It Could Be Gas Masks TWTW # 89

It’s been a hot week, temperatures in the high 20’s and low 30’s most of the week, and also humid. At the time of writing we’ve been waiting for forecast thunderstorms, but haven’t had any. We did take advantage of the hot weather to wash some of the dogs toys. It confused Ruby a bit as she couldn’t quite work out why we suspended them from the washing line – was this some new kind of game?

This week has been a bit busier than last. I took Wilson back to the vets at the start of the week for his repeat blood test. This came back later in the week with a slightly surprising result of being back in the normal range. This of course means that we have to go back for another test at a later date – around two months time – this means that we don’t have to change his medication for now, which is a good thing but doesn’t explain the reason for the earlier high reading, so that will have to remain a mystery.


I finished my roll of infrared film this week, and have sent it off for processing. I parked on top of Portsdown Hill to expose the last couple of frames and took some more panormas of the harbour. While I was there with my old film camera on a tripod another car pulled into the layby behind me and out jumped another photographer with a modern DSLR with an enormous zoom lense on the front of it. We said a quick “Hi”, and went on with our respective photos.

I haven’t had the developed images back yet, but should get them this week I hope.

I took out my oldest DSLR to take some photos this week. I have a sentimental attachment to it because I’ve had it for so long. Most phone cameras have a higher number of megapixels on them than this old camera, but we’ve taken a lot of images together. I started taking some pictures in the garden and when I looked at them on the LCD they were very underexposed. I thought it might be the display but they were the same looking at them on a computer. A bit of research on the internet showed that it’s a known problem with that particular model, and either I am lucky that mine has lasted so long without the problem appearing or I’m unlucky because it didn’t fail while the camera was still under warranty.

Either way the camera no longer takes photos properly but I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. I have a number of lenses for it and they will still fit one of my old film cameras (which I haven’t used in a very long time, so I’m not sure what condition that’s in either). There’ll be some experimenting ahead.


My allotment time has been limited this week because it’s been so hot. Most of my time there has been spent watering. I did plant out some leeks mid-week, which seem to be doing okay in the heat. We also had a significant number of cauliflowers this week, and are still working our way through the mini-glut.


People have been receiving mysterious packages of seeds in the post.


I’ve been reading a couple of different things this week. I’m slowly working my way through London War Notes by Mollie Panter-Downes, reading a bit most days. These are a collection of articles that the author wrote for The New Yorker during the Second World War on her observations of reflections and observations of what was happening in London. There are some significant historical moments covered, and it’s interesting that whilst so many poor parallels have been drawn between WWII and the coronavirus pandemic, there are some genuine comparisons. Think gas masks instead of masks in shops and on public transport and rationing instead of panic buying and shortages. There is also a fascinating comparison between what the media is reporting and what Panter-Downes is actually observing. It also makes me think twice about using those phrases like “the new normal” and “the before times”. Assuming that we as a species can wake up to what we need to do to save our planet the period of the coronavirus will also pass and like WWII those people still alive who can remember it will diminish and we will only have these sorts of accounts to remind us what it was actually like. In the meantime I’m likely to be keeping to a diet of minimum external media.

I’ve also been reading A Man Without Breath by Philip Kerr – in reality I’ve only just started this but I’m enjoying it so far, a crime mystery set in Germany (& Russia) during WWII.


Worth getting up early on Sunday morning to photograph Uranus, even if the picture does look like I’ve captured a spec of dust on the lense.

That’s it for this week, take care and stay safe.

If Life Gives You Blackberries, Make Crumble TWTW # 88

If last week went quickly, then this week seemed to hang around a lot longer, different things happening but mostly mundane stuff, not a week of excitement. Perhaps that’s why it doesn’t feel like time was passing very quickly?

Austin Kleon wrote about how the coronavirus has changed the perception of time.

Time is running out for me to see comet Neowise though. I’ve had a few tries this last week, and although I’m pretty sure I did see it one evening, the light pollution is so bad here it’s hard to be totally sure.


My tomatoes have turned good, finally producing some good fruit and in reasonable quantity. On the allotment the tomatoes are a little bit further behind but there is still a good lot of fruit forming.

 

I also harvested our first cauliflower from the allotment this week, not huge but a reasonable size. We had it with some broccoli spears (also from the plot), cooked with some pine nuts and herbs and served with some pasta and feta cheese.

My remaining time on the plot this week has been spent watering and weeding.


Work has been quiet this week, no short notice commissions like last week, but the end of the month so the usual round of billing and admin to do. With it being so quiet at the moment, it doesn’t take long to do.


I’ve been reading a couple of Mick Herron novellas this week (The Drop, The List & The Catch). They’re in the Jackson Lamb series and fill in the gaps between the full books which I’ve enjoyed reading recently. I’ve also been catching up on National Geographic articles from the last couple of months.


My friend David had some poetry published this week – it’s rather good in my opinion, gritty but good. If you’re interested you can read it here.


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My Mum has some really good blackberries at her house at the moment and I harvested about half a kilos worth which I turned into a blackberry crumble mid-week. Just perfect served with some ice cream when it comes out of the oven. Even better it lasts for a couple of nights. Looking at the blackberries there might even be enough for round 2 this week.


Well that’s about all I have for this week, another short one. My week ahead is looking quiet. I have to take Wilson back to the vet for his repeat bloods, but otherwise not appointments at the moment. Whatever you are up to take care and stay safe!

It’s Got To Be Prefect TWTW # 87

On Wednesday morning I wrote in my diary that work was a bit sparse. That afternoon I was asked to do something at short notice. A few hours work, but a few hours of paid work. Funny how things work out.

Other than that little work blip my week has been split between sorting out things at my Mum’s house, doing chores at my own house and a little bit of creative time, dog walks and the allotment. That said I’m not sure where the week went Monday morning quickly became Sunday evening.


I found my old Prefect and Librarian badges in a matchbox in a draw at my Mum’s house. I thought that they’d probably been lost years ago, and in truth I probably haven’t laid eyes on them since about 1988. It was a bit of mixed emotions that I found them and some other papers and things from my time at school and university. These are items that I will keep and treasure and others that I will let go. I’m pretty sure that I don’t need my lab record books anymore, and reading through them didn’t really spark any memories for me.

By coincidence my friend @Documentally also came across his Prefects badge when he was tidying his “shed”, he wrote about it in his newsletter.


I’ve been reading more Maigret – Maigret and the Informer – and Austin Kleon’s – Steal Like an Artist & Keep Going – also some other bits and pieces but not really completing anything else.

We’ve been watching  some old films including the old James Bond movie – You Only Live Twice – as well as continuing to avoid watching too much news and getting sucked into Doomscrolling.


I had some brassica plants delivered and I planted them out onto the allotment on Sunday. They’re plants for late winter or early spring harvesting so I won’t be eating them anytime soon. For now I have to stop everything else from eating them – slugs, pigeons and caterpillars in particular – I’ve netted and put out slug traps with beer and salt.


I don’t think I’ll be up for any bathtime ballet anytime soon.


Well that’s it for this last week. Have a good one and stay safe out there.

 

Annual Trip, New Procedure TWTW # 86

Well hello again, welcome!

It’s been a busy week for me, there seems to have been lots happening, some of it important and some less so but it has filled the time.

We had a trip to the vets for annual check-ups and vaccinations. You no longer go into the practice, but let them know that you’ve arrived via the reception window and then when it’s your turn the vet comes out to the car park to see you. If needed they then take your pet inside for whatever treatment is required. This of course pre-supposes that they can of course get your pet into the surgery. Neither of our dogs were keen to enter (they’re not at the best of times), and it took me walking across the car park with the vet to the door to convince them. We had some unusual test results for one so will have to repeat the exercise in a months time (assuming that the procedure is the same).


I’ve read a couple of books this week. Spike Milligan’s excellent Hitler, My Part in his Downfall which was a quick short read, and another Brother Cadfael. Ellis Peter’s The Pilgrim of Hate. I’ve since started reading the next in the series – An Excellent Mystery – these more recent books don’t seem to be as good, and so far there hasn’t been the usual medieval murder and I’m a third of the way through the story.


I’ve been taking a few photos this week, and my roll of infrared film arrived so I’ve loaded that into a camera and have been experimenting. I’ve read a few different articles about getting the best results and so have been trying a few different approaches. Ultimately I’ll see how the roll comes out but I’m about two-thirds of the way through it.


I’ve been enjoying see the world through other people’s views with Window Swap. Touring the world one window at a time.


I went to see my Mum on Friday. It’s the first time that I’ve been able to see her in the care home since she went in there. They’ve opened up to socially distanced visits in their garden just this week. Although the visit was short – only 15 minutes allowed – she seems to be settling in very well.


Thanks to the person who bought me a virtual coffee this week, I won’t name them as I don’t feel like I have their permissions to do so, but they should know who they are. Your generosity helps offset the hosting fees of the blog and is very much appreciated. Thank you.


Yellowstone’s Zone of Death where you might just be able to get away with murder.


Newsletter author David Charles is currently cycling around Britain and recording a daily vlog on YouTube. In part because in a world without Covid-19 he would be cycling to Athens on the Thighs of Steel fundraiser for grassroots refugee projects, but for obvious reasons that has been cancelled. so instead he’s heading out into the “post-Brexit, mid-Covid pre-apocalypse Britain”.

He’s just passed through my neck of the woods, and by the time this post goes live he’ll probably be somewhere in East Sussex / Essex I’d guess.


Our broadband upgrade didn’t happen as it was supposed to, so I’m scheduling this post ahead of time so that the internet can do it’s thing in case something happens next week and I’m unable to get online to hit the post button myself.

Stay safe out there and look after yourself.

Zoomed Out with Blank Exposures TWTW # 85

Hello! Another week has passed and here I am again, writing about what I’ve been up to in the past week.


I had both the roll of film I sent off for developing and some new rolls of film arrive on the same day this week. There should be plenty of more photos to come as I expose each of these rolls. I’m going to use another different camera on the next roll.

The roll that was developed was a little bit disappointing however. Not because some of the pictures weren’t good, but because I only ended up with 15 frames out of 24.

Looking at the negatives it looks like the camera shutter wasn’t working properly on some of the exposures, and although it was allowing me to advance the roll after pressing the shutter, the mirror didn’t appear to be lifting to expose the film. I’ve had a good look at the camera, but can’t replicate the problem. On the exposed film it was an intermittent problem so there are some “blank” exposures here and there throughout the roll and the last couple of frames. I will give the camera another go, but not straight away.

I’m also planning to experiment with some infrared film, there’s a roll of film on the way (and I already own a red filter, which helps to enhance the image).


I managed to corral all of my online meetings into one day this week, by the end of the day I was a bit Zoomed out (despite having to switch between different platforms depending on who the meeting was with). One of the meetings was only a briefing but as it was at lunchtime I turned off my camera and sound and listened in while eating my lunch, pretty sure no one noticed, but I wonder what else people get up to when they’re supposed to be in a meeting. Outside of that one day work has been quite quiet again this week, with a few emails to deal with but little else outside of that one day.


I finished reading The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes earlier this week, my review is here. I’ve also read another review book, Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald who wrote H is for Hawk, that review is here. In other book news my “to be read” pile is increasing looking like Mount Tsundoku.


I had to go to the pharmacy this week, it’s the first time that I’ve been into town since non-essential shops have been opened. There were lots of people in coffee shops and the shopping centre has set up a “keep-left” one way system but a few people obviously don’t know their left from right. I’d estimate that about one in four people were wearing a mask, and whilst it’s not required please wear one. If you’re asymptomatic it will protect other people, and if you’re wearing one it helps to protect you from the selfish idiots. Wear a mask!


My allotment time this week was mostly spent weeding, the couple of days of rain we had helped them to flourish, I wish it had the same effect on my food crops!


I’ve been trying to catch a glimpse of the comet Neowise this week, but haven’t had much luck. It’s quite low in the sky at the moment, and only really visible in the early hours of the morning so it mostly obscured by houses if I’m looking from our garden. It should be easier to see later in the month, if not I might have to go somewhere with a better view of the horizon. Did manage to get some nice morning Moon pics though.


We’re off to the vets in the coming week, it’s that time for annual boosters, and at the end of the week we’re supposed to be being switched to superfast fibre broadband. It’s a free upgrade that we didn’t asked for and were just told was happening. So this time next week things will either be completely FUBARed or much faster, we’ll see.

Have a great week wherever you may be and stay safe!


It’ll Come In Handy One Day TWTW # 84

Well it’s been one of those weeks this week, where I’ve been pretty occupied, but in some ways don’t feel like I’ve gotten very far – see below.

The weather has also played a big part in that with the week bookended by spells of rain, that has meant I haven’t had to go out and water the allotment. My ankle is grateful for this as it’s still a bit sore and I’ve been trying not to spend too much time walking about on it.


I’ve been sorting through a lot of things at my Mum’s house this week. I’m sure if you ever said to her that she was a hoarder she would have refuted it but she certainly liked to keep things “just in case they come in handy”. I think it’s partly how she was brought up, many things were in short supply and rationing was still very much present in her childhood. So if you thought something might have a later use you’d keep it rather than throw it away.

In some ways I admire this view, we are very much more a disposable society these days but there are limits to how much you can or should keep I think, particularly if it is clearly worn out. It means that now I have a lot of things that I need to dispose of and in the current situation with many places still closed down finding new homes for it or even disposing of it isn’t an easy task. Fortunately there is no desperate rush and so I’m tackling it a little bit at a time.

Some things like my old Snakes & Ladders board (above) won’t be going anywhere.


I’ve also finished the second roll of 35mm film that I was given for my birthday. This roll went through my old Minolta camera, for which I also have some macro photography equipment, so hopefully there should be some good close up pictures. I posted the roll off on Saturday and with luck might get the results back by the end of this week coming.

I’ve also ordered some more rolls of film as I still have a couple of different cameras that I want to try, and I am enjoying the more mindful taking of photographs that film cameras present. It’s not like digital where you can effectively take as many pictures as your memory card will allow and then delete some of them and keep going. On film you only have 24 or 36 pictures you can take before you need to change the roll of film and at about £20 a time (film + developing costs), it isn’t cheaper than digital.


How To Make Peace With Your Phone While Reading


Drone Light Shows – Better Than Fireworks


I read Walks with Sam by David W Berner this week. You can read my review of it here. I’m reading The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes at the moment, which I’ll also be reviewing soon. Both are review copies from NetGalley.


Work has been quiet this week, hence why I’ve been doing so much sorting at my Mum’s house.


My week ahead is looking fairly busy, some more sorting and a few other things to do. I also have to make a trip to the pharmacy at some point, which I think is the first time since non-essential shops have been open so not quite sure what the arrangements are now – I guess I’ll find out.

Whatever you’re up to this coming week – Stay Safe!

 

Bit Twisted TWTW # 83

Hello again! This week started with a lot of promise of getting stuff done, and then on Wednesday morning I twisted my ankle and getting stuff done was restricted to what I could do sitting on my bum with my foot up. I don’t think I’ve done any serious damage, a bit of swelling is all I really have to show for it and painkillers keep most of the discomfort at bay. It has meant though that dog walks have been shorter or limited to the garden and I wasn’t able to drive for a few days.

It also meant that I spent one afternoon playing around with some watercolours. I doubt that I’m going to be a famous artist any time soon, but I did find it very relaxing and with no pressure or expectations it was nice to experiment.


I’ve continued with AudioMo throughout this month, some of the posts are just short snippets, others are longer recordings. Those that I haven’t listed in a previous post are linked below if you’re interested.

AudioMo will be over in just a couple of days and I’ve really enjoyed this years. The discipline of making myself record something everyday and discovering new voices and acquaintances along the way has been fun, and thought provoking.

AudioMo Day 15 – Currently Reading, Day 16 – A Lockdown Problem, Day 17 – To The Woods, Day 18 – Online Voting, Day 19 – Buffering, Day 20 – Buffering, Day 21 Harvesting After The Rain and Allotment Audio TourDay 22 – Woodland Ramblings, Day 23 – Lockdown Reading, Day 24 – A Touch of the Ouchies, Day 25 – Not at the #1984symposium, Day 26 – Reimagining Ansel Adams, Day 27 – Reflecting on AudioMo 2020, Day 28 – The Week Ahead


Work has been very quiet this week, which in some ways has been a blessing. I’ve been able to do some sorting of my Mum’s stuff and then being laid up with a twisted ankle hasn’t had the impact it might otherwise have done.


The Committee on Climate Change produced it’s annual report to government this week, it has recommendations for every government department. If you want to read the whole thing you can find it here or this Guardian piece is a good summary. I’ve been working my way through it slowly but my fear is that government will do little or nothing about it.


I read another Brother Cadfael this week – Dead Man’s Ransom, although these have kind of become my fall back when I don’t feel like reading anything else I found this one a little bit disappointing. Won’t stop me reading the next one though.

My friend David also published some poetry recently, it’s really good and you can read it here.


One thing that I didn’t do this week was visit the grave of George Orwell on his birthday (25th June). I’ve done this a few times but this year with coronavirus and a twisted ankle it wasn’t to be. These events are “organised” by my friend @documentally, and he wrote about it in his newsletter this week. If you don’t already subscribe to his newsletter you should, it’s free every other week or for the cost of a cup of coffee each month you can pay for the full weekly experience.


Lockdown seems to be completely over now, although we’re still broadly avoiding anything other than essential stuff here. Half-a-million beachgoers in Bournemouth had other ideas.


I haven’t been able to get much done on the allotment this week either, fortunately despite us having the hottest day of the year, we also had some rain so I didn’t have to worry about trying to get any watering done.


One of my minor successes this week was cooking a feta and spinach puff pastry roll. I’ve made this a few times and it’s really straightforward. You’ll need: a sheet of ready made puff pastry, a packet of feta cheese, a big handful of spinach, a bunch of parsley, some dried oregano, 2 eggs, some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Take the pastry out of the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature to make it easier to handle.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas 6 or equivalent.
  3.  Get a baking sheet big enough to accomodate the puff pastry sheet and grease or line with baking paper to prevent the puff pastry sticking (baking paper also helps with one of the later actions, and is my preferred method)
  4. Wash, drain and dry the parsley and spinach and then roughly chop and place in a mixing bowl.
  5. Chop the feta into cubes and add to the spinach and parsley.
  6. Sprinkle oregano over the top (about 1 to 2 teaspoons) and salt and pepper (don’t be too heavy handed with the salt as feta is already quite salty).
  7. Add one of the eggs and about a tablespoon of olive oil, and mix everything together to combine.
  8. Next place the puff pastry on the greased / papered baking tray.
  9. Lengthways down the centre of the pastry place the spinach / feta mix. You don’t want to overload the pastry or you won’t be able to seal the roll but make sure it is evenly spread.
  10. Beat the other egg to combine the white and yolk.
  11. If you are using baking paper now lift the bottom edge of paper to make the bottom part of the pastry sheet fold over the spinach mix. Brush the egg mix of the exposed pastry atop the spinach mix and the exposed pastry above the mix. Then use the top part of the baking paper to fold the pastry down to cover the mix and overlap the pastry. Press down gently to seal, and seal the ends by pinching with your fingertips.
  12. Carefully cut three or four slices in the pastry to allow the mix to breath in the oven, and brush the whole thing with the remaining egg.
  13. Cook in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Serves 4 to 6. Works well with veg or salad or baked beans and chips if you want a trashy tea. Will keep in the fridge once cool if you can’t manage the whole thing in one sitting. Reheat in the oven at the same temperature / time; but cover with foil to prevent the pastry burning.


That’s it for this week – ankle permitting I’m going to be doing some more sorting of things for Mum in the week ahead but otherwise I don’t have any specific plans.

Stay safe!

Emotionally Draining TWTW # 82

Hello! If you’re one of the new subscribers who have joined this week, welcome. This is my weekly post (The Week That Was), which is a review of what I’ve been up to in the previous week, or at least as much of it as I can remember.

This last week ranks as probably one of the most emotionally draining weeks of my life. I write the intro to these posts last and this weeks is a little bit shorter than normal because of what’s been going on – details below.


On Tuesday of this week my Mum went into a care home. She has Alzheimer’s Disease and for some time now it has been progressing to the point where we cannot provide the care that she needs by keeping her in her own home or that she would be safe to be there by herself. It’s a home that she has lived in for over 50 years, but no longer recognises as her home and constantly asked to be taken “home”. Her short term memory is failing and confusion and distress are not uncommon. She no longer recognises me all of the time, frequently confusing me with other people.

We know that this move is the right thing to do for her but it is possibly the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

We can already see though that it is the right thing. She has been much brighter in the few days that she’s been there and although there is still a period of adjustment, hopefully as she settles down and becomes familiar with her new surroundings some of the other memory issues that Mum has will be less of a burden for her.

There is also a period of adjustment for us to. Many of my routines were built around making sure that Mum was okay, and doing things for her that she could no longer manage. There will of course be new routines in time but it’s barely been a week, so it’s early days.


Speaking of new routines, I almost always go to the allotment on a Saturday morning. This week it was absolutely slinging it down with rain and so I did some other things and went on Sunday morning. I harvested a lot of loganberries and gooseberries as well as some potatoes and lettuce. The weeds love the rain and so there are plenty of those but also the other plants are looking good. With everything that’s been going on this year the plot isn’t looking quite how I’d like it to be and there are a lot of plants that I just haven’t had time for this year.


I finished reading David Sedaris’ Calypso and still have Valentine Warner’s Consolation of Food on the go. I’ve also been reading C S Forester’s The Good Shepherd which is being made into the movie Greyhound. I can see that depending on how they do the transfer to the big screen, if they keep to the story then either it will be an amazing film or a bit of a flop. I’d recomend reading the book whether or not you intend to see the film.


 


Making It Up As They Go Along TWTW # 81

It’s been a busy week. I’ve mostly been working on personal projects and doing family things.

It seems to be as though social distancing has gone by the wayside however as the lockdown has been relaxed people seem to be making their own rules rather than following the government’s advice. Possibly they are acting on their instincts like Dominic Cummings did all those weeks ago. I don’t know, but it certainly feels like the government has lost control of the response to this crisis and is making it up as it goes along. This thread on twitter makes for an interesting read, it’s pretty much a shambles.

Mask wearing also seems to be pretty much non-existent, and I predict all sorts of complaints from idiots on Monday when the rules change and we all must wear them on public transport. I can see a lot of people going nowhere fast.


I am attempting to participate in AudioMo again this year. The principal is simple, post a piece of audio everyday during the month of June and share a link via Twitter with the hashtag #audiomo. You can find all of mine via Twitter (@tontowilliams), or click on the links below.

Day 1 – A Day of FirstsDay 2 – Bin Day, Day 3 – The Rain, Day 4 – Some Thoughts on Social Distancing, Day 5 – Thinking Carbon Emissions and Atmospheric Carbon, Day 6 – Some Thoughts on June 6th 1944 and Current Events, Day 7 – Thinking Time on the Allotment, Day 8 – Work & Coronavirus, Day 9 – Don’t Break The Chain, Day 10 – Things That Go Bump In The Night, Day 11 – Nobody Told The People In My Dreams About Social Distancing, Day 12 – I Think I’ve Broken The Weather, Day 13 – What’s Your New EDC?, Day 14 – Are You Ready To Go Shopping?

Also one of the field recordings that I made at the allotment was featured on the podcast Field Recordings


Work has been very quiet this week. I think I’ve probably reached that point where the amount of current work is declining faster than new work is coming in.


The allotment has been relishing in the rain that we’ve had over the last few days. It’s looking much healthier for rainfall rather than what I am able to provide with watering cans. It has of course also benefited the weeds, so I spent a good proportion of Saturday weeding. We did also have our first new potatoes and some gooseberries and loganberries. (I must remember to put the bowl of the ice cream maker in the freezer and order some double cream on our next grocery order, so that we can have gooseberry ice cream!)

Sadly we’ve also had some thefts from the site. This is a more common occurrence than you might think, and in the past we’ve had spates of people’s sheds being broken into and tools and other things being stolen. The current crimewave however seems to focus on food. Persons unknown are stealing fruit and veg from people’s plots. As far as I know, nothing has been taken from my plot but I do know of a few who have had things taken. I wonder whether the thefts are motivated by people not being able to afford to buy food from the shops or whether there is some other driver.


I read Helen MacInnes Above Suspicion this week and now am flipping between Valentine Warner’s The Consolation of Food and David Sedaris’ Calypso.

Above Suspicion was a great read, I’m pretty sure that I read it as a teenager around the same time I was reading Alistair Maclean’s stories. I’d like to read her other novels but at the moment I have so many books to read I don’t really want to add anymore to the long list and that’s probably why I’m flipping between two at the moment. I’d recommend reading Valentine Warner’s book in particular. If you don’t know he’s a chef but this isn’t really a cookbook. There are recipes in there but this is more of a book of stories with the odd recipe thrown in. If you want a taster you can go to his Instagram. He recorded a few of the stories there during lockdown to help publicise the book. I already had a copy but it encouraged me to bring it to the top of the pile.



Okay I think that’s about all I have this week. Have a good coming week yourself and stay safe!

Suspicious Puddles TWTW # 79

Hello and welcome to the sunny south coast of the UK where that strange orange orb in the sky has been slowly roasting me all week.

I’ve mostly been at home – but things have been pretty quiet, although there are a couple of high spots to share and things to talk about. How’s your week been?


I received my developed film back from the processors, both this photo and the one above are from that roll. I opted for negatives and a transfer to USB stick (that I supplied) as this seemed like the cheapest option, and I didn’t want to waste a lot of paper on potentially poorly taken photos when I could print the best ones at home anyway. This was probably a good choice, as it would seem I have (or the camera has) a slight tendency to underexpose frames – I’m going with operator error until I have any other evidence to the contrary – and in most cases I can tweak these things afterwards if I need to.

A little bit like I have with this image.

I’m already part way through my second roll and for the most part I’ve enjoyed this little return to “analogue” photography and will probably keep going.

I think in some ways I prefer the immediacy of a digital camera and the ability to take many frames of the same thing with little worry as to the cost, until you get the image you were looking for. That said the challenge of having a limited number of exposures and thinking much more about the image you want before you press the shutter release is also a bit of a thrill. There will be more film in my immediate future.


I finished reading Maigret’s Pickpocket and also read The Sanctuary Sparrow by Ellis Peter’s (a Brother Cadfael mystery). The Maigret was excellent, one of the better ones and although I enjoyed the Brother Cadfael it wasn’t one of the best. I’ve yet to settle into anything else.


Don’t Worry I Live With All These Books


I spent a bit of time doing the conversion from winter mode to summer mode in the potting shed this week. This essentially means moving out the remaining tender plants into the garden, taking down the bench they were on and setting up for tomatoes and other things. This year I have some tomatoes but also some lettuce and beetroot in tubs. These are doing exceedingly well and we have had our first harvest of beetroot leaves and lettuce alongside some broad bean and coriander pesto on pasta. We’ve been eating broad beans pretty much continuously for a couple of weeks now, and the main crop are coming to an end, but we have some “spare” plants that I put in tubs in the garden that will also give us a second crop in another couple of weeks.


The tale of Ollie and Dollie, a pair of pigeons that befriended a family on lockdown


The water leak on the car has also now been fixed. The garage got the part and fitted me in on Thursday morning and the bill was less than they thought it was going to be. I’ve hardly driven the car anywhere since but it seems to be okay – no suspicious puddles on the floor of the garage – but I haven’t given up carrying the big bottle of water in the boot quite yet.


Work has been very quiet this week. I’ve had a couple of things to do, but jobs that only really take a half-hour or so to do. I need to be mindful about where this leaves me. The government says that I am not eligible for the self-employed income support scheme, although I’ve asked them to explain exactly why because I’m not clear on their reasoning. So I’ll be needing to find some income of some kind if my existing work doesn’t pick back up. All of my talks for this year have now been cancelled – quite rightly – either by me or the organisers as clearly they can’t go ahead under current conditions. Some of the talk formats will also need to be reconsidered – those that involve produce tasting for example – as they are also no longer practical in their current method of delivery. At the moment I’m not sure it is worth spending a lot of effort on as things could change so much before the next talk that I have provisionally booked in January 2021, but it will be slowly burning away in the back of my mind in the meantime.



Well that’s about all from me for this week. It’s looking like it’s going to be another quiet one in ongoing sunshine. Stay safe wherever you are.