Some Not Very Good News TWTW # 32

This last week has been pretty busy, and although I’ve had some good work related news (see below), I’ve had some sad news too. I think I’ve mentioned before that my Mum’s health has not been the best – well she had an appointment this week which was a follow up from some tests and a scan that she had a few weeks ago. The news that the consultant gave was not good, although perhaps wasn’t a surprise given the symptoms she’s had, we’re still processing what that means. For the time being at least I’m not going to say very much more.


The good, work related news, was that the second client I’d been talking to has come on board and that pretty much means in work terms I’m booked solid for the next couple of months. I much prefer being busy to having time on my hands though.


When I went to the allotment last I nearly trod on this pair of mating slugs that were between my shed and compost bins. I was surprised to see them there as this is more of a nocturnal activity, my guess was that they were in the shade there, and it wasn’t until the sun came around that they moved off and went on their separate ways to ultimately lay eggs to produce more slugs to eat my crops!


24 White Storks released in West Sussex rewilding project


I have been listening to the BBC Prom concert based upon the book “The Lost Words” by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. It’s available here for a short time. As a celebration of nature, wildlife and words, it is very much worth a listen.


I’m leaving it here for this week, lots to do over the coming days and obviously plenty to think about.

A Bit Like Buses TWTW #31

This time last week I was on my way to Somerset to see a potential client, who I’m pleased to say look they will become one. I can’t say much more than that at the moment.

On the way back I made a stop in a little village where we used to go for family holidays when I was a child. It’s actually quite a convenient spot to stop anyway and I’ve done so a few times over the years. The village used to have a secondhand bookshop, sadly now gone, but other than that the village hasn’t changed all that much. After a wander around, I got back on the road and headed for home.

I had previously been asked to hold a date in my diary for another meeting with another potential client. It’s work that we’ve been discussing on and off since January, and I wasn’t convinced that it was going to happen at all and then suddenly the request for the meeting. Then silence again. I followed up towards the end of the week and still didn’t hear anything until Friday when a message came in say that yes the meeting was still on, and could I come in an hour before the meeting to discuss a contract as they do want me to do the work. So it looks like I’m going to be busy.

I have the capacity to do both these contracts as neither is full time work, but I do need to sort out the exact number of days and timescales etc. I’ll be working on that this week.


The badgers have struck again and wiped out my entire crop of sweetcorn. It’s my fault, I’d started putting up a protective fence around the plants, but with one thing and another I’d never finished it and that was enough for the badgers to get in and have a good feed. I’m not too bothered, I’m obviously disappointed to loose the crop, but I feel that this species is persecuted (both legally and illegally) enough, so I don’t begrudge them a bit of corn, because I wasn’t able to do something that would have prevented it. There’s always next year!


Saw this sign on one of our dog walks this week, sure enough this little improvised sign was pointing towards a fairly active wasp’s nest. Very grateful to whoever improvised this little sign.


I’ve been listening to David Hewson’s new podcast this week you should be able to find it via the podcast app of your choice or on his webpage. He talks about writing and audiobooks, and the role Venice has played in his writing in the first three episodes.


The Persuasive Power of the Wolf Lady




That’s it for this week. The upcoming few days are going to be pretty busy I think, so will probably have my head down for most of it.

Be careful out there

Another Strange Anniversary : TWTW # 27

Another week that was supposed to go one way ended up taking a different direction, strange how despite all the planning things don’t seem to be turning out the way they were envisaged. It’s left me wondering how the week ahead will pan out, which looks like being another one at the moment, but could potentially change.


Four years ago I said goodbye to my last full time, paid job. Although at the time I didn’t really know how things were going to pan out, I’ve been asked a few times if I regret the decision to leave. Simply put the answer is no, although in the last four years combined, my income has probably been less than any of the years proceeding that, it allowed me to do many things. Although I didn’t know it at the time it allowed me to spend a lot more time with my Dad in the last year of his life. It allowed me to be present for some other difficult family things and possibly it reduced my stress levels and the chance I might have had a complete meltdown had I stayed where I was. Most of those things aren’t even tangible but they are most definitely real to me.

I’m still not quite sure where this freelance work is taking me or even if I can keep doing it at such a low level of income. There have been suggestions of offers of work, and I am always on the look out but it might not be sustainable in the long term. I still don’t regret that decision though.


A slightly unplanned trip to the library meant that I ended up with a couple of books, it was as a result of reading the latest newsletter from Joanne McNeil about Michael Seidenberg and the Brazenhead book store. It was the final paragraph of that newsletter:

Read an underread writer this summer in his honor. Any lonely and interesting-looking unfamiliar book at a used bookstore will do.

which prompted me to check-out In The Wet” by Nevil Shute and Uncommon Type” by Tom Hanks on my library card. Now I’m not sure that either of those two books technically qualifies but that paragraph was in my head when I was browsing the stacks and I knew that I hadn’t read a Nevil Shute book for probably close to 20 years, despite reading a lot of them in my late teens and early twenties. The Tom Hanks was one that I knew I would never buy new and possibly not even secondhand, so they both did kinda fit the bill.

Anyway the Nevil Shute was amazing and I remember why I liked him as an author. Probably not the best book of his I’ve read (A Town Like Alice & On The Beach are probably both better known and better books), but it did prompt me to go on a hunt in our loft to drag out some of his books that I have up there and now plan to read.

The Tom Hanks however was, well it was just a bit meh. It had some great blurbs on the cover and maybe it was just me but it just read a bit like it was one of his early movies. It’s a short story collection and I enjoyed a few of them, and there were some nice tricks with how the book is laid out, but just not my cup of tea.

I enjoy popping into the library every so often I seem to always find something that I’ve missed elsewhere or wanted to read, it’s a great resource that has suffered a lot from government austerity measures, so I’m pleased to support it.

I get to go back in the week ahead, return the books I have on loan and see what else they have for me.



After writing last week about reading the Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri I was a little surprised to read his obituary, but interesting comments about the translation of Sicilian.


I finally got around to pickling some of the gherkins from the allotment this week.


Well that’s about all I have for this week. Who knows what’s going to happen in the week ahead, it may even be that it pans out according to plan!

Half Way Point – TWTW # 26

This last week turned out not as expected. Last Monday was going to be one of those days where I was going to be on the go all day – which generally isn’t a problem – and hope that everything will work out fine and there won’t be any hiccups that throw things out. However before the day had even gotten started I had a call to say that my first meeting of the day had been cancelled, then a few moments later another call to say that another meeting had been postponed. By the time I would have been due to leave the house for the (now cancelled) first meeting, my entire day had been cleared. My unexpectedly free day gave me an opportunity to do some chores and a few other things that I would have done later in the week. I was grateful for the free time, although most of those meetings will have to be rebooked at some point.


Thanks to everyone who commented or contacted me by email about the upcoming changes here which I posted about earlier in the week. Your contacting me is appreciated. I don’t have any more news to share at the moment, but once I know what’s going on I’ll post about it.


The nice people at Elliott & Thompson books produced this advert for the book I reviewed a couple of weeks ago.


Speaking of reviews, I read and reviewed Every Breath You Take by Mark Broomfield this week. I also read the first of the Inspector Montalbano books – The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri.


We’re supposed to be moving towards a zero-carbon economy and part of that is phasing out fossil fuel powered vehicles in the not too distant future. That future is at the moment somewhat reliant on electric vehicles, but will there be enough “fuel” for them?


Related to that, perhaps Elon Musk isn’t all that he made out to be?


The allotment is doing well. I’m at the point of the year when I feel that perhaps the weeds are winning a bit, but I’m getting good crops of gherkins (for pickling), courgettes, lettuce, beetroot, cauliflower, onions and coming on quickly are runner beans and cucumbers.

I’ve sown some purple sprouting broccoli and kale this week, with the aim of having that as a follow on crop from the broad beans. I’ve also sown some new rows of lettuce and beetroot, again to have some crop continuity for what we’re harvesting right now.


 

Robins Will Perch on Anything – TWTW #24

I was wondering whether or not this last week was going to be hectic or very quiet, and in the end it was somewhere towards the latter.
The rush proposal that I was asked to do has been put on hold, so having to gear up quickly and get cracking with that didn’t happen and it allowed me to get on with some other work.

I’ve had to do quite a bit of weeding on the allotment in the last week or so, and there has been the usual ever present robin keeping an eye on me and also catching the insects that are disturbed as I work. I tried to get some video footage of this and was only really partly successful, as you can see the robin was happy to have his photo taken, but on his own terms.


This article is a healthy reminder that all those e-books you have on your devices are not actually yours, you just own a licence to them. I’ve written before about the power of companies like Amazon who licence you an e-book and can pretty much do whatever they want if they feel you have broken their terms and conditions (whether you have done so intentionally or not). Now I love my kindle, but there are the obvious vulnerabilities or loosing or breaking it (and having the cost of a replacement), and the issues around DRM that these two articles raise. In the former case at least it looks as though customers will bet their money back, but what if this was a company that went into bankruptcy and there was no cash left to pay for the severs or refund their customers. Amazon is pretty big, but is it too big to fall?

I’ll still be using my kindle and buying books (licences for books) for it but I’ve never been completely happy about that relationship and I’m still not. I have my eyes wide open though.



I’ve been reading “Bloom” by Ruth Kassinger this week. It was sent to me by the publisher for a review, and if you want to read what I thought you can do so here. The short version is that it is an excellent book.

 

 

 

 

 


This week I’m mostly going to be working on a client project and trying to get some sensible thoughts into a report for them. Beyond that I doubt that I’ll be doing much else as my diary is relatively clear of other commitments.


 

 

TWTW # 15 A Light Bulb Moment

I started this week trying to find a lightbulb to fit a fixture in my Mum’s house. It’s a light she uses a lot (to read by at night) so quite important to replace it (or potentially have to get a new fitting to replace the whole thing). After a bit of looking around online I managed to find something that looked like it would fit and so ordered it. As it was the Easter weekend the shops weren’t open again until Monday – I’m pleased to see that they still shut on Easter Day, but not surprised they open again as soon as they can on Bank Holiday Monday (that really is a post for another time) – I couldn’t actually pick it up until then. It’s fitted and as it’s an LED bulb I’ll probably never have to replace it again, I dare say it will even out last me!


My client came back to me with some relatively minor comments on the report, so much so that I was able to turn a revised report around the same day, which has been accepted and hopefully I’ll soon be paid for the work (I see no problem here, as they’ve always been good about prompt payment in the past).


I had a seed sowing blitz this week, getting some gherkins, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, courgette, and (more) tomatoes in. I’ve still got some sweetcorn and a few other things to sow, but I’ll be doing those probably later on this week, as well as hopefully moving out some of the brassicas to make room for them!

Some of the direct sowing on the allotment are also coming through – beetroot & radish are through – no sign of the lettuce or parsnip yet, but I don’t expect they’ll be far behind. Keeping them watered has been the biggest challenge as the dry weather has meant hand watering the seedlings as they come through, particularly those that are under cover.


I’ve been reading Pico Iyer’s “Autumn Light” this week, it’s been an enjoyable read, and I’ve particularly enjoyed the insights into Japanese life (the book is mostly set in Japan).

You can also read my re-review of Under The Rock by Benjamin Myers which I wrote about yesterday here.



How Dog Names Have Changed Through Time

TWTW # 14 – A Scorcher

It’s Bank Holiday Monday as I write this, and I’m a little bit later than usual sitting down to think about what’s happened in the last week. Essentially a short working week for most with the long weekend around Easter and quiet for me as I am waiting for my client to respond regarding a report. He has responded and is taking a wider view across his organisation before giving formal comments.

It’s been getting progressively warmer all week with the weekend turning into quite a scorcher and I’ve been doing quite a bit allotment and garden wise, while I’ve had the time. I’ve sown some lettuce seed as individual plugs – some for my Mum’s garden and the remainder as back-ups for the allotment. I’ve potted on some tomatoes and have got some more seed to sow a few more plants.

I’ve also started off my runner beans. Garden lore says that you should sow your runner bean seeds on the first Bank Holiday in May and plant them out on the second one, so these are a little early but that might not be a bad thing as they were covered in a little mould which I washed off and they seem to be okay – not soft or any obvious other damage other than the mould – so if they don’t grow I’ll have time to get some more.

My car was MOT’d and serviced at the beginning of the week. It passed and so there’s nothing further to do until next year or unless there’s a problem.

Wilson was also back at the vets for his next round of tests – we’re awaiting the results.


I’ve been reading “The Way Home – Tales from a Life Without Technology” by Mark Boyle, essentially the stories of the author when he completely gave up technology, including electricity and other mains utilities, living on an island near Ireland. I’m not that far in, but I’m enjoying it so far.

Slightly ironically I’m reading it on my Kindle.


I’ve also  got  the  (re)review  of “Under  The  Rock” coming  up next weekend with the chance to receive a copy of the paperback.



Been watching the new season of Bosch on Amazon over the weekend, it’s another great season of the show, and it’s great that such high quality tv can be be made to this standard – thoroughly recommended! If you’ve read Michael Connelly’s “Two Kinds of Truth”, it’s mostly based on that.


TWTW # 12 Welcome To British Summer Time

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The clocks changed last weekend, and my body & mind have been trying to catch up all week, and it’s been a pretty busy week!

On Monday evening I was giving a talk to Harwell Gardening Club. The talk was entitled An Allotment Year, but as Monday was also April Fools Day, I couldn’t resist talking a little about some of the “gardening” April Fools that there have been. These included Waitrose’s Pinanas; Tesco’s whistling carrots (so you can tell when they’re cooked); who could forget the great Panorama spaghetti farming story; and finally Herr Moler’s phosphorescent sunflowers so that you can read in the garden at nighttime.

I think the talk went well, and there was an invitation to come back another time, so a good evening was had by all.


I’ve also been mostly working on the delivery of the proposal accepted by one of my clients last week. It’s involved a lot of research, and I’ve started writing the main report. That will continue this week, and I hope to deliver the draft to the client next week.

I’ve had a couple of other meetings so it’s been a pretty busy working week all in all.


Although we are officially on Summer Time, it seems the weather has dropped several degrees in temperature. Gone are the shorts of last week and I’m back in jeans again. This will probably be short-lived (sorry for the pun), as it was getting warmer again yesterday.


The weather has meant that other than harvesting purple sprouting broccoli and leeks, I’ve not done very much on the allotment. Instead I’ve been busy transplanting broccoli and cauliflower seedlings into bigger pots, and sowing some sweet peas and a few other flowering annuals for hanging baskets and pots.


It’s possible that we might soon be able to see White Tailed Eagles not very far away from here. A licence has been granted for their reintroduction, and although that’s only a step in the process it’s moving in the right direction for a reintroduction in due course, possibly as soon as this summer. You can read more about it here.


The clocks changing has really mucked up my sleeping patterns, and with a busy week I’ve been a little bit too tired to read when I finally end up in bed. I’ve been dipping into Under The Rock by Benjamin Myers again, which although I read this last year, is coming out in paperback in a couple of weeks time and the publishers have asked me if I’d re-review it. They’ve also given me a copy of the paperback to give away here when that review is published, so if you’re interested watch this space (if you really don’t want to miss your chance then you can subscribe to posts in the box on the right hand menu – you can unsubscribe at any time, and I don’t give your details to anyone else or spam you with anything other than posts from this blog, one post equals one email).


That’s it for this week. Things are a little quieter this week, my main focus needs to be on my clients report. The sooner that’s delivered, the sooner I can have a bit of fun!

The Week That Was # 2 (Experiments With Sourdough)

I’ve been wanting to do some sourdough baking for a while now. I already bake quite a bit of our own bread (mostly in a breadmaker), and regularly make pizza bases, rolls and other things and I wanted to give sourdough a try too.

I got a starter (you can make your own but I opted for the slightly easier option) from the Wild Baker and it arrived earlier in the week. I feed it (with flour and water) a couple of times and then it was ready to go.

There are a couple of quite long pauses for rising etc. in the sourdough process and I think next time, I’ll shift things around a bit so that these happen overnight rather than try and squeeze things all into a day-and-a-half.

That said the resulting loaf was fantastic (see above). Great tasting and a definite success. It’s always good when cookery of any kind goes well, but this was especially pleasing.


It’s been a pretty chilly week, with temperatures dropping below 0°C on most nights. This had meant that my home office has been a little inhospitable some mornings and so I’ve moved to our lounge to work.

I’ve been assisted by the dogs to keep me company (and warm), although I must admit they have been a little more distracting than normal. I assume that this is as much the change of routine for them as it is for me.

I’ve been asked by a potential client for a proposal for a piece of work, so I suspect that most of the coming week will be taken up in pulling that together. They have ambitious plans so it’s good that potentially I’ll be a part of that work.


I’m between books at the moment, but a quick visit into town to post a parcel took me past the secondhand bookshop.

I always try and leave more books with them than I take away, and this time I succeeded, although I have to admit to be quite pleased with the ones I found.

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!