TWTW # 120

Greetings from a Sunny Easter Weekend, whatever meaning this weekend may have for you, I hope this missive finds you safe and well.

We’ve had our follow up visits to the vet this week and some more not great news. Wilson has a couple of additional issues with respect to his gall bladder and blood pressure, which need treatment. Suffice to say this will involve some further long term medication for him. In himself he is a very happy little dog and I hope that he will long remain that way but like us all as we age, illnesses arise.


Reading. You remember those mental rabbit holes I talked about a couple of weeks back? Well it was in connection with Richard Nelson and I was trying to track down a copy of a recent biography. I did that and have been reading Raven’s Witness by Hank Leftner this week. More mental rabbit holes have ensued. To me Richard Nelson was a radio show host / podcaster and an author but there was much more to him than that. Now I guess that’s pretty obvious to some people but it wasn’t to me until now. What do I mean? Well the biography’s forward is written by Barry Lopez, who was probably also facing his own mortality at the time (he died in December 2020), but is also a world recognised environmentalist and nature writer. Also for me, this is the field that I work in and whilst these names are ones that are familiar to me, sometimes I don’t realise just how much more widely outside of that field they are known. Now they’re probably not in the household name category but neither are they someone as unknown as I am in that field.

Anyway I’m enjoying this mental rabbit hole and seeing where it takes me and I suspect there will be some more reading along a similar burrow soon.


On the subject of mental rabbit holes and books, Austin Kleon published this piece about books that suck you in and books that spin you out which is kinda the same thing.


Work. Nothing much to report this week. I’d deliberately kept some space in my diary for vet trips and of course it’s a Bank Holiday week so I wasn’t anticipating it being particularly busy in any case.


Listening. More Encounters podcasts, Goon Shows and some David Sedaris this week.





Allotment. It’s been a chilly long weekend so far and the forecast is for a continued cold snap. I had planned to sow some seeds direct on to the plot this weekend but the weather made me think again, instead I just prepared the ground for the seeds, the sowing will have to wait for another day and some warmer weather. I don’t want to sow seeds for them to germinate and then be knobbled by the frost!

I did manage to settle my bill at the allotment shop which has reopened again, they’d distributed seed potatoes and onion sets “on-tick” because the shop was closed so I wanted to make sure I paid up. I also bought a few other things while there as the only form of cash I had was an old £20 note – there’s considerable debate about why the shop doesn’t take cards or at least contactless payments but I think it’s as much to do with the choice of the person who runs the shop. As I suspect that no one else wants to do the job, she really has the final say even though it is a bit frustrating – I don’t think I’ve used a cashpoint in nearly a year!


I’m not a great fan of Marmite but neither am I a hater either and at times it is a bit of a secret ingredient in a few recipes and not just something that you spread on toast or crumpets. Here are some more suggestions.


That’s it for this week. Wherever you are stay safe and well.


Goon Tomorrow TWTW # 119

Hello there! It’s been a medical week in our family this week. We’ve been lucky enough to both be called for our first Covid vaccinations, and were able to book for the same time. I’ve had a few days of side effects (mostly a numb arm, headache and some flu-like symptoms) but nothing major and the alternative is probably worse. I’ve been taking it a little bit easy. The sketch to the left was from one of my lazy mornings.

I’ve also had to take Wilson to the vet twice after a few days of an upset stomach that wasn’t improving using the usual remedy. We’re back there again next week for some routine follow up tests, so we’re hoping for some improvements. The vets seem a little baffled, as whatever the problem is remains stubbornly unshifted against their attempts.


Reading. I’ve not been reading much this week, haven’t felt much like it. I did however read through Together by Luke Adam Hawker, which I mentioned a week or two ago. It’s short on words but it is full of amazing line drawings. Great book.

After mentioning Richard Nelson last week, I stumbled across a recent biography of him that was written around the time of his passing. It mentions a lot of diaries that he kept and the biography draws on their content a lot. I’m looking forward to tracking down a copy.


Listening. I’ve been listening to a lot of my usual podcasts this week, and have finished Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist audiobook trilogy (regular trips to the vet has meant lots of time in the car for audiobooks.

Classic Goon Shows have also found their way back into my regular listening. I used to listen to these a lot, and had many on cassette, but over the years have stopped listening. If you’re interested there are a lot of them on BBC Sounds or via the webpage (you might need to be “in” the UK to listen.


Allotment. My potatoes made it into the ground this weekend. I had a couple left over so I planted them in a sack in the back garden. I don’t normally do this, or have much success with sack / pot grown potatoes but I don’t want to waste them. While I was down on the plot I also cleared and redug an area adjacent to the potato bed for another sowing of onions. I have some in the potting shed which I’m bringing on in modules, so will plant them out when they’re big enough in that spot.


Work. Nothing significant to report this week, apart from a virtual allotment talk on Friday to a group from Warrington. I think it went quite well, and had one of the best turn-outs for a virtual talk yet. There were some good questions too and although these things are difficult to tell, I think it went down quite well. It was a lunchtime gig, most are in the evening but the afternoon ones always feel a bit more civilised and mean that you preserve your evening, but I mustn’t grumble.


That’s all for this week. No great plans for the week ahead, although I am looking forward to being allowed to venture out for exercise more that once a day. We’ll be getting back to two dog walks a day.


Digging In TWTW # 116




Greetings from my allotment. No I’m not there typing this but I was thinking about this week’s post earlier when I was there. Thinking that for many weeks I haven’t had all that much to report about my plot but I’m hoping that as this week I’ve actually been able to turn the soil a bit as we’ve had a dry spell and the heavy clay is less heavy and therefore less likely to do me an injury when digging, that there will be more news to tell.
I’ve been thinking about what I need to do over the coming few weeks to get things moving into spring properly and realise that I’m probably a bit behind with seed sowing, so this coming week I’ll be making some headway on getting things moving in the right direction.



Reading. My reading this week has been more listening that reading as I’ve been working my way through some audiobooks.
I’ve been listening to Austin Kleon’s audiobook trilogy of Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work & Keep Going. I have actually read all of these and they’re a great resource to dip into but I’ve found quite a few things by listening to the audiobooks, that I missed when I read them. It’s been interesting just thinking about how my brain works differently when listening as opposed to reading – ears over eyes.


Also from Austin Kleon was a post linking to the artist Julian Onderdonk who is one of the artists who I added fairly early to my Artists Twitter list.


Shaman Balls – Craig Childs


We had a trip to the vet this week. A planned appointment for Wilson to have some blood drawn for his regular checkup and adjust his medication if need be. We haven’t got the results yet but we’re not expecting any nasty surprises. Fingers-crossed.


Watching – The Commute Walking 90km to Work. I’ve done this a few times over the years, but I think the longest I’ve done was about 8 miles each way and I left early and got home late to make sure I was on time for the start of my day. I’ve been enjoying Beau Miles latest video this week. It reminds me how much I’ve missed walking during this latest lockdown. Fingers-crossed that everything will continue to move in the right direction and in another few weeks the only being able to go out once a day for exercise rule will be relaxed.


I’ve had my film cameras out this week. The sunlight has been great and I’ve loaded a roll of infrared as much to have an experiment with different exposure, iso and other settings ahead of being able to get out properly and take photos. My theory is that experimenting in controlled conditions in my back garden mean that I can make better judgements later. I also broke my cable release and have had to order a new one.


Well that’s it for this week. It’s my birthday on Tuesday, not that I’m expecting to be doing anything much different, but I am planning on doing some different things from my usual routine.

Stay safe and take care.


All Over The Place TWTW # 97

This post could be all over the place. It seems WordPress have updated the editor that I use to write posts, and to be blunt, it’s awful. Admittedly part of this is having to learn a new system and I can’t find the things I want or make it do what I want it to. But I suspect part of it is some designers “clever” idea of a minimalist set up. Suffice to say it’s ****, so apologies if things are all over the place and a little off kilter.

Add that to the fact that I had my first “Christmas Shopping” email this week, it’s been an interesting week overall. I have no idea what our Christmas is going to be like this year, but suffice to say it will be different.

We don’t have Thanksgiving in the UK but one of the posts from a newsletter that I read is thinking about how to make that a safe event.


I realised this week that I’ve read 70 books so far this year. This is a year that I started out thinking back on January 1st was going to be one where I would have very little time for reading. The coronavirus arrived in this country and lockdown happened and despite thinking throughout lockdown that I was struggling to read anything, I seem to have read 70 books. Go figure.

I’ve been reading Charles Stross’s Labyrinth Index this week, although I must admit to being a little bit lost by the story, even though it did fully resolve itself in the last 100 or so pages and I really liked the ending with an iconic aircraft that was one of the loves of my childhood. I’ve also been listening to Featherhood by Charlie Gilmour which has been an interesting listen.


We’ve not had the television on all that much this week, mostly we’ve been too tired to bother and since it’s mostly depressing news we’ve not watched much apart from an Australian series – Mystery Road 2 – we watched the first season last year and there’ve been a couple of movies with the same lead character. Unfortunately it’s not really holding our attention so I’m not sure whether we will get to the end of it or not.


I seem to be all caught up with podcasts at the moment, which is the first time in a while.


Not much allotment action this week due to the rain. We’ve had a couple of intense storms sweep through and they’ve brought a lot of water down. My visits have mostly been to make sure everything is okay rather than actually do anything. I’m pleased to see that the garlic has sprouted, but no signs from the onions or broad beans just yet.


I had a delivery of some of the new Field Notes this week. The new United States of Letterpress editions and the latest American National Parks set. I am using less pocket notebooks at the moment, mostly because I am out and about less but I do like these. I got mine from Nero’s Notes if you’re interested in ordering your own, they provide great service.


I also completed a volume of my journal this week. This represents volume one of 2020, about 230ish pages. For those interested the book itself is a Leuchtturm1917, ruled, A5, hardcover.


A trip to the vets this week for Wilson’s regular blood test. We had to drive through the worst of one of the storms and maybe it’s my age but I’ve never felt less like driving anywhere. If it hadn’t been for the appointment I think we might have found somewhere safe to pull over and wait out the weather front as it lashed down. Motorways were flooded and although the majority of drivers were being sensible there were the odd handful who seemed to think that their mortality and that of those around them was expendable.

We await the results of the blood test now – probably due Monday.


I’ve been enjoying watching Matt Maran’s fox videos this week.


That’s it for this week, I’ve run out of steam trying to get this post together, hopefully when it goes live it will at least be readable.

Thanks for reading, take care and stay safe and well.

TWTW # 14 – A Scorcher

It’s Bank Holiday Monday as I write this, and I’m a little bit later than usual sitting down to think about what’s happened in the last week. Essentially a short working week for most with the long weekend around Easter and quiet for me as I am waiting for my client to respond regarding a report. He has responded and is taking a wider view across his organisation before giving formal comments.

It’s been getting progressively warmer all week with the weekend turning into quite a scorcher and I’ve been doing quite a bit allotment and garden wise, while I’ve had the time. I’ve sown some lettuce seed as individual plugs – some for my Mum’s garden and the remainder as back-ups for the allotment. I’ve potted on some tomatoes and have got some more seed to sow a few more plants.

I’ve also started off my runner beans. Garden lore says that you should sow your runner bean seeds on the first Bank Holiday in May and plant them out on the second one, so these are a little early but that might not be a bad thing as they were covered in a little mould which I washed off and they seem to be okay – not soft or any obvious other damage other than the mould – so if they don’t grow I’ll have time to get some more.

My car was MOT’d and serviced at the beginning of the week. It passed and so there’s nothing further to do until next year or unless there’s a problem.

Wilson was also back at the vets for his next round of tests – we’re awaiting the results.


I’ve been reading “The Way Home – Tales from a Life Without Technology” by Mark Boyle, essentially the stories of the author when he completely gave up technology, including electricity and other mains utilities, living on an island near Ireland. I’m not that far in, but I’m enjoying it so far.

Slightly ironically I’m reading it on my Kindle.


I’ve also  got  the  (re)review  of “Under  The  Rock” coming  up next weekend with the chance to receive a copy of the paperback.



Been watching the new season of Bosch on Amazon over the weekend, it’s another great season of the show, and it’s great that such high quality tv can be be made to this standard – thoroughly recommended! If you’ve read Michael Connelly’s “Two Kinds of Truth”, it’s mostly based on that.


TWTW # 11

Hello there from a relatively sunny Spring day (I know it’s Spring because I’ve been wearing shorts quite a bit this week).

It’s been a fairly busy week workwise this week. That’s not to say that I haven’t also had my share of fun too. The proposal that I was asked to submit has been accepted and I’ve been given the go ahead to proceed with the work! Great news!

I’ve also been working on my presentation and notes for the allotment talk that I’m giving on Monday evening this week (no this isn’t an April Fools joke).


I went to see Captain Marvel at the cinema on Wednesday. It was a good film, and I enjoyed it. I’m hoping to be able to see the final Avengers film in a few months time when it comes out and this film introduces a new character (although I don’t think you necessarily have to see Captain Marvel to enjoy the Avengers film, so long as you know a little bit about the genre generally).


It was Wilson’s 9th birthday this week, so he got some new dog toys and a new harness and we went for an afternoon walk to the beach, as well as having some lunch out.


I finished the final bit of digging on the allotment at the weekend, just a patch that I’ve been leaving and is likely to be the new brassica bed, so after digging I gave it a good cover of lime (this helps to prevent club root, and also my soil is on the acidic side so this helps achieve a more neutral pH.


If you have and interest in Neil Gaiman then can I recommend that you go watch / listen to Tim Ferriss’s podcast with him. I’ve embedded the video recording of the interview below (it’s 90 minutes long), but the podcast page is also worth a visit for some of the show notes.


In the week ahead I’ll be giving my talk and carrying on with the delivery of work for my client. I’ve also got a couple of meetings and it’s generally looking like being another busy week.

 

Happy 8th Birthday Wilson

It is Wilson’s 8th Birthday today. I’m not sure where those years went. In dog terms that means he’s reached the status of a “Senior”, but I’m not sure I hold much store by those arbitrary boundaries. He gets some special treats today to mark the occasion.

The weather is not being particularly compliant today, and it’s been raining most of the night and all morning so we might postpone a special walk until tomorrow, or we might just go anyway as the forecast for the next few days doesn’t look any better.

Here’s some older photos:

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Sometimes You’ve Just Gotta Eat Grass

2016-05-25 15.01.05

The grass is getting pretty long around the edge of the local playing field at the moment. We often cross, to reach the woodland on the other side, and there’s a fairly well trodden path, which is handy in the mornings when the grass is wet with dew and I’m wearing shorts!

The dogs however will always grab a blade or two for a munch, if I’m not paying enough attention, they’ll even try and have a feast!

Dog Toy Balls, Some You Find, Some You Loose. OR, How I Fell On My Bum in the Woods

2015-11-09 08.43.44I have two ball obsessed dogs, they love to chase balls whenever we go out for a walk. To be honest it’s great exercise for them, but can occasionally be a little hard on my pocket when we loose balls in the bushes or long grass.

A few weeks ago I bought two new balls for Ruby. She’s particularly fussy about what she will and won’t play with, and so the new ones were of a particular type that she likes. Bright orange and they have a slightly unpredictable bounce, thus making the game a bit of fun.

Within the first week, I lost one of these balls in a bramble bush on one of our regular walking routes. That unpredictable bounce can be a killer when it comes to keeping track of where they end up. We looked for a quite a while, I knew it was in the bramble bush somewhere but I just couldn’t see it, nor could Ruby find it. Eventually we gave it up for lost. Sometimes you just have to accept loosing one, normally the ratio of balls lost to balls found is quite constant, but in this case I think this was about the third one I’d lost between Wilson and Ruby in a week, so my account was way in deficit.

Anyway; skip forward to this morning. We were on the same route and I had the other ball of the pair with me, as well as a different one for Wilson. Once again I threw the ball for Ruby, and it bounced and landed in the same bloody bramble bush as the last one! I thought probably we’d lost that one too, but as I looked into the brambles I could see it, although I couldn’t actually reach it from where I was standing. The bush is on a slope and I had to walk down the slope slightly, and use the ball launcher to extract the ball from within the brambles, being very careful not to scratch myself in the process.

As I was reaching in I also spotted something else – the other ball that we’d lost weeks ago. Feeling pretty chuffed with myself, thinking that we were going to retrieve not only the ball that had landed in the brambles this morning, but also the one that we’d lost in their weeks ago, I got the recent lost ball out and gave it back to Ruby.

I changed position on the slope and reached in to the brambles with the ball launcher once again. I had to stretch to reach the ball, and in doing so was leaning on an old (and somewhat rotten as I was about to find out) tree trunk.

As I managed to scoop the ball up with the launcher there was a loud crack and the tree I was leaning on gave way, I managed to get enough momentum up from the trunk of the tree, but in doing so overbalanced and fell backwards – fortunately away from the bramble bush, but I did end up on my bum in the mud. Ruby did come and check I was okay.

Apart from my pride there were no injuries – and I had the lost ball from a couple of weeks ago, so I returned to the path triumphant, or at least I tried to. My wellies however couldn’t get a grip on the muddy bank and I couldn’t get back up the slope down which I’d come. In the end I did a slight detour and rejoined the path (and my dogs who were waiting for me, they have four wheel drive and couldn’t work out why I was having such problems getting up the slope).

Taking inventory I made sure I hadn’t lost anything in my fall, e.g. phone, housekeys etc. All was well, apart from the fact that we didn’t have the ball that we’d lost that morning. I had the other one in my coat pocket, but in all the fuss of my falling over and trying to get back up the bank, we’d re-lost the ball that had gone in the bramble bush moments earlier.

I sent Ruby down to look for it, but she just ran up and down the bank and didn’t manage to find it. Resigning ourselves to finding an old lost ball but loosing another one, we carried on with our walk.

2015-11-09 08.43.55I wasn’t going to be defeated however, and as we returned I decided to have one final look for the ball. I looked down the slope, but couldn’t see it. It’s surprising sometimes how something bright orange doesn’t show up against the autumn leaf fall.

I decided one last ditch attempt was in order and sent Wilson in. “Find the ball!” I told him. He went down the bank exactly to the spot where I’d fallen, and started casting around searching. Then his tail started to wag. Soon it was going like a helicopter rotor. He was on to something. Of course this could just be something good to eat, but on the other hand I was expectant that we might find the missing ball.

Whatever he’d found it seemed to be under the tree trunk, that I had so unceremoniously managed to fell earlier, but he couldn’t quite reach it. He tried one side and then hopped over and tried the other, but whatever it was he couldn’t reach it. Eventually he tried the old commando technique of getting right down on his belly and crawling underneath, and out he came with the missing ball in his mouth!

Queue loads of praise from me, and dog biscuits for Wilson and Ruby. We went home triumphant.

So some days you loose a ball and sometimes you find one (or even one that you lost some weeks ago)!