Hot Tomatoes TWTW # 136

It’s been a hot one this week, temperatures in our garden topped 30°C on several occasions, shade and fluids have been priorities all week. It’s curtailed a lot of the plans that I had and instead the focus has been on keeping the house and the dogs as cool as possible as well as ourselves. Friday and the weekend became a bit cooler and a welcome respite. We can only expect more of the same. We topped 42°C (110F) in the potting shed which the tomato and cucumber plants loved but they were the only ones!

Meanwhile another billionaire has shot himself into “space” (I’m sorry but it’s not really space is it, there was no passage through the atmosphere into orbit. Being shot into the sky in something akin to a giant dildo, which is barely in flight for ten minutes is not space travel it’s more like a glorified carnival ride). But have no fear, he’s not an astronaut.

I really don’t get it. I support meaningful exploration of space from a proper scientific approach but I just can’t support the massive waste of resources that this kind of “space” tourism brings. I can see benefits to the Space X programme supplying the international space stateion, although I question why it has to be private companies doing that, but what Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are doing just seems like someone playing with very expensive toys.

We’ve seen just what can be achieved with tackling covid and “space” travel, perhaps it could be used on something else like tackling climate change or getting vaccines out to the remaining 99% of the population of poorer countries who have yet to have a supply of it?

We had a bomb scare in our little town this week. A “suspicious” package was reported outside Poundland and the town centre closed and evacuated. Now it’s not clear what was in the the said package, but the bomb disposal team deemed it not to be explosive. It does sound like it had been there for some time before it was reported.


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


Work

I was all set for a meeting this week, but as the date drew close I realised the details hadn’t been confirmed and queried whether the meeting was going ahead. Turns out it had been cancelled but no one had bothered to tell everyone invited. It is being reorganised but all the proposed dates are difficult, although not impossible, for me. Yet nothing has been confirmed so it looks as if that might not go ahead either.


Reading

I’ve not read much this week, my brain has just been too fried in the heat to make much sense of a book. I did pick up Philip Kerr’s A Man Without Breath again, which I’ve only read about half of. At this rate I might actually finish it this time. For fiction it is great how historically accurate it is and how many of the characters, particularly the minor ones were real individuals, now brought to life again.


Allotment

Far too hot to get much done this week, but with the cooler temperatures on Saturday I did manage to get some weeding done and a few other smaller tasks. The heat is causing things like lettuce to start bolting, and also the onions to finish their growing cycle. This year has been one endless battle with the weeds and it does seem like they’ve got the upper hand at times. It’s at this point each year when I’m thinking whether I am going to renew my licence in October or give up my plot.


Watching & Listening

We’re progressing with our Star Trek rewatch and watched films V and VI this week but other than that we’ve not had the television on much. I’ve been trying to catch up on a few podcasts but it’s one of those situations were as soon as I’ve listened to an older episode a newer one pops into the feed. So far I’ve been keeping the unread count about level.


Links

Cockatoos in Sydney are learning and teaching each other to bin dive for food

Grizzly Bear Terrorises Man for Days in Alaska – Rescued By The Coastguard

Neil Gaiman Also Working On Bringing Anansi Boys To The Screen


We had another vet appointment on Friday, we’ve reached the point where we’re not sure that any of the interventions that have been made are making much of a difference, so the vet is going back to the specialist for further advice. Until we’ve heard back we’re just carrying on as we are.


Well that’s about it for this week. In the coming week I may or may not have a work meeting, plus I am going to visit my Mum so will be sticking a swab down my throat and up my nose. I think I’m getting used to this, but each time is as unpleasant as the last but the thought of covid is worse.

Whatever you are up to this week, take care and stay safe.


Always Check Your Exposure TWTW # 135

These posts are always a look back at the week gone by, and sometimes either because I’ve not done much or because there’s stuff I don’t want to or can’t talk about it’s a struggle to know where to begin. My week this time started with a visit to see my Mum, she’s very well, but didn’t recognise me or rather she had me confused with her cousin. This is pretty normal, and I suspect partly to do with having to wear a face mask but the alternative i.e. covid is much worse.

I’ve had another vet appointment with Wilson, he’s much the same and we go back again next week.


Allotment

It’s been very hot at times this week, and I’ve been picking the moments when it’s slightly cooler to go down to the allotment, mostly earlier in the day. The weeds are relentless but we’re getting a nice run of different things now, including the start of courgette season – it won’t be long before the novelty wears off I suspect.


Watching

Another Star Trek movie this week – Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home – but not much else of significance. I did enjoy this YouTube video though, Jaws is one of my favourite films and this was a little treat.


Reading

I’ve been reading Nature Cure by Richard Mabey this week. Or rather re-reading it. It’s the authors story of recovery from a period of mental illness and how he falls back in love with nature.

It’s not actually that long ago that I read it, but the book was originally published in 2005, and this is a reprint to celebrate the author’s 80th birthday.

If you’ve never read it, I’d recommend it and all of his other books to be honest. I have another more recent book of his in my tbr pile – Turning the Boat For Home – which I’ve yet to read.


Photography

I’ve had one of my film cameras out this week, I’m determined to make use of the better weather if I can but I am very conscious of the rising covid numbers and therefore cautious about where I go to take photos to not put myself at risk. I’ve exposed about half a roll of film, which doesn’t sound like much but given the fact that film photography is so much more expensive these days, carefully choosing a shot is much more important. I accidentally took a frame this week (I pressed the shutter a little too far when trying to trigger the autofocus and it took the picture before I’d had a chance to set shutter speed and aperture to check it was properly exposed) and I felt a little guilty knowing that one probably won’t come out. I might of course be surprised by the result.

My plan is to try and finish that roll this week if I can.


Links

In Cape Cod’s ‘Sharky’ Waters, Humans Learn to Coexist with an Apex Predator – after watching the Jaws YouTube video this landed in my inbox!

Sea, sand and dogs galore: the best British beaches to run free

Climate scientists shocked by scale of floods in Germany


Well I guess that’s about all that I have for this week. I’ve got a couple of unconfirmed work things and a vet appointment in my diary this week but otherwise no firm plans. Whatever you’re up to, stay safe and take care.


Straight Circles TWTW # 134

Another week goes by and somethings move in cycles where others are more linear. I’ve had a few interesting things happen this week as well as some sad news.

We managed to get Wilson out for a proper walk this week, albeit a fairly short one. I’m not sure whether we’re winning or his illness is but our weekly checkup was on Friday and the vet is still non-committal either way too. He’s happy enough in himself but very itchy at times.


RIP – Frank Lee Ruggles.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of photographer Frank Lee Ruggles this week. I’ve been following his progress on the 79 Years Project, trying to reshoot Ansel Adams’ 171 shot portfolio of US National Park photos on the same day of the year as Adams, and using the same camera as Adams.

We’d never met but he was always gracious to comments and as only a few years older than myself I’ve felt his loss in particular. It’s clear that he had a similar impact on many others too.


TV.

We’ve been continuing with our rewatch of Star Trek films – Wrath of Kahn and Search for Spock – and a little bit of the England games, which if I’m being honest I’m really done with watching. The whole spectacle of the “fans” constantly booing the other team including when their national anthem is being played is unacceptable. If that’s what being a football fan is about then I’ll leave it thanks. The only consoling factor is that the Manager and players set themselves a much higher bar. It’s a shame that the “fans” don’t or can’t pick up on this.


Reading.

I finished Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre this week, it really stands up well considering that it is almost as old as me and the setting of the early 1970’s are completely different to how you might write the same story in a modern era. Back then no computers, mobile phones, satellite surveillance etc but changing times do not mean that the story is any less compelling or that the modern enemies are any different to those of today.

I’ve got a couple of books for review next, both of which look like they should be good reads. I’ll post the reviews in due course when they’re closer to their publication dates.


Work.

This week has been good for work, as you probably know I give talks about the allotment and related topics. It’s been a lean couple of years with Covid and only being able to give virtual talks, and whilst they don’t make much income I do enjoy doing them. Well this week I had an email inviting me to give a talk (virtually) at the Lambeth Country Show, following discussion with the organisers they actually commissioned both the talks I give virtually. This has meant preparing the talks and pre recording them so that they are ready to be watched on the days of the show.

Anyway if you’re interested in sitting through one of my talks or even both of them, then they’ll be available via the link above next weekend (17th & 18th July). Of course if you’d like to commission me for something live and in “person” – either physically or virtually – then do get in touch.


Links.

The Three Simple Rules That Underscore the Danger of Delta

Home Scar – of Limpets and moving / finding a home


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


I think that’s about it for this week. I’ve a few things in hand for the week ahead; including I hope a visit with my Mum. Whatever you’re up to I hope that you have a good week. Take care and stay safe.


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.

Of Dogs, Vets and Hollyhocks TWTW # 132

I’m not sure where this week has gone, but it feels like it’s been quite constructive. I do seem to have broken something on the blog though as ads appear to have returned. I’ll try working out how to turn them off.

I took Wilson back to the vet’s on Tuesday, a pre-booked appointment to have some stitches removed but also to see if they had received the outstanding test results. We achieved both, the tests were delayed by a covid outbreak at the lab where they do the analysis but they had now had the outstanding ones. It turns out he has an autoimmune disorder – Pemphigus Foliaceus – on top of everything else that he has. This latter point dictates a certain treatment regime and he’s started on a course of medication. We’re back at the vet’s this coming week for a blood test to see how the treatment is working. I’ve now been able to file an insurance claim and I hope that will be accepted.


I didn’t manage to make it to the 1984 Symposium this week. George Orwell’s – Eric Arthur Blair – was born on 25th June 1903.


Reading. I read an article on The Last Word on Nothing this week that sent me down another rabbit hole. It bought back memories of sitting and watching coastal birds through a telescope in the early 1990’s, in Devon I was counting Avocets. I sat and sketched an avocet and made plans to dust off my telescope and go out and look at coastal birds through it again. The article also mentions a book by Peter Matthiessen – The Wind Birds – which doesn’t look like it was ever released here in the UK, probably because it’s about US coastal birds. I did track down a paperback copy though and I would like to read it, given how much I have enjoyed many of Matthiessen’s other books including the Birds of Heaven, The Cloud Forest and The Snow Leopard.


Watching. The final season of Bosch was released this week, it’s only an eight episode season and I’m nearly finished watching it. If you haven’t watched it yet I recommend it, it’s consistently good from season one through to eight and I’m pleased that it gets to go out on a high. A spin-off series is planned, so there might yet be more.


Great to see the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness video podcast back again


Allotment. I’ve been pretty busy in the garden and allotment this week, I’ve had a lot of Hollyhock plants to transplant into bigger pots, and I still have a tray of seedlings which I’m planning on transplanting out around the garden. These won’t flower until next year, assuming that they survive, but I’m investing in future colour in the garden. I don’t know quite what colour they will be as they are saved seed from a number of different plants and I suspect that there has been some cross pollination. They could be anywhere from jet black to a light pink colour.

My neighbour gave me some sweetcorn plants that she had spare and I’ve planted them out onto the allotment, I didn’t grow any myself this year because of the risk that the badgers will come and knobble them before I get to eat the cobs. So at some point I’ll have to construct some sort of frame around them to keep the badgers at bay!

I’ve also sown Tuscan kale, pak-choi and mixed mizzuna seeds this week.


Links.

The Greatest Walks in Literature.

Half the Trees in Two New English Woodlands Planted By Jays.

Stories to Save The World: A New Wave of Climate Fiction.


That’s it for the week ahead. I have a few diary commitments this week but many are weather dependent. Whatever you are up to take care and stay safe.

Extremes of Time and Weather TWTW # 131

It feels like it’s been a long week, but I also feel like I’ve been particularly time poor this week, with the days themselves passing very quickly. The weather has flipped during the week, from hot and scorching at the start to wet and cooler by the time I am writing this on Sunday.

There isn’t an update that I can provide on Wilson, other than to say lots of things have been ruled out, but there is still one set of results outstanding. He’s back with the vet on Tuesday to have some stitches from a biopsy site removed. Hopefully by then that outstanding test will be back. It’s difficult to see him so unwell it makes my heart hurt, but he’s pretty stoic and seems to be very much himself beyond the visible symptoms.


I’ve had a few new sign-ups this week, some off of the back of a book review (see below) that I published, and also a few (I think) from being involved in AudioMo.

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


Work. I had a virtual meeting with a client on an ongoing project that has been significantly disrupted by covid. It doesn’t feel like there is much work there for me in the near future.


Reading. Not that much. I’ve been dipping back into Ernie Pyle’s stories of the second world war in Italy in 1943, and also the war artist Edward Ardizzone’s second world war diaries. By coincidence these are also from the same time, but the similarities and differences between the two men’s experiences are quite marked.

I also published a review for Rob Cowen’s book The Heeding which I’ve been holding at the request of the publisher until the week of publication. It’s such a great book, and I’d recommend it, particularly if you like narrative poetry.


I always carry a notebook. They normally last a few months until they’re full, and then I swap them out for a new one. I write ideas for stories, shopping lists, nature observations, draw sketches and all sorts of other things in them.

It’s taken a bit longer to fill each one during covid times (although I have been writing more in my main journal) but this week it was time to swap the old for the new. In this instance from a Field Notes to a Moleskine. Moleskine went through a patch where their paper quality wasn’t all that great but they seem to have gone back to better paper stock again so I’m trying a newer book from their limited edition Lord of the Rings series.


Allotment. The rain has been great, but it has really promoted week growth, so I’ve been doing quite a bit of weeding. I also harvested the last of the broad beans this weekend, and have now dug over that part of the plot. I’m planning on sowing some more salad crops in the space which I’ll do next weekend if not before.


Links.

Covid: How have allotments helped people during the pandemic?

After walking to work, Beau Miles has now tried paddling to work:


That’s it for this week. Depending on how things work out in the week ahead, I might be travelling to Oxfordshire to celebrate George Orwell’s birthday, and I have that appointment with the vet but otherwise no specific plans.

Whatever your plans, take care and stay safe.

Hammock Days TWTW # 130

Well it’s been a busy week, Ann’s had a ear infection so we’ve been limited on what we’ve been doing, trips to the pharmacy etc have been the order of the day.

I had a visit with my Mum, these short visits are as much a check-in that she is generally okay and doesn’t need anything. A covid test and a quick chat and time is soon over.

Wilson has had more issues necessitating another set of visits to the vet. We not sure what’s wrong and as the vet said: “It’s not like him to have something normal wrong with him is it?” She’s right of course he does seem to gravitate to the more unusual problems and illnesses. Hopefully we’ll get test results back early next week which might give us a direction for treatment.

I feel like in the latter half of the week I’ve been running to catch up with myself a bit but I did spend one afternoon earlier in the week suspended in my hammock in the garden reading. It was bliss as the weather has been so obliging, gently swaying in the breeze with the branches of the birch tree hanging down around the edges of the hammock.


Books. I’ve finished reading Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night and then moved on to The 13 Problems by Agatha Christie. I’ve not settled into anything else yet but have a couple of ideas when time allows. Having
read several crime fiction novels I feel like changing the type of book to maybe some travel or other non-fiction.


TV. We’ve hardly turned the tv on this week, but I did forget to mention last week that we had watched the BBC TV adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Alec Guiness in the lead role of George Smiley. It stands up really well and we managed to watch the whole thing (7 one-hour episodes) over a couple of nights.



Allotment. It was a tonic to escape to the plot on Saturday morning. The weeds have really gone gangbusters over the last couple of weeks, a period of rain followed by sunshine will do that, I wish that the vegetables did the same thing. Outside of the weeds the plot is looking pretty good. It’s nearly full now without much space left for other plants, and we’re getting lots of food from the plot, particularly broad beans, radishes and lettuce.

My next door neighbour gifted me some brussel sprout plants which I planted out and sowed some purple sprouting broccoli alongside, if that germinates and grows hopefully we’ll have a good supply of sprouts for Christmas (!) and then PSB in the early spring.


AudioMo. I’ve been continuing to post for AudioMo for each day and surprisingly, although they’ve mostly been short posts I’ve managed it everyday so far. I am however well behind on listening to other people’s submissions, so I’m playing a bit of catch up and even as I type these words I’ve got my earphones in and am listening to posts from over the last three days or so.


Work. Unfortunately still very quiet, a blessing this week as I’ve had time for all the other things. Next week I have a meeting with a long standing client, so I might get some idea of their plans over the coming months and whether they need anything from me or not. Fingers crossed they do, otherwise I might need to consider some other way to pay vet bills.


Links.

Congrats to Ed Yong on his Pulitzer

Whale swallows man and spits him back out again

RIP Edward de Bono

Nature writers on the childrens books that inspired them


That’s it for this week. I hope you had a good one. Stay safe and take care!

Life Juggler TWTW # 128

Once again I seem to be writing this post on a Saturday. In a couple of hours, I’m going to get my second Covid vaccination, so I went to the allotment yesterday rather than have to try and juggle things today. My unscientific analysis of other people who’ve had their second jab is that side-effects aren’t too bad, but I’m keeping my diary clear for a few days just in case. All of this means the time to write this post is now.

How are you doing? It’s been a busy week for me, as they all have just recently. Monday ticks around to Friday without me really noticing and the weekends are gone in a flash. I sometimes wonder what I have to show for it and often it is just knowing that things have moved forward is confirmation of success.


I had to take Wilson back to the vet again, he still doesn’t seem to have recovered from his upset stomach. Another course of pills and the potential delight of having to collect a three day stool sample are on the horizon for us. I was quite astounded to see that two-thirds of the money that I’ve spent this month (excluding grocery shopping) is at the vets.


Allotment. As mentioned I went to the allotment yesterday, I’ve had a lot of plants that needed to be transplanted out and so I was busy preparing ground, putting up canes, rigging netting and all sorts of other things. I’ve transplanted french climbing beans, cabbages, broccoli and leeks. I still have courgettes, squash and a few other things to go. As ever there’s lots of things to do, for example I need to net the fruit bushes soon, but before I can do that I need to remove all of the cleavers and other weeds that have done so well in the last periods of rain. Always something to do and that’s when I’m not being distracted by the wildlife – a passing buzzard, woodpecker or something similar.


Work. Another quiet week. I gave an evening Zoom talk to a gardening club and this is the last one of these now until October. Unless there is another booking in the meantime the next one I give will in theory be in person, although who knows whether that will actually be the case or not. My work diary is looking quite sparse.


Reading. I finished reading the Brother Cadfael that I started last week and then picked up Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie. This is the first book in the series which were made into the TV series Grantchester. I also picked up an interesting blog post by the author Paul Finch – Daytrips to Terror: the counties of England, which in summary is a horror / ghost story from every county of England by different authors selected by Paul. I thought I’d read a few if I could track them down and will start with my own home county of Hampshire, so will be tracking down The Humgoo by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes for some Bank Holiday reading.


I’ve been watching some of the nature webcams on CarnyxWild’s YouTube channel. I particularly like the Chichester Peregrines and the Coquet Puffins.


Links.

End Mowing of road verges to create huge wildlife habitats (I wish my local council would be more mindful of this. I’ve tackled them about it a number of times but always get the same answer – it’s a highway verge, so we mow it – their lack of ability to think astounds me).

The Folly of Cumbria’s Plans for a New Coal Mine

Making Concrete Green


Well I think I’ve blabbered on for long enough for this week. I hope you have a great week ahead, particularly if you’re on the half-term break. Whatever you’re up to take care and stay safe!

A Blanket Made of Home Spun Wool TWTW # 127

Once again the allotment is wet and miserable, but the weather is due to improve later so I’ll be heading down there then. I did pop in to check everything was alright this morning after a day of strong winds yesterday. No damage to report. While I was there I picked these radish, the warm and wet conditions of the last couple of weeks means that they’ve grown well, and these have a very fiery taste, eye-wateringly so!

I’ve spent a little time on the plot during the week this week, it was perhaps a perfect way to spend an afternoon, I was earthing up the potatoes and sowing some extra broad bean seeds. The weather was sunny and the temperature not too hot.

I’ve also been clearing out the potting shed of the over-wintering plants and converting the space to enable us to grow some tomatoes and cucumbers.


I had to take Wilson back to the vet on Monday, and upset stomach has kept us busy but it wasn’t resolving on it’s own. Things seem much improved now though.

It was also Ruby’s 7th birthday. I pulled together a short montage of some of my photo’s of her over the last seven years.


Reading. I’ve been rereading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the umpteenth time this week, I enjoy these stories so much but it’s been a while since I’ve read the whole collection. I’m planning to go on to Memoirs and Return in due course but picked up a Brother Cadfael – The Confession of Brother Haluin to read in the meantime. I always learn something new reading these, often having to resort to looking something up in a dictionary or encyclopedia. For example did you know that a “Brychans” is a blanket made of home spun wool?

I’ve also been reading some of George Orwell’s Diaries, these are interesting particularly as you can see how his experiences recorded in them later translated to some of his books. For example his journey to go hop-picking where he spends some time sleeping “rough” is very similar to what ends up being in Down and Out in Paris & London. I hope as I read more of them there will be some similar parallels.


Links. There’s been a lot of coverage of the Queen’s speech and the government’s announcements about tree planting and peatlands. There’s a good summary here. Personally I think the proposals are a bit weak and don’t go far enough, particularly with regards to stopping the use of peat-based compost, with the government holding yet another consultation on this rather than actually taking action based on the decades of evidence that it already has.

There’s also a good ranking of companies by the Financial Times of those reducing their carbon emissions here.

Twenty firms produce 55% of the worlds plastic waste [LINK].

David Quammen on travelling into the past to cover the pandemic [LINK]. I’ve said it before but you need to read David Quammen’s book Spillover to help understand how we got to where we did with Covid-19.


I’ve been sorting through a lot of boxes from my parents loft this week. In one I found a lot of old books from my childhood. There were a lot of Dandy annuals and also my old i-Spy collectors books. It looks like I had a life membership from around 1977 but there no longer appears to be an i-Spy club going in the same format anymore. Great shame as it these and other similar books that really got me into nature and the outdoors and recording all the things that I saw. Something that I am still doing to this day.


Work. A very quiet week workwise, it’s a real struggle at the moment. I’ve got a booking for an evening allotment talk next week and have been making the final arrangements for that and preparing my slides. It’s a Zoom talk and the last one I have in my diary for several months. In fact the next one is supposed to be an in person talk – booked before the pandemic – but whether that will go ahead in that format remains to be seen.


The week ahead is looking fairly busy but with small things of little importance but that are necessary and will take up time. I seem to have weeks like that now and again when I try and get through a lot of tasks that I’ve been putting off or unable to do. It gets them done but makes for a pretty boring week overall. I’ll have to see if I can find a way to put a little bit more life into it!

Whatever you’re going to be getting up to, Stay Safe and Take Care.

New Avian Arrivals TWTW # 126

I have a sense of Deja vu today, once again it’s Saturday, it’s raining hard enough to mean the allotment isn’t on the cards for the time being and I’m writing a blog post.

THis week the garden has been full of baby fledgling birds. Mostly Starlings and Great Tits. The starlings arrive in big rowdy gangs, a few adults and lots of youngsters. It’s a bit like watching an out of control school trip of teenagers come marauding through town. They arrive at the bird feeders and proceed to strip them bare. It only lasts for a few days and is fun to watch, but the youngsters aren’t all that adept at flying and will crash land all over the garden.

The Great Tits are the opposite. Unless you know they’re there, you’d miss them. Like their bigger brash cousins their flight skills are wanting but they are more prone to “hiding” in the top of a flower pot or under the hedge and waiting for their parents to bring them food.

Throughout this we keep a relatively low profile, the birds have the garden apart from when we spot a cat or a magpie and then we just go for a walk across the garden to deter the interloper.

Already the young Starlings are improving in their abilities and will now visit the feeders without crashing into them on approach and sending them spinning around like a fairground carousel. My guess is the Great Tits are still a few days behind, but hopefully will soon be exploring the wider world.

I also saw my first Swift of the year this week, only one and not where I normally see them so probably an early arrival or perhaps one just passing through on the way elsewhere.

In other news I took Wilson for his latest vet check-up midweek, so far so good in terms of the outcomes but we’re still waiting for the results of a blood test before we decide on next steps.


Allotment. As mentioned above, no allotment this morning but hopefully later on or tomorrow. Since last week however, I finally managed to get down to the plot with the mower and give the paths a haircut, and do some digging after the rains of last weekend. It was perfect timing, particularly for digging with the rain softening up the ground just enough to make it easy going. I’ve just got a couple more bits to do and now things seem warmer, more plants to get out. I’ve been planning where the last few things will go, so in the next few weeks things should start to properly resemble a veg plot.


Reading. Another week of reading little bits and pieces of lots of things. I’ve been reading a little about the life of Ernest Hemingway and separately about the life of adventurer Beau Miles. You may recall that I’ve posted some of his videos here before, most recently about his 90km commute to work on foot or like this one below about sleeping overnight in a 100 year old Gum tree. Both are fascinating, both a little crazy and both worth my time.


Work. It’s been a quiet week workwise, and has enabled me to spend more time walking in the woods and breathing in the world around me a bit more, and thinking about work in general.

I did hear that the bid I worked on over the bank holiday has been put on hold. The potential client is having a rethink about what they want. Sadly this happens all the time and is very frustrating because you’d assume that the client has decided on what they want by the time they go to the market. These things are always undertaking some unpaid work on the assumption that it might lead to a period of paid work, even if you might lose out to a competitor, but when the client pulls them and no one gets the paid work, that is even more frustrating. With work very suppressed at the moment because of the pandemic and it already being a competitive marketplace it’s increasingly apparent that having more than one source of income is important. Working on that.


More than 2 million voters may lack photo id required [LINK]

New planning laws an utter disaster say countryside campaigners [LINK]

Tory Death Cult [LINK]

Which App Will I Need For My Covid Passport [LINK]


I had to update my “new” cars software this week. This involved a lot of toing and froing between the car and the computer with a USB key and following a sequence of button presses that was a little like trying to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. I think we got there in the end but when did cars become this complicated?


Well that’s it for this week. My diary for the week ahead is looking quite empty, so the world could be my oyster (subject to following whatever covid guidelines are in force). Whatever you have planned, take care care and stay safe.