All Work and No Play – TWTW #33

A thank you to all those of you who left comments or emailed me directly after last weeks post, it meant a lot.


This week has mostly been about the work, I’ve been working mostly on one clients work, but dipping into another in preparation for more this week when I have another road trip to do to Somerset.

On one of my twice daily dog walks this week I did manage a trip along the canal path with the dogs, with the plan of allowing them a swim, but the water level was so low all they really managed was a paddle. I don’t suppose they were really bothered either way. Our other walks haven’t taken us as far from home, mostly due to trying to get the work hours in.


I’ve been reading a few different things this week, including another Ellis Peters Cadfael novel – The Leper of St.Giles. My other reading material has mostly been related to work, so I won’t bore you with the content.

I’ve been listening to a few different podcasts and other things including the abridged audio version of Ben Myers new novel “The Offing” on Radio 4, it’s got another week to go in it’s run, but you can catch up on the link above.


Fun fact: The original title for the third “Naked Gun” movie was going to be “Naked Gun 33 1/3 – For the record”, but was changed because producers didn’t think viewers would understand the joke.


Been doing quite a bit of digging on the allotment, getting things ready for the application of some manure. There’s still quite a bit growing, but equally quite a bit of bare ground as things have been picked, dug up, or eaten by badgers!


Haven’t seen one yet but – First White-tailed Eagles released on Isle of Wight





That’s about all I have for this week, be careful out there.


Some Not Very Good News TWTW # 32

This last week has been pretty busy, and although I’ve had some good work related news (see below), I’ve had some sad news too. I think I’ve mentioned before that my Mum’s health has not been the best – well she had an appointment this week which was a follow up from some tests and a scan that she had a few weeks ago. The news that the consultant gave was not good, although perhaps wasn’t a surprise given the symptoms she’s had, we’re still processing what that means. For the time being at least I’m not going to say very much more.


The good, work related news, was that the second client I’d been talking to has come on board and that pretty much means in work terms I’m booked solid for the next couple of months. I much prefer being busy to having time on my hands though.


When I went to the allotment last I nearly trod on this pair of mating slugs that were between my shed and compost bins. I was surprised to see them there as this is more of a nocturnal activity, my guess was that they were in the shade there, and it wasn’t until the sun came around that they moved off and went on their separate ways to ultimately lay eggs to produce more slugs to eat my crops!


24 White Storks released in West Sussex rewilding project


I have been listening to the BBC Prom concert based upon the book “The Lost Words” by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. It’s available here for a short time. As a celebration of nature, wildlife and words, it is very much worth a listen.


I’m leaving it here for this week, lots to do over the coming days and obviously plenty to think about.

A Bit Like Buses TWTW #31

This time last week I was on my way to Somerset to see a potential client, who I’m pleased to say look they will become one. I can’t say much more than that at the moment.

On the way back I made a stop in a little village where we used to go for family holidays when I was a child. It’s actually quite a convenient spot to stop anyway and I’ve done so a few times over the years. The village used to have a secondhand bookshop, sadly now gone, but other than that the village hasn’t changed all that much. After a wander around, I got back on the road and headed for home.

I had previously been asked to hold a date in my diary for another meeting with another potential client. It’s work that we’ve been discussing on and off since January, and I wasn’t convinced that it was going to happen at all and then suddenly the request for the meeting. Then silence again. I followed up towards the end of the week and still didn’t hear anything until Friday when a message came in say that yes the meeting was still on, and could I come in an hour before the meeting to discuss a contract as they do want me to do the work. So it looks like I’m going to be busy.

I have the capacity to do both these contracts as neither is full time work, but I do need to sort out the exact number of days and timescales etc. I’ll be working on that this week.


The badgers have struck again and wiped out my entire crop of sweetcorn. It’s my fault, I’d started putting up a protective fence around the plants, but with one thing and another I’d never finished it and that was enough for the badgers to get in and have a good feed. I’m not too bothered, I’m obviously disappointed to loose the crop, but I feel that this species is persecuted (both legally and illegally) enough, so I don’t begrudge them a bit of corn, because I wasn’t able to do something that would have prevented it. There’s always next year!


Saw this sign on one of our dog walks this week, sure enough this little improvised sign was pointing towards a fairly active wasp’s nest. Very grateful to whoever improvised this little sign.


I’ve been listening to David Hewson’s new podcast this week you should be able to find it via the podcast app of your choice or on his webpage. He talks about writing and audiobooks, and the role Venice has played in his writing in the first three episodes.


The Persuasive Power of the Wolf Lady




That’s it for this week. The upcoming few days are going to be pretty busy I think, so will probably have my head down for most of it.

Be careful out there

Neither Here Or There TWTW # 30

I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, as by the time it goes live tomorrow morning I’ll be somewhere between here and Somerset on my way to a meeting with a client. A potential new client (although I do already know someone there, which is why I’m going). I have my fingers crossed that this might be some new work, but it means that if I don’t write this today, it might not get written at all tomorrow or anywhen else in the next week.


It’s been a fairly quiet week, which I’ve mostly spent working on some presentations for talks that I’m giving at the beginning of October. On Monday there were two to prepare and then I had an email arrive and by the middle of the week there were three. They don’t pay very much (I’ve been told by some that I’m not charging enough), but I enjoy doing them and I’ve had quite a bit of fun researching material for them. They’re not finished yet but as I say their still six weeks away (please don’t remind me I said that when I write that I’m flapping about not getting them done and am working late into the night to finish them)!


I’ve been reading Spillover” by David Quammen this week. It’s been on my Kindle for an absolute age, and although I appear to have read the first few pages before I’ve really been getting stuck in this week. It’s all about the transmission of diseases (mostly viruses) from animals to humans and what happens next. Think Ebola etc. I’m about halfway through and enjoying it, considering the topic is one that’s pretty gloomy, it’s very well written, and if you’re interested in science writing I’d certainly recommend it.


A Single Male Cats Reign of Terror



Giant Three Foot Cannibal Parrot Discovered


Stare At Seagulls To Stop Them Pinching Your Chips


 

That Wet Dog Smell TWTW # 29

It’s raining outside as I write this and my office smells of wet dog as it was raining when we went for our morning walk too. It’s still quite warm though, although thankfully not too humid.

I seem to be behind with a few things at the moment, this weekly post included.


I’ve been doing quite a bit of chutney making and pickling this week. Another batch of pickled gherkins have been added to the store cupboard (about 5 jars worth), and a gooseberry and red onion chutney. This latter mix made 8 jars almost exactly, leaving me only a teaspoon worth to try. It was very good, and I have great hopes for it when it matures (in about a month). It looks like the sort of chutney that will work well with cheese and cold meats and possibly just to be eaten straight off of the spoon!


The wind had blown over the sweetcorn on the allotment and I’ve had to stake each individual plant to keep them upright. Hopefully they’ll survive the experience, although as a plant sweetcorn are very intolerant at having their roots disturbed. A shame if they don’t make it as they have already started to form cobs.


I’ve been reading “Irreplaceable” by Julian Hoffman this week. It is a great book and I thoroughly recommend it. It is also in some ways a depressing book. It is about those wild places and species that we have lost or might loose to what some people would call “progress”. I was familiar with some of the stories, but if you’re not it’s probably even more eye opening particularly with respect to some of those sites that are supposedly “protected” but in reality are not. I had quite a rant about it in my journal:

I finished reading “Irreplaceable” this afternoon. It really is an eye opening book. Although several of the stories were already familiar to me – many of them weren’t and it is truly shocking what we are doing to this planet in the name of progress. It feels that many of the current decision makers – the politicians, councillors and others just don’t care (or understand). They see progress as “at any cost” and that very often means at the expense of those things that we should hold most dear. Many of the stories are the sorts of things that I could all too easily see happening locally here because of weak leadership and low morales where a developer could easily sway the council with promises of “economic growth”, “more jobs”, “greater income for the local area”, when it’s all about the money, money, money; when in fact that is probably the last thing it should be about and the fact that many of the things that would suffer cannot simply have an economic value attached to them. They are our lifeblood, they support our health, our welfare, our mental prosperity and so many other things. All too often the decision makers simply do not give a shit about such things, that are mere travails, are inconsequential, of no meaning and no value!

Well it’s about time for a change and putting some of those things at the heart of such decisions.


All According to Plan TWTW #28

 

So this week mostly went according to plan, no changes or last minute cancellations.

It was however a hot one, it looks like the hottest day ever was recorded for the UK and that the planet is sending us a warning of worse things to come if we don’t get our act together over climate change, reduce our emissions and prepare for the changes that we have already caused and are locked into our climate.

Weather patterns like those that we’ve seen this week could become a regular thing (at least every other year) and if we continue to do nothing – well that doesn’t bear thinking about really.

The allotment set a new temperature record too.


I tried to find the swan pair that routinely nest by the old aggregates wharf in town this week. They definitely nested this year (see here), but since they’ve left the nest I’ve not seen them or any young. It’s possible they’ve moved to a completely different part of the creek as there are a lot of bachelor swans around at the moment and they may feel safer having their young away from them until they’re a bit bigger or it might just be that they weren’t successful breeding this year. I’ve got a couple of ideas of places to try to see if I can find them but it’s not looking hopeful at the moment.


If you’re reading this online (rather than via an email subscription), you might have noticed a few changes. This is part of the changes I’ve been making to the site to lower the hosting costs. Last week I asked WordPress to “downgrade” my plan, which they did without a drama, but they noticed that the theme I used to use was no longer supported and thought that the site might break when the downgrade happened. It didn’t but their advice was to switch to a supported theme, to avoid any problems in the future. The changes you will have seen are as a result of me switching themes. Hopefully there are no obvious changes beyond appearance, but if you notice anything that isn’t quite as it was before please let me know and I’ll look into it.

The end results of all these changes are hopefully that the site will continue at a reduced cost for me. The ads are gone (I worked out that at the current rate of monetisation that it would be 227 years before I actually received any money) which also hopefully cleans things up.


I know this is still many months away, but I am looking forward to it.


My friend @documentally is off on a motorbike road trip


What’s the best murder you ever wrote?



I read another Nevil Shute book this week – “Lonely Road” and also had a trip via the library on one of my outings where I picked up The Overstory” by Richard Powers and an enormous book of Sherlock Holmes short stories by various authors.

I am a little underwhelmed by the former, particularly considering the reviews it’s had and the Sherlock Holmes stories are an interesting mix, some are good others less so and there are one or two that are very good.


That’s it for this week, I’ll leave you with this pretty kitten who needs a good home.


Lemon Courgette, Pine Nuts & Feta Pasta

If you are starting to get a bit of a glut of courgettes, give this quick and easy pasta dish a try.

You’ll need (for 2 people):

  • 200g of your favourite dried pasta shapes
  • 1 regular sized courgette
  • 1 packet of pine nuts (100g)
  • 1 packet of feta cheese (200g)
  • 1 medium / large unwaxed lemon
  • Pepper to taste

The cooking of the pasta is the rate determining step in preparing this meal. Once you have prepped your other ingredients they only take about 5 minutes to cook, so get the pasta going first, and time it so that everything is ready together.

  1. Put a large pan of water on to boil to cook your pasta, once boiling add your pasta and cook according to the manufacturers instructions.
  2. While the water is coming to the boil and the pasta is starting to cook, prepare you courgette. Top and tail, and then cut length-ways and then length-ways again so that you have 4 spears. Cut each spear into bite sized pieces.
  3. Zest and juice the lemon and keep to one side.
  4. Chop the feta into cubes and keep to one side.
  5. Using a frying pan or similar heat and little oil and add the pine nuts and roast them gently until they start to brown.
  6. Add the chopped courgettes and continue to roast with the pine nuts.
  7. Once the courgettes are cooked, add a good grind of pepper and then add the lemon juice and zest and mix well to combine.
  8. Turn off the heat under the pine nut & courgette mix, and add the feta and stir together.
  9. Drain the pasta and serve, add the pine nut mix on top (alternatively add the drained pasta to the pine nut and courgette mix and combine).
  10. Eat!