All The Leaves Are Brown TWTW # 153

Welcome to Autumn

This week has been a mixture of many things. It started bright and early on Monday working remotely while a carpenter fitted a new external door. So many doors these days are known as engineered doors and are made at a standard size to fit a standard door frame, this frame wasn’t a standard size and you can’t cut an engineered door (because they’re basically a sandwich of wood with a pulp filler). Engineered doors are relatively cheap, but a door to fit this frame wasn’t and I didn’t want to risk trying to do it myself with my rudimentary skills. The chance of catastrophe would be high as would the length of time it would take me. While the carpenter sawed and chiselled, planed and sanded, I finished a report for a client. By the end of the day the door was fitted and my report was finished.

I came back a couple of days later and painted it, I can be trusted with a paintbrush. While the paint dried I went for a walk with my camera and took some autumn photos. The beech trees this year are pretty spectacular and were so inviting to the camera’s eye.

Later in the week I had to take Wilson to the vets for yet more tests. We’re trying to decide whether to change his treatment or persevere with what we’re doing at the moment which isn’t completely working. There’s no guarantee that something different will work any better, so it feels a bit like reaching into the dark for a solution that might not even be there.

On Friday I did something that I haven’t done since February 2020, and drew some cash out from a cash point. With the pandemic, the shift to contactless and card payments I’ve had very little need for cash but I was down to my last fiver from what I drew out 20 months ago. I wonder if I’ll have enough to take me to 2023 or perhaps 2024?


Reading

I finished Alistair Maclean’s Floodgate which was really hard going. Not his best work by a long way and if you’re thinking of reading something of his it’s not a good place to start. Instead try Puppet on a Chain, Where Eight Bells Toll, Golden Rendezvous or Ice Station Zebra. As a rule of thumb his older novels are better than the newer ones (although St Andreas which came straight after Floodgate is one of my favourites), the later ones are reported to mostly have been written by ghostwriters and then reviewed by Maclean. Not sure if this is true but it would explain the patchy quality of the later novels.

After that I’ve started reading Julian Hoffman’s The Small Heart of Things which is a complete change of pace – non-fiction, natural history and place.


Watching

We watched the season finale of Foundation on Friday night. I’m glad it’s over and I’m glad my Apple TV subscription is a freebie. I’m pretty sure I won’t be renewing it, there just isn’t enough on there that can make me justify the cost.

We’re continuing to watch both Shetland and Adam Dalgliesh both of which are excellent, the season finale for the former next week and the latter ended this week.

I didn’t watch much of Children in Need but I did catch bit of the Drumathon:

An audience with Richard Mabey


Links

RIP Cedric Robinson – Queen’s Guide to the Sands

Key Outcomes Agreed at COP26: Summary

Everything You Thought You Knew About Hobo Code is Wrong

Net Zero / Not Zero/


Allotment

I harvested our Brussel Sprouts and some leeks on Saturday and converted them into a rather acceptable pasta, leek, sprout and onion dish in a rich cheese sauce. Probably not a cholesterol buster, but very tasty.


Well that’s it for this week. I’m expecting a fairly busy week ahead work wise, but not sure what else I’ll be up to, whatever you’re doing, stay safe and take care.

The Amethyst Deceiver TWTW # 152

This week has been has been focussed on work related things without much time for other things apart from dog walks, eating and sleeping. In part because I have less time for work in the week ahead but lots to do and want to be ahead if I can.

We did manage an afternoon walk in the woods this week and I spotted this bright purple mushroom. The app on my phone, confirmed by my field guide when I got home, told me that it was an Amethyst Deceiver. Despite the colour it is apparently edible, although known to absorb arsenic if it’s present in the surrounding environment, so maybe not totally safe. It’s quite late in the season for this particular mushroom, but a first for me as I don’t recall ever seeing one before.


Reading

I finished reading Daily Rituals by Mason Currey this week, it’s the sort of book that you only dip into now and again, which to be honest has been just what I needed this week when I haven’t had space for extended reading. It did get me thinking about my own daily routine which has been pretty fixed for a while now, particularly when I have work on.

I’ve been reading Alistair MacLean’s Floodgate since, but haven’t made many pages of progress.


Allotment

Last week’s rain has left the plot pretty damp so I’ve been focussing on doing some tasks that don’t require me to be on the main beds. I’ve been cutting out last years old growth from the loganberries. As they are spring fruiting they’ll produce that fruit on this years new growth, which needs tying in.

I harvested some leeks which became leek and potato soup for supper on Saturday, with enough left for lunch today, homemade rolls to boot.


Watching

A bit more Apple TV this week (and I’m now pretty sure that I won’t be paying for it when my freebie membership comes to an end). As the first Season of Foundation comes to an end I’m quite glad I don’t remember the story from the books – although I think I will reread them once it’s done – as it’s really unclear as to just what is going on. The other show we’ve been watching, we’ve decided not to bother with from now on, Invasion, is just a mess.

We have been enjoying the BBC’s Shetland, based on the Ann Cleeves novels and also the adaptations of P D James’ Adam Dalgliesh series being shown on Channel 5. The latter I’m pleased to see has tried to stay faithful to the time period of the novels, which other versions haven’t. I’m hoping that it will get a second season, as we’ve really enjoyed the first.


Links

Neil Gaiman – Art and Climate

Honey and Co – The Food Sessions: Red Sands with Caroline Eden

The Accounting Trick That Could Wreck The Planet


Following on from that who doesn’t need to see a singing banana playing the guitar?


Well that’s all I have for this week. Next week I’m going to be hanging about waiting for a door to be fitted, and hopefully working while that’s taking place, and then probably painting the same door. Whatever you’re up to – Stay Safe and Take Care.

Life Juggler TWTW # 128

Once again I seem to be writing this post on a Saturday. In a couple of hours, I’m going to get my second Covid vaccination, so I went to the allotment yesterday rather than have to try and juggle things today. My unscientific analysis of other people who’ve had their second jab is that side-effects aren’t too bad, but I’m keeping my diary clear for a few days just in case. All of this means the time to write this post is now.

How are you doing? It’s been a busy week for me, as they all have just recently. Monday ticks around to Friday without me really noticing and the weekends are gone in a flash. I sometimes wonder what I have to show for it and often it is just knowing that things have moved forward is confirmation of success.


I had to take Wilson back to the vet again, he still doesn’t seem to have recovered from his upset stomach. Another course of pills and the potential delight of having to collect a three day stool sample are on the horizon for us. I was quite astounded to see that two-thirds of the money that I’ve spent this month (excluding grocery shopping) is at the vets.


Allotment. As mentioned I went to the allotment yesterday, I’ve had a lot of plants that needed to be transplanted out and so I was busy preparing ground, putting up canes, rigging netting and all sorts of other things. I’ve transplanted french climbing beans, cabbages, broccoli and leeks. I still have courgettes, squash and a few other things to go. As ever there’s lots of things to do, for example I need to net the fruit bushes soon, but before I can do that I need to remove all of the cleavers and other weeds that have done so well in the last periods of rain. Always something to do and that’s when I’m not being distracted by the wildlife – a passing buzzard, woodpecker or something similar.


Work. Another quiet week. I gave an evening Zoom talk to a gardening club and this is the last one of these now until October. Unless there is another booking in the meantime the next one I give will in theory be in person, although who knows whether that will actually be the case or not. My work diary is looking quite sparse.


Reading. I finished reading the Brother Cadfael that I started last week and then picked up Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie. This is the first book in the series which were made into the TV series Grantchester. I also picked up an interesting blog post by the author Paul Finch – Daytrips to Terror: the counties of England, which in summary is a horror / ghost story from every county of England by different authors selected by Paul. I thought I’d read a few if I could track them down and will start with my own home county of Hampshire, so will be tracking down The Humgoo by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes for some Bank Holiday reading.


I’ve been watching some of the nature webcams on CarnyxWild’s YouTube channel. I particularly like the Chichester Peregrines and the Coquet Puffins.


Links.

End Mowing of road verges to create huge wildlife habitats (I wish my local council would be more mindful of this. I’ve tackled them about it a number of times but always get the same answer – it’s a highway verge, so we mow it – their lack of ability to think astounds me).

The Folly of Cumbria’s Plans for a New Coal Mine

Making Concrete Green


Well I think I’ve blabbered on for long enough for this week. I hope you have a great week ahead, particularly if you’re on the half-term break. Whatever you’re up to take care and stay safe!

A Blanket Made of Home Spun Wool TWTW # 127

Once again the allotment is wet and miserable, but the weather is due to improve later so I’ll be heading down there then. I did pop in to check everything was alright this morning after a day of strong winds yesterday. No damage to report. While I was there I picked these radish, the warm and wet conditions of the last couple of weeks means that they’ve grown well, and these have a very fiery taste, eye-wateringly so!

I’ve spent a little time on the plot during the week this week, it was perhaps a perfect way to spend an afternoon, I was earthing up the potatoes and sowing some extra broad bean seeds. The weather was sunny and the temperature not too hot.

I’ve also been clearing out the potting shed of the over-wintering plants and converting the space to enable us to grow some tomatoes and cucumbers.


I had to take Wilson back to the vet on Monday, and upset stomach has kept us busy but it wasn’t resolving on it’s own. Things seem much improved now though.

It was also Ruby’s 7th birthday. I pulled together a short montage of some of my photo’s of her over the last seven years.


Reading. I’ve been rereading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the umpteenth time this week, I enjoy these stories so much but it’s been a while since I’ve read the whole collection. I’m planning to go on to Memoirs and Return in due course but picked up a Brother Cadfael – The Confession of Brother Haluin to read in the meantime. I always learn something new reading these, often having to resort to looking something up in a dictionary or encyclopedia. For example did you know that a “Brychans” is a blanket made of home spun wool?

I’ve also been reading some of George Orwell’s Diaries, these are interesting particularly as you can see how his experiences recorded in them later translated to some of his books. For example his journey to go hop-picking where he spends some time sleeping “rough” is very similar to what ends up being in Down and Out in Paris & London. I hope as I read more of them there will be some similar parallels.


Links. There’s been a lot of coverage of the Queen’s speech and the government’s announcements about tree planting and peatlands. There’s a good summary here. Personally I think the proposals are a bit weak and don’t go far enough, particularly with regards to stopping the use of peat-based compost, with the government holding yet another consultation on this rather than actually taking action based on the decades of evidence that it already has.

There’s also a good ranking of companies by the Financial Times of those reducing their carbon emissions here.

Twenty firms produce 55% of the worlds plastic waste [LINK].

David Quammen on travelling into the past to cover the pandemic [LINK]. I’ve said it before but you need to read David Quammen’s book Spillover to help understand how we got to where we did with Covid-19.


I’ve been sorting through a lot of boxes from my parents loft this week. In one I found a lot of old books from my childhood. There were a lot of Dandy annuals and also my old i-Spy collectors books. It looks like I had a life membership from around 1977 but there no longer appears to be an i-Spy club going in the same format anymore. Great shame as it these and other similar books that really got me into nature and the outdoors and recording all the things that I saw. Something that I am still doing to this day.


Work. A very quiet week workwise, it’s a real struggle at the moment. I’ve got a booking for an evening allotment talk next week and have been making the final arrangements for that and preparing my slides. It’s a Zoom talk and the last one I have in my diary for several months. In fact the next one is supposed to be an in person talk – booked before the pandemic – but whether that will go ahead in that format remains to be seen.


The week ahead is looking fairly busy but with small things of little importance but that are necessary and will take up time. I seem to have weeks like that now and again when I try and get through a lot of tasks that I’ve been putting off or unable to do. It gets them done but makes for a pretty boring week overall. I’ll have to see if I can find a way to put a little bit more life into it!

Whatever you’re going to be getting up to, Stay Safe and Take Care.

New Avian Arrivals TWTW # 126

I have a sense of Deja vu today, once again it’s Saturday, it’s raining hard enough to mean the allotment isn’t on the cards for the time being and I’m writing a blog post.

THis week the garden has been full of baby fledgling birds. Mostly Starlings and Great Tits. The starlings arrive in big rowdy gangs, a few adults and lots of youngsters. It’s a bit like watching an out of control school trip of teenagers come marauding through town. They arrive at the bird feeders and proceed to strip them bare. It only lasts for a few days and is fun to watch, but the youngsters aren’t all that adept at flying and will crash land all over the garden.

The Great Tits are the opposite. Unless you know they’re there, you’d miss them. Like their bigger brash cousins their flight skills are wanting but they are more prone to “hiding” in the top of a flower pot or under the hedge and waiting for their parents to bring them food.

Throughout this we keep a relatively low profile, the birds have the garden apart from when we spot a cat or a magpie and then we just go for a walk across the garden to deter the interloper.

Already the young Starlings are improving in their abilities and will now visit the feeders without crashing into them on approach and sending them spinning around like a fairground carousel. My guess is the Great Tits are still a few days behind, but hopefully will soon be exploring the wider world.

I also saw my first Swift of the year this week, only one and not where I normally see them so probably an early arrival or perhaps one just passing through on the way elsewhere.

In other news I took Wilson for his latest vet check-up midweek, so far so good in terms of the outcomes but we’re still waiting for the results of a blood test before we decide on next steps.


Allotment. As mentioned above, no allotment this morning but hopefully later on or tomorrow. Since last week however, I finally managed to get down to the plot with the mower and give the paths a haircut, and do some digging after the rains of last weekend. It was perfect timing, particularly for digging with the rain softening up the ground just enough to make it easy going. I’ve just got a couple more bits to do and now things seem warmer, more plants to get out. I’ve been planning where the last few things will go, so in the next few weeks things should start to properly resemble a veg plot.


Reading. Another week of reading little bits and pieces of lots of things. I’ve been reading a little about the life of Ernest Hemingway and separately about the life of adventurer Beau Miles. You may recall that I’ve posted some of his videos here before, most recently about his 90km commute to work on foot or like this one below about sleeping overnight in a 100 year old Gum tree. Both are fascinating, both a little crazy and both worth my time.


Work. It’s been a quiet week workwise, and has enabled me to spend more time walking in the woods and breathing in the world around me a bit more, and thinking about work in general.

I did hear that the bid I worked on over the bank holiday has been put on hold. The potential client is having a rethink about what they want. Sadly this happens all the time and is very frustrating because you’d assume that the client has decided on what they want by the time they go to the market. These things are always undertaking some unpaid work on the assumption that it might lead to a period of paid work, even if you might lose out to a competitor, but when the client pulls them and no one gets the paid work, that is even more frustrating. With work very suppressed at the moment because of the pandemic and it already being a competitive marketplace it’s increasingly apparent that having more than one source of income is important. Working on that.


More than 2 million voters may lack photo id required [LINK]

New planning laws an utter disaster say countryside campaigners [LINK]

Tory Death Cult [LINK]

Which App Will I Need For My Covid Passport [LINK]


I had to update my “new” cars software this week. This involved a lot of toing and froing between the car and the computer with a USB key and following a sequence of button presses that was a little like trying to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. I think we got there in the end but when did cars become this complicated?


Well that’s it for this week. My diary for the week ahead is looking quite empty, so the world could be my oyster (subject to following whatever covid guidelines are in force). Whatever you have planned, take care care and stay safe.

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!

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.

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.