Sweeter Corn TWTW # 141

I’ve been bird sitting this week, or rather popping into one of our neighbours to check on their pet cockatiel, change his water and seed and have a ‘chat’ with him. Our conversations are pretty limited I think, and I’m not sure that he’s actually pleased to see me.

I was asked to take a Covid antibody test as part of the Zoe study this week. This test can tell whether you have actually been exposed to the coronavirus and developed natural antibodies to it, as opposed to ones you may have develop from immunisation. My test came back negative, which to be honest was what I was expecting.


Reading

I finished reading Roald Dahl’s Short Stories Volume 1 about middle way through this week and then picked up Len Deighton’s Mexico Set. I read Berlin Game by the same author earlier this year and was intending to read the trilogy – Game, Set, (London) Match at some point, and now feels like as good a time as any.


Watching

We sat down to watch a couple more Clint Eastwood westerns this week – Joe Kidd and Hang ’em High – again I don’t think I’ve watched either of these from start to finish in a very long time. We enjoyed them and I suspect we’ll end up watching some more.


Work

I have a meeting arranged for next week to discuss the proposal I submitted last week. Hopefully this is to discuss any refinements and give me the go ahead with the work. I doubt that they would have arranged a meeting just to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’. This is a reasonable piece of work in terms of the time and mental challenge that it presents so I’m hopeful that they want to proceed as that also means I get paid obviously.

It’s possible that I’ll also be returning to in-person allotment talks soon too. I’m trying to work out how this will actually happen and what changes there will be in order to be Covid-safe. I’m not sure whether I actually want to be back in a room with a group of people of unknown vaccination / negative test status at the moment given the high levels of the virus in the population. I’m waiting to hear back from the organisers of the first of these talks about their new arrangements, but they seem to think that this is down to the owners of the venue.


Allotment

Photograph shows some sweetcorn cobs on a tea towel

As the photograph evidences I’ve managed to harvest some sweetcorn this year. If you’re a regular reader here you’ll know that in previous years harvesting sweetcorn has always been a race against time with the local badger population or some serious fence construction to stop them getting to the plants. In previous years they have pushed over the plants to get at the ripe cobs, devastating the entire crop. Whilst I don’t begrudge them a feed, given how persecuted they are, I don’t intentionally grow the sweetcorn for them. This year I beat them to it.

I suspect the truth is that the set that was behind the allotment site is actually dormant at the moment and the badgers have moved on elsewhere. There’s no sign more generally that they have been about.

In addition to the sweetcorn, I got a good harvest of French beans, patti-pan squash and autumn raspberries.

It’s the time of year when I am thinking about whether or not I am going to continue with the allotment for another year – fees for the year ahead are due in October. This year has been a hard one, with more failures than successes and contaminated manure has lead to a lot of problems with weeds. I am honestly not sure what I am going to do.


Links

The All-Seeing “i”: Apple Just Declared War on Your Privacy – by Edward Snowden

Amazon’s older Kindles will start to lose their internet access in December (US only)


Well that’s it for this week. Have a good week ahead and take care and stay safe whatever you’re up to.

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!

Jabbering TWTW # 129

Welcome, this is going to be a short one this week, mostly because I’ve not been doing all that much.

As trailered last week, I’ve had my second covid vaccine. The theory that in a couple of weeks I’ll be fully protected doesn’t really make me feel much like changing much in my approach at the moment however. In theory everything should be back to “normal” after June 21st. Quite what that means isn’t clear, but there is a good debate at the moment in terms of whether we should hold back a bit longer or carry on but keep some elements like masks in public and some physical distancing. I think the latter makes a certain amount of sense if we do fully open up, but the public, politicians and scientists seem fairly evenly split over what the right direction is.


Allotment. The combination of sunshine and showers over the last few weeks has really made everything grow, especially the weeds. I’ve been harvesting broad beans which are young and sweet and don’t need cooking, so have been making salads with them. Also our radish crop continues, so plenty of them too. I’ve been planting out the last of the current batch of plants grown in the potting shed from seed, including courgette, squash, cucumber and fennel. The latter is a new one, so I’m not altogether sure whether they will continue to grow at all and if they do how they will turn out. I’ve also been doing the inevitable weeding and mowing of paths.


Books. I finished Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie and then after a couple of days of not reading much picked up the second book in the series Sidney Chambers and the Peril of Night. I already had both of these on my kindle but if I want to read the whole series I’ll have to track down the remaining books.


TV & Film. I’ve watched a few things this week, including Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse which Ann loved (she even said she’d watch it again, which is unheard of for a Marvel film) but I found it a little underwhelming. I also watched The Outpost which is based on a true story, and I found a bit disturbing.

I am looking forward to watching the biopic about Anthony Bourdain when it’s available. I’ve really enjoyed his books and tv series, a troubled soul who we lost too soon. Here’s the trailer.


AudioMo. June is AudioMo month and I’m participating again by posting a short piece of audio each day. As with last year there isn’t any particular theme to my posts. If you’d like to listen to them, they are all posted on my Twitter account, to listen to other people’s posts you can follow the hashtag #audiomo on twitter. There seem to be a lot of people taking part this year which is great.


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

More Than Meets The Eye TWTW # 90

Hot enough for you? This week has been a little bit unbearable at times, at times it reached 36.6ºC in our back garden, it’s a bit of a sun trap but that’s a bit ridiculous. Then again I’ve been talking about climate change professionally for most of my career to date so it comes as no surprise, unfortunately the time has really passed when we could have done something about it. The best we can probably hope for now is working out how to live with it. That and the other extreme weather; rainfall, flooding, landslips, lightning strikes, high winds, hurricanes and wildfires. Three people died this week as a result of a landslip, many older people will probably also die as a result of the high temperatures (or with them as a contributory factor) and that’s after coronavirus.

I feel a bit like I’ve been wasting my time all these years, there’s been a lot of talking the talk, but little walking the walk. So much opportunity has been lost.


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My infrared film came back from being processed. For a first attempt I’m quite pleased with the results. So much so that I’ve ordered some more rolls of the same film and I’ll be having another try when it arrives. I’m going to try an even darker filter this time, one that blocks out even more visible light. This will be more of a challenge because I’ll need to set the camera up first, and then add the filter (you cannot see anything through it with the naked eye), and it will also need longer exposure times.

The flowers are the most impressive. As you can see from the photo’s above the three infrared images are of the same plants of the normal regular colour images. I took some landscapes too. Again for comparison you can see the images of Portsmouth Harbour taken from the same spot with infrared and an iphone camera.


I fell down a bit of a YouTube rabbit hole this week, watching the videos made by Beau Miles. I started here:


I’ve been reading all sorts of things this week, more of what I was reading last week with London War Notes, but also some Sherlock Holmes short stories. I also have the next in the Jackson Lamb series – Joe Country – queued up on my kindle to read.


I’ve not spent that much time on the allotment this week, it’s been too bloody hot. I have been going down in the early hours of the morning to water, and spent a bit of time there at the weekend when it was a little cooler to pull some weed and do a couple of other small jobs.


That’s all from me for this week. Stay safe and take care.


Lockdown Locks TWTW # 77

Well it’s been a week of video calls and conferences, phone calls and other physically distanced conversations. Some of my calls went about as well as the one below, but most were much better.

You can also see one of mine that was recorded for my review of The Cabinet of Calm, which was posted last Saturday and can be found here.

Outside of that I’ve enjoyed extra dog walks, now back to at least twice a day since Wednesday, but otherwise our routine has been the same and we’re still observing the previous lockdown rules, although sometimes it feels like we’re the only ones who are. It seems to me that the muddled and confusing messages from government about returning to work, not using public transport and reopening of certain businesses are likely to lead to a resurgence of cases if the VE Day street parties and BBQs where people were getting pretty pissed and behaving exactly as they would pre-coronavirus don’t.


How are your lockdown locks doing? I think it’s nearly a 100 days since I had a trip to the barbers for my usual haircut and actually it doesn’t seem to growing as fast as it normally seems to between shearings. It was suggested that I was looking a little “Grizzly Adams” this week, but I think that was more in relation to the beard than the scruffy hair. As things go I doubt I’ll be attempting a home cut any time soon, but then I also can’t see me that keen about returning to my barbers if things stay the same, even if they’re not likely to be able to reopen until July.

How are you doing have you gone for the home haircut or complete buzzcut or like me are you just letting it do it’s own thing?


I finished reading London Rules by Mick Herron, and it was pretty damn good. I started reading Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw, but haven’t made that much progress with that at this point. After that I have a pile of things to read still not to mention a kindle that is bulging at the metaphorical seams.

If like me you’ve been struggling to read, artist Austin Kleon had some thoughts on this last week.


I’ve been enjoying listening to a new (to me) podcast this week. Field Recordings is a short daily podcast of – yes it’s exactly what it says on the tin – audio recordings made in the “field” (not necessarily in an actual field).


With various other things going on I’ve not spent that much time on the allotment this week, although the allotment shop is now open again, with a nifty little one way system in operation and only one customer allowed inside at a time.

We also had our first harvest of broad beans of the season. They ended up in a pasta dish with some feta cheese, onion, pepper and garlic dressing. They were lovely. I love eating broad beans, and we’ll have plenty more to come by the looks of things.

It looks like the weather will be warming up again, so it might be time to plant out some of the plants that are waiting to go. I also need to try and cover up the gooseberries and loganberries. It looks like being another good year for them and if I don’t cover them soon, the birds will get them as soon as they’re ripe.


Television gardener Monty Don reported the death of his dog Nigel this week.


There have been a couple of particularly poignant posts on the Last Word on Nothing this week:

The Cat and the Coronavirus

My Father Isn’t

One or both will likely make you cry.


Contrary to internet urban legend, what Neil Gaiman has actually been doing.


That’s about it for this week. Stay Safe.



 

Weeding & Seeding TWTW # 75

In another time, I’d have been at the dentist this past week, but as politicians and journalists seem to be keen to remind us the “new normal” means those sorts of appointments are not, at present, part of those arrangements. Admittedly I will not miss having to pay the bill.

Otherwise it’s been a quiet week, I’ve mostly been doing a little work, reading, watching the moon, listening to the rain fall and to owls hooting somewhere behind the house.


I had a trip to the allotment to do as much weeding as I could. Mostly this was on areas dug over the winter where the weeds have already started to regrow. They’re now ready for planting / sowing. I’ve also been sowing seeds which I hope are germinating in the potting shed as I type. Mostly squashes, pumpkins, tomatoes and a few other things. I’ve decided with the problems that I’ve had with sweetcorn over the last couple of years that I’m going to give sweetcorn a miss this year. As soon as the temperatures are warm enough these will be planted out.


I’ve had a couple of enquiries this week asking if I would be interested in a couple of contracts. Obviously the answer was yes, but at this stage these are only expression of interest so I’m not clear as to whether they will progress or not. It’s nice to know however that there is still some work out there.

The opportunity to continue giving garden talks via the internet rather than in person isn’t taking off. I can’t say I’m surprised given the average age of the regular audience it always looked like they would struggle with a video webinar approach. I’ve had a few enquiries but they’ve never progressed. It looks as though the remaining couple of in-person talks that I’m due to give will also be cancelled, and quite rightly. The “new normal” might well mean that talks in person don’t happen again for some time.


Forget homeschooling during the pandemic. Teach life skills instead.


Much debate as to whether the government should bailout Virgin airways, and Richard Branson’s forgetfulness about how another one of his companies once sued the NHS. There’s an interesting account of the latter here. Personally I don’t think we should be bailing out any airlines. We did it with FlyBe before the coronavirus outbreak and they proved unsustainable and I see that we have already bailed out EasyJet and promised them a reduction in “green” taxes. Perhaps the time is for any large bailouts for environmentally damaging industries should be directly linked to green recovery rather than given breaks to get around existing environmental legislation. Then again this is ultimately a Tory government and that seems unlikely that it would ever happen.


Michael Moore has produced a climate change “documentary”. I’ve watched it to save you the trouble, my synopsis: it’s a pile of 5h1t don’t waste your time, and perhaps YouTube should take it down.


I’ve been reading Spook Street by Mick Herron over the last few days. The fourth book in the Jackson Lamb series, it’s been pretty good so far but my progress has been quite slow. I also had some details come through for a book that I’d agreed to review, and that will be next. I’ll talk more about the latter in due course.



A couple of weeks ago we ran out of bird seed for the garden birds and I’ve been trying not to order things unnecessarily or at least to combine things so that we only have one delivery with several things in it every couple of weeks or so. One of these deliveries this week included bird seed, a 12 kilo bag which will hopefully last a while, although looking at how much the birds are getting through since we refilled the feeders, I might have misjudged how long it will last, I probably should add another bag to the next combined order.


We watched The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society  last night. I have to say I’ve been put off from watching this film due to it’s rather odd title for some time. However I have to say that I actually really enjoyed it. A gentle watch, which is always welcome at the moment and I’ll certainly give it another watch.


I’m out of here. Stay safe and well.



 

TWTW # 74

I’m a little late posting this because of, well home baking and online shopping basically. My days are a little less structured, which can make for doing things at interesting times.


This past week has been a little bit of a repeat of the one before. In a bizarre lockdown twist I can’t get my car fixed because although the garages are open, the parts stores (or at least the one that supplies the parts for my car) are not. The mechanic was quite frustrated because a lot of his customers are in the same boat (car). Whilst there is a lot of logic to the lockdown there are some illogical twists in terms of what / who is considered essential and what / who isn’t. Anyway it’s on their list to do as soon as circumstances allow. I can still drive it but only on short journeys with a large bottle of water in the boot just in case. I’m obviously not using it much so the impact is minimal for now. Please keep your fingers crossed for me or be like that little Dutch boy and use your finger to plug a virtual hole.


I’ve had quite a bit of work to do this week as one of my clients’ projects suddenly became live again. It’s good for me and has occupied a good proportion of my week and looks as though I will actually have a bill to send out at the end of the month. I’ve also been trying to do my tax return, but having problems with my National Insurance contributions. One part of the system says it’s one figure (which I agree with) and the other part says that it a significantly lesser amount that is clearly wrong. Phoning the helpline didn’t help (no surprise there), so I am awaiting a virtual solution. It’s likely to be a long wait given that most of the relevant staff are busy processing claims for Universal Credit and other schemes as a result of the lockdown. It’s not a major problem, and I at least know how much tax I owe, even if the government can’t add it up right.


My unexpected work meant that I haven’t had as much time for reading this week, but I did read CS Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew. I thought that I would reread the Narnia stories and decided to start at the beginning (if not the publication order). I think I was probably about 8 or 9 years old when I last read these books and back then I started with LW&W like most everybody else. I also started reading The Bloodline Feud by Charles Stross, which is the first to books in the Merchant Princes series (and prequels to Empire Games and Dark State, which I’ve mentioned here before). I’ve had the book on my kindle for a while so it’s hopefully another step in reducing the pile of books to be read.


We’ve been catching up on Marvel films this week, or rather Mrs Tonto has been watching the ones she missed in the cinema and I’ve been enjoying rewatching. Captain Marvel and  Avengers: End Game have been our choices, as well as watching some classic comedy; Hi-De-Hi (which doesn’t stand up very well).


A bit more digging and seed sowing (purple sprouting broccoli & parsnips) on the allotment, but otherwise my time there has been limited both by work and the lockdown. Where everyone else seems to be really getting on with their plots mine feels a little slower this year. But that might just be a false impression, although I do need to get some more seeds sown in the week ahead if I can.


Another short one this week, I’d like to say that I’m up to some exciting things this week, and who knows maybe I will be but it does seem a little bit unlikely. Anyway, I hope that you stay safe and well in the week ahead.

Supermoon Flatbread TWTW # 72

It’s been a gloriously sunny week here, even the day they said it was going to be a bit gloomy was a good one. The slight perversity of having a bank holiday weekend when the weather is smashing but we can’t go out has not escaped the attention. Whatever happened to those old fashioned bank holidays were the weather was miserable and so was everyone stuck indoors? As I write this on a Sunday afternoon, it feels slightly dystopian being at home and all that I can hear are the sounds of police sirens and then more police sirens. I’m not sure what’s going on but I guess someone isn’t having a good day.


Although it is small I am very grateful for our back garden and very conscious that not everyone is as lucky as we are. I’ve been spending quite a bit of each afternoon sitting in the garden reading a book.

My reading this week has mostly been on my Kindle and has been Alan Bennett’s Keeping On Keeping On, the first part of the book is ten years worth (2005 – 2015) of his diaries and I think I’ve made it to about 2010 and am still going and have yet to get to the remainder of the book. I’m finding that I am able to concentrate on it which is something that I’ve recently struggled to do. Maybe the lockdown is just becoming the new norm and I’m adjusting to it?


I wrote last week about having been forced to go into town after failing to be able to do something online. Well I did achieve this and picked up some medication that the pharmacy has been holding for me. Town was strange. In places it was downright ghostly, in others it seemed that there were far more people out and about than there should have been. Going to the pharmacy was the weirdest part of all. It’s one of the only shops open in a large 1970’s built shopping centre (mall). The building management has opened a route up so that you can walk from either side of the shopping centre to the pharmacy and out again, but everywhere else is barricaded off. I wish I’d taken a photo of it but if you’ve ever watched any film that has a pandemic or other global emergency at it’s centre you already know what it looked like.

Speaking of which I’ve been watching season 9 of The Walking Dead this week (if you haven’t seen it yet but are going to, then best skip ahead as there are some small spoilers to follow). The series has been losing it’s way a bit for a while now, and with the deaths (both real and perceived) of major characters really seems to have lost itself completely. I still want to watch season 10 when it becomes free to view but I’m certainly not going to pay to watch it.


There was a Supermoon midweek, and I went out into the garden with my camera and a tripod and spent some time trying to get a good shot. It was a little cloudy and some of the shots were obscured a little by that but I got a few that were pleasing to me, which is what counts.

There are a couple more to come this year, but this one is where the moon is closest to the earth so the others won’t be quite as impressive. If you’re interested there are some more of other people’s photos here.


I’ve been making flatbreads this week – just flour, salt, water and oil, makes a perfect little wrap which you can stuff with whatever you like. I was using up some roast chicken and mixing it with some homemade bbq sauce, green peppers and white onion.

I’ve also been reading about sourdough revived from ancient Egypt (by the guy who invented the X-Box) and the sourdough library.

I also want to try this Spinach Dip if I can.


My social media abstinence for Lent has come to an end, but it’s the strangest thing. When Lent was over I reinstalled the apps on my phone and logged back in, but that’s all I’ve really done. I did look at Instagram for a bit and also Twitter, but I just felt a bit disconnected from the whole thing, like gazing into an abyss. I’m not sure what happens next, I guess I’ll just wait and see. I haven’t posted yet, and in previous times I lived in lists in Twitter to make it as locked down as possible, it might be I do a similar version but with lists that are even more locked down.

It does seem as if I didn’t shut down all of the autoposting I thought I had in my absence and this blog was still posting a link to twitter with every post. I didn’t realise and there’s no point in doing anything about it now, but there must be a setting buried somewhere that I didn’t find – because I thought I’d found them all.

If you’re interested I’m @tontowilliams on both Instagram and Twitter, if you don’t already follow me come and say “hi” who knows you might be the one to break my fast! Also it means that I can go back to posting links here again.


JRR Tolkein was right about the trees.


I used one of my exercise allowances to visit the allotment to plant out some broad beans and sow a few seeds. It’s amazing how quickly the plot went from being a soggy mess to rock hard and impenetrable to any hand tool known to man. I was trying to hammer some supports for my loganberries into the ground and had to water the ground to soften it first as the posts were just bouncing off. I feel a little like I’m on borrowed time with the allotment if the lockdown were to get any worse, and so have also been making space in the garden for some extra pots with veg in. Hopefully we’ll end up with a surplus that we can give away.


Well that’s about it for this week folks. I seem to have written far more that I’d intended to, or thought I had words to write. In these times of limited travel and adventure (yeah right when did I ever do those two things), that’s not bad.

I hope you’re all staying safe and well, and I’ll catch you later.

 

Nest Building TWTW # 70

After last weeks posts the Prime Minister announced a full “lockdown” in the UK. Stay home, only go out for essential items. Our lockdown is not it seems as harsh as those in some other countries, but then our government has been doing it’s own thing with this pandemic from the start. The practicalities of these new rules don’t really bother me that much. It has meant curtailing my usual two dog walks to a single one in the morning, but otherwise I don’t think I’ve been outside of the boundaries of our property for anything since probably last Sunday.

I’ve spent my time mostly working in the mornings, although despite a request from a client for a short briefing note that wasn’t planned, this seems to be slowing down now. My diary is looking decidedly empty of even virtual meetings, and I suspect April will be the quietest month that I’ve had in a very long time.

My afternoons have become a time to do “stuff”. I’ve been cleaning windows, grooming the dog, making bookmarks (more on these two items below), editing video, all sorts of things that normally I’d save for a day off or the weekend. I’ve also been reading and catching up on a few movies.


Since we last spoke I’ve read a couple of books. Bay of Spirits by Farley Mowat and Denali by Ben Moon. The former was after listening to a podcast where the author was name checked for another book which then led me to this book and the latter was a Valentines present. Both were okay but I enjoyed Bay of Spirits more than Denali, probably because of the latter’s subject matter. Whilst I like a good story with a dog, this one’s a bit of a tear jerker and there are elements to it that were a bit too close to home, but don’t let me put you off, both are worth a read.


The best film I watched all week was Malta Story, starring Alec Guinness. As you might be able to guess it’s based on the siege of the island of Malta during WWII, and is an old black and white movie. Sometimes these old movies hold up much better than those made much more recently. Case in point is the other film we watched which was Hollow Man starring Kevin Bacon, this just didn’t hold up well.


I wrote about giving Ruby a groom last week. I don’t remember whether I mentioned that we put her cut hair into a bird feeder and hang it in the garden. We do this so that the birds can use it for nest material. I also set up the trail camera in the same tree and caught a few short clips of a Great Tit helping itself to the supply. I suspect they’re building their nest not too far away as he was back fairly frequently throughout the day on Friday.


This is an interesting snippet about the ephemera that you sometimes find in old books. I wrote about this not all that long ago, and I’m also a user of custom bookmarks. I frequently make my own – the picture left is of some that I made from wrapping paper that I had for my birthday – or use something that is to hand. I also frequently have a pencil tucked into a book (Austin Kleon wrote about reading with a pencil), or a pocket notebook in which I’m writing notes. This is one of the things I most love about the kindle is the ability to highlight and save your notations as you’re reading.


And yes electric cars really do produce less CO2 than petrol ones.


Takaya the wolf has been killed.


I managed to get to the allotment on Saturday and planted my potatoes, and did some weeding. There’s a list of jobs that I need to get done, fortunately it seems that going to the allotment is counted as exercise and included in permissible activities in the lockdown.


Well that’s about all I have to say for myself this week. Stay safe wherever you are.

It was Wilson’s 10th birthday this, so this being the internet I’ll leave you with a cute puppy photo.

Things To Do When You Can’t Go Out

So you might be on an extended spell of working from home or self-isolating due to the Coronavirus. If you’re not already used to the home working or hermit lifestyle it can be a bit of a shock to the system.

I thought therefore that I’d post a few links to books, tv shows, podcast and other things that I’ve enjoyed that might be new to you and perhaps give you some alternative options. I’ve tried to limit things to those that can be accessed electronically without having to leave the house.

I hope you’ll find the list useful and will give something on it a try, but do leave me some feedback on your recommendations in the comments.

Books

I like reading crime, natural history, travel and some science fiction, but here are a few things that you might enjoy.

Mick Herron – Slow Horses. This is the first book in a series, and although I’ve enjoyed the later books in the series more you probably should start at the first in the series. Slow Horses are MI5 agents who have screwed up in some way but can’t be sacked therefore they have been sidelined in the hope that they will quit. Good stuff and worth a read.

Lars Mytting – Sixteen Trees of the SommeA mystery but not really a crime novel per se. Family history, tragedy, intrigue blended to make a great story.

David Quammen – Spillover. If you want to know a bit more about how pandemics start this is worth a read, sobering and very relevant to the current situation but well researched and written without being sensationalist.

Pico Iyer – Autumn Light. This travel writers semi-autobiographical tale of his life in Japan during a year that has big changes for him and his family. Beautifully observed and written.

Films & TV

I rarely remember the things that I’ve watched or seen recently, so for something to stick in my head generally means I really enjoyed it. Here’s some of those suggestions:

Bosch – Based on the books by author Michael Connelly. Five seasons available with a sixth coming soon, so if you like it there’s a bit to binge watch.

Longmire – Another book to tv series this time Craig Johnsons Walt Longmire brought to life by Robert Taylor. Again several seasons available although I preferred the earlier seasons.

Good Omens – From the book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (I sense a bit of a theme running in this section), and produced by Neil Gaiman. The tale of the end of the world – maybe – as an angel and a devil join forces to prevent armageddon.

Audio / Podcasts

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward & The Whisperer in Darkness – Written by Julian Simpson these are excellent blendings of HP Lovecraft for modern times. There’s a third season coming later this year.

99% Invisible – I love the stories in this podcast, different every week not all of them have been “my thing” but I’ve still enjoyed nearly every one and learnt things I never thought I would.

Nature Table – Everything you wanted to know about the natural world but were afraid to ask. The weird and wacky in nature bought to you by host Sue Perkins and a range of special guests.