Straight Circles TWTW # 134

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

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


RIP – Frank Lee Ruggles.

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

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


TV.

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


Reading.

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

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


Work.

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

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


Links.

The Three Simple Rules That Underscore the Danger of Delta

Home Scar – of Limpets and moving / finding a home


If you’re new here and wondering what an earth you’ve signed up to, welcome, this is my website / blog.

By training I am a biologist and by profession I generally make most of my income from being an independent environmental consultant. Outside of that I have a fairly wide interest in all sorts of things. I normally publish a post like this on the weekend at the end of the week (TWTW = The Week That Was), and talk about what I’ve been doing in the previous week, links to things I’ve found and anything else that I think might be interesting. Other occasional posts will appear at other times e.g. book reviews.

Thanks for signing up, but if after reading my ramblings you’re regretting your decision feel free to unsubscribe, there is a link to do so in each post if you subscribe by email. Obviously I hope you’ll stick around.

I also post on Instagram and Twitter where I am also @tontowilliams


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


Raindrops on the Shed Roof TWTW # 133

A follow-up trip to the vets this week, these will continue for a few weeks to monitor the effects (if any) of his new pills. So far it’s hard to say whether there has been any difference. I also need to book Ruby in have her annual inoculations and go back and collect some tablets that I forgot to collect last week.


Reading. Not much to report, I’ve been reading John Le Carre’s – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; meaning to reread the Karla trilogy as I’ve only ever read them separately at very different times and never together. I’ve also been reading a biography of James Ravilious who was a photographer and son of the war artist Eric Ravilious.


Allotment. In between the showers this week I’ve been trying to get on top of the weeds. It seems that most plot holders are having the same problem, and there is rumour that perhaps it was one of the deliveries of manure that perhaps had a lot of weed seed in it. It’s certainly possible but also the fact that the cycles of rain and warm sunshine are also a contributing factor. I spent a little time hiding from the rain in my shed with a flask of coffee and a notebook to write in. Quite relaxing in it’s own way.

We’ve started to get a lot of soft fruit, mostly gooseberries, but also a few loganberries. So we’ll be making the most of them while they are abundant. I also lifted the over-wintering onions as they are ready to be dried and used. The spring plantings aren’t far behind, but it will be a few more weeks before they are ready. Theoretically our potatoes are also ready to harvest as from Monday, but when I tried a few a couple of weeks ago it seemed that they needed a couple more weeks, so I’ll wait a little longer before I lift them.


Work. Some meetings arranged for the not too distant future, and I’ve paid my tax bill.


TV / Film / Radio / Podcasts. I finished watching Bosch, which was excellent. We’ve also watched a few episodes of The Sandhamn Murders which has the beautiful scenery of the Swedish archipelago islands for it’s back drop but a pretty weak story. We might watch some more or we might not bother. There’s a Star Trek movie marathon on this weekend and we’ve been watching them in slow time through the benefit of dvr. Star Trek: The Motion Picture stands up really well considering it’s age but I know there are a few howlers coming.

I’ve been listening to Pilgrim this week. Series 7 is available at the moment, as is the Halloween special, but the first episode of series 7 is only available for another day or so if you want to listen yourself. If you like fantasy drama it’s worth a listen.


Links.

Cheesy Cauliflower Steaks – I made these this week, they were gorgeous, so much so that I forgot to take a photo. I also made the pesto much more like a mousse than the recipe suggests, which also works well and is a lot less oily.

Make a bottle raft – I guess if you’re ever stranded on a desert island, plastic pollution might makes this an alternative to a raft made from palm trees!


That’s it for this week, have a good week ahead, stay safe and take care.

Of Dogs, Vets and Hollyhocks TWTW # 132

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


Links.

The Greatest Walks in Literature.

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

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


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

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.

Raindrops and Earworms TWTW # 125

Hello. I’m just back from the allotment. It’s too wet today to do very much – it’s always a fine line on my plot to be able to work the ground, particularly if the ground gets wet, as they the clay in the soil makes it a quagmire pretty quickly. In the summer if hot and sunny – it will become a concrete-like dustbowl.

We took a quick detour on our morning walk to remove some of the coverings that have been on the seedlings so that they can get the benefit of the rain (and to save me having to hand water). The temperatures are up high enough that I don’t have to worry about frost for the next few days (and hopefully we’re done with it completely now). There is nothing like good rain water to make plants grow.

As you can see I think Ruby wasn’t quite so impressed at the stop. We’re now tucked-up warm at home and I’m writing this while she is gently snoring under a blanket.

Mostly this week when I’ve not been at my desk working, I’ve been out with at least one of the dogs. We don’t often all walk together now, the older one prefers to stay at home for us to come back. I know he sits and waits in the hall for us to return, and I feel sad about that but medically it’s better for him that he’s there and he seems happy to play the role of guardian of the front step until we get back.

This week was supposed to have been a four day week, but I opted to work on Bank Holiday Monday, to make sure that I made enough progress with a project that I could hand it off to those I was collaborating with before I had other things that I needed to do. I made a mental promise to myself that I would have my Bank Holiday another day. So I’m writing it down here too, so that there’s some accountability to it.


Amongst other podcasts I’ve been listening to the latest edition of @documentally’s newsletter pod this week. It’s a part of his newsletter that is available to paying subscribers, of which I am one. He has been interviewing his paid subscribers, who come from all walks of life but all seem to have interesting stories to tell. I’ve volunteered to be interviewed so at some point he will get to me, which the more I hear of the other editions the more I wonder what on earth we’ll talk about.

You can subscribe to his newsletter for free and you’ll get something good in your email inbox about once a fortnight but paid subscribers (it’s less than the cost of a good takeaway coffee a month) get a weekly missive and the bonus audio and other occasional extras.

I’ve also taken advantage of an offer for 3 months free of Apple Music. As a rule I don’t listen to a lot of music and I’m not sure the full price (£9.99/month) will tempt me at the end of the freebie period, but I thought I’d give it a try. So far it hasn’t swayed me either way particularly. When left to use its AI it seems to predictably serve up things that are already in my iTunes library and not offer me much that’s new or I’ve not heard before. I’m trying to help it a bit by liking or not the tracks it serves up but it doesn’t seem to be having much impact yet.


Watching. After deciding not to watch the last season of Line of Duty in our household, one of us weakened and we ended up watching the whole series over 4 evenings this week – for the record I was present during this time and kinda watching over the top of my book. If you haven’t watched it yet and are going to then I won’t spoil it for you.


Work. As mentioned above I’ve been working on a proposal over several days this week, we now wait and see what happens next. I’m relatively relaxed about it either way as it’s a completely remote piece of work and part-time, so would still mean that I’d have space for other clients or non-work stuff.


Reading. I finished reading The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster this week. When I went to add it to my GoodReads profile where I log all my reads I noticed that it’s the first book that I’ve completed for a couple of weeks. Not because I’ve not been reading, although I think it’s fair to say I’ve not been reading as much but because I’ve been dipping in and out of all sorts of things, ranging from the history of the D-Day Normandy landings in 1944 to Ernie Pyle’s accounts of the war in Sicily in 1943 to essays by George Orwell and tales of Ernest Hemingway. A mixed bag indeed.


Signal take out honest ads showing how Facebook profiles it’s users and gets it’s ads banned. [LINK] [LINK]

Hydrogen fuel may not be the best way to replace fossil fuels. [LINK]

Farmer accidentally makes Belgium a bigger country [LINK]

UK Government plans to make 50% funding cut to arts subjects [LINK]


Well that’s all I have for this week. The week ahead is looking relatively quiet apart from having to take Wilson to the vet for a check-up midweek. Whatever you are up to, take care and stay safe.


Books Past, Books Future TWTW # 121

Well it’s been a busy week. There’s also been some spectacular weather, most of the Country seemed to get snow, which once again passed us by but we did get some very cold nights and mornings and some spectacular sunrises. (The rumour that this is connected with me wearing shorts when the weather was sunny over the Easter weekend is greatly exaggerated).

I took the image above on Wednesday, this was the sunrise – I’ve cropped the image a bit but that’s all, not other editing.

So how’s your week been?


Reading. I’ve started re-reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence again, it’s been a few years and I’ve started with the first book Over Sea, Under Stone. A lot of people skip this book, although it is the first in the series, and start with The Dark is Rising which I’m reading now.

However Over Sea, Under Stone, holds some strong childhood memories for me, more so than the other books in the series which I didn’t read until much later in life. It’s one of those books like The Hobbitt and the Willard Price “Adventure” series that I have a vivid recollection of where I was and what was happening at the time I was reading it. Anyway my plan is to read them all over the next couple of weeks, or however long it takes.

I’ve also had a proof copy of a new book arrive for reading and review. The Heeding by Rob Cowen and Nick Hayes. Rob’s previous book Common Ground also holds some special memories for me, and is my favourite natural history book. I read it when it came out in 2015 and at the time I was making plans to leave my job through voluntary redundancy so I was reading it on my last few journeys to work on the train and my first few days of my new life.

A review to follow.


Watching. The Man Who Killed Hitler and then Killed The Bigfoot – I admit it was the title that made me watch this, it’s not a particularly serious movie but it was strangely watchable and Sam Elliott plays a blinder. It gets a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes but only 2 (out of 5 stars) in the Radio Times, so it’s probably one of those that you’ll either like or hate. Probably not something that I’ll ever watch again, but it filled an evening when there was nothing else on.


I found my Cub Scout badges this week. I posted this image on Instagram and Twitter noting that I don’t remember what all of them are for but that I remember a lot of the things that I did for them. There are badges there for; Rank (Sixer), First Aid, Hobbies, Home Help, Cycling Proficiency, Reading and Athletics but I’m not sure what they all are. There’s a modern list of badges and some clear equivalents but some I can’t seem to find. The modern badges are also all a different shape and size. Regardless the memories remain.


I had a test drive in a car this week, all very Covid secure. The car was bought to me, sanitised in front of me before I was allowed to get in and then I was able to go off for a short drive while the salesman waited for me to come back. The car then sanitised again. It looks like we might end up buying it and if so I’ll write more about it next week.


Allotment. Direct sowing the first seeds of the year – lettuce, radish, beetroot and parsnip. All of these are under cover as it’s certainly still too cold at night for them not to be protected, but they are varieties that it is okay to sow this early in the year, so hopefully they’ll germinated in the next week or so. I’ve also prepared the next section for more sowing.


That’s it for now, in the week ahead I may end up spending a lot of money or I may not. Whatever you’re doing this week stay safe and take care.

Mental Rabbit Holes TWTW # 118

Hello again. If last week was a rollercoaster I’m not quite sure what fairground attraction this week has been but it’s had similar ups and downs.

We’ve had a bit more drama with the car when the garage were trying to diagnose the problem and we were looking at a reasonable bill or one that would effectively write the car off. Luckily the gods were smiling and although not cheap we are back on the road again. We’re now still thinking about a “new” car because sadly I think the inevitable terminal bill is coming at some point and at the moment we have some trade-in value. This has bought us back to the question of what that “new” car should be powered by and whether we can afford the upfront costs of electric or not. Watch this space.


Reading. I’ve been continuing and finished Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the painting of the water lilies by Ross King and have started Skylarks with Rosie – A Somerset Spring by Stephen Moss. This is the authors tale of the first Covid lockdown and the wildlife in his local area while he’s confined to that “patch”. I’ve enjoyed the previous books this author has written about his local area more than many of his others so am looking forward to reading this.

I also published a book review of Gone by Michael Blencowe earlier in the week. If you missed it, you can find it here.


In between books this week, I picked up a copy of Kurt Jackson’s Botanic Landscape and was reading the introduction which happens to be written in part by the author Robert Macfarlane. He mentioned Richard Nelson who was an anthropologist who also produced the Encounters podcast which is essentially a series of field recordings of different animals and outdoor spaces. It’s no longer available as a podcast but the archive can be found here. I’d really recommend checking them out. In addition he wrote a couple of books, The Island Within (which is excellent) and Make Prayers to the Raven (equally good).

I’d thought that Richard Nelson had perhaps retired as there hadn’t been a new edition of the podcast for quite some years and by now he would probably be in his 80’s, but I was curious and I did a quick Google, only to find that sadly he had passed away in 2019. Here’s an obituary from the local paper in Sitka Alaska where he lived for many years.

Nels took his last breath listening to a raven’s call.

Sitka Sentinel 4th December 2019

He had quite a considerable influence on me over the years and I admit to be a little sad that not only has be passed away but the news passed me by for over a year. I’ve been listening to a few of the Encounters programmes this week.


Whilst mentioning Robert Macfarlane, he announced this week a collaboration with the notebook producer Field Notes to produce a special edition of the iconic notebooks linked to his iconic book Underland and the books amazing cover produced by the artist Stanley Donwood.

Macfarlane used a number of Field Notes notebooks when he was researching the book and wrote a piece about it for Penguin. I use a lot of Field Notes and normally have one in my pocket, mostly they’re for lists, short notes and bits and pieces I want to remember rather than research for a book, but I do like the special editions that they’ve been producing over the last few years.


Watching. We’ve been working our way through the final season of the French crime series Spiral this week. It’s not been bad, but I think there are some better earlier seasons, and they’ve probably quit at the right time.

If you’re interested in nature at all you might be interested in watching Deer 139 (below) which follows the 85 mile migration of a mule deer and the wildlife biologist who followed it.


Allotment. I’m pretty sure Spring has arrived (and yes I do know today is the equinox) there is a definite change in the weather. My seed potatoes are just about ready to go in the ground, so on my trip to the plot this week I dug the trenches into which they will be planted. Other than last year I have always used trenches for my potatoes; physically this is harder work than other methods but I find it has delivered the best results for me. Basically you dig a trench, then place your potato tubers in the bottom of the trench about 12 to 18 inches apart. Next backfill part of the trench with the soil you dug out, then a layer of compost or manure, then the remainder of the soil from the trench. You want to end up with a slightly raised mound along the length of the trench. Now wait. Once the potatoes start to show through you want to “earth up” the mound with more soil from either side of the trench, repeat this until you have a good mound of soil over the trench. Then leave for around 2 to 3 months depending on the variety, watering regularly. You can add grass cuttings, comfrey leaves and other things the the sides of the mounds to help retain water and provide some extra nutrients. At the end of their time, gently dig with a fork (or tickle with you hands and fingers) to unearth the potatoes.

If you don’t have the space of an allotment you can do something similar in a large sack or pot, put a layer of soil / compost in the bottom, add your seed potatoes and then cover with more compost and earth up as the leaves appear until the sack / pot is full. Water and wait as above and then harvest.


That’s about all that I have for this week. Wherever you are stay safe and take care!

Life is a Rollercoaster TWTW # 117

This week has been full of ups and downs. It was my birthday on Tuesday. The weather was amazing. There was cake and presents; you know a fairly typical birthday, or at least as far as possible in pandemic times. Things went on the downslope a bit after that.

I had to go out in the car, I used the opportunity to drop off a birthday parcel for someone else at the sorting office and then headed for the motorway. As I pulled onto the slip road the dashboard lights came on. They weren’t the “!STOP NOW!” kind so I made it one junction and pulled off. I was able to come home via the backroads to my local garage. That’s where the car is now. They’re going to try and look at it soon, at least to diagnose what might be wrong, but they’re really busy and short-staffed at the moment and so probably won’t get to it until later this coming week. I have a sinking feeling about it this time that might mean the car is beyond a sensible repair bill. It’s around about 18 years old so I can’t grumble as I’ve had good service from it. I was hoping it might last a little bit longer though as I’d really like to go to an electric car next but currently they’re a little beyond my financial means. I’d also like to consider not owning a car at all any more but again there isn’t quite the infrastructure locally to support that for us. So for the time being we’re going to see what the garage has to say. It might be something simple (fingers-crossed) and we’ll be back on the road again. If not then we’ll have to reassess our options.

Later on that same evening the dog bowl that our dog has had since we first got him was knocked off of the draining board and broke on the kitchen floor. That was just another emotional kick from a shite day.


Reading. I’ve mostly been reading Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the painting of the water lilies by Ross King, which was a birthday present. It’s good stuff and although the focus is on the latter period of Monet’s life it covers a lot of his life overall so is a fascinating read.

I’m also looking forward to reading Together by Luke Hawker when it’s published – video below.

If you enjoy reading newsletters, Mike Sizemore has a new one out and it’s pretty good. Great story about a bear in the first edition. You can sign up and read the archive here.



Watching. We’ve been watching The Terror this week.

It’s being shown on the BBC, having I think previously been on Netflix, so we’re a bit late to the party. Although I didn’t realise until I came to type this up, that what we’re watching is season one and there is a second season. The premise is based on what might have happened to the ships HMS Terror and HMS Erebus when they disappeared when scouting for the Northwest Passage in 1848. The wrecks of the two ships were found in 2014 and 2016, but as to what actually happened nothing is known. The TV series is based on the book by Dan Simmons. The second season is about another story. I have to say that while is started out well we both started loosing interest in it about three-quarters of the way through and although we watched to the end I don’t think we would have been too bothered if we’d stopped early.


Allotment. Although we’ve had some stellar weather this week, we’ve also had quite a bit of wind and rain too. Pretty typical March. I went down to the plot early this morning when I was walking the dogs and it’s back to being too wet to dig again. I have however managed to sow some seeds this week and plant some onion sets into modules, so although there isn’t much to show, there are at least things in the pipeline as it were.


Work. A quiet week this week, which was planned due to the birthday but fortunate given the car situation. I did however get another booking for an allotment talk. This one isn’t until May but I do have one the week after next so will be prepping my slides over the next few days, as I want to make some adjustments. Having given this talk on Zoom a couple of times now there are some things that I want to change so that they work better.


The news is quite full of articles of the type “a year ago today” in recognition of the anniversary of the pandemic. Oddly it really started much earlier than that but the media and the government were both asleep at the wheel when it came to realising what was going on and how serious it would become and how quickly. I was having a look back through my journal and there are a few highlights that at the time were routine things but now are oddly milestones. For example the last time I had an in person work meeting was 7th March 2020. After that everything switched to phone and video calls. I think I might keep that retrospective up over the next couple of months as we come out of lockdown # 3 as at the time we were just going into lockdown # 1. The Prime Minister seems to think that this will be the last lockdown. I’m not sure I have the confidence in his abilities to believe him (we’ve been there before after all).

By coincidence the artist / writer Austin Kleon has also been doing the same.


Well that’s it for this week. Stay safe and well!

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.