Quick Links 3rd April 2017

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.

Life In General.  – Nothing much to report this week, it’s just been day to day routine. Ruby’s foot seems to be fine and there’s been no recurrence of the limping. It was Wilson’s 7th birthday, it seems that it wasn’t that long ago that he was just a pup.

Work. – I’ve had a relatively quiet week, and have been looking at all my end of year things e.g. accounts, and have been setting up my systems for next financial year. I had an email enquiry regarding a job, but it’s not something I can do so had to turn it down, although I did pass some recommendations on, so hopefully I’ve maintain the goodwill if there’s another job that I might be interested in from that organisation in the future.

Allotment. – I’m getting ready for the season ahead, picking out seeds and trying to sow as the weather allows. I managed to get some lettuce, mizzuna, rocket, mustard, chard & carrot sown. I’m hoping for another good season.

Currently Reading

I’m finished reading The Cthulhu Casebooks – Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove [GoodReads] – it was pretty good overall, if you’re a pure Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes reader you probably won’t enjoy it, but as stories go it’s okay.

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King [GoodReads] and just starting Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King [GoodReads] the next book in the series, I’m reading for an online group.

The Last Word On Nothing Blog – The Sock Barometer – [LINK] I seem to loose a sock or two every now and again, in recent weeks it seems to be happening more frequently. I’ve actually got a pile of the things on top of my dresser all waiting for their partner to return. I’ve actually taken in some instances (mostly wellington boot socks) to matching odd pairs when one of them develops a hole too large to effectively darn.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

IT Movie

 War of the Planet of the Apes Movie

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First 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.

Work – Last year was my first full year being self-employed, it had its ups and downs, and as I enter my second year I’d like to be a little busier than I am but in some ways with everything that has been going on generally in life (see below), having some extra time for that has been useful. I’m trying to grow things a little this year, and am looking at new areas of work to help spread my horizons a little more and hopefully bring in some more work over time.

Allotment – The first quarter is all about getting things ready really. The weather hasn’t been that kind in terms of being able to get onto the plot but the last few weeks of this quarter have seen things picking up. We’ve enjoyed fresh vegetables all through the winter and continue to do so in the spring. I’m looking forward to what I hope will be another good year on the plot, with it providing a significant proportion of our food during the coming months.

Books – Well according to GoodReads I’ve read 18 books so far this year. That feels like a lot, but a couple were short books or novellas, so perhaps it’s not as many as it at first seems. There wasn’t really anything that stood out particularly, although some of the images in Yellowstone by David Quammen were amazing.

Films & TV – TV has been a bit of a disappointment so far this year, I had high hopes for the adaptation of Len Deighton’s SS-GB, but in the end I was pretty disappointed by it. The one thing I have been watching and enjoying though is “All Creatures Great & Small“. This was first shown in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and I remember it well from my childhood. One of the Freeview channels has been repeating episodes each afternoon, and we’ve been recording them and then watching them when nothing else is on. They hold up pretty well and it’s been quite an indulgence to rewatch them.

On the film front there are a few that stick in my mind. Rogue One was a highlight at the start of the year. I do like Star Wars films, and this one is no exception. It’s also the first film that I’ve been to watch in the cinema for quite a long time. I’d also add The Magnificent Seven reboot with Denzel Washington & Chris Pratt; Hell or High Water with Jeff Bridges & Chris Pine; The Legend of Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgard & Samuel L Jackson; In a Valley of Violence with Ethan Hawke & John Travolta; and finally Swallows and Amazons, another reboot.

Life In General –  As regular readers will know, I lost my Dad at the end of last year and then early in January my Grandma. Loosing my Dad has been particularly hard and I still think it will be sometime before things return to “normal”, whatever that looks like. Much of these first few months of this year has been taken up with various things in connection with these two events – solicitors, dealing with companies, bureaucracy, etc. I am a little astounded by how little some companies care about their customers in these situations and how just getting something right first time would be essential. It seems that this isn’t the case for many of them.

I’ve also had some health issues of my own to deal with, and that will be ongoing for a while I think.

Being my own boss has helped give me the time to deal with a lot of this, I know that were I still working for my old employer that this wouldn’t have been possible in the same way, and ultimately may have lead to more conflict. However I can’t continue to give this much time to some of these things, it’s not critical yet, but something I am conscious of and need to keep under review, and try to resolve some of the outstanding items.


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Quick Links 27th March 2017

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.

Life In General.  – It’s been a bit of a crazy week with family stuff, I’ve been taking my Mum to a few routine medical appointments which all happened within a day or two of one another, and in between I’ve had a few work meetings and other things to do. We have also now moved onto BST from GMT, with the clocks going forward on Sunday. An hours less sleep is always harder than when they go the other way, and although I like the longer evenings it means it’s a bit darker in the mornings again for a bit when I’m walking the dogs.

There was terrible news from London, which I’m not going to regurgitate here as that has been done to nth degree everywhere in the main stream media.

On Friday Ruby started to limp. This was after her afternoon dog walk, so it’s possible she’s sprained / torn a muscle or bruised her foot. We don’t tend to panic with these things, there was no blood and no obvious sign of something sticking out of her paw e.g. a thorn, so we monitored it. She wasn’t very happy all through Friday evening, but on Saturday morning she was up and about and the limp seemed to have vanished. If there’s a recurrence then she might be on her way to the vet Monday but it doesn’t seem likely at the moment.

Work. – A meeting that I was supposed to be having on Wednesday was cancelled at the last minute, but this meant that there was more time for another meeting, which was very productive. I found out that the last of the proposals that I’d been working on a few weeks ago was unsuccessful which was disappointing, but the client did give some good feedback which was helpful. At the end of the week I also had a query regarding some potential short term work, which I’ve responded positively to, but at the moment the brief is a little vague so I don’t know whether this is something that I’ll be involved in or not (or that the potential client will think I’m the right person for the job).

Allotment. – I’m looking much more now at what seeds I can start sowing, now that the weather is warming up (although we have had a couple of really cold days with windchill, so we might not be quite there yet). I managed to get my early potatoes in on Sunday, and also sowed some more broad beans. Some of these are to fill up gaps where the seed planted at the end of last year failed to germinate, and another patch where some of the over-wintering brassicas were which won’t be used for the time being. It was a gloriously sunny spring morning and life felt good to be on the plot.

Currently Reading

I finished Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman [GoodReads], I was surprised by how much norse mythology was already familiar to me. Other than comics and films I’m not sure where I would have picked this up from.

I’m now reading The Cthulhu Casebooks – Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove [GoodReads] – there are so many “modern” Sherlock Holmes stories out there, but this one is reading okay so far, although I think there are a few factual errors in terms of some of the details that got missed by the fact checkers or editors.

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King [GoodReads] I’m reading for an online group.

This story [LINK] about a dog and a drone made me smile a bit and that the owner of the drone got a suitable dose of karma. This isn’t a particular problem around here at the moment, although the number of drones that I see has gone up recently and we get the occasional one being flown around the playing fields near us. I have to say though that most pilots seem to go out of their way to avoid being too near people or dogs being walked.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

I’ve reviewed the academic papers on both sides of the argument about whether or not certain pesticides have an impact on bee populations and my view is that the evidence strongly supports that they have a significant adverse effect [disclosure: I am a biologist / ecologist by training]. So I am pleased to see this news [LINK] that the EU might be about to go for a total ban. I’m not holding my breath, because it may not happen, or our own UK government might decide it doesn’t need to do anything because of Brexit (we are still members of the EU and haven’t left yet, even if the PM signs the letter triggering article 50).

Finally a quick favour if you’ve read this far. Quick Links goes out every Monday (it used to be a Tuesday but I changed it because Monday seemed better). It is though a review of the week just gone, so sending it out at the start of the next week seems a bit odd. What do you think? Do you have a preferred day? Can you click a single answer in the poll below and let me know. Thank you.

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Planting Out Spring Broccoli

This is a quick “How I” video:

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Allotment Update 19th March 2017

Allotment update recorded last weekend.

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Quick Links 20th March 2017

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.

Life In General. A bit of an odd week this last week. It would have been my Dad’s 80th birthday, so we marked it privately, seems strange that it’s still only four months that he’s been gone. At times it feels much longer, others like it was just yesterday.

I also spent a day helping to clear my Grandma’s garden shed and garage, it’s amazing how much “stuff” we all seem to accumulate over time, and she was no exception.

Work. A meeting and a few phone calls probably sums up my work output this week. It’s been a quiet week, and there’s still be no further feedback on any of the proposals that were submitted recently. My reading of that is they have been unsuccessful, so back to the drawing board. This coming week is similarly light at this moment in time.

Allotment. (I’m going to add a regular allotment section to Quick Links from now on, as things are picking up). The plot is starting to move forward again, as the weather improves. This last week has mostly been dry, and the plot is starting to dry out sufficiently to get on it without fear of compacting the soil too much. I’m about to put out spring broccoli plants, as well as my early potatoes. For some reason I was feeling like I had gotten behind with my planting, however on checking last years journal I find that I’m in exactly the same week for these two things as I was last year (assuming that they are in the soil by next weekend. Lime is down for the brassicas (to help combat club root, amongst other things), and I need to dig my potato trenches, although I’m considering a slightly different method this year, so I need to decide exactly what I am going to do.

Into The Woods: how one man survived in the wilderness for 27 years [LINK] I’ve mentioned before about a hermit lifestyle, this guy actually did it, although I don’t agree with some of his ultimate methods for getting by day to day.

Flying High: Why Peregrines are kings of the urban jungle [LINK] I saw my first buzzard from the garden this last week (bringing this years tally up to 20 species), they are a common sight and we’ve have had a kestrel in the garden as well this year. Birds of prey seem to still be very much persecuted in some areas of the Country, despite being illegal it is not uncommon to see reports of them being shot, trapped or poisoned. It’s good to see that some species are able to adapt to us.

It does however seem that we don’t learn the lessons of the past with respect to some other birds of prey. [LINK]

Currently Reading

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter [GoodReads] a birthday present and the “official” sequel to The War of the Worlds. I finished reading this last week and although I enjoyed it, I did think the second half of the book was a little disappointing. I can’t say why without spoiling the story line but I’d still say it’s worth a read either if you’ve read War of the Worlds or you like Stephen Baxter’s other books. I’m not on to:

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman [GoodReads], after only one evening of reading I feel like I am going to get through this one fairly quickly.

A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life (Journals Vol. 3) by Thomas Merton [GoodReads]

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King [GoodReads] I’m reading for an online group.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Here’s Looking At You Kid [LINK] Bush Stone Curlew that likes to admire it’s own reflection.

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Bosch Season 3 Trailer

I loved the first two seasons of Bosch and it looks as if the third season is going to build on the strength of the first two. Looking forward to it.

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