Days of Wet Dog Walks (Quick Links 108)

Feeling better this week but not 100%, so I’ve been easing back gently. This virus has really knocked me for six, but I think I’m over the worst of it, although not pushing too hard.

Although it’s been a quiet week, I’ve been doing a couple of things for my Mum. I still have some odd jobs to do for her, but the weather hasn’t been co-operating so they’re waiting for drier  days.

We’ve had a couple of pretty stormy days and it seems that my coat barely has a chance to dry out from my morning dog walk to the one in the afternoon. They’re not really fans of the bad weather either, but I’ve never known them say know.

Work – Been a bit busier this week, although mostly this has been preparing for meetings that I have in this coming week.

Allotment – Total wash out with the weather  this week. I’ve been down a couple of times to check that nothing’s blown away in the strong winds we’ve had this week, and to harvest veg for dinner but that’s about it.

Currently Reading – My reading has slowed down again, as I’ve been a bit more active again this week. I have however read Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant [GoodReads] over the course of the  week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not sure what will be up next as yet.

The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]

Do What You Say You Are Going To Do – Over the years this is something that I’ve said time and again to members of staff, friends, colleagues, people I’ve coached and to myself. If you say you are going to do something, actually do it. If for some reason you no longer can then let people know.

It would seem however that the UK government, within only a few weeks of promising to reduce plastic pollution as part of it’s 25 Year Environment Plan, is about to take a different course, and oppose new recycling targets [LINK]. Now of course these are EU targets and I can already hear all the Brexiteers saying that this is exactly what we should be doing – charting our own course, being masters of our own destiny etc. etc. – but seriously our recycling is already inadequate. The ability to recycle varies depending on where you live, particularly with kerbside collections, but the proposals for 65% of urban waste recycled by 2035 is achievable, but it requires better infrastructure, markets for materials and many things to make it a reality, and obviously this is more than just plastic recycling, but it feels that if the government is simply going to say it can’t support this, it  won’t actually be meaningful target set. It’s not going to wash saying that we’ll set a tougher target – if you were going to do that why don’t you sign up and exceed the EU proposal, that is after all something that you could boast about.

Is This The End Of Civilisation? We Could Take A Different Path – Interesting commentary by George Monbiot [LINK] and I look forward to reading what his proposals are. I am struck by just how selfish we have become as a race, and how governments across the globe seemingly driven by capitalism are continuing to take us down this route, rather than showing true leadership.

I enjoyed reading this  Twitter stream about Tokyo by @craigmod.

So YouTube have written to all of their “creators” – of which I am one – telling them that if they don’t reach new criteria for monetisation then the ability to monetise their videos will be removed [LINK]. I note that they don’t actually say that there won’t still be ads placed before or during their videos, just that they won’t be able to make any money from them. Now I do monetise most of my videos already, but I don’t receive any income from them because I don’t currently meet the criteria either (min. 500 subscribers). The new criteria (min. 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours/year), I won’t meet on subscribers numbers obviously but I do get the minimum watch hours (by quite some margin).

On the face of it, this makes little difference to me (unless I can magically find c.700 more subscribers before the cut off date of 20th February), but what annoys me is this is (allegedly) in response to some fairly high profile failings of YouTube in managing the creators who are making an income from less than savoury videos i.e. ones that don’t meet their eligibility criteria for monetisation. Some of these are creators who have massive followings and are able to make a living from their videos. These new criteria won’t actually affect them one bit.

So instead of properly enforcing their existing criteria YouTube are simply doing something for the sake of doing something and not actually tackling the problem. They claim that they have consulted creators like me in arriving at this decision, and whilst I can only say that I haven’t personally been contacted, if I had been I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to this sort of proposal. It would be a little bit like turkeys voting for Christmas.

Anyway as it won’t make any difference to me, I’ll still be making the occasional allotment video, which I will no longer be able to monetise, but as I’ve said above I suspect there will still be adverts placed on it. If there are then I will be moving to a different platform. The alternative is to try and reach 1000 subscribers by Feb 20th. If you fancy subscribing to me channel you can find it here.

This Stephen King Book List [LINK] is an interesting take. On such a large body of work it must be really difficult just to pick one or even a small selection. I’d add Firestarter and IT – I wonder if the latter wasn’t included simply because of the recent film release, but it is one I vividly remember reading long before it was a TV movie let alone a blockbuster.

I’m pleased to see Skeleton Crew on there though, my favourite collection of his short stories. There’s also a couple that I haven’t read (Revival and The Long Walk), so I might have to keep an eye out for those.

That’s the lot for now. If you’ve enjoyed this post please consider giving it a share on social media via one of the links below.

Similarly you can subscribe to all new posts by using the  link in the right-hand toolbar (and unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in each email).

Have a good week and I’ll be back soon.

Posted in books, Garden / Allotment, Quick Links, work | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cough, Cough (Quick Links 107)

I’ve spent nearly all week feeling unwell. Fortunately not the dreaded flu, just a virus of some kind, with a hacking cough that has kept me awake at night and generally feeling like my chest and head are going to implode. The usual combination of rest, plenty of fluids etc. seems to have been working, and hopefully I’ll kick it relatively quickly. Other than reading (see below) I haven’t done much else this week, so this is going to be short.

Work – I’ve been keeping on top of my emails, but that’s about it this week. Fortunately I didn’t have any meetings or phone calls booked in so I’ve been able to get away with a relatively low profile. With my persistent coughing it’s probably a good thing that I haven’t had to do too much talking.

Allotment – I’d planned to cover the fruit bed with mulch at some point this week, but between being sick and the weather this hasn’t happened. I did manage to sow a few onion “pillules” into some modules – these are normally directly sown into the ground around March, but they didn’t do too well last year, so I thought giving them a headstart might work better – we’ll see. Other than that it has been a quiet week on the plot.

Currently Reading – I’ve had plenty of time to read this week while trying to fight off whatever lurgy it is that I’ve caught.

I’ve read:

Creole Bell by James Lee Burke [GoodReads]

The Happiest Days of our Lives by Wil Wheaton [GoodReads]

Spaceman by Mike Massimino [GoodReads]

and I’m currently reading Pax by Sarah Pennypacker [GoodReads]

I would recommend all of them, although I did find Creole Bell hard going, but that might just be because I was at the worst of being sick when reading that book.

The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]

Well I said that this was going to be short, and that’s about it for this  week. Hope to resume normal service next week or as soon as I’m feeling better.


Posted in books, Garden / Allotment, Quick Links, work | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

May The Force Be With You (Quick Links 106)

I finally went to see Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi on Monday. I’d been waiting until the schools went back after Christmas to go to a showing that I could be pretty sure would be quiet – there were only about a dozen of us in the screening. I’ve also managed to avoid all spoilers.

I really enjoyed it, there were a couple of things that felt a little weak, but overall a good film. It made me miss my Dad a lot, as were he still alive and healthy we would probably have gone to see the film together. I guess those days are gone for good.

I spent some time doing some odd jobs for my Mum, as so often happens these things turn out to be more involved than when you start, so weather permitting I’ll be going back this coming week to finish off as I had to get a couple of things in order to complete one of the jobs.

We seem to have a lot of houses up for sale in our road at the moment. There are three currently (including one of our immediate neighbours) and two others have also recently sold. These things seem to happen like that, but whatever happens it seems likely we’ll be getting new neighbours soon.

My plan of cutting back non-essential spending seems to be going well, early days though. The plan is to go at least until March.

Work – Most people seem to be back at work now, and things have been a little bit busier. I’ve been mostly bouncing emails backwards and forwards discussing a couple of projects

Allotment – Potato season starts again. I picked up my seed potatoes from the allotment shop on the weekend, and I’ve set them to chit (grow shoots). I’ll probably be planting them in a couple of months time, depending on the weather.

The weather has been a bit drier this week so I’ve also been weeding the fruit bed. The main problem as ever, is the creeping buttercup, but at least for the time being, I’ve gotten it all out, and now the area is ready for some mulch – I’ll probably be using some straw for that.

Currently Reading – I’ve finished reading  “Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World” by Alice Roberts [GoodReads]. A really good read and I’d recommend it. Since finishing it however I haven’t really been able to settle into something else yet.

The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]

I Cooked this during the week. Lovely:

If You’ve Liked What You’ve Read In This Post

Please consider giving it a share on social media via one of the links below.

Similarly you can subscribe to all new posts by using the  link in the right-hand toolbar (and unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in each email).

Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan – This plan has been promised for such a long time I’ve lost track of how long it has been awaited. Ultimately it wasn’t worth the wait, yet another opportunity by government missed. As and when a plan of this duration is published it is always going to be difficult to get things right, but this plan needs more short term action and mechanisms to deliver (including legislation). Sadly the plan just doesn’t go far enough or look at some of the other areas where action is needed and not just those that are currently in the headlines. [Guardian Article]

Carillion Crisis – How this has been allowed to happen is one thing, but whether or not the government should bail out the company is quite another. In my view there shouldn’t been a simple bail out. It needs something more sophisticated. Companies fail everyday, and I don’t see the government stepping in to bail them out, so I don’t think this should be the exception. The problem is of course just how big, and how many important contracts the company has (which again raises the question as to how this has been allowed to happen). Some, dare I say HS2, could be retendered, others need some immediate action to allow them to continue e.g. health service catering and facilities contracts. Not an easy problem to fix, but something needs to happen quickly.

Was this whale trying to save a life? – Fascinating footage of a whale seemingly trying to keep a diver away from a Tiger Shark.

Not sure what the coming week holds, as I have a few things that I want to do but they’ll be a little bit dependent on the weather. Have to wait and see I guess.

Posted in books, Film, Garden / Allotment, Memories, Quick Links, walking, Wildlife/Nature, work | Tagged , , , ,

Chickens Outnumber Humans 3 to 1 (Quick Links 105)

It’s been a very wet and windy start to the year, with the arrival of Storm Eleanor and a general period of unsettled weather. By and large we seem to have escaped the worst of the storms although we need see some rather high tides when walking the dogs at Portchester Castle (see above). The moat is normally dry but the high tide had pushed water most of the way around to a reasonable depth.

We had a little rodent visitor during the week. A little mouse found it’s way into my office, and although I tried to catch and release it back outside, Wilson caught and ate it before I had the chance.

A Slight Change to the layout of these posts. I thought I’d start to number these posts rather than use the date. Looking at the records in the admin part of my blog software there are 106 “Quick Links” entries, but two of these weren’t truly quick links so deducting those means that this one is Quick Links 105. I’ve also included something from one of the books I’ve been reading to add something unique to the post title. I’ll follow this layout for a while and see how it goes.

Work – It’s been a quiet return to work for me this week. Catching up with a few contacts and trying to get the ball rolling again. It seems as if quite a few people have elected to take the extra few days and don’t return until Monday 8th.

Allotment – The strong winds and accompanying rain have left the allotment a little bit the worst for wear, and exceedingly wet underfoot. I’ve had to resecure the netting over the brassica cage which had been blown open, but that’s about the worst of it.

As I’ve not been able to get on the plot, I’ve been making sure I’ve got all the seeds, plants etc. I need for the upcoming season. I’ve placed an order to fill some gaps.

I’ve also planted the remaining broad bean seeds that I had, so that I’ll hopefully have some extra plants to fill any gaps in the bed on the plot.

Currently Reading – I finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s “New York 2140” [GoodReads] on New Years Day, which means it’s technically the first book I’ve finished in 2018, even if I was reading it for most of the week before Christmas and up to New Year. It was good and very believable in terms of a potential future for New York with ice caps melted and sea level rise and the city becoming Venice like.

I followed that by reading “Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions”
by David Attenborough [GoodReads]. This very much reads like a Gerald Durrell adventure and is similar in many respects, but is a great read.

Following that I started reading “Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World”
by Alice Roberts [GoodReads]. These latter two books where both Christmas presents from people who know me well, and the quote in the title of this post comes from this book. The ten species – dogs, wheat, cattle, Maize, Potatoes, Chickens, Rice, Horses, Apples, Humans – all seem to have interesting backstories and it’s entertainingly written.

I’ve set my Good Reads reading challenge to 3o books for 2018, a little bit higher than last year but not significantly so, and still quite a bit less than the number I eventually managed to read in 2017. It’s not really about the numbers for me, so I’m not sure why I bother with the challenge in this way, but I do like to keep track of what I have read.

Posted in books, Garden / Allotment, Quick Links, walking, Wildlife/Nature | 1 Comment

Happy New Year 2018

2017 is over welcome 2018!

I think as I enter 2018 that I do so with an element of uncertainty. Not only uncertainty personally but uncertainty generally when I look at the state of the world at large I think it is trepidation that I move forward into the New Year.

I’m still working on what I think my goals and targets will be for this year but having said that I think I need to cut through the uncertainty that I feel personally and try and carve a path for myself that is as stable and calm as possible.

I am planning on not spending any money between now and my birthday in March. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be buying the essentials – groceries, petrol for the car, things that I need to keep my business running, and anything else that falls into that category. What I’m thinking is the luxuries – things like books DVDs, etc. The reason for this is partly that I have a lot of books already that I haven’t read, and I don’t really need any more at this point in time, and also that we need to be careful about money at the moment. If I remember to I’ll try and keep an update on how I’m getting on with this, in my weekly blog posts.

Which brings me quite nicely to my blog which of course you’re reading at the moment. I’m going to try and continue with at least weekly posts but I’ve not been feeling the love for it as much as I have done in the past so I’m not quite sure what this year entails for the blog. I’m not going to be running a blog survey this year as I have done in the past because I’m not really clear in my mind where the blog is going to go so I’m going to wait and see what happens. In part this is because my personal journal hasn’t been updated as frequently as I would like this year so I’m going to take a look at that as well and maybe more of my thoughts will go into my personal journal or possibly they will go on to the blog, I don’t know, I’ll wait-and-see. It might just be that I need to mix up those weekly posts rather than keep them in their current format, I don’t know.

At the moment my diary for 2018 is looking quite blank there are a few bits and pieces in the year but I have plenty of capacity for work and other things, and one of my aims is to try and fill those blanks with some work if I can. I do think I need to be more focused on my work this year to try and overcome the lull that I had during 2017.

Posted in books, Garden / Allotment, Life, work | 1 Comment

Fourth Quarter Review 2017

Each year for the past few years I’ve been doing a year end review; last year I split that across the year, doing one at the end of each quarter. This year I’m going to try and do the same as last and do a quarterly review – books I’ve read, films/TV programmes I’ve watched and other things related to life, work and the allotment. The 2017 Quarter One Review is here, Quarter Two is here and Quarter Three here if you’re interested.

Work – Quarter four hasn’t been any different to the rest of the year. In summary a lot of work (unpaid) being spent pursuing potential paid work – writing bids, discussing proposals with clients and potential clients. I hope that this improves a little a lot in 2018, and I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking in terms of what that means for next year and beyond.

Allotment – A good end to the year. With all the family things that have been happening this year, I’ve still managed to find enough time to keep on top of what’s needed at the plot. I am conscious of the amount of time it takes though and so not sure how easy this is going to be next year.

Books – My highlights for this quarter are “Mawson’s Will” by Lennard Bickel [GoodReads] and “Vacationland” by John Hodgman [GoodReads]. Very different books from one another and stand out for different reasons. The former because I wasn’t aware of Douglas Mawson until I read the book  and the latter having the credit for making me chuckle.

Films & TV – Sadly there is nothing that really stands out this quarter. It’s been really difficult finding anything of particular note to watch. I’ve enjoyed “Rick Stein’s Road to Mexico“, although I haven’t yet managed to watch all of  the episodes.

Life In General – This final quarter of the year has been just as hectic as the rest of the year. I don’t really want to talk about much of it, partly because it’s private but also because I’m not really sure where my head is at over some of it. I suspect that some of this will continue into next year and I just hope that I am able to navigate it as calmly as possible.


Posted in Being Positive, books, Film, Fork To Fork, Garden / Allotment, Life, Self-sufficient, tv, Video | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Last Week Of The Year – Quick Links 31st December 2017

This is going to be short. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to exist at all or not.

It’s been a quiet and busy week in equal measure. We had a pleasant Christmas Day and Boxing Day, sharing them with my Mum, and exchanging a few gifts. I’ve got quite a few new books to read over the coming weeks, so that should keep me out of mischief if nothing else does!

The turkey was mysteriously very tough to eat, and not really that nice, which is a shame when you’ve gone to the trouble, but the rest of the meal was more than substantial, although I still didn’t have much of an appetite after being sick last week.

Unfortunately my Mum’s car broke down on Boxing Day – although we didn’t actually realise it at the time – just as she got home. She asked me to look at it the next day and although at first I couldn’t find a problem, when I took it for a drive it was evident that it was undrivable, and had to call the breakdown service. They were able to diagnose the problem but couldn’t fix it roadside, so towed the car to the garage where it stayed until they were able to get the relevant part and return it to us on Friday. No great problem, but a bit of a nuisance and a change in plans for the remainder of the week.


Work – I’ve been checking emails, and not doing much else. I still need to finish my 2018 planning and targets, but I wanted to reflect on these over the Christmas break and finish that in January.

Allotment – We’ve had snow, a lot of rain and some high winds this week, so not much  to report from the plot. I am however starting to think about next season, and I really need to look at what seeds & plants I need and get them ordered.

Currently Reading – I started Kim Stanley Robinson’s “New York 2140” [GoodReads] and enjoying it so far. I suspect that it will see me into the New Year as it’s quite a big book and I seem to be reading quite slowly. Once that’s done I’m not sure what’ll be next as I have quite a few to choose from after Christmas.

That’s it for this week folks, I did say it would be short. There’ll be a Quarter Four review later and possibly something for the New Year on Monday. For now though, I hope you have a great New Years celebration if you do, and service will probably return to normal next Sunday or the Sunday after.


Posted in Birds, books, Garden / Allotment, Quick Links, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments