Marathon Man (Quick Links 120)

Well this week has seen a real change in the weather, suddenly much warmer and brighter, I’ve made the switch from wellingtons to hiking boots on my dog walks and if this keeps up there’s a real danger of shorts – you have been warned! We ended the week with some thunderstorms last evening and a drop of rain, but the sun was back out again this morning.

It gave me a proper opportunity to get into our garden at the start of the week and do a few jobs that I’ve been putting off because it was too cold / wet / unappealing. It was really nice to be out in the garden and an opportunity to see what’s going on. I saw more butterflies in one afternoon than I’ve seen all year so far. It’s a far cry from those snow-days of just one month ago!

I also gave my Mum’s lawn it’s first cut. It had dried out sufficiently to allow a mower on without sinking in. The mower started (nearly) first time, which is always a relief after being in the shed for the winter. I also took her over some seeds and planted out some cabbage plants in her raised beds.


I had a dental check-up this week. I really don’t like going to the dentist. It’s not a phobia – I just don’t like going. Don’t like my dentist much or the way he treats his staff, and I think he charges too much (although to be fair I have no comparison). I keep saying that I should move to another practice, particularly as my current one isn’t that close to home and the only reason I keep going is because it’s where I went as a kid, but the guy who was my dentist then has long since retired. Anyway check-up was fine, nothing needs doing, so now I have 12 months to source another dentist.


 

Work – A couple of virtual meetings this week, but quite quiet on the work front.


Allotment – The seeds that I sowed last week are starting to germinate. I was worried that they might get frazzled as they are under plastic at the moment, and had visions of having to resow every single one, but my fears were unfounded and they seem to be doing okay. I gave them a good water and covered them up again.

I also harvested our first rhubarb and made a crumble with it – yum!


Currently Reading – I finished  “Travels” by Michael Crichton [LINK], and started reading “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee [LINK]. The latter got me thinking about how I learnt to swim, and I wrote a short post on it.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Hummingbird “Love Charms” la chuparosa – Until I read this National Geographic article, I had no idea that this was even a thing. We don’t get hummingbirds in this country, but I know if we did I’d be trying to attract them to the garden like I do the other birds – as I sit typing this there’s a blue tit pulling some of Ruby’s fur out of a feeder that we’ve put out for the birds to provide nesting material, Ruby provides this cast-off fur when we brush her.

I suppose in a way I shouldn’t be surprised. As a species we humans have exploited just about everything else and every other species on the planet for our own ends. For birds the records on shooting song birds in Malta [LINK], and the persecution of birds of prey in the UK in favour of providing a few rich people some “sport” [LINK] are equally abhorrent. Why is it that we just can’t respect other life on this planet? When are we going to stop destroying our own home?


Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom – I was looking forward to this, but now I’ve seen this trailer, I think I’ll wait until it comes out on DVD, seems to be more of a rehash of Jurrasic Park: The Lost World, than fresh ideas.


The Meg – Looks like it might be fun in a bad B-movie kind of way, but again I’ll probably be waiting for the DVD or Amazon Prime release.


Solo: A Star Wars Story – I think they’re releasing this a little soon after Episode VIII, but I’ll probably go see this on the big screen because, well, Star Wars etc. etc.


That’s all folks, my car’s due an MOT next week and I’ve got a couple of meetings in my diary but otherwise if this nice spell of weather continues I want to try and get out and about.

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Learning To Swim

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Memories are a funny thing, I’m not sure how accurate mine are and whether or not the sequence of events is actually the way it happened sometimes, but I have been reading “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee, this week and she writes about learning to swim. This got me to thinking about how I learnt.

I learnt to swim when I was at primary school, so between the ages of 5 and 11. Once a week we’d be taken by bus to the swimming pool in the nearest city. It probably took us longer to get there and back than it did actually at the pool and so it took up all of a morning for our lessons. If you were unfortunate to have a verruca then you weren’t allowed to go, and had to stay at school. We had our feet checked at the start of each term, lining up and having to lift each foot in turn like a horse being shod so that the instructors could check.

If you couldn’t already swim then you started in the shallow end of the pool, and as you got more confident and able you got to progress along the length of the pool into deeper water. We learnt “doggy-paddle” at first moving on to breast-stroke later. We undertook our distance badges (starting at 10m and working up to miles upon miles), and also learn’t personal survival (swimming in our pyjamas and making floats out of the legs of the trousers) – I always thought that we used pyjamas because what else would you be wearing when your luxury liner sank at night? The highlight of my school memories was coming third in the breast-stroke heats at the County swimming gala (unfortunately only the first two got to progress to the quarter finals).

Neither of my parents could swim and I used to pester my Mum to take me swimming, so in the end I used to go with friends to the seaside or the local pool, until my Mum learnt (probably to stop me whining about wanting to go swimming). As a result we used to go swimming off of the shore at Emsworth and the seafront at Hayling Island, West Wittering and Bracklesham Bay in the school holidays.

My Mum continued to swim, going to classes one night a week, with a friend. When I was old enough (you had to be over 16 for insurance reasons) I joined them. 9 to 10 pm on a Monday night, which meant we didn’t get home until 11 pm and then still got up for college on Tuesdays. I had a lot of fun with those lessons, and ended up with a trophy (I think for best improved technique), and some life-saving certificates.

I don’t seem to swim as much anymore, a bit at Emsworth still (in the summer with the dogs), but that’s about it. I must admit though that reading a book about wild swimming (and not the first one btw), maybe I’ll start again. Who knows.

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Unstable Times (Quick Links 119)

The world feels like it’s a lot less stable this week than it was last. I won’t go into all the news from around the world as it’s easy enough to find. What worries me is that the people who are “in charge” do not really feel competent to me.


I used the Hive website this week to order a couple of books. It’s the first time I’ve used them and I was really impressed. Primarily they are there to support local bookshops in the UK, and you can order anything in their catalogue and have it delivered to your local independent bookshop – they will also deliver to you directly.

As a result of my order (which was cheaper than on either Amazon or Waterstones) I discovered an independent bookshop that I didn’t even know existed, and is less than 5 miles from my house. Ordered on a Tuesday morning, they were ready to be collected by lunchtime on the Wednesday. The bookshop I collected it from is a great little store, and I’ll probably be going back again some when soon. See below for what I ordered.


I didn’t write a quarterly update at the end of March. Nobody seems to have noticed. I felt that I was repeating myself a little bit doing them, so I just didn’t write it. Probably won’t with quarters 2, 3 or 4 either.


Work – I’ve been writing some workshop proposals and outlines this week, a lot of hours in front of a computer screen.


Allotment – Although we had a really wet start to the week, things had dried up by Wednesday and stayed dry for the rest of the week. This enabled me to get some seeds sown (beetroot, radish, lettuce & rainbow chard), and also plant some Horseradish.


Currently Reading – I finished “A Time of Gifts” by Patrick Leigh Fermor [LINK] and started “Travels” by Michael Crichton [LINK].

The two books I ordered from from Hive are: “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee [LINK] and “Floating: A Return to Waterlog” by Joe Minihane [LINK]


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Bosch Season 4 – This is now available on Amazon Prime Video. Seasons 1 to 3 were amazing, so hoping this one will be too. I’ve watch the first couple of episodes already, and they were really good – bodes well for the rest.


Swimming with Sperm Wales in Sri- Lanka – [LINK]


That’s all folks, next week we have a mini-heatwave forecast, if this proves to be true I hope to get some time in the garden and on the allotment. I  should also hear about one of the tenders that was submitted a while back, and I have a dental check-up to look forward to. Assuming of course that we don’t all get incinerated in a nuclear fireball. Hope to see you all next week.

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The Spuds Are In! – (Quick Links 118)

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Gate Detail At Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club

I took my Mum out for breakfast on Tuesday, something that is maybe becoming a regular thing. We went to Emsworth, and for a brief moment it wasn’t raining, so we were able to go for a short walk after we’d eaten. The photo above was taken there. We had a good chat over breakfast and did a couple of other chores while we were out.

I like Emsworth as a place, and I could actually see myself living there (although I doubt I could afford the house prices).


I had an interesting conversation about how technology has changed the way we think and see the world now, and how everything is much more immediate. It’s probably something that many people have thought about and I suspect the sides are both well rehearsed, but I’m not sure that all of the technology that we have now can actually be regarded as progress.


Pretty sure that we have a pair of Great Tits setting up a nest in one of our bird boxes. I’ve seen one of the birds taking beaks full of nesting materials into the box a couple of times, and they seem to be around the garden a lot. I’m conscious that they are around and am trying not to unduly disturb them, so that they can get on.


Our new furniture arrived on Friday. So far so good, very comfortable. Just need to get used to the room feeling a little more crowded than it did for the past couple of weeks when there was hardly any in there!


I was given an R2D2 travel mug for an Easter present, and gave it a test run on the allotment. It seems to work well and kept my  coffee suitably warm while I was down on the plot.


Work – It’s the financial year end, and I’ve spent a little bit of time getting my business expenses in order and a few other tasks so that I can do my tax return. I have plenty of time to get this done, but I don’t like to leave it to the last minute.


Allotment – The weather really hasn’t been compliant this week. We had a wet Easter bank holiday weekend and this continued until Thursday morning, when for the first time we had a dry day. I did get some seeds (pumpkin, patti-pan squash, tomato, cucumber and sweetcorn) sown indoors and finally on Saturday got my early potatoes in and transplanted out my “spare” broad beans. It then rained overnight which is a good thing but I still haven’t been able to get to do much of anything else. I still have brassicas to go out and some seeds that need to be sown. I’m hoping for a couple more dry days and then perhaps sometime next week I can get a few more things done.


Currently Reading – Not really sure what I’ve been reading this week. I am part-way through A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor [LINK] but otherwise I don’t think I’ve really been reading much. As an author Fermor has fascinated me for some time. A war hero and adventurer, he seemed to live a very full life.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]



That’s all folks, next week I have a couple of work meetings as well – hopefully – some more time on the allotment planned. Have a good week wherever you are.

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The Easter Bunny Cometh… (Quick Links 117)

Easter Sunday today, for us this is very much about family time and my Mum is coming for a Sunday roast a bit later (the joint is already in the oven cooking), and I’ve made another batch of hot-cross buns (that I actually managed to put the crosses on this time).

It’s been a mixed week, I was out on Monday for a work meeting, but I’ve been working from home for most of the rest of the week and it’s pretty much rained everyday  and our dog walks have been pretty soggy affairs.

It was Wilson’s birthday on Wednesday, and I wrote a quick post about it here.

The council came and took away our old three-piece suite, we’d tried finding someone who would take it and recycle it, but it was just to old and worn. It’s still odd to be sitting on garden furniture indoors, but by this time next week I should be sitting on our new sofa, it’s due to be delivered on Friday.


Wind River 

I watched this yesterday, and would thoroughly recommend it. It’s written and directed by Taylor Sheridan who also wrote Hell or High Water [LINK] which is also an excellent film.

Wind River [LINK] stars Jeremy Renner (Avengers) as a wildlife warden who comes across the body of a dead woman whilst tracking mountain lions that have been killing cattle on the Wind River Indian reservation in a Winter Wyoming. The tribal police chief, played by Graham Greene (Longmire) calls in the FBI and Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Age of Ultron) arrives, under-equipped and agrees that the circumstances are suspicous, and asks Renner to help her with the investigation.

It’s a good movie and I really enjoyed it. The acting is good, and the winter scenery is just stunning. At around 90 minutes it’s a short film but well worth it. If you have seen Hell or High Water you’ll likely enjoy this too.


Work – As mentioned above I was at meetings on Monday, and that pretty much set the tone for the remainder of the week workwise as I had some follow-up work to do based on those meetings.

I’m also waiting on some tender deadlines to find out if submissions have been successful.


Allotment – Heavy rain again this week has meant little work on the plot again. I was hoping that I could get my potatoes in but I’ve had to postpone that.


Currently Reading – I read Neil Ansell’s “Deer Island” [LINK] and Chris Riddell’s “Travels with my Sketchbook” [LINK] the latter is based on the drawings made by the children’s laureate during his two year tenure as he was travelling.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


 

That’s all follks, a short one this week.

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Happy 8th Birthday Wilson

It is Wilson’s 8th Birthday today. I’m not sure where those years went. In dog terms that means he’s reached the status of a “Senior”, but I’m not sure I hold much store by those arbitrary boundaries. He gets some special treats today to mark the occasion.

The weather is not being particularly compliant today, and it’s been raining most of the night and all morning so we might postpone a special walk until tomorrow, or we might just go anyway as the forecast for the next few days doesn’t look any better.

Here’s some older photos:

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Glamping in the Lounge (Quick Links 116)

I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, from a garden chair in my lounge. We’re making way for some new furniture and our old suite is in the front garden, waiting for the Council to collect it. We might be in a state of flux for a week or so.

Works been keeping me busy this week, and things seem to have settled back into a bit more of a routine, although we still had snow around at the beginning of the week.

I baked some hot-cross buns during the week. They didn’t last more than a couple of days, and in the end didn’t even end up getting the crosses applied to them. They were good eating though. I’ll be making some more ahead of Easter, just as soon as I get some more supplies!

I also watched IT, and wrote some thoughts about it here.

 


Work – A busy week with phone calls, meetings and some preparation for upcoming meetings and tender responses.


Allotment – First time in a couple of weeks that I’ve actually been able to get on to the plot. It’s still too wet and cold to do much, but I did manage to get some weeding done ahead of hopefully planting in a week or two.


Currently Reading – Another week where I’ve hardly picked up a book or my kindle or when I have I’ve fallen asleep quickly and read very little.


Sudan – The last male Northern White Rhino has died [LINK]. This species is nearing extinction (only two females remain, Sudan’s daughter and granddaughter) and scientists are planning to use IVF and other technologies to revive the species [LINK]. I have mixed feelings about this. Largely we humans have driven this species to this point, mostly through poaching and demand for rhino horn, so maybe we humans should try and do something about it. Actually I feel we should have done this years ago and not reached this point, and maybe our lesson is to prevent this happening with other species. These are deeply philosophical points I know, but I’m not sure trying to use science in this way is the right answer.


France’s Bird Population Collapses Due To PesticidesLINK – [] Not wishing to labour a point above, but when are we going to learn the lessons of what we have done and are continuing to do to this planet under the guise of “progress” and “growth”?


Citizen Science – Really enjoyed reading this story [LINK] about how local birders were able to provide the evidence against a developers claims, but will it be enough. All to often I read similar stories were the “tame” ecologists of a developer produce reports that are fundamentally flawed or even false.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Neil Ansell – Deep Country  I finished reading this book [GoodReads] early in the year, this week I came across this video trailer for it.


That’s all follks. Catch you next week.

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