July 2022 Update

What two words would I use to describe July? Hot and busy.

The temperatures have been intense at times and we’ve not had the worst of it. We’ve escaped the really extreme temperatures and the fires. We’ve been lucky. Out leaders are asleep at the wheel when it comes to climate change, even if they acknowledge that it’s a thing at all, they can’t or perhaps won’t do anything about it for fear of upsetting a small right wing minority that refuse to accept that something has to must be done about it. Yes we have targets – net-zero carbon by 2050 – but there are few actions that will take us there. 2050 is far enough off (I’ll be 78 if I live that long), for the current crop of politicians to think of it as someone else’s problem. Of course we can’t wait that long because there’s already enough climate change locked into the system to make these years high temperatures feel quite mild.


In practical terms the hot weather has meant a change in the pattern of my day. I’ve been getting up early and taking Ruby for a walk before it gets too hot and then coming back to get on with work. Working until lunchtime when it was becoming too hot in my office to be able to think productively. I normally take a break at lunchtime for sustenance and another dog walk, but it was too hot to take any dog out in those temperatures. (If you’re in any doubt, take your shoes and socks off and go and stand on the tarmac. If you can’t stand there for more than a minute it’s too hot for them to be walking on that.) So our lunchtime walk was taken in the evening when the temperatures had dropped and the sun was much lower in the sky.

The days are getting noticeably shorter though so temperatures will start to drop a bit more with less sun.

I’ve also had a lot of work connected with the house move to do, including laying a carpet which I haven’t done for years, so it was good to refresh that skill set.


Work

It’s been a busy work month with multiple projects on the go for one client, they’re all strands of the same master project but need to be worked on separately. I’ve spread the work out a little more than I strictly needed to, but with the high temperatures I really needed to be able to maximise the cooler times of the day.

Allotment

We’ve had a good healthy crop of beetroot coming through which has meant it’s become a bit of a staple vegetable for us over the past month. I posted this public service message which you might want to read if you are similarly thinking of eating a lot of beetroot.

Books

I haven’t had a lot of time for reading this month, but I did finish a couple of books that I started a while ago and for some reason put to one side. I tend to do this occasionally, particularly if I’m not really enjoying the book because my mind isn’t really in the right place to be enjoying it. I’ll come back to them again later and normally finish them, on an odd occasion I might not but it doesn’t happen that often.

So I finished Pharmacopoeia: A Dungeness Notebook by Derek Jarman and The Book of the Raven: Corvids in Art and Legend by Angus Hyland, both very good and I’m unsure why they got sidelined but I’m glad I finished them. I also reread Call for the Dead by John le Carré, which is the first appearance of the character George Smiley and a very different character in some ways to the later books.

TV / Film

I’ve been particularly bad in the past about remember what I’ve watched over the month. So this month I’ve been making a conscious effort to write down what I’ve watched each day. It’s also been interesting to see how much TV we do watch. On average over the last month at least we’ve watched between two and two-and-a-half hours each night. A lot of repeats and a few other things.

We watched a series on Amazon call Totems which is a French (with subtitles) spy story set in the cold war. Really good and I’d recommend it. We also watched Trom which was on BBC4, set on the Faroe Isles and in Faroese and Danish with subtitles. It started out quite well but felt a bit contrived towards the end. Still worth a watch though. We also watched Murder in Provence which I quite enjoyed but you need to suspend your feelings about the lack of French accents. It’s basically English actors pretending to be French but without any trace of an accent or French mannerisms. If you can do that and get over the lead actors have played strong characters in other series it’s good. The accent thing seems to have upset a lot of people but I can think of other series where this hasn’t really been a problem. There have been at least three different adaptations of the Maigret novels with an all English cast and similarly an adaptation of the Zen novels which are set in Italy with and all English cast. I’m not sure why it’s so noticable in Murder in Provence, but it is.

I also watched Beau Miles latest YouTube video and recommend that you do too:


Well that’s about it for July. If I post this soon, it might even still be July wherever you’re reading it. In the meantime take care and stay safe:

June 2022 Update

I’m struggling a little bit with the fact that it’s past the middle of the year, we’re after the summer solstice and the days get shorter from here on out (at least until the winter solstice at any rate). As I look back over the first half of this year I wonder whether I could have progressed projects faster than I did and whether where I am is a true reflection of where I should / could be.

There are some empty pages in one of my notebooks with prompts that I was going to use for longer term planning but I am still thinking about that and really it makes no sense to do that planning until I’ve finished the thinking and come to some conclusions. Of course the longer I think the less gets planned and the less gets done. I really need to just get on with it, but some of it is new and unfamiliar and a little bit scary. I should also be doing a mid year review, and it seems odd to be doing that when I never really finished the planning. Sometimes I think you have to pivot a bit and not think too deeply about targets and just go with the flow.

I know I haven’t been idle, but I wonder whether I could have been more focussed. This month has been busy but more with non-work related projects. We’ve been having a bathroom refitted and have had quite a few problems with the supplier we chose to get the bath, sink etc. from. We have two sinks turn up broken and had to wait for a third. This meant a delay in starting and then having to start, not knowing whether we’d be able to finish the project with a sink properly fitted or not. We were lucky and the project is more or less finished. There are some final decisions to make over finishing touches but they can be made at leisure.


Work
A quiet month workwise. With a big push on one project at the end of last month, this one has been distinctly quieter. Just as well with the other things that have been going on. I wonder a lot whether I am going to continue with this “career” or whether it is time to move on.

Allotment

The allotment has been producing a lot of broad beans and lettuce. Soft fruit is now also coming into its own, with a lot of loganberries to harvest. I dug the first of my potatoes last weekend as a bit of a test to see how they were doing, the results were good so no more shop bought potatoes for a while. The garlic has been really good this year, possibly the best ever, but alongside them the onions have been some of the worst. I did have different varieties of both this year, so will probably be looking to get the same garlic again, but I think I’ll be reverting back to the onions I had in 2021 as they were good. Courgettes and climbing beans are slow to start this year. They’re just sitting there not doing much.

Books

I’ve read a few this month. The stand outs are the fifth and sixth volumes of Spike Milligan’s second world war diaries – Where Have All The Bullets Gone and Goodbye Soldier, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s first non-fiction work – The High Sierra: A Love Story. My aim of reading more is going fairly well, but sometimes I just run out of time during the day or am too tired by the time I get into bed to read more than a couple of pages, so fits and starts probably describes it best. The Spike Milligan’s diaries have been a really interesting read, both in terms of his war time experiences but also his experience with mental health. What we would probably call PTSD now, probably lead to his ongoing battles with mental health later in life.

TV / Film
Nothing really sticks in my memory for this month in terms of TV or films. We have been rewatching the first couple of seasons of Blackadder via BBC iPlayer, and I was given a dvd set of an old ’80’s series “Bulman” for Father’s Day which has bought back some memories. Other than that there hasn’t been anything particularly memorable.

Music / Radio / Podcasts
I thought I’d add this as I listen to quite a lot of podcasts in particular. A new show to me this month has been the Curiously Specific Book Club, which I’ve been enjoying. It’s also been AudioMo this month, so I’ve been putting out a short piece of audio via Twitter each day with the hashtag #AudioMo. If you want to find them, I’ve collected them so far in this post.


Well that’s about it I think for this month. At the moment July is looking quite empty. I was expecting work to pick up again, but at the time of writing I’m not sure that is going to happen. There are plenty of things that I can fill the time with though, so I won’t be idle. Whatever you are up to in the weeks ahead, stay safe and take care.

May 2022 Update

Dad – late 1940’s

I seem to have fallen into monthly updates here, whilst still posting my FiftyFromFifty newsletter over there.

It’s been a busy month work wise (see below), and also in a few other areas. I’ve had my film camera out again and have been working my way through a couple of rolls of film some of the results I’ve posted here and there are more to come. I’ve been looking at buying some more rolls of film as I’ve almost used up the small stock that I have. Unsurprisingly the prices have gone up quite a bit, but I have a couple of ideas of different things that I want to try so I don’t feel like I need to buy large quantities of film at the moment.

I’ve also been breathing new life into old photos and slides, scanning boxes and folders of them in fact. I’ve found quite a few that I’ve never seen before and many of relatives in their younger days. Some are obvious as to who they are, others I’m not 100% sure of, possibly because they died before I was born. Some are labelled, but they are in the minority.

I’ve been able to visit my Mum – as opposed to only speaking to her on the phone – now that her care home is covid-free again. It’s strange that we’re now supposed to be “living with covid” and yet hundreds of people are still dying on a nearly daily basis. It really does feel like the government has failed this country in dealing with this killer virus and continues to do so on daily basis, preferring to pretend that there’s nothing to see. Their favourite phrase seems to be that we “just need to move on”.

We’re still planning our house move, and although it’s still a little way off, I’ve made some significant progress this month in making it happen and there’s more to come hopefully next month.

We’ve had a few issues with Wilson’s health which has resulted in more unplanned trips to the vet. He seems to be doing much better now, but he was a cause for a bit of concern earlier in the month.


Work

This month has been busy with a client project and also having to renegotiate a contract. There’s been an exchange of emails over the content of the contract which at the moment I cannot sign. I’m hopeful that we can reach some middle ground but I’ll have to wait and see what comes back from them by way of revisions before being able to make a decision. In the meantime I have delivered on what I have been doing for them and there’s is potentially more work in the pipeline.


Allotment

It feels very strange knowing that this is probably my last year on the plot with a potential house move imminent. It changes the way you think about things and what you’re going to plant where. At the moment we’re getting a good crop of broad beans and I’m hoping to be able to plant out squash and courgette this week, as well as some climbing beans. I’ve also got some bush tomatoes coming along that look like they are about ready for larger pots or potentially going into the soil.


Books

I’ve read a few books this month, including finally finishing Derek Jarman’s first volume of diariesModern Nature – evidently it has taken me nine months to read them and as they’re not very long I’m not sure why. I would definitely like to visit his gardens in Dungeness one day and see just what he was able to do in such an inhospitable space. I’ve since moved on and am reading his Pharmacopoeia: A Dungeness Notebook and a little of his second volume of diaries.

I’ve also read a couple of books that didn’t pass my fifty page rule (or 20% on a kindle if there are no page numbers), I don’t name and shame because I think this can sometimes be as much about personal taste or mood at the time of reading, and I have been known to go back to books that haven’t passed the test and reread and enjoyed them so it’s a rule of the moment rather than to be rigidly applied.


TV / Film

Really not much to report here at all, mostly we’ve been watching repeats, programmes from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, programming that fills the time but ultimately means that I spend more time reading with the telly switched off. I have been enjoying Bosch: Legacy which I think is the only bit of new content I’ve been watching but I think that only has 2 episodes left, so probably by the time this goes out will be finished.


Well I don’t think that there’s much more to say this month.

Stay safe and take care.

Update April 2022

Well April has been a busy month for me, and mostly productive. My work has been focussed on a key project rolling forward and quite a bit of work to do to keep up with developments, it’s not something that I can say very much about but it has taken up quite a bit of work time. When I’ve not been doing that I’ve been sorting through some very large boxes of slides, negatives and photographs that I found while clearing my parents house. I’ve nearly worked my way through all of the slides, and have found lots of memories there (see above). I’ve been using the SlideScan and FilmBox apps to process as many as I can, although I’d say I’m actually digitising less than 10%, partly because they have no relevance to me now but also because they’re just not of sufficient quality e.g. underexposed, to enable the software to make a decent transfer. It’s been a fun project though and I’ve also been able to surprise a few members of the family with pictures of them or their relatives that they’d not seen before. I still have many more to do, so should keep me going for a number of weeks yet.


I’m still publishing my Fifty From Fifty Newsletter, which is why posts here have been less frequent and I’ve now passed the 20% mark in terms of the 50 posts. You can subscribe via the link above, new posts typically go out on Monday mornings UK time. One of my recent posts was about some of the music from 50 years of life and I created a playlist to reflect this:


I’ve also been picking up my film camera again, particularly as we’ve had some really good spells of weather and I’ve exposed a couple of rolls of film which I’ve sent off to be processed. One I’ve sent to a new lab which is even more local than the one that I’ve been using that I thought of as local. They have slightly let me down however as they advertise a three day turnaround (from receipt of film) however I had an email from them to say that it will be at least seven days before they’ll be able to process mine. It appears that they’ve updated their policy without updating the text on their website. It’s not a big deal, but it is a bit frustrating particularly when trying someone new for the first time.

I was hoping that I’d get them back in time for writing this post but alas not, so I’ll write up something else (assuming the photos are any good) when I get both rolls back.


Allotment

I’ve been getting the plot going again properly. The potatoes are just peeking through from their ridges and some seeds – beetroot and lettuce – have been sown directly. I’m also bringing some squash, tomato and bean seeds indoors, to plant out later. As we’ll be moving somewhen soon, I’m being a little bit cautious with what I plant, as once the move happens we’ll have to give up the plot.


Reading

I read Len Deighton’s Spy Sinker and with it finished the middle trilogy of the three trilogies. Faith; Hope and Charity are the next three books and the final trilogy, but I haven’t started them yet. You can also read my review of David Cranmer’s Dead Burying the Dead Under a Quaking Aspen which is an outstanding collection of poems and I thoroughly recommend. Other than that I am trying to read more and spend less time on social media which seems to be working and have now reached 29 books read this year. Considering how busy work has been that’s a pretty good achievement. I’m not doing it for the numbers but in many ways that is the only metric I have.


Watching

We watched the new version of The Ipcress File which we enjoyed but I’m not sure why they needed to make the Harry Palmer character look like Michael Caine. It wasn’t necessary and I found it quite distracting. I think it would have been better if they’d just let the actor play him how they wanted.

Also Slow Horses on Apple TV+ which is very good, and a shame it’s only six episodes, even though they have already completed the second season.


Well that’s about it for this month. Whatever you’re up to stay safe and take care.

Tree’s Up TWTW # 154

Well it’s a little windy out there at the moment. I’ve just come back from my morning dog walk and we have a fair breeze blowing. I dare say it’s not the 100mph winds that have been reported for storm Arwen in other parts of the country. Although you can’t see it easily from the photo that blue dot is us, and we’re right on the edge of one of the weather warnings so hopefully will escape the worst. If you’re in one of the other areas then I hope you stay safe and take care if you have to venture outdoors, probably better to stay inside in the warm and dry though if you can.

This week has been mostly been about the work again, trying to move some things forward and finish off others. I’m aiming to take the Christmas and New Year period completely work free, so would like to tie things up before then.

Outside of that I’ve been booking booster jabs, which has proven to be quite a torturous process with the website insisting that the nearest centre with appointments available is on the Isle of Wight which is an expensive ferry ride away. Eventually we managed to get booked in a little closer to home and without the sea crossing.

We also put up our Christmas tree. I suspect we would have done it this weekend anyway so we were probably a few days early but it feels like we should make the most of having it up, rather than putting it up last minute and then taking it down a week later.

So we put on the original Now Christmas album (on vinyl) and decorated the tree. Just need to write Christmas cards now.

I’m also planning to make our Christmas pudding over the weekend at some point. A few years ago I made a video about it here:


Work

As mentioned above I’ve been busy on different projects this week. I was also supposed to be at a couple of workshops yesterday and today, but mysteriously they were cancelled without notice or explanation on Tuesday. My assumption is because of the bad weather but I haven’t been able to contact the organiser to find out the reason. I’m not disappointed that they were cancelled due to the rising Covid numbers, I wasn’t looking forward to being in a room of potentially hostile members of the public.


Allotment

Nothing to report today, I’ll pop down there once the storm has passed to see if there is any damage but it’s probably best to stay away while the wind is so strong.


Reading

I mentioned that I’d started The Small Heart of Things by Julian Hoffman last week, well I finished that in fairly short order. It was a quick but brilliant read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Given it’s been tucked up in my “to be read” pile for so long it was a delight to read it. I hope there are more of the same in that pile of books. Since then I’ve been reading March Violets by Phillip Kerr, which is a Bernie Gunther mystery novel.

During the week I read an article – which I now can’t find – that said men don’t read much fiction. I initially dismissed this thinking that I read a lot of fiction. Later in the week I was looking through a book list of mine and realised that it was almost entirely non-fiction, so I had a look at the books I’ve read so far this year on GoodReads, and it’s pretty much a fifty-fifty split between fiction and non-fiction at the moment, so maybe there is something to that article after all?


TV

Nothing much to report this week, a lot of the things we have been watching have come to the end of their run, and Shetland finished this week. So not sure whether there’ll be much to report over the coming weeks.


Well that’s it for this week. As mentioned I’m off to be boosted next week, otherwise I’ll probably be working on client things. Whatever you’re up to Stay Safe and Take Care.

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.

Boots Made for Walking TWTW # 151

I wear boots a lot of the time. Hiking boots, wellingtons, steel toe safety boots. In fact when I’m out of the house I’m most likely to be wearing a pair of boots rather than any other type of footwear.

This week has been a bit of a disaster when it comes to boot wearing. Firstly at the start of the week I noticed that my wellingtons had sprung a leak. In time honoured fashion I discovered this when I had to wade through a large puddle and realised that my foot was wet. They’d split on the seam and in an awkward place which made even a temporary repair impossible. Then on Friday I noticed that my hiking boots had also had a failure, this time the sole had split across not just on one boot but on both. I hadn’t realised but now suspect they might have been like this for a while and possibly explain why an old injury had been causing me problems.

So now I need to get replacement boots – two pairs. New wellingtons will be here on Monday, but I’m having trouble finding hiking boots in my size.

Given the amount I wear them I’m not surprised that they wear out, they cover a lot of miles in a week.


Reading

I’ve been reading and finished Diary of a War Artist by Edward Ardizzone and The Potter’s Field by Ellis Peters this week. I often pick up an Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael mystery when I’m between books and don’t know what to read next. I’ve only got a couple more in the series to read and then I’ll have to find something else that fills that role. I don’t have any idea what that might be. For now I’ve pivoted back to non-fiction and am reading Daily Rituals by Mason Currey – all about the daily habits of famous figures across history. There’s some interesting habits in there, some quite curious and others that aren’t all that unusual and are the sort of thing that many people do today.

There’s lots of discussion on the internet about the new kindle paperwhite this week. I’ve been looking at some of it even though I certainly don’t need a new kindle. I’ve had my current one, which is the previous generation, for nearly two-and-a-half years. It’s been a workhorse for me, but the new version doesn’t look like a significant step forward to justify a purchase I don’t really need. I’ll be sticking with what I’ve got.


Watching

More Foundation and Invasion watching this week, I’m really not sure where the former series is going, and there’s only two episodes left (I think) in this season and I can’t see how they’re going to bring it all together in a satisfying way – then I suppose they don’t need to if they’re going to be making more. As for the latter, I feel like I could stop watching it now and not miss it. I did read a review that said it didn’t get going until episode 5, and we’re only at episode 4, so I might watch one more, but if it doesn’t then I can’t see that we’ll watch the rest of it.

We also watched the new Tom Hanks movie – Finch which was okay but didn’t really do much more than that. All of these are Apple TV+ which I got a free subscription for when I upgraded my iPad earlier this year, however I can’t see that we’ll stick with the paid version when my freebie runs out.


Work

I’ve mostly been focussed on one client’s work this week. When I can working on something in a concentrated way works best for me, so to be able to spend some extended time in this way has delivered real dividends both for me and hopefully also the client. I’ve only got a few more days allocated to this particular piece of work and it looks like I’ll complete it on time and budget.


Allotment

It looks like my onion sets are starting to germinate but no sign of my broad beans as yet. I harvested some leeks this week and we’ve had a lovely leek, brussel sprout, cheese and mashed potato pie over a couple of nights.


Links

Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagne recipe

Do Not Eat, Touch, Or Even Inhale the Air Around the Manchineel Tree

Ridley Scott Films – Ranked


Well that’s it for this week, there’s nothing much in my diary for the week ahead, so I’ll be cracking on with client work and trying to get things finished perhaps a little earlier than I might otherwise. Whatever you’re up to stay safe and take care.


An Englishman Planted Roses TWTW # 150

The clocks change this weekend. I have to say that I am looking forward to having lighter mornings again for a while, I find lighter mornings make so much more difference to me than having darker evenings. Of course role on Spring when the weather also improves more generally.

I’ve been busy with work this week, and I also had a visit with my Mum. She seems to be doing well, although only having such a short time with her each visit it’s difficult to say. I think maintaining the restrictions in care homes is the right thing to do, but I am surprised that where everywhere else the government seems to think Covid is over, including the NHS, it’s a little surprising that they also haven’t relaxed much more in this area. Perhaps they should be looking at those other areas and asking question about why numbers are so high?


Allotment

Not much to report this week, the weather has been pretty wet and so I haven’t had much chance to do anything of consequence on the plot. I have been enjoying some of our apples this week though. I deliberately left some of them on the tree to allow to ripen a bit more. The tree is a hybrid and so the earlier you pick (September) the more like a cooking apple they are and the longer you leave them (ideally into November) the more like an eater. I’ve never had any success leaving them into November, inevitably some strong winds come along and dislodge them onto the ground, but this year I picked them right at the end of this month and they’re pretty good.


Reading

I’ve mostly been reading Rebecca Solnit’s Orwell’s Roses this week. I’ve read a lot of different books about George Orwell (Eric Blair) but this one comes at it from a different angle in terms of his garden and love of nature. It looks at his homes in Wallington and on the Isle of Jura in particular and takes in some fairly wide ranging topics including workers rights, climate change and politics generally. It’s a nice interweaving of an aspect of Orwell that I’ve barely seen covered before.

I’m not quite sure how I’d rate it though. It was clearly written during the pandemic and I think as such some of the research for the book was cut a little short and I suspect the author had to deliver the book before she’d completed all the research that she would have liked.

I did enjoy it, just suspect there’s more to the story than she was able to tell.


Links

Revisiting the 4 Hour Work Week

The Magic of the Brush

Latest figures reveal how the pandemic shaped radio listening

The Craziest (but best) decision we’ve ever made


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

Well Look At Those Onions TWTW # 149

I seem to have spent a lot of time in the dark this week. Taking photos of the moon, treasuring my night vision and eschewing a torch or other artificial light.

I feel these weeks in autumn and early winter more than any other time of the year, and the feelings aren’t all good. Whilst I don’t mind the dark I realise that it has an effect on my mental state. I’m much more tired than normal and prone to sighing more than normal. I know that I’ll adjust to the shorter days in time the change of time to GMT will make my morning dog walks lighter again for a while. I also know that many others feel this time of year much more than I do.

Our Covid numbers are very much on the rise again, our useless government are refusing to implement even the simplest of preventative measures and pinning all their hopes on booster jabs that most of the population doesn’t have access to. Add to that shortages and cost of living crisis….

Looks like Christmas is cancelled again this year.


I’ve had some new subscribers this week, if you are one of them – Welcome!

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 if you like what you see you can also buy me a coffee via the link in the sidebar


Work

Between the darks rising and falling this week, I’ve mostly had my head into client work. Tonnes of carbon dioxide, and looking at how we seemingly commute such short distances in our cars. The numbers of course hold no context, they’re just numbers there’s no why as to how they are.


Books

I finished reading Horse Under Water by Len Deighton and moved on to Silverview by John le Carré, both were excellent. It’s odd that this is possibly the last John le Carré, there’s a little tease that there might be some “uncompleted” novels in his papers and it seems that the family is very much in control of them so I think that if there are any more they will only be released if they are any good.


TV & Film

I sat down and watched IT Part 2 this week. I say watched because I ran out of time and didn’t finish it. I’m not sure I’m going to go back either as I really wasn’t enjoying it.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I did enjoy the Stephen King cameo, but just couldn’t get into the rest of the film

[SPOILER ALERT ENDS].


I’m not sure why, it just didn’t sit well with me, there’s some impressive special effects, and a good correlation with the original book (as far as I remember it anyway), but I just found it a bit, well, meh.

On the other hand we also watched The Guilty which I thought was very good. The films premise revolves around a single emergency service operator and there are very no other major actors seen, most of the other characters are voices on the other end of the phone. It’s Swedish with subtitles but a great concept with a nasty twist. Worth watching if you can track it down. (It’s also been remade by Netflix with Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role).


We’ve also been watching the return of Shetland on BBC, good to see it back but too early to say much more. Plus more of Isaac Asimov – Foundation and the new Apple TV series Invasion. I don’t know where the latter is going, the first three episodes have been released and it’s unclear exactly what is going on.


Allotment & Food

We had quite a bit of rain during the week, which is good for the recently planted broad beans, garlic and onions. It’s also made for some easy digging and weeding, so I’ve been clearing parts of the plot that are no longer going to be used this year. A couple of cold overnight temperatures have done for the squash and courgette plants so they’ve been pulled up and the remains added to the compost heap.

I made some simple onion relish over the weekend. We were having vegetarian hot-dogs for supper on Saturday and it went perfectly with those in the homemade rolls. When I say simple I do mean just that:

Take a couple of large onions and slices them into thin half-rings, you’re going for long thin strands rather than pieces. Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan and then add the sliced onion. Fry them on a high heat for a couple of minutes and then turn down the heat and continue to cook until the onion it becomes soft, keep stirring them. Now add some demerara sugar (just enough to cover the onions), a good glug (couple of tablespoons) of white wine vinegar and a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Keep stirring and continue to cook until the vinegar is all evaporated and the onions are well caramelised.

You can either allow it to cool and use later or serve it while still hot. It’ll keep for a couple of days in the fridge. You could also make some bigger batches and store in sterilised jars, but to be honest it’s so quick and easy to make fresh each time why bother? We had enough for our hot-dogs and enough for a lunchtime cheese roll the following day.


Links

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit

Yes, We Have To Live With Covid – But Not With Such Irresponsible Ministers

Which Form of Transport Has The Smallest Carbon Footprint?


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