Quick Links 3rd July 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. – Problems with our broadband and home phone line this last week has meant a slightly frustrating week trying to do anything online, even when I tried to report the fault I had a problem and ended up having to do it on my iPad (which has a cellular connection) rather than our home WiFi. It’s been on and off all week, and isn’t due to be fixed until the 3rd or 4th of July. A good proportion of this post has therefore been written on my phone and IPad.

We took the dogs to the vets this week for their annual health check and vaccinations. No problems, and we’ve now synchronised their visits which means less trips to the vet from now on (hopefully) although the downside is that the bill now comes at the same time!

It’s also three years since Ruby came home with us, leaving her litter mates behind.

On the way back from the vets we stopped on top of Portsdown Hill to let the dogs have a run. There were lots of swallows flying, catching insects which was great to see, and then totally unplanned the Red Arrows flew overhead. Looking at their schedule they were probably on the way to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I’ve seen the Red Arrows a few times, but never intentionally – just in the right place at the right time – so I’ll be adding this to the list.


Work – I’ve been doing mostly end of the month things this week. Making sure my expenses etc. are in order, and preparing for a couple of meetings next week.


Allotment. – The first proper rain in a while this week, which you can almost hear the allotment soaking up. I’ve transplanted my second lot of cucumbers,  hopefully they will do better than the first ones, which seemed to die over night. I’ve also been starting to list the seeds and plants I’ll need for next season. We’ve been harvesting lettuce, broad beans and loganberries this week and also our first potatoes. 


Currently Reading

Started (and by the time this goes live will have finished) Camino Island by John Grisham [GoodReads].

Also reading The Dark Tower by Stephen King [GoodReads]- which I’m reading for an online group. This is the last in the Dark Tower series, and I’ve been reading this series for nearly a year now. Some have been better than others, but I glad I’ve been taking part in this online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Railways – I love train travel, even on our rather creaky and unreliable UK rail network. I enjoyed looking through the pictures in this BBC article [LINK].


Making a chair – love this little monologue about building an office chair by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell [LINK] & [LINK].


 

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Second 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 if you’re interested.


Work – It’s been a very quiet quarter. I’ve been doing a lot of proposals and business development work, but it has yet to lead to any paid contracts. I think to an extent that uncertainty around Brexit, the General Election, and a few other things mean that things are quieter than they were this time last year, and as we now enter a traditionally quiet time that will probably continue for a while yet. I’m conscious as to how long a contract drought can last before I need to bring in a wage or income from somewhere else. I’m not there yet, but it is something I’m thinking about at the moment.


Allotment – These second quarter months really mark the start of when things really get going in the new season. Although it’s been a little bit odd with quite a few failed or only partial germination, most notably with sweetcorn, courgettes and cucumbers. Second sowings have been more successful, but the timings have been no different to last year, although the weather has been a little bit cooler in April & May, although June was a scorcher! So far this year doesn’t feel as strong as last year, but that’s just the ups and downs of growing.


Books – I’ve reached my GoodReads target of reading 25 books early. It feels like such an arbitrary number to me, I sometimes wonder why I bother with the challenge, but I’ll leave it alone for now.

Highlights this quarter, include Guests of Summer: A House Martin Love Story by Theunis Piersma and Bee Quest by Dave Goulson. Both excellent natural history books and both sadly showing evidence of decline in many of the amazing species on our planet.


Films & TV – Still watching the reruns of  “All Creatures Great & Small“. Although, apart from the Christmas special all have been shown now, and the channel has started back from the first episode again. I have a good few stacked on our DVR still to watch.

I did enjoy the BBCs Line of Duty, although this is in its fourth season, it’s the first one I’ve watched. Although some of it has been a bit of a stretch, it had me watching each week. I’ve also been watching a few things on Amazon Video. Bosch returned for Season 3, and was excellent, it’s a series that keeps getting stronger. I’ve also been catching up on The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead.

Finally I’m going to mention American Gods. I had great hopes for this adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book, and although there were some high points generally it was a disappointment.


Life In General – Although things are moving on there is still a lot to do following the passing of my Dad and Grandma. I suspect that it will be a running theme of the year and dominate a lot of what I do during the course of the year. I’m more aware that I’m thinking about my Dad and being a bit introspective in terms of my own life and it’s direction.

I’m also waiting to hear about my Mum having a knee replacement, which is likely to be sometime before the end of the calendar year, so the upcoming six months, have a certain level of uncertainty about them.

I’ve also been having car trouble, it’s not let me down, but has been back and forth to the garage for a scheduled repair where a part failed repeatedly, this might mean that I have to replace the car in due course, but I’ll see how that goes.

 

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Quick Links 26th June 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. – We’ve had the hottest June day since 1976 with a spell of several days back to back where the temperature was around 28°C & 29°C, coupled with hot sticky nights it’s been difficult getting much done and getting much sleep.

The car has been back in the garage again, following the repair back in April which failed and was repaired again, well it’s failed again. They had the car for two days, and have replaced the failed part with one from a different manufacturer hoping that this will be a more long term fix. What’s not clear is whether this is just bad luck, a bad batch of the same part or something else. I’ll see what happens but I think I might have to consider a new car in the not too distant future. Not an expense that I need.

Spent the weekend moving furniture and doing some odd jobs for my Mum.


Work – A few things going on this week in terms of development work, but otherwise pretty quiet.


Allotment. – There has been no water at the allotment this week following a week. Not the best timing with the weather also being the hottest of the year, the high on the plot was 31°C. It came on briefly at the weekend, not sure whether that’s permanently or not. The rumours as to why it’s been off are pretty funny, but I’m not going to repeat them here; although they sound plausible I don’t know whether they are actually true.


Currently Reading

I had a few spare minutes in proximity to my local bookshop this week, and picked up a little impulse purchase – The Legend of Podkin One Ear [GoodReads], it had good reviews, but unfortunately I didn’t really enjoy it. It was okay, but nothing special.

Also reading The Dark Tower by Stephen King [GoodReads]- which I’m reading for an online group. This is the last in the Dark Tower series, and I’ve been reading this series for nearly a year now. Some have been better than others, but I glad I’ve been taking part in this online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


The Dogometer– It’s been so hot this week, that we’ve had to employ the Dogometer, to keep a check on the temperature.


Heat Wave Common Sense – There have been a number of news stories and tales of common sense failure with regards to dress codes and the heatwave. Boys in Exeter went to school in skirts [LINK] to protest that they weren’t allowed to wear shorts, and a call centre worker was sent home for wearing shorts so came back in a dress [LINK]. There seems to have been a failure of common sense in some cases. I’m not sure why a call centre has such a strict dress code when their employees are never face to face with the public.

I can understand being appropriately dressed to come to work, but there does need to be a certain amount of managers discretion and common sense. I don’t miss having the “expectation” that I would always have to wear a tie for work. It didn’t make any difference to my performance, and I think being comfortable in what you’re wearing can make a difference in work output.


In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, it’s now emerging that there may be more tower blocks potentially clad in flammable materials [LINK]. It doesn’t seem clear yet whether this is a failure in building regulations i.e. that the material complies with the law as written, or the wrong material was used either accidentally or deliberately. Whatever the reason, there is unsurprisingly a lot of anger about it.


 

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Quick Links 19th June 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 won’t have escaped anyone’s attention of the shocking images from London this week. A massive tragedy, followed by more government incompetence, and a demonstration from our PM that she’s really not up to that particular job.

Outside of that I’ve mostly been doing random gardening jobs for my Mum this week. She’s had hedges that needed cutting, a gate that need a hinge replacing and lawns that needed mowing. I’m sure there were a few other things as well, but they’ve slipped my mind for the time being.

I also made a start on sorting out my Dad’s shed. It’s a job that I had put off from the cold weather of winter until now, and emotionally was a lot harder than I was expecting.

​I came across a copy of an old woodworking magazine, it was older than me and had projects for building a surfboard and an ironing board. What I didn’t spot until someone commented on it on Facebook, was the plans for a sewing cabinet.

My Dad started making one for my Mum before I was born, but never finished it. It became a bit of a family joke. I think this magazine was probably the one that contained the plans for that project.

I also came across a few different things that we’d bought him at Christmas over the years, little stocking fillers, things like that. One of those was a little tin clockwork fish. I took it home and let it have a swim in the dog’s pool. ​


Work – Not really that busy this week, gardening jobs have really taken up most of my time, although I have been progressing some of the Solent University work in between. I did move things around on Wednesday to make a meeting at the request of a client, which subsequently turned out to be a waste of time, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.


Allotment. – The plot is really starting to come into it’s own, and I took a moment to record an update video, that I posted here earlier in the week. I also did the same for the potting shed, which I’ll post now:

I replaced the courgette plants with some I bought from one of the local nurseries. Three different courgette plants and one patti pann squash. Hopefully these will fair a little better than the last ones. I’ve also sown some more lettuce and beetroot, so that there’s some succession of crops. I had some gerkin seeds too, and they’ve gone in. I’ve never tried these before but my guess would be that they’re not too dissimilar to cucumbers. Assuming that they grow, I’ll soon find out.


Currently Reading

No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein [GoodReads]

Also Song of Susannah by Stephen King [GoodReads] – which I’m reading for an online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


No Is Not Enough – Naomi Klein – Naomi Klein has a new book, which I have started reading this week. Here’s a link to a recent Guardian interview with the author [LINK]


Recording the Sounds of Extinction – One from @Documentally’s newsletter (subscription link) from last week:

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Allotment Video Update 13th June 2017

It’s been over a month since I last made a video at the allotment. Mostly this is because I wasn’t able to get down to the plot with my camera when it wasn’t raining, but things have really moved on.

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Quick Links 12th June 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 General Election week, which I think it would be fair to say didn’t go the way the Prime Minister intended! For me I went and voted, and watched the outcome and analysis.

It would seem to be that for a Prime Minister who went for a snap election with a clear 20 point lead, and came out with a hung parliament that the future does not look bright, even with what appears to be quite a shaky deal with the DUP, given that the two parties have some clear differences.

I suspect she probably has a few months at worst or a couple of years at most. There are two clear points that her party may decide to ditch her. Either just after the Queens speech – they need her for that to keep Jeremy Corbyn and Labour from laying claim to being the party of Government. Beyond that they don’t need her for the Brexit negotiations, but they might see an opportunity to keep her and if the deal isn’t great, having a suitable scapegoat to lay the blame on. There are a lot of potential, but what’s certain is that I can’t see her leading the Tory party into the next general election. They simply can’t take that risk given her performance this time around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside of that I’ve mostly been doing family stuff. I picked up my Dad’s ashes from the undertaker’s, we’re getting ready to scatter them in the near future.

Three years ago this week was the first time that we met Ruby:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s grown a bit since then:

I’ve also been seeing a lot of baby birds this week too. Mostly sparrows and robins, still dependent on their parents for food, but it seems able to fly.


Work – Working on a few different things this week, little bits of effort on lots of different things. A proposal that I’d agreed to be a part of didn’t progress, another one looks like it might be delayed due to timings.


Allotment. – The weeds are really growing well, I spent a lot of time at the weekend clearing as many as I could. The weather has helped them more than some of the other plants it seems. The courgettes and cucumber plants that I planted out last week are not doing well. The cucumbers have failed completely (although I have some more which are nearly ready to be planted out) but I don’t have any more courgettes, so will have to sow some more.

I lifted my garlic and overwintering red onions. Neither were particularly impressive, the onions weren’t too bad, but the garlic was particularly disappointing. That’s just the way it is though, some things do better than others and it isn’t consistent from year to year.


Currently Reading

I started The Delicate Storm by Giles Blunt [LINK] at the beginning of the week and had finished by the end. I like crime novels, and it’s always good to discover a new author. This year I’ve only read a couple so far, my tastes tending more towards non-fiction. I did start another not long afterwards though – The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home [LINK].

Also Song of Susannah by Stephen King [GoodReads] – which I’m reading for an online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


A Tour of Dave Goulson’s Garden – Entomologist, Professor, author and YouTuber Dave Goulson takes us on a tour of his garden.


It looks like it’s going to be another year when a lot of the people who were famous to me in my childhood sadly pass away. I guess that’s inevitable in a way, they were my age or thereabouts when I was a child, and now they’re that much older. So far it’s been Roger Moore and John Noakes in particular, and now Adam West – the Batman of my childhood:

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Quick Links 5th June 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 pretty shit week outside of my own little world; the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement; another terrorist attack, this one in London. Inside my own bubble things have been much quieter. I’ve been getting on with various work related things, and doing some family related stuff.


Work – A lot of business development work this week; some meetings related to that; and I feel like I’ve packed a lot in for a four-day week after the bank holiday.


Allotment. – The weeds have been having a whale of a time with all the recent wet and sunny spells, but so also have some of the plants. the broad beans are doing phenomenally well, but the radishes are now over, although the second sowing is coming along. I’ve had to pull up all of the rocket and mustard due to flea beetle. I might sow some more, but I’ll need to get the bed ready again first. My courgette, sweetcorn and first lot a cucumbers all went out onto the plot at the weekend. If the weather holds, it won’t be long before they’re producing.


Currently Reading

I’ve not had much time for reading this week, and have gone to bed pretty tired out most evenings, so haven’t managed anything other than a few pages of Song of Susannah by Stephen King [GoodReads] – which I’m reading for an online group.


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Truffle Shuffle Pizza


When I was  at primary school about 5 or 6 years old, we were studying the Blue Whale. The biggest mammal on the planet. We tried to build a life size drawing on the wall of our classroom, needless to say we were unsuccessful, although we did manage to get the length, other dimensions were not to scale. It went from the playground entrance, through the cloakroom area into the classroom and all the way to the fire exit at the other side of the room. I remember it to this day, over 40 years later. Maybe it was that memory, but I enjoyed this Atlantic article even more, probably as a result of that experience and memory. [LINK]


Apparently if you can explain to the security guy at the airport why you have a 3-D printed mouse penis in your luggage, you can explain any kind of science to anyone [LINK]


Paris Climate Change Agreement – There has been plenty of media coverage on Donald Trump’s announcement regarding leaving the Paris Climate Change Agreement, so I’m not going to link to any one particular piece here. You also probably know what I’m going to say next. It’s a bad decision. It’s a stupid decision. It’s a decision by someone who probably hasn’t bothered to look at the facts.

It matters, and it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter because it won’t stop many others taking action. It doesn’t matter, because there is time for the USA to retract it’s decision.

It matters because there are several hundred thousand US jobs in the renewables industry, if the US shift towards oil and coal (where jobs are declining, and are unlikely to grow due to automation in those industries), those jobs will be at risk as production ramps up in China and Europe. It matters because other countries are already talking about additional taxes on American goods.

It’s too early to say exactly how this will play out, but I am in no doubt in my mind that it is a bad decision.

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