This is going to be a really short list for two reasons. Firstly Covid has meant that I haven’t been to a cinema in over two years and secondly I haven’t watched much that I’ve really enjoyed. There’s been more TV that I’ve watched which has been better. So a couple of honourable mentions:
Greyhound – made for Apple TV, with Tom Hanks as an escort destroyer Captain during the Atlantic convoys in the Second World War and adapted from C S Foresters book The Good Shepherd. Okay the book is better but they did a pretty good job of transferring it to the screen. It loses a bit by trying to hype up certain aspects and add things that never happened but it’s a pretty good film.
The Guilty – This is the original Swedish version and not the more recent Jake Gyllenhaal one (which I’m told isn’t as good. The films premise revolves around a single emergency service operator and there are no other major actors seen, most of the other characters are voices on the other end of the phone. Brilliantly suspenseful.
And that’s it, it seems everything else has been eminently forgettable. I would have liked to have watched Black Widow and No Time to Die, but haven’t yet, but I’m hoping I get a chance over Christmas / New Year.
Now I didn’t mind the Tom Cruise films, they both had their moments, but Tom was no Jack or at least not as he’s written in the books. So I’m kinda looking forward to seeing if this is any better. At least physically they’re closer.
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
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.
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.
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 Guiltywhich 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.
The house has been noticeably chillier in the mornings this week, not to the point of needing to turn on the heating but just making a statement that the Summer nights are no longer with us and temperatures are dropping. It’s also been pretty wet and windy this week, more that once I’ve been caught in a sudden rain shower that has necessitated changing out of wet clothes upon arriving home.
It’s also been a little surreal to see this country descending into panic buying once again, when there really is no need. Last year it was toilet rolls, this year it’s road fuel. What’s next I wonder? It’s obvious how we ended up here, and it’s all self-inflicted. It’s scary how a few individuals can do so much damage in such a short space of time and somehow still manage to be in positions of authority.
I’ve read The Cook of the Halcyon by Andrea Camilleri this week. It’s the penultimate Inspector Montalbano novel. The last in the series – the author died in 2019 – is out (in English) later this month, although early reviews are not so good. This one however was good, very funny in places and with a very timely quote quite close to the beginning which I’ll share:
It is said that man, in a democracy, is free. Really? But what if the car won’t start, the phone doesn’t work, the power is out, there’s no water or gas, and the computer, television, and fridge refuse to function? It is probably better still to say that, yes, man is free, but it is a conditional freedom, dependent upon the whims of objects he can no longer live without.
Andrea Camilleri – The Cook of the Halcyon
Not sure what’s up next, as in previous weeks Derek Jarman’s garden is still drawing me in and by coincidence I came across this article online about the very same this week.
TV & Film
We finished watching the BBC series Vigil this week and would probably have binged-watched it, if it hadn’t been restricted to one new episode a week. I wonder what makes the decision as to whether something is going to be released all in one go or spaced out over a period of time? Another one is the Apple TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, we’ve been watching this too because I still have some time remaining on a complimentary subscription to this service. I’m not sure that I would pay for it though.
The new Bond Movie is out now. No Time To Die is the last Daniel Craig Bond and the first Bond film that I won’t be watching in the cinema since Moonraker. With Covid still very much around I really don’t feel safe. I suspect the risk is relatively low if I follow my normal pattern of going when it’s been out for a few weeks and picking a time when not many people will also be going but even so I don’t think I’d enjoy the film because I’d be worrying about other people in the auditorium. I read this article in the Guardian and that analysis backs up my thinking on the risk but I want to enjoy the film so I’ll wait for the DVD release I think.
I also like the look of the premise behind the new Ghostbusters movie, I hope they can pull it off.
I’ve been rained off of the allotment today, there might be an opportunity to make it down there tomorrow. Like the seasons, work here shifts to those tasks that are now really about making the plot ready for the next set of crops and for warmer weather to come.
Busy, busy, busy, this week. I’ve been asked to do some new work for a client, which is going to pretty much fill up the next couple of weeks, and hopefully there will be some follow-up to that which will go into the New Year.
Well that’s about all I have for this week. There’s not much to report from me for the week ahead, I’ll mostly be doing work stuff. Whatever you’re planning on doing, stay safe and take care.
Slightly different surroundings as I type this today. We’re still in the process of sorting out my Mum’s house and decided to come and stay for a couple of days to try and get a bit more done than we can by ‘commuting’. It’s worked well so far and it’s also been nice to reacquaint myself with an area I used to know very well. It’s interesting to see how some things have changed but the broad landscape is still very much the same. Paths that I’ve not walked for a few years are once again becoming familiar, and my daily step count is going up rapidly. I’ve put a few pictures that I’ve taken in a slideshow below.
Wilson had another vet appointment this week, and received praise from the vet. She’s very pleased with his progress and if it continues in the same vein we might be able to reduce the dosage of one of his tablets. I also received a very prompt turn around to a claim I made to the insurance company. I am surprised at how quick to be honest so I hope they didn’t make a mistake.
I’ve had some good news this week and the proposal I wrote has been accepted. The client had a couple of clarification questions but has accepted it without further alteration. Subject to receiving a purchase order I’ve said I’ll be starting on it in about a weeks time with the aim of having it completed before the end of the year.
I finished Mexico Set by Len Deighton. It stands up really well as a cold war thriller and it’s interesting to see how much the world has and hasn’t changed in the intervening period since the book was written. Perhaps same problems just different fronts might be a good way of looking at it, but then again some of the fronts aren’t all that different.
I picked up Horatio Clare’s Heavy Light which could be more contrasting a subject. It’s about the author’s mental breakdown and descent into psychosis and his experience of the mental health system before, during and after his breakdown. It’s not an easy read and although mental health and stability have featured in some of his previous books, this is much more concentrated in it’s treatment and discussion of the subject. From a first person perspective it is also very frank and honest of his experiences. It is very well written but I struggle to say that I enjoyed it, rather I think that I learnt a lot about certain aspects of mental health and it’s treatment.
The Clint Eastwood boxset has been taking keeping us entertained again. We’ve watched Space Cowboys, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before and Firefox, which I’ve don’t think I’ve watched since it first came out. Neither were particularly taxing but were a couple of evenings entertainment.
I’ve been using Evernote since 2014. I use it both for my work, and also personally, it helps with content for these pieces too. I’ve been paying for the “Premium” package for several years. It renewed recently and then a few weeks later I got an email to say that my subscription was changing and that I was now going to be on the “Personal” package as a new tier of “Professional” had been introduced. Don’t worry it said nothing has changed your package content remains the same.
Now firstly Evernote has been getting a bit glitchy of late (well before this recent subscription change) but there were some changes being made to the apps and software so I wasn’t unduly worried. One of the things I liked about Evernote was the interchangeability between operating systems and desktop and mobile platforms, wherever or whatever device you were using your notes synced between devices seamlessly. This then stopped being quite so efficient. I noticed that notes that I’d save on say my phone, weren’t showing up on my desktop app and vice-versa. Also Evernote made a change that meant when you saved something on a mobile device you then had to open the Evernote app to sync. Before I could simply save something to Evernote from say a browser or other app and Evernote would do the syncing in the background. Evernote was becoming Evernot.
I’ve stuck with Evernote because I really liked it and because I have an enormous amount of information stored there, but after this recent subscription change I am thinking of finding something else. I don’t think there is any malice in the change so soon after my subscription renewed, that’s probably just coincidental timing, however as I pay upfront it looks likely that I won’t be able to get any of that subscription back if I do move. The question however is what to move to. There are a few choices (DevonThink, Obsidian, Omnifocus are ones that I’m aware of so far) and obviously I have some time to make that decision. If you have any others that you think I should look at then do leave a comment below.
Well a slightly earlier post than I’d planned today.
I’m just back from the allotment where I’d planned to do a series of different jobs until it started to rain hard.
The forecast must have changed a bit overnight because I thought I’d at least have 2 to 3 hours before the rain arrived.
Anyhow I finished up what I was doing and then headed for home, I’ll try again tomorrow in the meantime I’ll just have to finish my flask of coffee at home in the dry.
You know I’ve had that flask the best part of 30 years. I got it when I was working in the woods all day and needed a warm drink, particularly in the winter. It’s served me well, and still keeps my drinks warm even today.
The outer green paint is flaking off on one side and it’s a little bit rusty underneath. I did look to replace it a while ago, but that was during the first lockdown and you couldn’t get them. They’re available again now, but I really don’t want to replace it now. I think I’ll just keep going until it doesn’t anymore. Maybe it will even outlive me?
We seem to have watched a lot this week. We’ve been continuing to watch Ghosts which I think I’ve mentioned before and have finished series 3. We also watched a couple of movies; Green Book which we really enjoyed, even if it does make for some painful watching because of some of the historical treatment of people of colour; and Pale Rider which I don’t think I’ve sat and watched from beginning to end for a very long time. It still stands up well, and the finale with Eastwood taking on an overwhelming force has been repeated many a time in the western genre and it’s a great example of it. It’s made me want to watch a few more of the old Eastwood westerns too, and perhaps some others that I haven’t seen in a while.
I’ve been reading Arthur C. Clarke’s The Lost Worlds of 2001. A bit like The Odyssey File which I mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s more of a making of the movie, although it does contain some original stories that went into 2001.
I’ve also started on Volume One of Roald Dahl’s short stories, which are incredible pieces of work. Some I’ve read before – including Lamb to the Slaughter which has just the best telling of the the disposal of a murder weapon that I’ve ever read – but some are completely new to me. I’ve got the second volume to read as well so I could be reading these for a while.
I’ve been working on a proposal for a client at their request. It’s actually revisiting one that I worked on back in February that didn’t go anywhere due to budget cutbacks. However it seems like they now have some funding in place so I’m hopeful. They’ve also expanded the brief a bit, so it’s slightly more work than I bid for before. Fingers-crossed that it works out. It was submitted on Friday, so hopefully I’ll hear something in the next week or so.
That’s all I have for this week. It’s still raining outside, so I think I made the right decision about the allotment.
Whatever you’re up to in the week ahead, stay safe and take care.
I probably should be working on a bid proposal right now. I have a few days to do this but obviously the sooner it’s done the better, that said I wanted to write this post first.
I had the scans back from both of the rolls of film that I sent off to be processed. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but I am pleased with several of the images. One of the rolls was another roll of infrared and I want to get the negatives back so I can understand what I’m looking at a bit better. The first half of that roll I experimented a lot with different filters, exposure lengths etc and I took notes, but I really need to see the reference numbers on the negatives rather than the file names on the scans.
I’ve also bought a couple of new rolls, so hope to be loading the camera with one of those soon.
If you’re interested I’ve shared some of the images from both rolls in the slideshow below.
We watched The Call of the Wild over the weekend. We were both a bit sceptical about it being a good film, but both enjoyed it. It’s not going to win (m)any Oscars but it told the story from the book quite well. I’d been curious as to how that might happen. It wasn’t completely faithful but if you’ve read the book, you’ll certainly recognise it in the film. I’m not quite sure who the audience was meant to be and whether it was supposed to be a family film or something else, and it’s a shame that all of the dogs are CGI but it was a pleasant evenings entertainment if your bar is set fairly low.
I got to see my Mum in person this week. As covid rules are relaxed and vaccines deployed I was able to go and have a short visit after submitting to a rapid test. I’m not certain that Mum knew who I was behind all of the PPE, I think she recognised that it was someone she knew but not that it was me. That could be part of the Alzheimer’s disease too of course. A proper visit as opposed to a window visit or a phone call is of course much better and now that it can be a regular thing again, that’s much better.
Books. I’ve been reading The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster this week, albeit somewhat slowly. It’s all about the Common Swift and it seems a little poetic to be reading it at about the time that the Swifts normally return in any number. They seem later this year but that might just be my poor observation but I’ve spotted Swallows already and normally I see Swifts a little earlier than them.
Allotment. The nights are still so cold, despite us enjoying some warm daytime temperatures where I’ve even sat in the garden under our sun-brolly reading a book on a couple of afternoons. On the allotment I’ve been preparing ground for sowing but holding off with the actual sowing due to the nighttime temperatures. Clearing weeds and watering have also sucked up a lot of time. Although we’ve had a few passing showers they haven’t delivered much in the way of moisture for the plants and because of the temperatures a lot of things are under cover to protect them and so don’t see any of the rain.
Garden lore says that the first bank holiday in May is the time to sow runner bean seeds indoors and the second bank holiday the time to plant them out. I’ll be doing mine tomorrow on the bank holiday and hopefully temperatures will improve before the end of the month.
Work. As mentioned above I have a bid to prepare. I don’t feel that confident about it but we’ll see what happens. Otherwise this week has been pretty quiet in terms of work things, I’m not sure that I’m seeing the economy picking up in my sector the way it perhaps is in others.
The week ahead is going to focus on work things but hopefully there’ll be some time for some other things.
Welcome. I’ve just been potting on some plants destined for the allotment, although not just yet. Nights are still cold so they won’t be going outside just yet. I’ve been looking back at what was happening 12 months ago and despite the obvious I was spending some time in the garden reading and enjoying the sunshine, but it’s been much chillier than it was 12 months ago. It might be warming up again, but who knows.
It’s been a busy week.
Reading. I’ve reading more in Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence this week, finishing The Dark is Rising and then Greenwitch and The Grey King. I have forgotten more about this series than I remember and there’s just one book to go.
Watching. I finally got around to watching 1917. I can see why it won some of the awards it did, but I have to say it left me feeling a little underwhelmed.
Work. I’ve been having several conversations this week about potential work. Some collaborative projects that might come to fruition. Early days but it would be good to get things going a bit more than they have been over the past year.
It’s also the time of the year when I have to start looking at my tax return. It’s not going to take very long this year I suspect given the impact that the pandemic has had on my work.
Allotment. In addition to the plants mentioned above I spent some time on the allotment this week weeding the overwintering onions and preparing some beds for transplanting more onions that I’ve been bringing on in the potting shed. If there is an uptick in temperatures they might go out in the week ahead.
I also had the pleasure of seeing the pair of buzzards above fly right over my head while I was enjoying a coffee break. They’re amazing birds and much more prevalent than they once were, but in some quarters still persecuted.
I also picked up our new car this week. It is more or less the same make and model as our old one, but in the intervening years the technology has grown and now there are many more things that could go wrong. Hopefully it will prove to be reliable and last as long as our previous one.
I’d hoped that when we had to buy our new car it would be an electric powered one but sadly it’s not something that we can afford at this stage even a second hand electric is beyond our budget. I know all of the arguments about electric vehicles being cheaper to run etc and they are totally accurate but sadly you still need that bigger chunk of capital at the time of purchase to be able to afford it. We’re not there yet. So we’ve brought the most fuel efficient, least polluting non-electric vehicle we could. It still runs on fossil fuels and that does make me feel uncomfortable, but I have made concessions in other areas over the years, for example I haven’t been on an aeroplane since 2015, for personal flights I haven’t been on one since 2007. We do what we can, we’re not perfect.
That’s it for me this week, next week I have to take Wilson to the vet and have a couple of other things in my diary. Whatever you’re up to stay safe and take care.
It’s been wet this week, really wet, full wet weather gear wet. Where other parts of the country have been having snow, we’ve just had rain. I’m not sure which I’d prefer, but at the moment a bit of a dry spell would be nice!
Last weekend was the Big Garden Birdwatch. As citizen science goes it’s a pretty big project and other the years I think I’ve contributed most years. I keep a running total for our garden anyway and over the last few weeks the birds have been pretty abundant with a couple of species present that aren’t around often. However I swear that the birds no what’s happening and stay away for the crucial hour when the count is taking place. It happens every year and the results are normally pretty low and boring and in my opinion not representative of our garden, but the standardisation of counting is important so once again our numbers were low. Of course the moment the hour was up I looked out again and there were more birds to be seen than had been present the whole of the preceding hour.
If you missed it I ran a giveaway earlier in the week for Matt Gaw’s book Under The Stars if you’re interested in being in with a chance to win a copy there’s still time. Follow the link above to enter.
Reading. I got back into the last two Inspector Morse books by Colin Dexter; reading Death is Now My Neighbour and then planning to leave a gap before reading the final one, The Remorseful Day, but realising that I couldn’t settle into something else I picked it up. It was a fitting end to the series and I felt a little bit lost after finishing it knowing that there wasn’t another one to follow. I’ll likely go back and read some of the earlier ones again, but in the meantime I’ve been reading Garden of Angels by David Hewson, which is possibly one of his best books and set in Second World War Venice and the modern day. Recommended.
Watching. I’ve finally been able to watch Greyhound which is the Tom Hanks dramatisation of C S Foresters book, The Good Shepherd. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a good movie, but the book is better. I recommend both though. I watched it alone as Ann wasn’t interested but we’ve both been watching Long Way Up, Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor’s trip on prototype electric Harley Davidson’s from the tip of South America up through to Los Angeles. I admire them for doing this with both gear and infrastructure that isn’t quite there yet for this type of journey but then that’s probably the best reason to do it.
Listening. I caught a rerun of Stephen King on Desert Island Discs this week. I missed it first time around and it’s a good highlight reel of his career (up to about 2006 when it was recorded), and his choice of music is pretty good. You can listen here, but I don’t know if that link will work outside the UK, without a VPN.
Work. I’ve been sorting out some work related meetings for the coming week, as well as finalising my presentation for my allotment talk on the 12th.
That’s all I have for this week. Take care and stay safe!
I seem to have packed quite a bit into this week, including a trip to the seashore. Here are some highlights.
I’ve been reading Colin Dexter’s – Last Seen Wearing this week, an Inspector Morse novel. I finished it yesterday afternoon and immediately picked up Rowland White’s – Harrier 809 (Britain’s Legendary Jump Jet and the Untold Story of the Falklands War. A bit of a contrast in reading matter. The Inspector Morse was a good read if a bit convoluted in plot terms towards the end. It’s a bit early to say much about the Harrier book, except that it is already bringing back memories of watching Harriers practice ski-jump take-offs and vertical landings at RNAS Yeovilton. There’s an aviation museum there and right alongside it is/was the airfield where you could go and stand against the fence and watch the aircraft. In those days mostly Harriers and helicopters. They also had a Concorde in the museum where you would walk up a stairway at the tail of the aircraft and walk along its length to end up looking at the cockpit. You can probably tell that I’m looking forward to reading this book, and in truth have had it on preorder for a while.
We’ve had a number of lovely days this week, and on Friday the nice weather coincided with an opportunity for me to take my film camera out again. In truth I took two film cameras, and a digital out. One film camera loaded with a partially exposed roll of black and white film and the other with a new roll of colour. I finished both the rolls and they are now on their way to be processed. I’m using a new company to do this, but they seem to be well recommended so hopefully I’ll have something to show for it in a week or so.
I was a bit undecided as to where I was going to go. I’d been thinking about trying to get some photographs of the autumn leaves, but the colours aren’t really there yet so in the end I went to Royal Victoria Country Park. It’s the site of an old military hospital, has a military cemetery on site and is right next to Southampton Water so there is a land / sea interface to play with photographically. The bulk of my pictures are on those rolls of film although there are some digital ones shared here.
My car passed its MOT without requiring any work other than a couple of advisories. I was worried that I might end up with a big bill for repairs, but other than anything that might need doing in the meantime we’re all good for another year. I’m hoping that my next car will be electric but at the moment the prices are still prohibitively high so I am trying to make what I have last a little longer in the hope that those prices may fall.
I’ve been digging and manuring on the allotment this week, nothing very exciting, but essential work to prepare the ground for next year.
I gave a talk via Zoom to a horticultural society on Thursday evening. There were about 25 viewers, which is about half what they normally get for an in person talk. It’s strange giving talks this way. They need to be revised as some of the things that I can do in person don’t work via Zoom and you don’t get the same feedback as you do when you’re there in the flesh. It is however keeping something going.
Covid-19 lockdown rules are pretty much a mess here in the UK at the moment. Summed up pretty well by Jonathan Pie