. He can be found in scenic upstate New York where he lives with his wife and daughter.
Disclosure: Although we’ve never met, I do consider David as a friend. I bought his book with my own money, and so should you.