Black Swan Smackdown – TWTW # 21


I feel a little like I’ve been running around a lot this last week. Ruled to some extent by the timings of appointments with my Mum’s doctor and with our vet, for Wilson. Just one of those weeks, and the upcoming one is looking like being a little similar, although with a different set of appointments and people to see and places to be.

On Tuesday I walked down to the creek to see if the Mute Swans that nest there had hatched any cygnets yet, and I was treated to a bit of a surprise. Here’s what I wrote on Instagram:

This Black Swan got a little too close to the nesting Mute Swan pair, and kept coming back despite being chased off by the Cob a couple of times previously.

The Cob eventually went all in and pursued the Black Swan up on to the mud where he pinned it to the ground and then proceeded to attack, pecking at the back, neck and head of the Black Swan. It was brutal to watch and went on for several minutes. Here’s the last 30 seconds where the Black Swan managed to escape and appears to be okay.

Nesting Mute Swans are very territorial and won’t tolerate other swans on their “patch”. The female is still sitting on the nest, no sign of chicks yet.

The video is below, it’s a bit blurry because I was so far away, but you get the gist of what was going on.

I’ve been watching Jo and Michael’s travels on their narrowboat on YouTube for a while. They posted this video yesterday of their crossing of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (best watched full screen).


I’ve been reading “The Sixteen Trees of the Somme” by Lars Mytting this week. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve read this year so far and I thoroughly recommend it. It’s a little different to my normal fair, and although there is a mystery at the heart of the story it is much more about the characters and the people.




img_20190607_155746699I also got sent some surprise back-catalogue books from my friends at Elliott & Thompson Books. I haven’t had a chance to properly look at them yet but hope to get to them later this coming week.





How do authors earn a living

Six Weeks, One Hundred Miles of Walking in Japan

That’s about it for this week, I’m hoping to get my tomatoes set-up in the potting shed this week at some point, and there are several other things that I’d like to get done in the gaps in my diary. We’ll see how that goes!


Pineider Ink Filler – Demo & Review

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I was given a Pineider Ink Filler (portable ink well) as a birthday present a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had a chance to use it a bit and I have to say for the price (about £20), it’s a great bit of kit. Only downside I can see is the top stopper and how durable that will be in the longer term.

Mine was purchased from Cult Pens but other stationery suppliers are available.

Now that I’ve used it a bit I thought I’d do a short demonstration and review video. You can find the video below.

Still Posting Daily

I started this post-a-day thing, back on December 11th 2016, with the initial intention of going until the end of the year, but seem to have managed to carry it on to this point at least.

There have been a couple of days when I’ve been posting quite late in the day, and have nearly broken the chain, but I’ve managed it so far. Some posts are written a few days in advance (this is one of them), which helps me with scheduling and other things happening, and others are more spur of the moment.

Making no promises I’m going to keep going for now and just see what happens. I don’t want to feel forced into writing daily (and I don’t at the moment), but I also have the little voice in the back of my head telling me not to break the chain!

Unbroken Chain

I seem to have tripped over the point of a month of continuous blog posts without realising. My original intention was to go until December 31st 2016 and stop, but I kept going. There were a couple of days when I thought I’d stop and didn’t, and the chain might break tomorrow. I have no idea.

If you have been reading, thank you.

Post A Day Review

I’ve been doing this post a day thing for nearly three weeks and I wanted to take stock of some of the things I’ve learned, and review where I go from here. There’ll be a final post tomorrow (my fourth quarter review), and probably one on January 1st, what happens beyond that I’m undecided.

I know a couple of bloggers / writers who post everyday, and mostly what they post I enjoy reading. Although I’ve managed to find something to post myself everyday for the last three weeks, it has felt a little bit forced on some days – like I’ve had to find something to write about because I said I would – so I don’t think it’s been my best writing. Although I like the discipline of making myself write / post something everyday.

Some days I’ve fallen back on posts that would happen anyway e.g. Quick Links, which go out every Monday anyway, and I’ve been quite glad of them, although obviously those are written too.

I’ve often written posts a day or two before they actually go live, so it’s not been as spontaneous as I would have liked, but it was the only way I could actually make a post a day. Although I like knowing that a scheduled post will appear around 7am (GMT) everyday.

I’ve posted things that I might otherwise not have made it onto the blog. Mostly I think this has been good.

I’m erring towards not continuing to post everyday, but perhaps posting more frequently –  e.g. three times a week – than I have been. I’m not sure though whether I can be disciplined enough to do this though, or will forget. For now I’m just going to see what happens, rather than try and force something that might end up being less than perfect.

What do you readers think, let me know via the comments below, and in the meantime I wish you all a very happy New Year.


A Ban On Petrol And Diesel Cars

A short piece that I wrote for LinkedIn yesterday:


On Friday (9th December 2016), The Independent published a story that Jeremy Corbyn is considering a ban on petrol and diesel car sales as a future policy of a Labour Government, amongst other things.
Could It Actually Happen

Now obviously this is a long way from being the policy of any government but let’s just say that in 2020 a new government comes into power and this is a keystone policy of their manifesto; a ban on all new fossil fuel car sales within 10 years and let’s also assume that the legislation achieves Royal Assent within a year; so some time around May 2031 you won’t be able to buy a new car that is powered by petrol, diesel and probably LPG as well.

A big ask? Yes. Impossible? No.

It’s obviously not a simple issue but leadership from government is likely the only way it would happen. It would need a considerable amount of discussions with many groups – car makers, petroleum industry, fuel sales and local authorities to name a few – and that had better start now, otherwise there’ll be issues at the ballot box, so don’t forget the car owners either.


Assuming it happens, what about infrastructure. For electric vehicles it’s going to need far more that the current minimal level of charging points, and possibly a shift towards inductive charging in many places because plugging that many vehicles in just isn’t going to be possible. Think for example of all those “on-street” vehicles that are parked each night, and not necessarily outside of their owner’s home, but if the street had an inductive charging plate underneath the tarmac and with compatible vehicles – not a problem. Although what about the underlying infrastructure – the power that is required to feed those charging points? The local grid operators will most certainly be looking to upgrade to meet demand, and spikes in demand (when everyone comes home from work and parks their car) will require some balancing. Smarter grids, and delivery of associated technological advances are also going to be needed. This isn’t just a simple policy centred in one area i.e. cars, it has massive implications for many sectors.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and gas from biodigesitble waste (as mentioned in the article) would be less of an issue to refuel and could be achieved through adaptation of existing forecourts, but would still require a massive infrastructure shift in order to generate the fuel in the first place, but diversification by current providers could provide solutions if they were willing or a massive opportunity in the market for others.

Car Sales

So what about car sales. There are currently about 90,000 electric vehicles on the road in the UK, just under 30,000 of these were sold in 2015 (these figures include hybrids and plug-in hybrids and also includes some light vans), compared to a total of 2.6 million new vehicles sold in 2015 i.e. just over 1% of new vehicles were electric. So how do you go about moving this trend totally in the other direction, and what impact is it likely to have on the second-hand car market, particularly the newly new and under three years old vehicles, particularly around 2031? Also what exactly is going to constitute a car – anything with 8 seats or less or will it include small commercial vehicles as well?

What Next

Well I could go on, but I have been and would continue to be speculating, and this piece is already long enough. This is one report in one newspaper and political scandals have been made of less. So let’s wait and see for now.

Personally if it’s true I think it is the sort of bold policy that is required in this country but it needs some proper research and discussion before anyone should actually include it in their manifesto.

The contents of this post are the views of the author alone, and do not represent those of any employer or client that the author is working for, either now or historically.

Export Highlights From Your Kindle

I highlight a lot on my kindle, particularly when I’m researching a particular topic or just to highlight particularly inspiring passages for future reference.

Now there’s a great “new” feature on Kindle which now allows you to directly export your highlights via email, and receive them as both .pdf and csv files. There have been ways to do this via for a while now, and your highlights are still stored there, but this is a more direct service.

Firstly you need to make sure you’re running the most recent version of the kindle OS on your device (I’ve got a Kindle Paperwhite, and it’s now running ver. 5.8.2).

In a book that you have highlights, tap at the top of the screen to bring up the Menus, then tap “Go To”:

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On the next screen tap “Notes”:

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Then tap “Export Notes”:

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And then finally tap “Send”:

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As you’ll see from the image above this sends the notes to your Amazon email address, and you should end up getting an email that looks something like this:

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The pdf is a nice little document in it’s own right and the CSV file, allows for easy transfer from a spreadsheet to other places e.g. the research folder in Scrivener.

This is a great feature, and one that I feel I will be using a lot, particularly for background research.