Sprung? TWTW # 115

Hello again.

My overriding memory of this week would be that the days are noticeably longer. Our morning dog walks now start in the light and it’s still just light past six o’clock in the evening. Meteorological Spring starts on Monday, although there are a few more weeks until astronomical spring, but it does feel like we putting a pretty dismal winter behind us.

When I was doing some tidying in our front garden this week I saw a lone bumblebee on the euphorbia so it looks like she might think Spring is on the way too.


Reading. I ended last year reading a lot of Simenon, Peters and Dexter. I continued with the Dexter into the new year, but until this week hadn’t read any Peters or Simenon. I changed that up this week by reading Ellis Peters’ The Hermit of Eyton Forest and Georges Simenon’s A Crime in Holland. I also received my copy of Chris Riddell’s Five Years – A Sketchbook of Political Drawings, Volume One. He’s been making one drawing each day since the general election in 2019 and they pretty much sum up the idiocy of governments around the world, but mostly ours. To say he has a rich choice of source material is kind of stating the obvious.



A bookmark I was gifted by the artist Jackie Morris also arrived this week. It was painted from a set of antique watercolours that are over 200 years old.


Working. I had another booking for an allotment talk confirmed this week (for the end of March), and also an enquiry as to whether I would sit on a conference panel to discuss climate risk – I’ve asked for more details on the latter because it’s very close and I don’t know how much prep I’ll need to do if I accept.


Allotment. I tried to do some digging on the plot this week, but it was like trying to break up cement. The ground is still very waterlogged. The forecast for this week is mostly dry, so I’m hoping that will be enough to dry it out enough to let me dig it without risking an injury. The allotment shop delivered all our potato orders this week. We had an arranged day / time when our orders would be delivered to our sheds and we had to go down and pick them up, thus avoiding having to actually go inside the shop, which remains closed. It was click and collect without any clicking or direct human interaction.


I got to see Mum this week for a “window” visit. The rules on care home visits will be changing soon but for the time being this is all that is allowed, and we’ve been trying to manage the need to limit leaving home with visits and so this is the first time in two months that I’ve actually seen her (we speak on the phone, but it’s not the same). Her Alzheimer’s disease means you never quite know what it’s going to be like. Last time we saw one another she didn’t know who I was, this time she did recognise me and we chatted for about 20 mins, it’s very difficult to make yourself understood and to hear what Mum is saying on this window visits but hopefully the next time we might be able to have a bit more interaction.


Warning NSFW content:


We’re about to enter the Prime Minister’s “road map” out of lockdown. Quite frankly I’m expecting the numbers to go up even before I actually qualify to be able to leave the house without restrictions. It does feel a lot like we’ve been here before.


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

Weather Window TWTW # 114

Another week has come and gone, filled with books, pancakes and a little bit of drawing.

We indulged in pancakes on Tuesday, it’s about the only time we eat pancakes so it’s a nice treat. I still prefer a simple lemon juice and sugar topping after nearly 50 years that hasn’t changed.

A year ago I used the Lent period to give up social media. I’m not going to do that this year as I think I have a healthier relationship with it now, and probably won’t be giving up anything else for that period this year either.


Reading. I’ve been reading a lot this week. I mentioned Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie last week. It’s a long book – 600+ pages – so it’s taken me quite a while to work through. Also Ann bought me a copy of Kurt Jackson‘s Sketchbooks for a Valentine’s present and that interrupted my reading of Joseph Anton because I picked that up straight away to look at. I also read the latest Jackson Lamb book by Mick Herron, Slough House. I was a little bit underwhelmed by the latter, I didn’t think that it was one of his best. I haven’t settled into anything else yet, and I still keep dipping back into Sketchbooks.

I’ve had some Audible credits building up in my account. Without travelling, my opportunities to listen to audiobooks has been drastically reduced so I haven’t always been using up my monthly credit but I did use one of them on the Complete Shakespeare, given that it’s nearly 100 hours of audio I don’t suppose I’ll be getting through it anytime soon.

Best AI Transcription Bloopers

The Opportunity of Laggards


Working. I’ve completed and submitted the proposal that I was asked for last week. No feedback yet, but it’s early days and I’ll follow up once they’ve had a chance to look at it. When I’d completed the proposal I picked up my own sketch page for a bit and drew the picture of the blue tit above. I don’t draw very often, but I’ve been doing more during the last couple of lockdowns to occupy my mind and spare time.



Allotment. The weather aligned this week to bring a dry, warmish (i.e. not frozen) spell of weather and I was able to get down onto the plot. I managed to clear the long grasses from around the base of the fruit trees and just enjoy being on the allotment for a period of time. I didn’t stay long as my plot neighbour arrived with a new shed. Our shed’s are next to one another and to give enough space for social distancing etc it was easier for me to give him the space to do what he needed to do and come back another time.


I have a “window” visit with my Mum in the week ahead. It will probably only be ten minutes or so and it’s not the same thing as being actually able to sit at either end of the same table as we did back in the summer but it’s a step up from a phone call (the irony is we still actually talk on the phone as otherwise we can’t hear what we’re saying because of the window).


That’s it for now. I hope you have a good week – take care and stay safe.

Making a Spectacle and Frozen Butts TWTW # 113

Happy St. Valentine’s Day everyone.


Welcome back, if this weeks post looks a little off kilter it’s because I broke my glasses at the beginning of the week and I’m typing this wearing my “spare” pair.

I did manage to repair my original pair and then subsequently broke them again a day or so later, so have had to reglue them for a second time. I’m leaving them a little longer to make sure that the glue has really hardened before trying to wear them again.

I really should go to the opticians and get a replacement but as it’s been just over two years since my last eye test and I can tell that my eyesight has deteriorated I really ought to have a fresh one. At the moment however I don’t feel comfortable getting that done. Maybe in a few more weeks time, I’ll feel a little more comfortable about it but for the meantime I think I’ll just be muddling through.


We’ve been visited by long-tailed tits everyday this week. They call by in the mornings when I’m working in my office and make full use of the trees just outside my window. It’s one of life’s more pleasant distractions in these times.


After saying last week that we hadn’t had any snow we had the meerest dusting on Tuesday morning, but it was gone by the afternoon. It has been very cold though, our water butt froze as did the ground on the allotment. Frozen solid there hasn’t been much that I’ve been able to do down there this week. Additionally the broad beans are looking very sorry for themselves. I hope that they might recover but it might have been just that little bit too cold for them.


Reading. I’ve mostly been reading Len Deighton’s Berlin Game this week, which I enjoyed. It’s the first part of a series of three trilogies – is there a name for a trilogy of trilogies? After that I’ve picked up Salman Rushdie’s memoir Joseph Anton, after reading a recommendation in my friend David’s article here. I wasn’t aware that he’d written this account of his time under police protection after a Fatwa was issued against him by Ayatollah Khomeini for writing The Satanic Verses. I’m only about a quarter of the way through but am finding it strangely gripping. It’s a little strange to be reading it now, after having some clear memories of it at the time.


Interesting to read Austin Kleon’s thoughts on blogging as a forgiving medium.


Work. It’s been a week of Zoom and Teams again this week with discussions with a client over some work that they’ve asked for a proposal for. I’m a little cautious about this as this client has asked for proposals before and then not taken the work forward, but there seems to be a need for them to have this work done, so it might go somewhere.

I also gave an evening Allotment talk this week to a group in Derbyshire. Giving these talks over Zoom isn’t the same as being in the village hall and being able to see the whites of the eyes of the audience, but it does give me a chance to talk to groups that I would otherwise not present to because of the cost of travel / accommodation.

I make a point with these talks of always asking for feedback and on this occasion someone wanted more recipes in my talk, I’m not sure that would have been particularly interesting to listen to me read a list of ingredients, but I will give it some thought.


Well I guess that’s about all I have this week. Lockdown certainly curtails what I’ve been up to, and these posts seem to become shorter each week. Anyway stay safe and take care.

The Birds Are Unrepresentative TWTW # 112

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!


Originally tweeted by CartoonRalph (@CartoonRalph) on 05/02/2021.

Binary Seven TWTW # 111

Time passes slowly in lockdown but I’ll admit to a little surprise that it’s the end of January already. I suspect I have that same feeling each year but it’s a milestone that moves me closer to lighter mornings again, and that is always a good thing.

I’ve been paying attention to the silhouettes of trees on our morning dog walks this week. In that moment before sunrise when there is enough light to distinguish a tree from the background gloom but not enough to properly make out the details, the texture of the trunk etc.


Had a batch of cards delivered this week from Iain Welch. I’ve been trying to support more independent artists during the successive lockdown periods and I’d recommend Iain’s cards if you’re looking for something dognified. I used his Christmas cards this last year and wanted to restock some of the others that we’ve used up for various things. I’d recommend them and also following him on Instagram for a daily dose of cheer.


Reading. I’ve been dipping in and out of a lot of things this week, some Betjeman, some more Morse stories, but I haven’t stuck with any of them yet. I think in part that’s due to tiredness, having had a couple of sleepless nights I’ve not read in the afternoons or evenings when I often read because I’ve been too tired.


Watching. We’ve been dipping back into the old Inspector Morse’s a lot this past week, I think we’ve probably watched three or four of them as well as another couple of episodes of Endeavour.

I did enjoy watching the video below:


Allotment. Another mostly washed out week, I’ve harvested a few leeks for a stew, but haven’t been able to do much else. A bag of onion sets arrived in the post which I’ll be planting into modules and keeping indoors or in the potting shed until the weather improves a bit and the risk of frost is much lower.


George Orwell on food.


Well that’s about it for this week. As always stay safe and take care.

Long Tails TWTW # 110

Greetings! As I write this there are long-tailed tits in the tree outside my window again. They’ve been regular visitors, normally coming at the same time each day. Looking for insects in the tree and then checking out the bird feeders before getting on with their day. Love ’em.

We also had a buzzard fly-by – the local gulls were not impressed but the buzzard really couldn’t care less.


I filled in a “wellness” survey from my local council this week. It asked all sorts of questions about lockdown 3.0 and other things. It was a bit of an insight into what the council considers and doesn’t consider to be wellness.

Part of my mental wellness has been to massively shift what finds its way into my twitter and other social media feeds. On twitter I’ve been using lists much more, and have now curated an artists list so that I get some beautiful images to look at. If you’re interested in adding it you can find it here. I’ve printed out a few of these pictures and pasted them into my journal.


I watched a bit of the US Presidential Inauguration ceremony this week. The Bernie Sanders memes have been pretty much all over the internet this week but the poet Amanda Gorman was the show stealer for me. You can read / watch her here.


Reading. I read Colin Dexter’s Daughters of Cain this week. A good Inspector Morse mystery, and although I’d worked out what had happened there was a nice twist to story towards the end that I didn’t spot. This is one of the later Morse books, and Morse’s health is beginning to fail and the tv series is starting to show much more in the character of Morse than in the early books, pre-tv series. In those early books, Morse is a slightly different character to the later ones, not in a bad way and it doesn’t detract from the story but if you read the books and watch the tv shows it is noticeable. It’s also interesting how the “young Morse” tv show – Endeavour – is picking up on some of the interactions that appear in the books but again the character of the younger Morse is very different to how he appears in the books later in life.

I bought this box set secondhand in a charity shop back at the end of 2019, when I was still doing regular trips down to Somerset to visit a client. Those days seem like such a long time ago now. I hope that charity shop has managed to keep going during the pandemic, it was quite small but always had some interesting stock and fantastically friendly staff.


Watching. We finished our Game of Thrones binge with the final season. If you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil the plotlines, but I didn’t enjoy how it ended.

We’ve also been watching reruns of Endeavour (see reading above), although these are reruns they’re new to us, I’m not sure why we never watched these when they were originally broadcast.



Work. Another quiet week overall, although the allotment talk I mentioned last week has been confirmed and I had a second enquiry. It got me thinking that maybe groups are thinking that there won’t be much in-person speaking happening during the main part of the year for these things (Spring and early summer) so there might be mileage in online talks for at least part of their membership.


Allotment. We’ve had some shed break-ins on the allotment site this week. Last year the site management installed CCTV because there had been some thefts, and then they extended the system because the thieves simply moved to parts of the site that weren’t covered, and that’s exactly what has happened this time. I was skeptical about the installation of the CCTV and it’s one of those things that you can’t prove how many thieves it has deterred and how many have simply just worked around the placement of the cameras. I’ve been lucky and my shed has been left alone – not that there’s anything much in there worth stealing – but the plot below mine had the door removed from the shed but nothing taken.


That’s all I have for this week. Take care and stay safe.

Only Better and Better Lies TWTW # 109

My mornings start with a walk in the dark, and a sunrise.


It’s normally my practice to drop things into these posts during the week, but this week I don’t seem to have added anything other than the Star Wars fan video below (worth a watch if your a Star Wars fan).

That’s probably a good summary of my week as a whole, time has passed but there hasn’t particularly been much to show for it. I have had a few good rants about the Government and their lies; particularly around the provision of food parcels for school kids under the poverty line, the ongoing pandemic response, and the Prime Minister’s lies. I’ve written a good few thousand words about these things, but in honesty it doesn’t help me, I thought it might have been a bit cathartic but I can feel my blood pressure rising, so I’ve just deleted them without saving. I’d rather focus on some good things, I’m sure it’s been said that we should get angry and stay angry but does that really help? We control how we react to a given situation and anger isn’t exactly a helpful emotion. There are better ways.


Reading. I read Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly this week. In keeping with trying to read books that I already own rather than buying new. I found it quite hard going and nearly gave up on it a couple of times, although I think it’s probably a good book I think this was perhaps just not where my head was at. Haven’t picked up anything else since.


I am really enjoying Alastair Humphreys’ adventures around his OS map, it’s inspired me to do something similar myself. Here’s his latest post if you fancy a read, you can find a link to them all within that post.


Watching. We’ve been rewatching the penultimate season of Game of Thrones this week before watching the final season. We had some vouchers for Christmas and have used some of them to buy the final season now that it’s come down a bit in price. I was surprised by the things I didn’t remember being in this season and also by what I do remember but not the order things happened in. Looking forward to seeing how it all ends up and in the current political situation, this quote seemed quite apt:

When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies.

Jon Snow – Game of Thrones


Work. I’ve been talking to a couple of potential clients this week. I’m not sure that anything will come of these discussions but you never know. I’ve also been making sure that my expenses and other financial details are up to date as the year end approaches. It’s been a quiet year and I’ve not made very much money at all, but I’ll still have to go through the process of tax returns etc.

An enquiry about an online allotment talk might put something in my diary for the coming weeks though.


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


The Revolving Door of Lockdown TWTW # 108

Back into Lockdown, thanks to an incompetent government that puts GDP and being popular above social values and doing the right thing.


The thing that I’ve missed the most this week is only being able to get out of the house for exercise once a day. I think Ruby has missed it just as much as me. I’ve been out each day first thing, for our daily dog walk, as it’s early it seems to make the day feel much longer, particularly by lunchtime.

I do support the lockdown though, it’s needed, but I do wonder why our government can’t see it’s own mistakes and look to those countries who have managed to curb the virus and haven’t gone into a succession of rollercoaster lockdowns and restrictions.


Reading. Falling back on favourites I read The Way Through the Woods by Colin Dexter, which I enjoyed although couldn’t help thinking that he was writing this with a possible transfer to the small screen in mind (which happened). I also read A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough, which was a bit of a busman’s holiday and a little disappointing. Not because it wasn’t very well written and very truthful and accurate but because despite the profile of the author I think it will do very little to change the way the world is. I think I am increasingly becoming resigned to the fact that as a race we won’t do the things that we must do to prevent our own extinction as a species. Collectively we are too selfish, there are individuals who are living within their own means but overall I fear that we will continue to destroy the planet. I don’t want to turn this into a rant but there is no prospect that world governments can sort this out.


Watching. Not much really. A few repeats, and we’ve been enjoying Rick Stein’s new Cornwall series and Ann has binged watched the BBC series Traces (this one wasn’t really for me). Otherwise the TV’s not been on all that much.


Allotment. We’ve had a serious cold snap this week, parts of the country have had a good blanket of snow, and although we seem to have escaped that, we’ve had a good frost each night. I’m pleased because that is good for the garlic that I planted (cold weather is needed to help the garlic form cloves within the the bulb), and good for killing some of the bugs and other pests that will otherwise proliferate in the spring. It has meant that I’ve not been able to do much else on the plot itself however as the ground has been frozen most of the time. It looks like we might be in for some warmer weather in the coming week though.


Work. For me the working year has yet to take off. I’ve been looking through some reports that were published at the end of last year that I didn’t manage to read before Christmas but that are important documents in my line of work and I will have to understand for a couple of projects that I am due to be working on. I suspect that the new lockdown will once again disrupt much of this work though.


I spent some of my time this week sorting through a box of old family photos. I remember many of the times the images captured but not all, possibly because I was too young or just wasn’t present for them. I’ve still got a lot to go through, there are many boxes of slides to look through and that will undoubtedly be more time consuming. Many of the photos contain the ghosts of people who are no longer with us, and again some of whom I recognise and a few that I don’t (some have the names of subjects written on the back but many will probably be lost to time).


I seem to have picked up the “Week That Was” series again but I’m still struggling to write something sensible, so for now I will say until next time, but Stay Safe and I hope you remain fit and healthy.

The Weeks To Come 2021

I had planned to write and publish this yesterday, but I really didn’t feel up to it. Mentally I lurch from frustration to fear about the world outside my front door. I think that I am becoming more of a hermit each day.

I guess 2020 won’t be a hard act to follow, but then again 2021 probably has a lot to live up to. I’m not expecting much real change until at least the summer and honestly I am expecting our government to totally mess-up the vaccination programme or at the very least turn them into super-spreader events, particularly with the rise of a new variant.

This isn’t going to be a regular post, as not much has changed in the last week. I’ve been doing nothing of much consequence, although thinking a lot about the coming year and what I want from it. I talked about this a little in my end of year post and haven’t much to add to that.


Reading. I’ve read a couple of books this last week. Raven Black by Ann Cleeves (if you’ve watched the BBC’s Shetland series, it’s based on these books, and this one a story in one of the early seasons). It took me over the new year period and meant that I have already hit my GoodReads target so absolutely no pressure now to read books. Of course that isn’t going to stop me and I’ve read Grace Dent’s memoir Hungry which I will say is very honest, at times very funny and at others completely heartbreaking. It covers Dent’s fathers dementia, and honestly was a little too close to some of my experiences, so was at time very hard going, but I did finish it.


Watching. We’ve been catching up on a lot of Christmas specials, but also watching series 2 of Endeavor as it’s been repeated in the week between Christmas and New Year. Despite being a fan of Inspector Morse and Lewis this has passed us by until quite recently. Enjoyable but has an annoying cliffhanger ending to the series, which doesn’t look like we’ll see the resolution to anytime soon as the next series doesn’t appear to be in the schedules yet.


Allotment. I went down to the allotment yesterday. It really is my happy place in terms of being able to clear my head. I did a little bit of digging and some weeding and had a good think about the coming seasons and what I’m going to plant where. I came away feeling much more level.

I’ve sown some sweet peas this week. They’re seeds that I saved from the plants in my Mum’s garden. They’re a very constant memory of growing up in that house. They were always there, on a particular wall, just along from a passion flower bush. Mum used to describe them as everlasting sweet peas. I’m not sure whether that’s because they are a particular variety (there are plenty of varieties with that name) or whether it’s simply because she just used to let them self-seed in the same place each year.



Well that’s it for now. I’m not sure whether I’m going back to posting weekly or not, so there may or may not be something coming in a weeks time. In the meantime, however long that might be; Take Care and Stay Safe.

TWTW # 107

I’m taking the next few Sundays off writing these posts. At the moment I feel like all I want to write about it is how badly the government is handling the response to coronavirus and Brexit. Frankly it’s making me feel a bit shouty and sweary and a bit fed up. Anyway I’m going to take a break from writing here and also from looking at Twitter until after Christmas.

Whatever you celebrate, if anything, over the next couple of weeks I hope you have a great time.

Stay safe and take care.