Dough Monster – TWTW # 18

This week feels like it’s been full of lots of good things, it’s been fairly busy but in a good way, and yet I’ve had time to spend on some of the things that I love.

It’s also been blessed by being mostly warm and dry for the better part of the week, with a little rain at the weekend to help the garden and the allotment along. I can’t complain.


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It’s been a week of books this week. It started on Monday went I had to go into town to run a few errands and I popped into the library to look for a book that my other half wanted to read. They didn’t have it, but by chance I was looking to see if they had any Maigret books on their shelves – I always look, but am usually disappointed – and they had two. I’ve mentioned it before but Maigret has become a bit of a thing for me, and these two (Maigret, Lognon & the Gangsters and Maigret & the Reluctant Witnesses) didn’t take long for me to read. I had a reasonably long journey on Thursday and finished the second one on the train. I’ll take them back this week and see what else they have.

I also received a surprise from E&T Books – “The Seafarers” by Stephen Rutt. I’ve reviewed a few books for E&T and this one came in the post and I am about halfway through. I’ll post a separate review when I’ve finished it. Finally Nigel Slater’s latest cookbook “Greenfeast” came. This is actually a two part set, and this volume covers Spring and Summer. Autumn and Winter is out later this year. It’s a lovely book, although I haven’t had a chance to indulge properly yet!


On Tuesday morning I was walking the dogs along the creek when we chanced upon a Hedgehog. Haven’t seen one in a while, and a little surprising that it was out so late (they’re mostly nocturnal). Normally this isn’t a good sign, as it means they are staying out to find food, but this one seemed to healthy enough and was of a good size so I left it be.


The Marshes of America’s Space Programme


The Day I Tried To Love Ticks


The Bitter Truth About Starbucks Coffee


The Poetry of Painting: how to paint loss and life


On Puerto Rico’s ‘Forgotten Island,’ Tesla’s Busted Solar Panels Tell A Cautionary Tale



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Had a bit of a bread adventure at the weekend too. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been experimenting with sourdough bread for a while. Well last week we had a bit a of a lack lustre starter mix, that although it turn out a nice loaf, it didn’t really seem to rise all that much. Anyway, as is my habit, the leftover starter went into the fridge in a Kilner jar for the next time. On Saturday morning I noticed that the starter in the jar was rising at quite a fast rate (normally there is very little or no rise when it’s in the fridge). When I checked on it a little bit later in the day it had risen even more, and was into the lid of the Kilner jar.

I thought that I should take it out of the fridge and release some of the pressure from the jar, which I did and the jar open with a loud pop, and the starter started to ooze over the edge of the jar.

I decided to use some of this to make another loaf, so I measured up my ingredients and put the remaining starter back into the fridge (where it has been behaving itself since). I must have made a mistake with the measurements however, as the resulting dough was very wet. Too wet to do anything much with, so I had to add extra flour, which I did and kneaded in, and then put to one side for a final rise.

It worked out okay in the end, even though I’m still not sure how this happened I got a good loaf out of it.

Posted in books, Cooking, Dogs, Garden / Allotment, The Week That Was, Video, Wildlife/Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let The Sunshine In TWTW # 17

A short Bank Holiday week this week, it feels like its been a long week though for some reason. I spent the Bank Holiday on the allotment getting the brassicas in, and they seem to be  doing well. The allotment is coming together.

We’ve also had a break in the fine weather and a day that delivered some light rain, enough to refill waterbutts and make sure that my newly transplanted plants were watered.


A couple of weeks ago the catch on the car sunroof failed. It would lock shut, but wouldn’t stay open. I went to the garage to see how much a replacement would be, and they quoted me over £100. I took a pass on a new one, hoping that I could find a secondhand one, or one from a scrapyard. After a bit of searching this week, I found someone selling on e-bay. A couple of clicks later it was mine, and was delivered the next day. It took about 5 minutes to take off the old catch and fit the new one. Rarely have I known, something happen so smoothly. The cost £20. Bargain!

Just in time for some sunshine too!


Will You Choose Alive Time or Dead Time?


I read “Dark State” by Charles Stross this week, and “Maigret’s Anger” by Georges Simenon, I enjoyed both, but I have to say the Maigret novels are such an easy read. The author used to bang out them in about a week, and they take just an evening to read as most are only around 150 pages.

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Allotment & Potting Shed Update 11th May 2019

Posted in Fork To Fork, Garden / Allotment, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

TWTW # 16 Let The Wookie Win

So that’s a quarter of 2019 done then! It’s been both a quiet and a busy week this week. Quiet on the work front, which has enabled me to get lots of other things done. A lot of the seeds that I planted last week have germinated and I’ve think I’ve now sown the remaining seeds I was waiting to get in. All being well I’ll also be planting out some of the older seedlings on the Bank Holiday – mostly brassicas.


I’ve been reading Robert Macfarlane’s latest book this week – “Underland”. I finished it at the end of the week, and wrote up my thoughts on GoodReads. Here’s what I had to say:

This is probably Robert Macfarlane’s best book to date. From the Mendips to the catacombs beneath Paris; from the former Yugoslavia to Greenland. The book is both claustrophobic and mind expanding.

I think I’d still say that “The Wild Places” is my favourite of his books but that’s because of personal preference around topic rather than the book itself.

It is a beautiful book and one that I had a sadness finishing.

Robert Macfarlane also wrote an interesting piece on notebooks that he used for his trips and research in writing Underland which you can read here.

I also read “Tiger” by John Vaillant. Several different people had recommended this one to me and I’ve had it on my shelf for a while.

I’m afraid that it didn’t live up to what I’d heard about it, probably because there was just a little too much backstory about everyone and everything. It was also set about 20 years ago in a very different Russia to today, and I couldn’t help but keep thinking that things would be very different if something similar happened today or that things were potentially so different now that they could never happen that way again.


There’s also still time to enter the giveaway for Ben Myers book “Under The Rock”, enter by leaving a comment on this post.


screenshot_20190504-062252 I was saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Mayhew, someone who was very much a part of my childhood through his portrayal of Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies.

I think I’ve reached that age where a lot of my childhood “heroes” are passing on, probably because they were much the age that I am now, when I was just a kid. I remember people like John Noakes and others with a fondness of childhood that is part memory, part melancholy & part nostalgia.

In some ways I long for those times again, when things seemed simpler, there was little in the way of technology and we made a lot of our own fun.


 

Posted in The Week That Was | 2 Comments

TWTW # 15 A Light Bulb Moment

I started this week trying to find a lightbulb to fit a fixture in my Mum’s house. It’s a light she uses a lot (to read by at night) so quite important to replace it (or potentially have to get a new fitting to replace the whole thing). After a bit of looking around online I managed to find something that looked like it would fit and so ordered it. As it was the Easter weekend the shops weren’t open again until Monday – I’m pleased to see that they still shut on Easter Day, but not surprised they open again as soon as they can on Bank Holiday Monday (that really is a post for another time) – I couldn’t actually pick it up until then. It’s fitted and as it’s an LED bulb I’ll probably never have to replace it again, I dare say it will even out last me!


My client came back to me with some relatively minor comments on the report, so much so that I was able to turn a revised report around the same day, which has been accepted and hopefully I’ll soon be paid for the work (I see no problem here, as they’ve always been good about prompt payment in the past).


I had a seed sowing blitz this week, getting some gherkins, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, courgette, and (more) tomatoes in. I’ve still got some sweetcorn and a few other things to sow, but I’ll be doing those probably later on this week, as well as hopefully moving out some of the brassicas to make room for them!

Some of the direct sowing on the allotment are also coming through – beetroot & radish are through – no sign of the lettuce or parsnip yet, but I don’t expect they’ll be far behind. Keeping them watered has been the biggest challenge as the dry weather has meant hand watering the seedlings as they come through, particularly those that are under cover.


I’ve been reading Pico Iyer’s “Autumn Light” this week, it’s been an enjoyable read, and I’ve particularly enjoyed the insights into Japanese life (the book is mostly set in Japan).

You can also read my re-review of Under The Rock by Benjamin Myers which I wrote about yesterday here.



How Dog Names Have Changed Through Time

Posted in books, Garden / Allotment, The Week That Was, work

Revisiting “Under The Rock” by Benjamin Myers

I first read “Under The Rock” last year when it came out in hardback and it has now just come out in paperback from Elliot & Thompson Books.

At the time I first read it I wrote:

Very much a book of the landscape, nature and the human interface I read most of this in just over a day. It was over too soon, and I know it’s a book that I am likely to revisit again and again. It’s also shaped how I look at the world now, giving me a different lense through which I see things.

Under The Rock was one of my top books of 2018 and the publishers have asked me if I would revisit my previous review which I’m pleased to do as it has given me a chance to reread the book – perhaps a dangerous thing to do, because will the book be the same second time around? Well I’m pleased to say that it was, and perhaps more so, as although the writing was familiar and I remember large parts of the book, there are also things that I don’t remember or missed first time around. This time my read took me a little longer giving me more of a chance to absorb the telling.

The book is essentially autobiographical about the period in the authors life when he moves to Mytholmroyd from London and begins to explore his new home. His walks and discoveries mean that the book is also biographical about his new location, it’s history, former and current residents. The “Rock” of the title is the overshadowing (Hathershelf) Scout Rock and the authors tales are interwoven around its presence. They are of nature, social history, character tales and stories of the surrounding areas, the moors, Myer’s dog Cliff and of course The Rock. The book arcs back through time but also brings it right up to date with the serious flooding the area suffered in the mid-decade.

It’s hard to put into words that do this book justice but it remains one of my favourite books. To be able to write about a place in such a way that it comes to life for the reader is a gift and the author’s gift to the reader is in turn and incredible book. I recommend this book to anyone, and if you haven’t read it already go track down a copy (or scroll down to see how you can get your hands on the one that I have to giveaway).

About The Author (From the publisher)

BENJAMIN MYERS was born in Durham in 1976. He is a prize-winning author, journalist and poet. His recent novels are each set in a different county of northern England, and are heavily inspired by rural landscapes, mythology, marginalised characters, morality, class, nature, dialect and post-industrialisation. They include The Gallows Pole, winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, and recipient of the Roger Deakin Award; Turning Blue, 2016; Beastings, 2014 (Portico Prize For Literature & Northern Writers’ Award winner), Pig Iron, 2012 (Gordon Burn Prize winner & Guardian Not The Booker Prize runner-up); and Richard, a Sunday Times Book of the Year 2010. Bloomsbury will published his new novel, The Offing, in August 2019.

As a journalist, he has written widely about music, arts and nature. He lives in the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, the inspiration for Under the Rock.

Giveaway

The publishers have kindly given me a paperback copy of Under The Rock to giveaway to readers of this blog. If you’d like to be in with a chance to win this, simply leave a comment below (the email address you use to comment with will be the one I contact you on if you win, but won’t be published). I’ll draw one winner from random from all of the comments that are present after 12th May 2019 and contact the winner by email for their postal address. If the winner doesn’t respond within 7 days, I’ll redraw. My decisions are final.

(Please note if this is your first time commenting here, I will need to approve your comment. If it doesn’t appear straight away, don’t worry.)

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TWTW # 14 – A Scorcher

It’s Bank Holiday Monday as I write this, and I’m a little bit later than usual sitting down to think about what’s happened in the last week. Essentially a short working week for most with the long weekend around Easter and quiet for me as I am waiting for my client to respond regarding a report. He has responded and is taking a wider view across his organisation before giving formal comments.

It’s been getting progressively warmer all week with the weekend turning into quite a scorcher and I’ve been doing quite a bit allotment and garden wise, while I’ve had the time. I’ve sown some lettuce seed as individual plugs – some for my Mum’s garden and the remainder as back-ups for the allotment. I’ve potted on some tomatoes and have got some more seed to sow a few more plants.

I’ve also started off my runner beans. Garden lore says that you should sow your runner bean seeds on the first Bank Holiday in May and plant them out on the second one, so these are a little early but that might not be a bad thing as they were covered in a little mould which I washed off and they seem to be okay – not soft or any obvious other damage other than the mould – so if they don’t grow I’ll have time to get some more.

My car was MOT’d and serviced at the beginning of the week. It passed and so there’s nothing further to do until next year or unless there’s a problem.

Wilson was also back at the vets for his next round of tests – we’re awaiting the results.


I’ve been reading “The Way Home – Tales from a Life Without Technology” by Mark Boyle, essentially the stories of the author when he completely gave up technology, including electricity and other mains utilities, living on an island near Ireland. I’m not that far in, but I’m enjoying it so far.

Slightly ironically I’m reading it on my Kindle.


I’ve also  got  the  (re)review  of “Under  The  Rock” coming  up next weekend with the chance to receive a copy of the paperback.



Been watching the new season of Bosch on Amazon over the weekend, it’s another great season of the show, and it’s great that such high quality tv can be be made to this standard – thoroughly recommended! If you’ve read Michael Connelly’s “Two Kinds of Truth”, it’s mostly based on that.


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