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.

Rinse and Repeat TWTW # 102

Well here we are again. Our second national lockdown started this week. Not a surprise to most people, except some politicians, but certainly avoidable. It does seem quieter but the reality is that many of the shops that had to close in the first lockdown are actually open this time, although how you might justify and “essential” trip to them isn’t clear.


I received news this week that there has been an outbreak of Coronavirus at my Mum’s care home. At the time of writing there have been a handful of infections amongst the staff and residents but Mum has tested negative and is symptom free. This could of course change at any time but the home are doing everything that they can.

There is very little that I can actually do apart from provide some moral support from a distance. Given the lockdown arrangements at the home, I’ve not actually seen Mum since the end of August but we’ve been talking regularly on the phone.


The above news and trying to get a few things done before lockdown started has occupied most of my week. I had medicine to pick up from the vet for one of our dogs which I managed to do on Wednesday, combining it with another job, the collection of our own prescriptions from the pharmacy and paying a cheque into the bank. I’ve done our regular grocery run and got petrol for the car – the car hasn’t moved since and probably won’t until I next have to go for groceries. Otherwise from Thursday I’ve been out to walk the dogs but have been observing the lockdown rules.


Also at the time of writing the American election has seemingly been resolved in the favour of Joe Biden, which means the time of Trump is coming to an end. Of course it’s unlikely that this is truly over given the orange idiot’s lack of maturity and use of Twitter.



We’ve had a few frosty mornings (and some lovely sunny days) this week which is good for the allotment, particularly my parsnips and garlic. The latter need a certain period of cold temperatures to properly form cloves within the overall bulb, otherwise what you get is one massive clove.

I did dig the first parsnips though, as they do taste better after a frost. They were certainly sweet and I made an onion and parsnip soup from the couple that I dug. Very tasty.

I also dig some more digging and spreading of manure yesterday and today my body is telling me all about it.



I’ve been reading a mix of things this week, but not really been able to concentrate on any single one of them. My mind has been elsewhere.

We’ve been watching more Inspector Morse and also some Dick Barton Special Agent.


I’m not entirely sure what the week ahead holds. With lockdown obviously things are probably going to be pretty quiet, but I’ll be waiting for more news from my Mum’s care home.

Whatever you’re doing this week, stay safe and take care.


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.

All Work and No Play – TWTW #33

A thank you to all those of you who left comments or emailed me directly after last weeks post, it meant a lot.


This week has mostly been about the work, I’ve been working mostly on one clients work, but dipping into another in preparation for more this week when I have another road trip to do to Somerset.

On one of my twice daily dog walks this week I did manage a trip along the canal path with the dogs, with the plan of allowing them a swim, but the water level was so low all they really managed was a paddle. I don’t suppose they were really bothered either way. Our other walks haven’t taken us as far from home, mostly due to trying to get the work hours in.


I’ve been reading a few different things this week, including another Ellis Peters Cadfael novel – The Leper of St.Giles. My other reading material has mostly been related to work, so I won’t bore you with the content.

I’ve been listening to a few different podcasts and other things including the abridged audio version of Ben Myers new novel “The Offing” on Radio 4, it’s got another week to go in it’s run, but you can catch up on the link above.


Fun fact: The original title for the third “Naked Gun” movie was going to be “Naked Gun 33 1/3 – For the record”, but was changed because producers didn’t think viewers would understand the joke.


Been doing quite a bit of digging on the allotment, getting things ready for the application of some manure. There’s still quite a bit growing, but equally quite a bit of bare ground as things have been picked, dug up, or eaten by badgers!


Haven’t seen one yet but – First White-tailed Eagles released on Isle of Wight





That’s about all I have for this week, be careful out there.


I Saw Four Swans

Went for a walk and an early breakfast in Emsworth this morning. As I walked back along the old mill pond I saw four swans in the space of about 50 metres. Not one of them was alive.

The first was on the name plaque of “Swan Cottage”. The second was a garden ornament. The third was a stained glass doorway. The fourth a silhouette also on the side of a house.

There were also plenty of living swans too, but this morning it was those representations that caught my eye.

Round and Around – (Quick Links 124)

The end of the week at last! It’s been a busy one for all sorts of reasons, but none of them being really work related. I’ve had a couple of nights of disturbed sleep with a poorly dog, and a few things to do with my Mum.

It was also Ruby’s birthday. She’s now 4 but it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since we collected her, the time has flown by.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time on the allotment (it’s about this time every year when I wonder if it’s all worth while).

I’m coming to the end of the week feeling pretty tired and worn out. Next week’s looking like being busy too (at least the first half).


I went to see Avengers: Infinity War on Wednesday.

I enjoyed the film, but felt a bit underwhelmed by it. Maybe it’s because it’s had so much hype for so long, but I felt that both of the two previous “Avengers” films were better. I also haven’t seen Dr Strange or Thor: Rangnorok, which I think probably meant that I missed a few things that might otherwise have made sense.

It’s still a good film though, and the next installment, next year should be the best of the bunch if they don’t mess it up.


Craig Mod Newsletter – I may have mentioned the excellent Roden Explorers newsletter from Craig Mod before (or I may not, I can’t remember). It’s an infrequent but excellent read. The latest edition [LINK] contains all sorts of interesting stuff, but the thing that stuck in my mind was his walk where he ended up with blisters and how he dealt with them. It made me positively wince as I read it. It’s well worth a read, and you can always sign up via the link at the top of the newsletter page.


Work – A quiet week overall, a few emails exchanged with a prospective client and a phone call with a recruitment consultant but otherwise that’s about it. I’ve been looking at possibly expanding my grow-your-own work, but not made any decisions about that yet.


Allotment – Busy week here. It’s that time of the year when everything is ready to go out onto the plot. This week I’ve transplanted runner beans, cucumbers, sweetcorn, courgettes, pumpkins, squash, Brussels sprouts and sown seed for more radish, lettuce, purple sprouting broccoli & rocket.

img_20180518_103314_490.jpgThe sweetcorn entailed the building of an enclosure to try and keep the badgers at bay should they try and eat it. Not sure I’ll be very successful in keeping them out if they’re determined, but at the end of the day I only need to try and dissuade them and hope they move on.

I’ve been doing similar in Mum’s garden, trying to get her plants out as well (very similar combinations to my own – probably because I’ve grown them for her). I also mowed her lawn and a few other odd jobs around the house.


Currently Reading – I’ve just finished reading “Under The Rock” by Ben Myers [LINK], I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not sure what’s up next.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


I’m thinking about taking a break from writing on the blog for a while. I know I’ve said that before but I feel like what I’m saying isn’t much, and it’s certainly not exciting. I’m also haven’t had the time to actually find much in the way of interesting stuff that I normally add for some time. I’m also getting a lot of spam comments and email sign ups, although the filters are catching just about all of them they’re pretty annoying, and I wonder if a break might stop them, if there are no new posts for a while. So there may not be a post next week or for some time. If you have any thoughts on what you like to read here then do leave me a comment. I’ll likely still be updating in places such as Instagram and Twitter where you can find me as @tontowilliams, but in the meantime take care until next time!

The Short One – (Quick Links 123)

I’m a little late posting this week, having not had the time to write much of this update in advance this week, so I’m not sure how long this is going to end up being. Here goes!

I avoided the Bank Holiday crowds at the start of the week, and instead did a bit of a coastal walk on Tuesday. The tide was out which meant I was able to walk around the section of the coast path that the signs guide you away from, and make you walk inland. When the tide is in, this part of the path is not that accessible but at low water there’s plenty of time to make the trip. Even got to see a couple of Wheatears across one of the fields, but had to wait until today to see my first Swift of the year.

It feels a bit like Summer has arrived this week, with daytime temperatures reaching the mid to upper 20’s, we’ve had a few rain showers over the weekend, but it’s warming up again.


GDPR – If you haven’t received multiple emails from people about this then you’ve been very lucky. It seems most people have been getting it completely wrong when it comes to what you’re actually supposed to do, with the major corporations being the biggest offenders. I’ve been using it as an opportunity to “unsubscribe” to a lot things.

I’d be a bit remiss though if I didn’t remind you that if you receive this post and other posts via email, you can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link provided. Of course I hope you don’t but it’s your choice. If you have provided me with your email address it only get used to send you posts from this site and nothing else, and it will never be shared with anyone else.


Work – There’s been a bit of movement with a client on some work, but it’s still not clear whether this will go ahead. If they don’t make a decision by the end of the month, then it definitely won’t be proceeding, so there’s still plenty of time, and for me nothing much to do other than wait!


Allotment – Been doing a fair bit this week, I’ve been getting ready to plant out things like squash, pumpkin and courgette, and they’ll be going out probably in the next week or two. I’ve also been preparing the ground and have now planted out the Cavlo Nero on the end of the existing brassica bed. Everything is starting to come alive at last. There’s plenty of soft fruit stating to form, in particular gooseberries, and seeds sown a couple of weeks ago are growing well. Of these I’ve even harvested the first radishes of the year!


Currently Reading – I’ve been reading “Under The Rock” by Ben Myers [LINK] this week and jolly good it is too. It’s likely to be one of my favourite books of the year.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Sean Bonner – Citizen Science


I’m outta here, otherwise this thing is never going to get posted. Have a good week.

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore – (Quick Links 122)

It’s been a fairly busy week for me, and also an election week for local councils.

We had an opportunity to vote this week. Despite our current Councillor retiring, I hadn’t expected any change in political party even if the face changed. This proved to be true with the new Councillor getting over 50% of the vote, although given the campaigning before the day, you’d have thought there was only one candidate standing as we heard nothing from any of the other three, although I did see a representative of one of the other candidates campaigning in town on the Saturday before polling day. Sadly he was being pretty offensive and rude to people he spoke to, and not doing his candidate any favours in the process, he put me off voting for his candidate.


I was sitting doing my end of month accounts when I realised that my calculator had stopped working. I thought it was just the battery that had died, but it appears that’s not the case and this is probably an end of life failure. A little sad because I was given this calculator for either a Christmas or Birthday present (I can’t remember which) when I was starting my science classes at school. It’s seen me through all my school, college and university career, and on it to my working life. It’s done more than a few project appraisals, as well as month after month of household accounts. As I said on Instagram – We’ve done some maths together. By my reckoning this calculator is 35 years old, and that is some serious service for something that probably now we would be surprised if it lasted more than a few years. They don’t make them like that anymore.


I’ve never really wanted a “fitness band”. Not the musical kind, one of those things that you wear on your wrist that measures your steps, and heart rate and a few other things. My phone counts my steps and I’ve been pretty happy with that.

Well this week this happened:

The jury is still out for me on this at the moment. It seems pretty accurate at counting steps (compared to my phone the two seem broadly in alignment). It also measures sleep, but I’m not sure this is terribly accurate as it can’t seem to discern between “light” sleep and being awake but resting quietly. I’ll keep giving this a try to see how I get on with it


Mythos – I’ve been listening to this BBC radio drama on iplayer this week on my travels [LINK] – (this might not work outside the UK, but it is worth the try). It’s a good mix of mythology and humour with some interesting story lines. A bit of a shame it was only three episodes, and I hope they make some more. If you’re a fan of Charles Stross’s Laundry novels [LINK], you’ll probably enjoy it.


War On The Walker – I walk as much as I can, if I can get somewhere without using the car I try to do so. I get annoyed by cyclist riding on pavements where there is no cycle lane and insufficient room, and by people who are inconsiderate and park on the pavement blocking it. It seems that our current government is pretty set on the car, despite the fact that there are too many of them and not enough room for them. The solution is to build more roads. My local council’s view of how to overcome congestion and air pollution is essentially to build more roads – go figure. It also seems that even for electric vehicles, we haven’t gotten this right yet [LINK] and the Transport Secretary isn’t much better [LINK].


Nuclear Titanic – In times of crisis nuclear powered vessels can be used to provide power to communities where their normal power supply has been lost. In some ways I think this is possibly what Russia was thinking with the Akademik Lomonosov [LINK] but I’m not altogether sure that this is the best idea in the world.


Work – A bit of prep for, and time at a meeting mid-week but otherwise it’s been another quiet week on the work front. The outcome of the meeting however means they’ll be a bit to do in the coming weeks (subject to the response from the client).


Allotment – The weather turned for the better midweek (and is due to last until after the Bank Holiday Monday). As well as the allotment I managed to get a few things done in the garden at home.

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I had a little help in the garden as I was replacing some of the supports for our climbing roses that grow up the wall between us and one of our neighbours. It was lovely to be out in the sun doing some of those small jobs that often get forgotten in the garden because of lack of time.

On the plot things have been doing pretty well, despite a couple of late frosts this week. I’ve planted out some leeks, mowed the paths and gave the beetroot seedlings a good weed, they’re looking the better for it.


Currently Reading – I’ve been reading “On The Moor” by Richard Carter [LINK] on and off this week. It’s an interesting mix of science, landscape and natural history. I’ve also been dipping in and out of a few other things.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Ant Man & The Wasp


Monday’s a Bank Holiday, and if the weather holds beyond then I’ve got a couple of plans, but then you know what they say about the best laid plans! Have a good week.

May The Force Be With You (Quick Links 106)

I finally went to see Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi on Monday. I’d been waiting until the schools went back after Christmas to go to a showing that I could be pretty sure would be quiet – there were only about a dozen of us in the screening. I’ve also managed to avoid all spoilers.

I really enjoyed it, there were a couple of things that felt a little weak, but overall a good film. It made me miss my Dad a lot, as were he still alive and healthy we would probably have gone to see the film together. I guess those days are gone for good.

I spent some time doing some odd jobs for my Mum, as so often happens these things turn out to be more involved than when you start, so weather permitting I’ll be going back this coming week to finish off as I had to get a couple of things in order to complete one of the jobs.

We seem to have a lot of houses up for sale in our road at the moment. There are three currently (including one of our immediate neighbours) and two others have also recently sold. These things seem to happen like that, but whatever happens it seems likely we’ll be getting new neighbours soon.


My plan of cutting back non-essential spending seems to be going well, early days though. The plan is to go at least until March.


Work – Most people seem to be back at work now, and things have been a little bit busier. I’ve been mostly bouncing emails backwards and forwards discussing a couple of projects


Allotment – Potato season starts again. I picked up my seed potatoes from the allotment shop on the weekend, and I’ve set them to chit (grow shoots). I’ll probably be planting them in a couple of months time, depending on the weather.

The weather has been a bit drier this week so I’ve also been weeding the fruit bed. The main problem as ever, is the creeping buttercup, but at least for the time being, I’ve gotten it all out, and now the area is ready for some mulch – I’ll probably be using some straw for that.


Currently Reading – I’ve finished reading  “Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World” by Alice Roberts [GoodReads]. A really good read and I’d recommend it. Since finishing it however I haven’t really been able to settle into something else yet.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


I Cooked this during the week. Lovely:


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Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan – This plan has been promised for such a long time I’ve lost track of how long it has been awaited. Ultimately it wasn’t worth the wait, yet another opportunity by government missed. As and when a plan of this duration is published it is always going to be difficult to get things right, but this plan needs more short term action and mechanisms to deliver (including legislation). Sadly the plan just doesn’t go far enough or look at some of the other areas where action is needed and not just those that are currently in the headlines. [Guardian Article]


Carillion Crisis – How this has been allowed to happen is one thing, but whether or not the government should bail out the company is quite another. In my view there shouldn’t been a simple bail out. It needs something more sophisticated. Companies fail everyday, and I don’t see the government stepping in to bail them out, so I don’t think this should be the exception. The problem is of course just how big, and how many important contracts the company has (which again raises the question as to how this has been allowed to happen). Some, dare I say HS2, could be retendered, others need some immediate action to allow them to continue e.g. health service catering and facilities contracts. Not an easy problem to fix, but something needs to happen quickly.


Was this whale trying to save a life? – Fascinating footage of a whale seemingly trying to keep a diver away from a Tiger Shark.


Not sure what the coming week holds, as I have a few things that I want to do but they’ll be a little bit dependent on the weather. Have to wait and see I guess.

Chickens Outnumber Humans 3 to 1 (Quick Links 105)

It’s been a very wet and windy start to the year, with the arrival of Storm Eleanor and a general period of unsettled weather. By and large we seem to have escaped the worst of the storms although we need see some rather high tides when walking the dogs at Portchester Castle (see above). The moat is normally dry but the high tide had pushed water most of the way around to a reasonable depth.

We had a little rodent visitor during the week. A little mouse found it’s way into my office, and although I tried to catch and release it back outside, Wilson caught and ate it before I had the chance.


A Slight Change to the layout of these posts. I thought I’d start to number these posts rather than use the date. Looking at the records in the admin part of my blog software there are 106 “Quick Links” entries, but two of these weren’t truly quick links so deducting those means that this one is Quick Links 105. I’ve also included something from one of the books I’ve been reading to add something unique to the post title. I’ll follow this layout for a while and see how it goes.


Work – It’s been a quiet return to work for me this week. Catching up with a few contacts and trying to get the ball rolling again. It seems as if quite a few people have elected to take the extra few days and don’t return until Monday 8th.


Allotment – The strong winds and accompanying rain have left the allotment a little bit the worst for wear, and exceedingly wet underfoot. I’ve had to resecure the netting over the brassica cage which had been blown open, but that’s about the worst of it.

As I’ve not been able to get on the plot, I’ve been making sure I’ve got all the seeds, plants etc. I need for the upcoming season. I’ve placed an order to fill some gaps.

I’ve also planted the remaining broad bean seeds that I had, so that I’ll hopefully have some extra plants to fill any gaps in the bed on the plot.


Currently Reading – I finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s “New York 2140” [GoodReads] on New Years Day, which means it’s technically the first book I’ve finished in 2018, even if I was reading it for most of the week before Christmas and up to New Year. It was good and very believable in terms of a potential future for New York with ice caps melted and sea level rise and the city becoming Venice like.

I followed that by reading “Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions”
by David Attenborough [GoodReads]. This very much reads like a Gerald Durrell adventure and is similar in many respects, but is a great read.

Following that I started reading “Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World”
by Alice Roberts [GoodReads]. These latter two books where both Christmas presents from people who know me well, and the quote in the title of this post comes from this book. The ten species – dogs, wheat, cattle, Maize, Potatoes, Chickens, Rice, Horses, Apples, Humans – all seem to have interesting backstories and it’s entertainingly written.

I’ve set my Good Reads reading challenge to 3o books for 2018, a little bit higher than last year but not significantly so, and still quite a bit less than the number I eventually managed to read in 2017. It’s not really about the numbers for me, so I’m not sure why I bother with the challenge in this way, but I do like to keep track of what I have read.