Well Look At Those Onions TWTW # 149

I seem to have spent a lot of time in the dark this week. Taking photos of the moon, treasuring my night vision and eschewing a torch or other artificial light.

I feel these weeks in autumn and early winter more than any other time of the year, and the feelings aren’t all good. Whilst I don’t mind the dark I realise that it has an effect on my mental state. I’m much more tired than normal and prone to sighing more than normal. I know that I’ll adjust to the shorter days in time the change of time to GMT will make my morning dog walks lighter again for a while. I also know that many others feel this time of year much more than I do.

Our Covid numbers are very much on the rise again, our useless government are refusing to implement even the simplest of preventative measures and pinning all their hopes on booster jabs that most of the population doesn’t have access to. Add to that shortages and cost of living crisis….

Looks like Christmas is cancelled again this year.


I’ve had some new subscribers this week, if you are one of them – Welcome!

If you’re new here and wondering what an earth you’ve signed up to, welcome, this is my website / blog.

By training I am a biologist and by profession I generally make most of my income from being an independent environmental consultant. Outside of that I have a fairly wide interest in all sorts of things. I normally publish a post like this on the weekend at the end of the week (TWTW = The Week That Was), and talk about what I’ve been doing in the previous week, links to things I’ve found and anything else that I think might be interesting. Other occasional posts will appear at other times e.g. book reviews.

Thanks for signing up, but if after reading my ramblings you’re regretting your decision feel free to unsubscribe, there is a link to do so in each post if you subscribe by email. Obviously I hope you’ll stick around.

I also post on Instagram and Twitter where I am also @tontowilliams if you like what you see you can also buy me a coffee via the link in the sidebar


Work

Between the darks rising and falling this week, I’ve mostly had my head into client work. Tonnes of carbon dioxide, and looking at how we seemingly commute such short distances in our cars. The numbers of course hold no context, they’re just numbers there’s no why as to how they are.


Books

I finished reading Horse Under Water by Len Deighton and moved on to Silverview by John le Carré, both were excellent. It’s odd that this is possibly the last John le Carré, there’s a little tease that there might be some “uncompleted” novels in his papers and it seems that the family is very much in control of them so I think that if there are any more they will only be released if they are any good.


TV & Film

I sat down and watched IT Part 2 this week. I say watched because I ran out of time and didn’t finish it. I’m not sure I’m going to go back either as I really wasn’t enjoying it.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I did enjoy the Stephen King cameo, but just couldn’t get into the rest of the film

[SPOILER ALERT ENDS].


I’m not sure why, it just didn’t sit well with me, there’s some impressive special effects, and a good correlation with the original book (as far as I remember it anyway), but I just found it a bit, well, meh.

On the other hand we also watched The Guilty which I thought was very good. The films premise revolves around a single emergency service operator and there are very no other major actors seen, most of the other characters are voices on the other end of the phone. It’s Swedish with subtitles but a great concept with a nasty twist. Worth watching if you can track it down. (It’s also been remade by Netflix with Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role).


We’ve also been watching the return of Shetland on BBC, good to see it back but too early to say much more. Plus more of Isaac Asimov – Foundation and the new Apple TV series Invasion. I don’t know where the latter is going, the first three episodes have been released and it’s unclear exactly what is going on.


Allotment & Food

We had quite a bit of rain during the week, which is good for the recently planted broad beans, garlic and onions. It’s also made for some easy digging and weeding, so I’ve been clearing parts of the plot that are no longer going to be used this year. A couple of cold overnight temperatures have done for the squash and courgette plants so they’ve been pulled up and the remains added to the compost heap.

I made some simple onion relish over the weekend. We were having vegetarian hot-dogs for supper on Saturday and it went perfectly with those in the homemade rolls. When I say simple I do mean just that:

Take a couple of large onions and slices them into thin half-rings, you’re going for long thin strands rather than pieces. Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan and then add the sliced onion. Fry them on a high heat for a couple of minutes and then turn down the heat and continue to cook until the onion it becomes soft, keep stirring them. Now add some demerara sugar (just enough to cover the onions), a good glug (couple of tablespoons) of white wine vinegar and a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Keep stirring and continue to cook until the vinegar is all evaporated and the onions are well caramelised.

You can either allow it to cool and use later or serve it while still hot. It’ll keep for a couple of days in the fridge. You could also make some bigger batches and store in sterilised jars, but to be honest it’s so quick and easy to make fresh each time why bother? We had enough for our hot-dogs and enough for a lunchtime cheese roll the following day.


Links

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit

Yes, We Have To Live With Covid – But Not With Such Irresponsible Ministers

Which Form of Transport Has The Smallest Carbon Footprint?


Well that’s all for this week. Whatever you’re up to in the week ahead, stay safe and take care.

Twenty Years TWTW # 143

Twenty years ago today I was working an early shift covering a colleague while he was on holiday. It meant I was in the car driving to work just as Radio 4 was taking over from the World Service on the radio. I was still trying to absorb what had happened the day before. Although we used to have a radio on as background in the harbour office where I was working at the time, I’d been out on the patrol boat as news had started to filter in as to what was happening in New York. At first they made it sound like it was a small light plane, a Cessna or similar that had hit the North Tower. When the news arrived of a second plane it became clearer that this was something more sinister.

By the time I reached home after my shift the horror of what had happened was becoming apparent and the world changed forever.


We’re back “home” again after our brief stay elsewhere. It’s interesting that while we were away my sleep patterns were much better, despite a slightly lumpy bed. I’m not sure whether it was because of all of the extra exercise I was getting or the overall quieter and darker place, here it is all streetlights, traffic and people. It’s certainly made us think and reconsider our surroundings and what we need from life.


Reading

I don’t feel like I’ve had much time for reading since we got back either, nor have I been able to keep my eyes open for long enough of an evening to read more than a page or two. How can I be so tired and yet sleep so badly?

Anyway when I have been reading I’ve been picking up Derek Jarman’s diaries of his time living in a little cottage at Dungeness. The cottage is famous for the garden that Jarman created before he died.

I haven’t read very far yet, but it’s clear from the words that Jarman was very much a creative.

Also if you’re looking for something good to read, can I recommend checking out the Drifter Detective series, now available in this collection:


Allotment

I’ve been getting a piece of the plot ready for sowing overwintering broad beans. Our allotment shop under it’s new management has declared that it is not doing seeds this year (or onion sets or seed potatoes), so I will have to buy them elsewhere. I won’t go into how this rather pathetic state of affairs has arisen but one of the strengths that I saw in our little shop was the fact that it sold seeds etc. Now it just seems to sell bags of compost and only on a Sunday.

My apples are now mostly ripe and I’ll be picking them all over the next week. I sampled a few yesterday and along with some of the autumn fruiting raspberries made a rather spectacular apple and raspberry strudel. My god it was good, even if it did look a bit like a Hannibal Lecter recipe.


Work

A purchase order arrived from a client for the piece of work we’ve been discussing, work commences tomorrow. I’ve been doing some prep work this week – timesheet templates and other admin stuff. I’m quite looking forward to it because it’s also quite an interesting piece.


Links

Memorializing Animals Who’ve Been Killed on the Road

Dear Sean – Should I get a dog?

Twelve More White-tailed Eagles released on the Isle of Wight

Oxfordshire celebrates first Crane fledging in 500 years


Well that’s everything for this week. Next week I’ll be doing quite a bit of paid work, interspersed with some gardening and allotment work if the weather holds. I also hope to receive a roll of film back from the processors that I took partly while we were away. The first half I took some time ago and although I think I know what’s on there I’m not 100% sure, so that should be a bit of a surprise.

Whatever you’re up to, stay safe and take care.


Raindrops on the Shed Roof TWTW # 133

A follow-up trip to the vets this week, these will continue for a few weeks to monitor the effects (if any) of his new pills. So far it’s hard to say whether there has been any difference. I also need to book Ruby in have her annual inoculations and go back and collect some tablets that I forgot to collect last week.


Reading. Not much to report, I’ve been reading John Le Carre’s – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; meaning to reread the Karla trilogy as I’ve only ever read them separately at very different times and never together. I’ve also been reading a biography of James Ravilious who was a photographer and son of the war artist Eric Ravilious.


Allotment. In between the showers this week I’ve been trying to get on top of the weeds. It seems that most plot holders are having the same problem, and there is rumour that perhaps it was one of the deliveries of manure that perhaps had a lot of weed seed in it. It’s certainly possible but also the fact that the cycles of rain and warm sunshine are also a contributing factor. I spent a little time hiding from the rain in my shed with a flask of coffee and a notebook to write in. Quite relaxing in it’s own way.

We’ve started to get a lot of soft fruit, mostly gooseberries, but also a few loganberries. So we’ll be making the most of them while they are abundant. I also lifted the over-wintering onions as they are ready to be dried and used. The spring plantings aren’t far behind, but it will be a few more weeks before they are ready. Theoretically our potatoes are also ready to harvest as from Monday, but when I tried a few a couple of weeks ago it seemed that they needed a couple more weeks, so I’ll wait a little longer before I lift them.


Work. Some meetings arranged for the not too distant future, and I’ve paid my tax bill.


TV / Film / Radio / Podcasts. I finished watching Bosch, which was excellent. We’ve also watched a few episodes of The Sandhamn Murders which has the beautiful scenery of the Swedish archipelago islands for it’s back drop but a pretty weak story. We might watch some more or we might not bother. There’s a Star Trek movie marathon on this weekend and we’ve been watching them in slow time through the benefit of dvr. Star Trek: The Motion Picture stands up really well considering it’s age but I know there are a few howlers coming.

I’ve been listening to Pilgrim this week. Series 7 is available at the moment, as is the Halloween special, but the first episode of series 7 is only available for another day or so if you want to listen yourself. If you like fantasy drama it’s worth a listen.


Links.

Cheesy Cauliflower Steaks – I made these this week, they were gorgeous, so much so that I forgot to take a photo. I also made the pesto much more like a mousse than the recipe suggests, which also works well and is a lot less oily.

Make a bottle raft – I guess if you’re ever stranded on a desert island, plastic pollution might makes this an alternative to a raft made from palm trees!


That’s it for this week, have a good week ahead, stay safe and take care.

A Boy and His Dog TWTW # 104

Hope everyone is safe and well, we seem to be doing okay, although I must admit to being a little bit surprised it’s Sunday again and I’m writing this. They say time flies when you’re having fun, well it seems to pass quite quickly under lockdown too.


I have a fairly busy week coming up so some of this week has been around getting things ready for it. More Teams and Zoom in my near future. I’ve been chasing a client for confirmation that they were happy with a price I’d quoted, as they seem to be sending me various meeting requests for a project but with no formal confirmation that they want me involved. A slight aside, I’ve been burnt before when something similar happened and when I submitted a bill they refused to pay it because they hadn’t formally confirmed they wanted me involved. So now I always make sure I have something in writing.


We started feeding the garden birds again this week. I reckon it took the starlings about 3 minutes to realise that there were mealworms in the feeder once again.


My Mum continues to be mostly symptom free but has had a couple of days where she has said she doesn’t feel too great. Technically today marks the day when she is no longer considered infectious. I suspect that what happens next more depends on what is happening more widely in the care home, so time will tell.


Lots of talk of Covid vaccine(s), which looks promising. I’ve also had my flu jab this week.


I finished reading The Raven in the Foregate by Ellis Peters and dove straight into an Alistair Maclean – The Way To Dusty Death (I was sure that I’d read this before but I don’t remember the story so perhaps not). GoodReads told me that this was the 80th book I’d read this year. I’d set my target at 20, expecting to be busy with a couple of projects and a few other things, but you know Covid happened, lockdowns, less work; so a 400% achievement. It does feel like I’ve read some authors more than others though so I had a look and about a third are across; Maclean, Ellis, Dexter, Simenon, Camilleri & Herron. By genre I’d say this is more typical of a younger me or perhaps comfort reading as I’ve tended towards more non-fiction of recent years. Whatever it is I’m grateful that I’ve been able to read as much as I have this year.



I’ve been listening to The Shadow Over Innsmouth this week. I’m about halfway through and really enjoying it. If you’ve not come across this series before you should go back and listen to The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and The Whisperer in Darkness which are the preceding series, and although they stand alone they work much better if you have listened from the beginning. The link above will give you all three. Recommended.


I was sorting through lots of old photographs this week, and I came across several of the pets I had as a child. I say they were mine, but they were of course family pets although I do remember them all fondly. Here’s a quick slide show.


I made some more Tea Bread this week, and recorded a short video of the process.


Looking Up

Hungry Birds


Well that’s about all I have for this week. Stay safe and take care.


Who Are You? Who Am I? TWTW # 103

I’m writing this on Sunday morning after being woken up at 2.50am, 4am and 5.45am by dogs who: wanted to get on the bed / needed to go for a pee / wanted their breakfast. Suffice to say if this is complete nonsense – or at least more nonsense that usual – you know why.

How are you doing?


We heard on Tuesday that Mum tested positive for coronavirus. So far she’s only showing mild symptoms so our hopes are that she will remain that way. Her test was on the Sunday before so today is the mid-point of what the doctors are saying is her infectious period. We’ve been in touch with her on the phone most days, and I really appreciate the staff in the home, some of whom have also caught the virus, for looking after her and all the other residents during this time. The simple task of taking a phone to Mum and all the rigmarole of changing PPE before and after, sanitising the phone and all the other task they now have to do that they didn’t before must be stressful enough without the added concern that they are constantly at risk of exposure themselves. Standing on our doorsteps clapping (haven’t seen much of that recently) just simply isn’t enough. Carers, nurses and all the other essential workers that we rely on, not just in these times but all the time just are not recognised for what they do and are certainly not appropriately recompensed.


Lockdown life certainly makes things a little quieter. My trips out have been to get groceries and to walk the dogs. The weather put pay to any serious work on the allotment this week, so that was also combined with a dog walk. I’ve been doing a few jobs around the house including repair our back step which had become pretty rotten. I managed to make the repairs with leftover wood and fixings from other projects. I like these little projects where in reality I have no formal training or skills but life has made me wise enough to work out what needs doing and do it.

The rest of my time has been spent thinking about Mum and generally trying to stay sane.


I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking and cooking this week. I enjoy making our meals from scratch and this week it’s as much been about distracting my brain as anything else. I always have a few basics and change other ingredients around by what I have on the allotment or have bought. The onion and parsnip soup that I mentioned last week, sprout chilli this week. With just the two of us many of these last for a couple of nights and then I move on to something else.


I’ve gotten through another Inspector Morse mystery this week – The Secret of Annexe 3 by Colin Dexter. I wasn’t actually planning on reading another one so soon, but after drifting between other things I picked this one up one evening and read it across a few days. I moved onto a Brother Cadfael – The Raven in the Foregate by Ellis Peters after that which I’m still reading. It’s early days, no one has died yet.


Looking for something to do during lockdown but are tired of jigsaw puzzles – well you could always try this.


The Emboughered by Dickie Straker

The Lookout Cookbook

A Single Map is Enough

First Mile Podcast

Tim Ferris – Podcast with Scott Kelly


Ding Dong (best played with sound). I’m glad he’s gone, I’d have been happier if he’d been sacked after his “eye-test”. My fear is that he’s already done so much damage that it can’t be undone and on January 1st we’ll truly start to see just what a piece of work he really is.


Until next time – stay safe and take care.

Teams Zoom-a-thon TWTW # 101

I forgot to mention last week that I’d made some grape jelly. We harvested the relatively small amount of grapes from our vine in the potting shed and converted it to jelly. We ended up with 4 jars. We have also since given it the taste test. It’s pretty good, although I think Ann likes it better than I do. I put some Star Anise in when I was cooking it and this has given it quite a unique taste, I’m not sure I care for it.


I was saddened to read that Sir Sean Connery had died


I’ve been reading an Inspector Montalbano mystery this week – The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri – and when I finished that I moved straight to an Inspector Morse – The Riddle of the Third Mile by Colin Dexter. I seem to be wanting to read a lot of mystery novels at the moment. Not sure why, maybe it’s just a part of my brain that wants to be entertained in a certain way.

We’ve also watched a couple of Inspector Morse mysteries on TV as reruns. It seems that the series are being reshown from the beginning, so I’ve set our digibox up to record them as they are shown. It will give us something to watch as we enter the new national lockdown.


Workwise this week has been a round of virtual meetings. I have to say that depending on which client I am talking to their videoconference platform of choice varies. There’s a lot of Zoom and the rest seem to be Teams, with the odd Facetime or Googlehangout for some variety. Of all of them Teams seems to be the worst, although they all have their varying problems, the variety means that I get to experience them all. At the moment I’d much rather use them than have to travel for face-to-face meetings but I’m not convinced that it is a mature technology yet, despite the extensive field testing it’s getting.


Neil Gaiman’s Halloween Reading for 2020


More photos back from the developer this week. This was the black and white roll that I took more or less the same time as the roll of colour that I shared some pics from last week. Anyway some examples from the second roll below.


Work on the allotment has been a bit limited this week due to inclement weather. I’ve managed to do some weeding and some digging to keep things moving in the right direction but that’s about all.


I doubt it will all be over by this time next week, and frankly I still think it could go either way.


So it looks as if we are going back into another National Lockdown, assuming that the Prime Minister can get the new restrictions through Parliament. It’s going to be much harder this time I suspect, and possibly harder for the authorities to enforce.


That’s it for this week. Stay safe and well.

If Life Gives You Green Tomatoes TWTW # 92

Greetings from my kitchen, where in between typing these sentences I’m making Green Tomato Chutney. It’s 8am and the smell is amazing boiling down the mix of tomatoes, apples, onions and sultanas to a thick pulpy mix.

This is a little bit of therapy, making something from home grown produce that will take well over an hours to prepare, but will keep me going in chutney for some time. More details below.


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I decided yesterday to pick the remaining tomatoes on the allotment to avoid them getting blight – the weather conditions have been right for this the past few days and I don’t want to lose the crop waiting for it to ripen when I could do something with it. It was worth doing too, as I had over 3.5 kgs of tomatoes. I separated off those that will ripen on the window sill and the rest are going to chutney. The recipe I’m using is here. I ended up with 9 full jars which is good going.

In addition to the tomatoes we’ve also been picking more patti-pans and squashes on the allotment this week. Otherwise things are at a bit of a crossroad between seasons where winter crops are growing but not ready yet and summer stuff is coming to an end.

I’ll need to think about my seed order soon too. I got a little caught out by shops being closed due to Covid this year, so am thinking I’ll be order all in one go instead of spreading them out over time from different suppliers like I have in previous years.


After some six weeks of delay by BT they finally got around to turning on our fibre connection this week. I can’t actually say things appear any faster, although theoretically when I test the line the download speed is about four times faster than before. I suspect where I’ll notice it is uploading files as that has increased by an even greater degree. The speed of the wi-fi has of course not changed, so unless I’m hardwired into the router that will determine the speed of most things.


I’ve had some work to do this week. An unexpected commission from a client that I’ve been working on between other things. It reminded me that I need to do something about the library of technical documents that I’ve been building over the last few years. It is all electronic and not stored in the same place, some split across different computers and folders. Ideally I’d like it all in one place as reference materials for future projects, but I need to take some time out to drag it all together, and also to make an appropriate structure for it to sit in. It’s not been top of my list of priorities, but it’s a pain when I need to look for something and it’s often stored in a folder of a project where I lasted worked on it.


I took quite a lot of photos this week, but they were on film, so I can’t share any of them just yet. I have at least posted the roll off for processing, so hopefully there’ll be something to share next time. They’re all standard colour 35mm so no more infrared yet. I also bought a new battery for one of my old film cameras, and am planning to use that next.


When you look at the face of the guy in this video preview and read the title you’re expecting something different to watch actually happens next:


 

I’ve been reading the Pandemic Kitchen Newsletter this week. You can subscribe for free and I’d recommend it if you are at all interested in cooking. There have only been a couple of editions so far, but you can look at the archives before subscribing if you’re not sure.

I’ve also been finishing the audio book of James Holland’s Battle of Britain. It’s a really good listen with first hand accounts taken from diaries written at the time and starting back with the allied retreat from Dunkirk, through to late 1940.


Schools return this week in most of England. Or at least they do at the time of writing. Given the way the government has handled the whole thing, you have my sympathy if you’re a parent wondering whether you and your children will be safe or are just simply trying to work out exactly what it is you are supposed to be doing! The whole eat out / lose weight; stay home / go to work; algorithm results / teachers results; government approach to organising the proverbial couldn’t be more farcical if it were a situation comedy. Thinking about it, you also have my sympathy if you’re a writer of political comedies and are constantly being out done by the real thing as opposed to the fiction you are trying to write.


That’s it for this week, and if you’ve made it this far thanks for reading. As always stay safe and take care.

Switcheroo TWTW # 91

No – Don’t Panic! It is still only Sunday. I thought that I would switch things up this week and post this weeks update on Sunday. It might become a permanent change.

It’s really a recognition of how my routines have changed over the past few months. It used to be that Sunday mornings were my time for doing things for my Mum, a regular date and time, shopping, cutting lawns or whatever needed doing.

Now that she’s in long term care I don’t have that same commitment, the time and date have shifted. Normally I would write most of this post in advance. Sometimes a little bit each day, sometimes all in one go on a Monday morning. Now, although I’m still dropping things in during the week, I do most of the writing on a Sunday and schedule the post to go live on a Monday morning (because at the moment I’m busy doing something else). Seems a bit daft, so I thought today I’d write it, and then as soon as it’s done hit post. I realise that this might confuse a few people who subscribe by email or RSS but as I said – Don’t Panic! It’s still Sunday! Be chilled like our neighbourhood cat who I photographed mid-week lying on the ridge of our garage catching the last rays of the day. I’m not a cat person but I did like this photo. I also read recently as to how routines are not always about when you do something, but just the fact that you do it regularly. The doing is important, but not necessarily being a slave to the clock. Sounds good to me.


I’ve read Joe Country by Mick Herron this week. It’s the last book in the Jackson Lamb series – I’ve read most of that series this year – and there’s another due in early 2021. It wasn’t the best of the series, but it was still really good.

I’ve started reading Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi. It’s a little odd but I’m sticking with it as I think it has an interesting tale to tell but isn’t prepared to reveal all just yet.


My friend David has a new book about one of my favourite characters of the old West coming out soon.


I did our grocery shopping via click and collect this week. When I went to collect our groceries it had been raining just beforehand. Probably around the time that the crates with our groceries in where being loaded onto the van and our groceries were a little damp. Some were damper than others. The eggs for example were so damp that when I picked up the box, its now soggy cardboard resembled the consistency of mush and in slow motion the eggs parted company with the bottom of the box and fell back into the crate. I managed to save a few, but most broke on impact. The van driver was very good about it, despite the fact he had to clear up the mess and I got a full refund for the eggs.


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There seems to be quite a bit coming good at the allotment this week, the Uchiki Kuri Squash (Japanese Squash) are all just about ready. They’re an ideal squash for two people as they’re the right size to satisfy two appetites for a meal. I think I’ll be adding them to my list for seeds for next year.

I turned one into a squash, tomato and lentil pie on Saturday night, which will do us for tonight as well. The recipe came from Gill Meller’s Root Stem Leaf Flower cookbook.

I also wrote about the blackberry and apple that we had at the beginning of the week in another post in case you missed it.


 

Apparently I’m Sherlock Holmes – which fictional detective are you?


I really struggle to understand why people deliberately drop litter but some people are complete aresholes.

In some ways I think that the whole pandemic / lockdown thing has made me even more of a hermit than I was before, and when I see things like this I wonder just where society is going. I was brought up not to drop litter – to either take it home or wait until I got to a bin. Why is that so hard now, is it just that some people weren’t brought up that way or that they think someone else will clear up after them?


I’ve been reading about Covid-19 Long Haulers this week and how CFS/ME is on the rise. The government in the UK has long had a bias against CFS/ME (I can directly attest to this but it’s a story for another time), and I can see this being yet another area where they deliberately turn a blind eye to what is actually going on, as they have  done by revising the criteria by which you can only had died from Covid-19 if you die within 28 days of having had a positive test for Covid-19.


There’s a remake of All Creatures Great and Small coming to television. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned here before how much I love James Herriott’s original stories and the BBC production from the late ’70’s and ’80’s, which were very much a part of my childhood television. So I’m a little bit uncertain about a remake, but from the trailer I’m hopeful that it will be okay. We’ll see. I think I’m going to be doing some rereading anyway.


RIP Sir Ken Robinson


That’s it for this week. Hope I haven’t confused you too much. Take care and stay safe.

If Life Gives You Blackberries & Apple

If life gives you blackberries and apples, make stewed blackberry and apple.

We’ve been enjoying a healthy crop of blackberries for a few weeks now, but the bramley tree has only just started providing ripe fruit (apples are ripe if they come off the tree in your hand with no effort – if you have to tug leave them be).

On Monday this week we had both, probably the last of the blackberries and the start of the apples. So I rinsed off the blackberries and put them in a pan with a little water (about a tablespoon) just enough to stop them sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning and some of the bramleys – peeled, cored and cut into small chunks. Add sugar to taste – always a difficult thing in our house, Ann likes them really sweet, I like them a bit tart – and simmer over a low heat until the apples start to break down and get soft. Serve warm or allow to cool, with whatever you choose; custard, ice cream; both or chill and serve for breakfast as a compote.

If you have more time you could of course make jam / jelly, chutney, cakes and about a million and one other things.

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!