Quick Links 5th November 2017

Greetings From The Plague House – where we all seem to have come down with something, even the dogs are coughing and sneezing. I blame the event I was at last Monday, where I spent most of the evening in the lee of a draughty doorway.

Not only is this weeks post a little later in the day as a result it will also be a bit shorter than usual.

As well as the clocks going back last weekend, and we’re now on Greenwich Mean Time again, but we’re also celebrating the failure of someone to blow something up with gunpowder, by blowing up things with gunpowder and other explosives. The beginning of November marks the fireworks silly season which will now last until well after Chinese New Year.

(The mornings are lighter again (for a while), here’s a quick read relating to that hours change).


Work  I was at a showcase / networking event on Monday. I think it went well (apart from it seems catching a chill), I had some good conversations with a number of different people. It hasn’t generated anything further as yet but sometimes these things take a little time to generate further leads. Following on from that I’ve been doing my end of month accounts etc.

Allotment – It was a bit wet to get much done this week. I did notice however that the broad beans are going from strength to strength. I also got asked to help unload a lorry of manure (s***** job!), but all for the good as it will help plants to grow.

Currently Reading – I haven’t settled on a book at all this week, I’ve read a little from several different ones, but nothing has really taken my attention. Partly because I haven’t felt like it. So I’ve been catching up on some podcasts instead.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Most of UK’s fruit and veg is from other EU nations ‘so Brexit impact may be dramatic’ [LINK] Glad I’ve got the allotment!

Casey Neistat Halloween Star Wars Speeder Bike Video

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Quick Links 29th October 2017



Life In General – I spent the start of my week clearing gutters around the house and pruning trees. I had a bit of different perspective from up on part of our roof (above), it’s amazing how much more you can see from just a couple of extra metres up. It was good to get some of these chores done, as I’ve felt a bit on the back foot with some of them recently.

I also had to take Wilson to the vet mid-week. He mysteriously started limping on Monday, and despite doing all of the usual things it wasn’t getting any better. The vet didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong, and more of the same should sort things out. It does seem to have been improving as the week has progressed.

Work  I have another showcase event on Monday so this week has been about preparing for that and also thinking a little retrospectively about this year in terms of what I might need to do differently, for next year. I’m going to be starting my planning for 2018 fairly soon.

Allotment – My broad beans (sown two weeks ago) are just starting to germinate, the first ones are coming through the soil surface. Still lots of other things to do though, Winter is the time for digging the soil, and I spent a good part of Saturday doing that. I find it quite therapeutic to dig and think, and I also get a reasonable amount of exercise in the process. There is a saying that you get a double benefit from growing your own food, once when you dig the ground and the second when you harvest and eat your own produce.

Currently Reading – I’ve been reading The Blue Demon by David Hewson [GoodReads] this week. I really enjoy David’s books and had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago. I love the way he is able to blend cultural and social history into his books, and this one is no exception.

Not sure what’s going to be up next, have plenty to choose from at the moment.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Mapping the U.K.’s Many, Many Names for Streams – There are always many names for the same thing, partly due to local dialects this interesting piece looks specifically at the different names for watercourses. Interesting though that one of the local names here – lavant – isn’t included.

EU on brink of historic decision on pervasive glyphosate weedkiller – I know that this won’t please a lot of people, but I can’t help thinking that it is probably a good idea on balance.

What we can learn from the man who swam five miles with a tiger shark – [LINK] I’ve had many close encounters with wildlife, but never in the sea – probably because I don’t swim in the sea all that often.

A Couple of TV Shows that I want to mention. “H is for Hawk: A New Chapter” is still available on BBC iPlayer (if you can access it) [LINK]. I’ve posted a video preview of this previously, and I really enjoyed it. You’ll probably get more from it if you’ve read the book H is for Hawk, by Helen McDonald, who also presents the programme, but it’s not essential.

The second one that I want to mention is WWII’s Great Escapes: The Freedom Trails [LINK]. This has been on for a number of weeks and was a good watch. Incredible to see what some soldiers and airman managed during WWII to escape from captivity or avoid capture. Particularly when you consider the equipment that they didn’t have and the terrain that they had to negotiate.

(It might be that the links in this section don’t work if you’re outside of the UK, but both programmes are worth watching out for if you get a chance).

London National Park Map – I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, and my free copy (I had to pay the postage) arrived last week. It is pretty amazing in terms of how much “green” space there actually is in London. If you’d like your own copy you can get it here (once they’ve reprinted because they’ve currently sold out). Here’s a sneak peak:

Podcasts – I’ve added a couple of podcasts to my app this week. The first is The Kevin Rose Show [LINK] which covers a variety of things including technology, lifehacks and other things. The second is On Margins [LINK] which covers publication and writing type topics.

Tomorrow is another day – Today is Sunday, but who knows what Monday might bring. I hear there are some likely movements in the Trump / Russia investigations:


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Quick Links 22nd October 2017

Life In General – Well this week started out a little weird. Ex-Hurricane Ophelia was forecast, although we missed the worst of the winds and rain, she did bring a lot of Saharan sand with her, leaving some truly odd skies during the day. Sadly Ophelia claimed three lives, and did quite a bit of damage [LINK] elsewhere. We also had storm Brian at the end of the week, which for us was a bit of a blustery day and like the start of the week we missed the worst of the storm.

Had my flu jab during the week, hopefully that will offer me some protection from getting sick over the winter months. The media are getting a bit of a fever (sorry) about this flu season predicting it will be bad, after a bad season in Australia.

The clocks don’t go back until next weekend, and so the mornings have been that much darker, so I’ve been using the dog’s illuminated collars for the first time this autumn/winter, when the clocks change it’ll be a bit lighter again in the mornings for a while, but darker much earlier.

Work  A little progress this week, getting ready for another Chamber of Commerce event at the end of the month.

Allotment – The weather hasn’t been conducive to getting much done on the plot this week, but the overwintering onions are now starting the germinate and stick shoots up above the ground. The weeds don’t seem to be abating though – plenty to do.

Currently Reading – Most of the week I’ve been reading – Floating: a Life Regained
by Joe Minihane [GoodReads] – it’s essentially a revisit of Waterlog by the late Roger Deakin [GoodReads], and it’s a pretty good read. It takes a different perspective, given the different backgrounds of the two authors, but I enjoyed it, although wild swimming in winter is unlikely to become a thing for me.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers [LINK] There’s plenty of coverage of this out there if you want to read more [LINK], but in reality I don’t think that this comes as much of a surprise to many people.


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Quick Links 15th October 2017

Life In General – Had some DIY jobs to do at my Mum’s house this week. Her curtain pole had become detached, so after the application of some glue and new screws I managed to get that fixed back up again. There were a couple of other things to do while I was there too.

I had to replace a headlight bulb on the car this week, after recovering from the shock of how much a new bulb is (£35), it took me the best part of an hour to make the change. It’s interesting that the autopart store offered to install it for me (for a £5) charge, but I thought it would be easy enough to do myself! Of course what I won’t ever know is how long it would have taken the autopart technician to complete. I took the opportunity to check the anti-freeze / coolant levels as well, so in theory we’re all set for the winter.

I gave the central heating a quick test run too, bled the radiators etc. and all seems well. I need to get the boiler serviced, so I’ll try and book that in sometime soon.

I’ve also been using the Headspace app this week to get back into meditation again, it’s been pretty good, but I don’t think I’ll be progressing from a free account, as I can’t really afford it, and I think it’s a little overpriced. That said, what I’ve had for free is pretty good, so I’d recommend a free trial. It’s certainly been helping me to de-stress a bit from some of the family related things that have been going on over the last year.

Work  Ongoing development work this week and an update meeting. Things are moving forward slowly.


I’ve got my broad beans sown this week, so they should be ready around May time next year all being well. The garlic that I sowed last week is already shooting which is great, no sign of similar activity on the onions yet though. Otherwise it’s pretty much tidying and digging.

The mower has refused to start, and probably needs a new spark plug, so I’ll give that a try, but I’m not going to spend too much money on it, as it’s pretty much on it’s last legs anyway.

Currently Reading – You’ve heard of Amundsen and Scott, and probably Shackleton, but like me you might not have heard of Douglas Mawson. I read Mawson’s Will by Lennard Bickel [GoodReads] this week, and was surprised at how I’d missed this adventure tale until now. It wasn’t an easy read, both in terms of it’s content and also the way it was written, but it was very definitely worth sticking with.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Octlantis – A city created by octopuses [LINK]

H is for Hawk – I’m really looking forward to watching this. Having read the book, it will be interesting to see how they are going to translate that to television for an hour.

London Green Spaces Map – I hope my copy of this map is on the way, I managed to snag a free one (had to pay the postage), but it looks really interesting, and I love maps (as you probably already know). If you fancy grabbing one yourself, they’re taking pre-orders for the next printing. I’ll update when mine arrives.

Gunpowder – This looks interesting, will probably make an effort to watch.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – You’ve probably already seen this, but just in case you missed it…

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Quick Links 8th October 2017


Life In General – I had to spend an afternoon fixing the garage door again this week. I think I might have said that I wasn’t certain that I had put enough tension in the spring at the last repair, well I was right. It didn’t take me all that long to put right, and I was a lot quicker second time around!

We had a nice afternoon walk alongside a local river. I’m not sure what it’s actually called, and it doesn’t appear to be named on any of my maps. It was a nice sunny autumn afternoon, and made a nice break in the middle of the week.

I also had a couple of appointments with my Mum at the end of the week, and on Friday the sale of my Grandma’s old house completed, so another chapter closes.

Work  Still doing development work, and moving forward with planning for the remainder of this year and into next.

Allotment. – I’ve been planting my over wintering onion sets and garlic, and starting to tidy the plot up for the winter. There are still quite a few autumn jobs to do, and I’ll be progressing with those over the coming weeks. I’ve had some slug damage on my over-wintering broccoli which is annoying, but hopefully the damage won’t cause too much lasting damage.

Currently Reading – I’ve been reading Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz [LINK] this week. It’s really a book of homage to many things from other authors, tv series, characters and locations in other books, pen manufacturers and a whole variety of other things. It’s a good story but all the hat tipping became a little tiresome towards the end, and particularly when the author wrapped that into the story as well.

2017-10-05 10.17.19I also received a copy of The Almanac – A Seasonal Guide to 2018 by Lia Leendertz [LINK] This is one of those books that traditionally you would have bought each year, but is a tradition that has pretty much died out. I’m hoping that perhaps this will be revitalised with this publication. Each month has details of natural events that are happening that month, seasonal recipes, what you should be planting / harvesting in the garden and a whole host of other useful natural information. I’m going to use it as a kind of daily reader through next year, and I expect it will teach me a few things in the process.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

City Sparrowhawks more successful than their country cousins – [LINK]

Critical moment in fight to save internationally important Gwent Levels – [LINK]

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Runnin’ Down A Dream

It would have been the summer of about 1990 or 1991 and I was mowing lawns to earn a little money, and listening to “Full Moon Fever” on my cassette walkman [turned up loud so I could hear it over the mower engine].

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Quick Links 1st October 2017

Life In General – I get a bit of a sense of deja vu for what I’ve been up to this week, being very much like last week. A few family things with my Mum, including getting her back to driving again following her knee replacement – a milestone achieved. Otherwise I’ve been at home working (see below), and nothing really exciting to report.

img_20170924_114444907.jpgI did get to try the gherkins that I pickled a month ago. There are mixed views on how long you should leave them before trying, but I went for a straight month.

They were pretty good if I do say so myself, and had retained the crunchy texture and not gone soft! I only made two jars, so they’ll be relatively short lived but I am encouraged to perhaps try them again next year.

Following up on last weeks post about maps, I picked up the latest version of my local sheet this week. My how things have changed. It now comes with a digital download, so that you can have the map on your smartphone (or other device). I’ve yet to try this, but it seems like it might be handy. At first glance there are some minor differences but nothing as significant as the changes I post last week comparing the my two older versions.

I also succumbed and bought my first Christmas presents this week. All are items that, in my experience, sell quickly and therefore although I’m a little ahead of time I know that at least I’ll be able to give them as presents. I’m not planning on doing anymore Christmas shopping for a while longer.

Work  Development work all week long, which isn’t particularly exciting to talk about, as it’s mostly involved spreadsheets.

Allotment. – The weather hasn’t really been on my side this week, I’d hoped to get garlic and onion sets in the ground, but due to rain the ground is just a bit too wet to work without compacting it, so I’ve delayed that. No big deal, still plenty of time to get them in.

Currently Reading – I finished rereading J R R Tolkein’s “The Two Towers” [GoodReads], it’s still as good as I remember it to be. Haven’t started anything else yet, not quite sure what I want to read next.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

How Writing 1000 words a Day Changed My Life – [LINK]

Our desire for goods is at the heart of this’: Why Bruce Parry wants us all to live more sustainably – [LINK]

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