The Last Week Of The Year – Quick Links 31st December 2017

This is going to be short. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to exist at all or not.

It’s been a quiet and busy week in equal measure. We had a pleasant Christmas Day and Boxing Day, sharing them with my Mum, and exchanging a few gifts. I’ve got quite a few new books to read over the coming weeks, so that should keep me out of mischief if nothing else does!

The turkey was mysteriously very tough to eat, and not really that nice, which is a shame when you’ve gone to the trouble, but the rest of the meal was more than substantial, although I still didn’t have much of an appetite after being sick last week.

Unfortunately my Mum’s car broke down on Boxing Day – although we didn’t actually realise it at the time – just as she got home. She asked me to look at it the next day and although at first I couldn’t find a problem, when I took it for a drive it was evident that it was undrivable, and had to call the breakdown service. They were able to diagnose the problem but couldn’t fix it roadside, so towed the car to the garage where it stayed until they were able to get the relevant part and return it to us on Friday. No great problem, but a bit of a nuisance and a change in plans for the remainder of the week.

 


Work – I’ve been checking emails, and not doing much else. I still need to finish my 2018 planning and targets, but I wanted to reflect on these over the Christmas break and finish that in January.


Allotment – We’ve had snow, a lot of rain and some high winds this week, so not much  to report from the plot. I am however starting to think about next season, and I really need to look at what seeds & plants I need and get them ordered.


Currently Reading – I started Kim Stanley Robinson’s “New York 2140” [GoodReads] and enjoying it so far. I suspect that it will see me into the New Year as it’s quite a big book and I seem to be reading quite slowly. Once that’s done I’m not sure what’ll be next as I have quite a few to choose from after Christmas.


That’s it for this week folks, I did say it would be short. There’ll be a Quarter Four review later and possibly something for the New Year on Monday. For now though, I hope you have a great New Years celebration if you do, and service will probably return to normal next Sunday or the Sunday after.

 

Merry Christmas – Quick Links 24th December 2017

Well ’twas the night before Christmas and all that. Whether you read this before, during or after I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Not sure what I’ll be posting next week, as both my Sunday Quick Links and my fourth quarter review are due on the same day. You may get one or both, but hopefully something. I also normally try to post something on New Years Day as well. Not that I am expecting anyone to read it on the day it goes live, as I’m sure you have much better things to do than read my ramblings. Anyway, if you have been reading these posts, thank you.

I was expecting a quiet week this week, and other than an appointment I attended with my Mum I’ve not really been anywhere. This is probably just as well as I’ve not been feeling very well, and think that I managed to catch a stomach bug on one of my rare trips out. I’m recovering now, but did at one point wonder whether it was going to be a pre-Christmas instant diet or something that would drag on over the festive period. Hopefully it’s the former.


Work – I’ve been doing my end of the month admin a little early, so that I can pretty much be work free next week. I’ll be checking my emails, but that will be about it and I’ll pick things up again the following week. I’ve been working on my targets for next year, and things need to get serious to develop at least some income.


Allotment – Not much to report this week, it’s been quite a mild week, and the ground has been a little soggy at times, so I’ve been staying off of the beds now that they’re dug.


Currently Reading – I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” [GoodReads] this week, there’s quite a bit of his life story in there as well as tips and approaches to writing, although I felt that I had read most of it in other places.


Neil Gaiman Reading A Christmas Carol – Audio version of the author reading the classic Dickens Christmas tale. [LINK]


Open Railway Map – Open source map of many of the worlds railways [LINK], pretty cool to look up your local lines.


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The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Brexit Is Going To Be Titanic – Exactly like the ship


Merry Christmas From The Muppets


Bird Spikes In Trees – Although this only came to light in the last week, it seems that this has been going on for a while – but why? As this other article points out, we are seemingly blind to the damage that we are doing to the planet.


Alarming Customer Service Fail From Amazon when they started sending “coded death threats” to a customer [LINK]. If this had been me I’m not sure I would have noticed, as I do read quite a few crime novels anyway.


Dolphins – Nice piece by author Philip Hoare [LINK]


The Future Worlds of Work – Although I haven’t read the full report yet, I do intend to but these different scenarios [LINK] for what the future of work will look like in 2030 are quite interesting on the surface. I think I far prefer the Green or Yellow versions but I suspect without intervention that the world is heading towards the Blue scenario. I might come back to this again once I’ve had a proper read.


That’s it for this week, catch you all again soon.

Starling Madness

I’ve been trying to capture a video of the starlings in our garden “eating” from our mealworm feeder – decimation would be a better adjective as they can empty it in minutes. I’m not sure whether this is deliberate to share the worms with their fellow birds or whether it’s just a consequence of their rather mad feeding behaviour on the feeder.

There are often three or four on the feeder, but this is a small proportion of the total flock of around 15 birds. The remainder are on the ground under the feeder, hoovering up the fallout.

Hope you enjoy the video, which is a series of clips edited together.

Ruffled Feathers

Black-headed Gull (dodgy mobile phone pic)

This last week I’ve been noticing a lot of small fluffy feathers all over the playing field. It’s been a pretty wet and blustery week on the whole and the usual black-headed gulls have been there in large numbers, along with several other species, but the black-heads make up by far and away the largest proportion. They are also just turning from their winter plumage and getting the feature that they are named for. (In the winter they have a mostly white head with a small black patch just henind their eye).

Best guest is the extra feathers are related, but it’s quite a carpet and when the breeze gets up it picks them up and blows them dancing around the field. From a distance it looks a little like a carpet of cherry blossom but up close it’s clear what it is.

A Storm Is Coming


As I’ve mentioned here before, it’s not an uncommon sight to see flocks of seagulls camped out on the local playing field (see above).

We’re forecast for a big storm today, and when I was walking the dogs yesterday there was a maelstrom of gulls wheeling and turning over the field. They hadn’t settled but I suspect that they are coming inshore to escape rougher conditions out to see and along the coast.

I always take this as a better sign that we’re going to get strong winds, it seems to be a more reliable method of forecasting than watching the weatherman on TV! By the time you read this the gulls and I might be hunkered down staying out of the storm.

Nest Boxes

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I wrote a few weeks ago about cleaning the bird boxes ahead of this years nesting season, well it looks like I wasn’t a moment too soon as blue tits are checking out the sparrow box (above).

This particular box has been the most successful one in our garden since we’ve had it. As you can probably see it is actually three boxes together, the individual holes lead to separate nest boxes. It’s designed to attract house sparrows, who are communal nesters, but it’s never had a sparrow nest in it. Blue tits and great tits seem to enjoy it, but the sparrows seem to prefer the hedge.