The Ponds of Childhood TWTW # 148

This week has been focused around work. Client work, an evening and a Saturday workshop. I visited my Mum, dropped into the vets to pick some tablets up and went for a short walk around a pond. These are all the things I did in addition to the routine things.

I started writing this during a gap in my diary, and finished it on Sunday morning after I got back from the allotment.

During weeks like this routine is important to me. Whether it’s the time walking the dogs or stopping to cook dinner the rest of my day is built around those things. Or is it? Evening meetings can mean that dinner has to be earlier or later depending on the timings, but they’re still keystones in my day, even if the rest of it feels a bit like a treadmill.

I had to pick some pills up from the vets on Saturday afternoon. At the weekends only the main practice is open and not the satellite one that we normally visit. On the way back I took the opportunity to stop somewhere I’ve not been since I was a kid.

As a kid this was a popular spot that I used to go with my friends. Taken there by one of our parents we used to spend ages (or at least it felt like it to our young brains), messing about in boats – you could hire canoes or rowing boats – wandering around the pond or on the adjacent heathland, playing in the playground or eating ice cream.

I was pleased to see that not a lot has changed, you could still do all of the above things there to this day if you wanted to. After 40+ years there have been some improvements – there’s a proper cafe now instead of a window from a room between the toilets, and the range of watercraft has increased.

I didn’t indulge my inner child by going out in a boat, as I had one of the dogs with me, but we did enjoy a good walk around the pond. I was pleased to see it was quite busy, although I’m not sure with covid numbers on the rise again that this is necessarily a good thing.

My Mum used to take me here a lot during school holidays, I doubt she would remember that now. When I visited her this week, she wasn’t convinced that I was who I said I was. Partly due to having to wear a mask, but also I think due to her Alzheimer’s progressing a bit.


Reading

I read another Brother Cadfael this week – “The Heretic’s Apprentice” by Ellis Peters and then moved on to a Len Deighton – “Horse Under Water”. I enjoyed the former, although it felt like it was dragging a bit. After last weeks experience with reading Brothers In Arms by James Holland where I had no trouble reading late into the night, I’m not sure it’s all a function of how busy or tired I am. I was just as busy / tired last week as this but I struggled to stay awake reading Brother Cadfael’s adventures. I think it’s a function more of how engaging the material is rather than a physiological state in me.


Work

As mentioned above it’s been a busy week. I’ve been plugging away on some client work and starting to write up their final report. For another client I’ve been involved in preparing for and delivering some online workshops. One on Friday evening and the second on Saturday morning. Not my ideal choice, but also something that I’m used to doing as my allotment talks are often evening events. Work for this second client will probably drop off a bit for the time being while other things that I’m not involved in happen in the background.


Allotment

Because I had to work on Saturday morning I went to the allotment this morning (Sunday). I was there early, before it was properly light. I managed to get my garlic, onions and some broad beans in. I seem to have slightly underestimated the number of broad beans in the packet I bought (our allotment shop has stopped selling seeds, and they were my benchmark), so I think I’ll sow some more in the spring rather than get some more to plant now. There’s still time to do so, but I’ll be hedging my bets against a hard winter by splitting the sowing like this.


Links

The Daily Rituals and Routines of a Working Adventurer

Would you rather eat at the local kebab house or blow a small fortune with Salt Bae?

How to grow happy garlic


Well that’s all I have for this week. Next week is looking slightly quieter on the work front, but I still have a report to write and some information for it to chase.

Whatever you’re up to or have planned, take care and stay safe.


Buying Go Go Juice TWTW # 147

I’ve mostly been at my desk working on client projects this week. Things are moving in the right direction and I have another busy week, including some Friday evening and Saturday morning workshops that I’m going to be involved in, coming up. It’s good to have paid work coming through, and the experience of getting back into that routine again quite interesting.

I had to buy some petrol this week. I haven’t needed to before now because I didn’t actually need any and saw no benefit to adding to the stupidity of what has been panic buying of a resource that isn’t actually in a shortage. I had no problems, just drove straight up to a pump, filled up and paid and drove away again. I’m not sure whether I was lucky (there were queues at the same petrol station earlier in the week) or whether things have just calmed down again. I hope it’s the latter.


Reading

I’ve mostly been reading James Holland’s Brothers in Arms – One legendary tank regiments bloody war from D-Day to VE-Day this week. I’ve stayed up late several nights reading this without feeling fatigued (which has taught me something about when you’re engaged with a book, you don’t feel tired), and I have to say it is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in awhile. It is also probably one of the most gut wrenching when you consider the casualties. I think I am right in saying that no one in the regiment who landed on the beach in Normandy survive without being wounded, and there were many, many who were sadly killed. War is horrible and I’ve read a lot of military history books but this really brought it home just how many were killed and wounded and how many ‘replacements’ came directly from training to the front line to replace their comrades and became casualties themselves. Of those who landed in Normandy the number of men was replaced at the rate of 150%, and although some were wounded and returned there were very few who managed to do through the whole period without injury of some kind.

Sadly the last surviving member of the regiment from that time died this week.

I’d recommend reading this if you have the time.

Later this coming week the final John le Carré novel Silverview will be published. There are a couple of interesting articles about other writers favourite le Carré novel (mine are probably The Little Drummer Girl and The Constant Gardener but as I’m rereading those that I first read many years ago, I expect some more might get added to that list) and also about the authors change of nationality to Irish so that he could remain and die an EU citizen. I’d also recommend listening to the Radio 4 programme that’s mentioned in one of the articles.

I have my copy on pre-order and I’m looking forward to, although with some sadness to reading this final novel.


Allotment

I recorded some audio from the allotment this week.


Links

I use Instagram but rarely Facebook or WhatsApp but for one reason or another there’s been a lot of coverage about them this week, either because they’ve managed to shoot themselves in one foot or another, but this comparison is an interesting read. I find my use of Instagram a little unsettling now given the background and information that has come out.


Watching

I’ve not really been watching much this week, a few episodes of the Michael Gambon incarnation of Maigret which are excellent, and some more episodes of the Apple TV+ adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels. I’ve been spending much more time reading my book (see above).


The coming week looks like being a rinse and repeat version of this one. I hope whatever you’re up to your able to stay safe. Take care.


No Time To? TWTW # 146

The house has been noticeably chillier in the mornings this week, not to the point of needing to turn on the heating but just making a statement that the Summer nights are no longer with us and temperatures are dropping. It’s also been pretty wet and windy this week, more that once I’ve been caught in a sudden rain shower that has necessitated changing out of wet clothes upon arriving home.

It’s also been a little surreal to see this country descending into panic buying once again, when there really is no need. Last year it was toilet rolls, this year it’s road fuel. What’s next I wonder? It’s obvious how we ended up here, and it’s all self-inflicted. It’s scary how a few individuals can do so much damage in such a short space of time and somehow still manage to be in positions of authority.


Reading

I’ve read The Cook of the Halcyon by Andrea Camilleri this week. It’s the penultimate Inspector Montalbano novel. The last in the series – the author died in 2019 – is out (in English) later this month, although early reviews are not so good. This one however was good, very funny in places and with a very timely quote quite close to the beginning which I’ll share:

It is said that man, in a democracy, is free. Really? But what if the car won’t start, the phone doesn’t work, the power is out, there’s no water or gas, and the computer, television, and fridge refuse to function? It is probably better still to say that, yes, man is free, but it is a conditional freedom, dependent upon the whims of objects he can no longer live without.

Andrea Camilleri – The Cook of the Halcyon

Not sure what’s up next, as in previous weeks Derek Jarman’s garden is still drawing me in and by coincidence I came across this article online about the very same this week.


TV & Film

We finished watching the BBC series Vigil this week and would probably have binged-watched it, if it hadn’t been restricted to one new episode a week. I wonder what makes the decision as to whether something is going to be released all in one go or spaced out over a period of time? Another one is the Apple TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, we’ve been watching this too because I still have some time remaining on a complimentary subscription to this service. I’m not sure that I would pay for it though.

The new Bond Movie is out now. No Time To Die is the last Daniel Craig Bond and the first Bond film that I won’t be watching in the cinema since Moonraker. With Covid still very much around I really don’t feel safe. I suspect the risk is relatively low if I follow my normal pattern of going when it’s been out for a few weeks and picking a time when not many people will also be going but even so I don’t think I’d enjoy the film because I’d be worrying about other people in the auditorium. I read this article in the Guardian and that analysis backs up my thinking on the risk but I want to enjoy the film so I’ll wait for the DVD release I think.

I also like the look of the premise behind the new Ghostbusters movie, I hope they can pull it off.


Allotment

I’ve been rained off of the allotment today, there might be an opportunity to make it down there tomorrow. Like the seasons, work here shifts to those tasks that are now really about making the plot ready for the next set of crops and for warmer weather to come.


Work

Busy, busy, busy, this week. I’ve been asked to do some new work for a client, which is going to pretty much fill up the next couple of weeks, and hopefully there will be some follow-up to that which will go into the New Year.


Well that’s about all I have for this week. There’s not much to report from me for the week ahead, I’ll mostly be doing work stuff.
Whatever you’re planning on doing, stay safe and take care.


Grindstone Cowboy TWTW # 145

As I sit down to write this post I see that my notebook is a little empty of things to talk about this week. I curate a list during the week, of things I should include in these posts. When something happens I’ll add it to the list. This week that list is blank. Not because nothing has happened, on the contrary I’ve had quite a busy week, but because a symptom of that busyness is not having the time to add things to it.


Work

This is what has kept me busiest this week, I’ve been making progress with client work. Doing quite a bit of research and creating models and calculations to look at a variety of different scenarios for that client to help them with their planning for reaching net-zero.

Out of the blue I also had a separate approach from another client for some further work. We’re talking this coming week to discuss but it’s an another old project coming back around again, partly due to the pandemic pushing it into the long grass for a while.


Reading

I finished London Match by Len Deighton and am still visiting Derek Jarman’s Dungeness garden via the pages of his diary each day. I don’t read much of this each time but I do enjoy reading other peoples journals and diaries. I have several in my ‘to be read’ pile and it’s interesting that each one is a slightly different style or approach to what they recorded, or felt was worth recording about themselves and what happened to them.

I also dipped into The Collected Adventures of David Cranmer’s “Drifter Detective”, there’s a review here, and I’m looking forward to reading some more in the coming days.


Allotment

A lot of weeding this week. I’ve cleared enough space for over-wintering things and most of those have now arrived from various seed suppliers. It’s still a little early to be planting and sowing, but time passes so quickly that it won’t be long. I’ve harvested about half of my apples. The variety is a hybrid and the earlier you harvest e.g. in September the closer they are to a cooking apple, the longer they stay on the tree e.g. October / November the closer they are to an eating apple. So I’ve left about half, mostly the smaller ones on the tree in the hope that it doesn’t get too windy or cold and that I can have some eating apples in another month or so.


I visited my Mum this week for her birthday. Covid restrictions mean that there are still some limitations, and we had about an hour together, but with her Alzheimer’s the way it is that is probably about the right length of time. She was in good spirits, although the fact it was her birthday had passed her by until I showed up. We both have milestone birthdays next year and she was talking about having a party. Who knows if that will be possible but it was a nice thought. Not sure I’m up for a milestone birthday or a party to be honest but who knows.


I recorded some audio on one of my dog walks this week, it’s about half an hour of me rambling on about all sorts of things. I posted it earlier in the week, but if you’d like to listen and haven’t already I’ll embed it again here:


There are no links this week – mostly because all of the things I’ve been looking at have been work related and probably not all that interesting unless you’re into carbon reduction. The week ahead is looking similar to the one just gone, with a catch-up visit to the vet but otherwise it’s going to be head down.

Whatever you’re up to take care and stay safe!


A Work Production TWTW # 144

It’s been a busy week, but busy is good. Mostly I’ve been at home in front of the computer, with trips out to walk the dogs or to go to the allotment and I’ve been pretty productive and got a lot done. I like weeks like this but they can be quite exhausting by the time the weekend arrives.


Work

I’ve started a new piece of client work this week. This has meant a lot of time researching and tracking down data and then starting to develop a spreadsheet to manage the data. Neither the client or I had a clear idea what the final output was going to look like, but I think now I’ve had a couple of days on this I can see what it might look like. There’s still much to do, but it’s good to be working on something.


Allotment

I’m getting the plot ready for the over-wintering onions and broad beans. It’s going to be a few more weeks before they need to go in. Put them in too early and they get too big and are at potential risk of being damaged even in a mild winter. Too late and they don’t germinate or start to grow in time and become big enough. Normally this window is around the end of October / early November.

The plot is still producing a good amount of French climbing beans, although I am now leaving some so that I can save some seed, and squashes and courgettes. I suspect the latter will not last much longer as overnight temperatures start to drop. It also looks like we’ll have some Brussels sprouts for Christmas.


Reading

I’m still reading about Derek Jarman’s garden but have also started on London Match by Len Deighton. I find engaging with fiction far easier than non-fiction when I have a lot of work on, maybe because it doesn’t require me to think quite as much.


Links

RIP Sir Clive Sinclair

Pharmaceutical companies should pay for raiding nature’s medicine cabinet – The Lancet

The Last Word on Nothing – Homeward Bound

Sean of the South – Thank You


The week ahead is looking like being fairly similar, it’s also my Mum’s birthday, so I’ll be visiting her on the day. I wonder if she’ll remember that it is her birthday. Last year her care home was in lockdown on her birthday and I wasn’t able to visit so I don’t know how she was and when I rang to wish her a Happy Birthday, she seemed a little vague. We’ll see on the day.

Whatever you’re up to in the week ahead, stay safe and take care.



Twenty Years TWTW # 143

Twenty years ago today I was working an early shift covering a colleague while he was on holiday. It meant I was in the car driving to work just as Radio 4 was taking over from the World Service on the radio. I was still trying to absorb what had happened the day before. Although we used to have a radio on as background in the harbour office where I was working at the time, I’d been out on the patrol boat as news had started to filter in as to what was happening in New York. At first they made it sound like it was a small light plane, a Cessna or similar that had hit the North Tower. When the news arrived of a second plane it became clearer that this was something more sinister.

By the time I reached home after my shift the horror of what had happened was becoming apparent and the world changed forever.


We’re back “home” again after our brief stay elsewhere. It’s interesting that while we were away my sleep patterns were much better, despite a slightly lumpy bed. I’m not sure whether it was because of all of the extra exercise I was getting or the overall quieter and darker place, here it is all streetlights, traffic and people. It’s certainly made us think and reconsider our surroundings and what we need from life.


Reading

I don’t feel like I’ve had much time for reading since we got back either, nor have I been able to keep my eyes open for long enough of an evening to read more than a page or two. How can I be so tired and yet sleep so badly?

Anyway when I have been reading I’ve been picking up Derek Jarman’s diaries of his time living in a little cottage at Dungeness. The cottage is famous for the garden that Jarman created before he died.

I haven’t read very far yet, but it’s clear from the words that Jarman was very much a creative.

Also if you’re looking for something good to read, can I recommend checking out the Drifter Detective series, now available in this collection:


Allotment

I’ve been getting a piece of the plot ready for sowing overwintering broad beans. Our allotment shop under it’s new management has declared that it is not doing seeds this year (or onion sets or seed potatoes), so I will have to buy them elsewhere. I won’t go into how this rather pathetic state of affairs has arisen but one of the strengths that I saw in our little shop was the fact that it sold seeds etc. Now it just seems to sell bags of compost and only on a Sunday.

My apples are now mostly ripe and I’ll be picking them all over the next week. I sampled a few yesterday and along with some of the autumn fruiting raspberries made a rather spectacular apple and raspberry strudel. My god it was good, even if it did look a bit like a Hannibal Lecter recipe.


Work

A purchase order arrived from a client for the piece of work we’ve been discussing, work commences tomorrow. I’ve been doing some prep work this week – timesheet templates and other admin stuff. I’m quite looking forward to it because it’s also quite an interesting piece.


Links

Memorializing Animals Who’ve Been Killed on the Road

Dear Sean – Should I get a dog?

Twelve More White-tailed Eagles released on the Isle of Wight

Oxfordshire celebrates first Crane fledging in 500 years


Well that’s everything for this week. Next week I’ll be doing quite a bit of paid work, interspersed with some gardening and allotment work if the weather holds. I also hope to receive a roll of film back from the processors that I took partly while we were away. The first half I took some time ago and although I think I know what’s on there I’m not 100% sure, so that should be a bit of a surprise.

Whatever you’re up to, stay safe and take care.


Sweeter Corn TWTW # 141

I’ve been bird sitting this week, or rather popping into one of our neighbours to check on their pet cockatiel, change his water and seed and have a ‘chat’ with him. Our conversations are pretty limited I think, and I’m not sure that he’s actually pleased to see me.

I was asked to take a Covid antibody test as part of the Zoe study this week. This test can tell whether you have actually been exposed to the coronavirus and developed natural antibodies to it, as opposed to ones you may have develop from immunisation. My test came back negative, which to be honest was what I was expecting.


Reading

I finished reading Roald Dahl’s Short Stories Volume 1 about middle way through this week and then picked up Len Deighton’s Mexico Set. I read Berlin Game by the same author earlier this year and was intending to read the trilogy – Game, Set, (London) Match at some point, and now feels like as good a time as any.


Watching

We sat down to watch a couple more Clint Eastwood westerns this week – Joe Kidd and Hang ’em High – again I don’t think I’ve watched either of these from start to finish in a very long time. We enjoyed them and I suspect we’ll end up watching some more.


Work

I have a meeting arranged for next week to discuss the proposal I submitted last week. Hopefully this is to discuss any refinements and give me the go ahead with the work. I doubt that they would have arranged a meeting just to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’. This is a reasonable piece of work in terms of the time and mental challenge that it presents so I’m hopeful that they want to proceed as that also means I get paid obviously.

It’s possible that I’ll also be returning to in-person allotment talks soon too. I’m trying to work out how this will actually happen and what changes there will be in order to be Covid-safe. I’m not sure whether I actually want to be back in a room with a group of people of unknown vaccination / negative test status at the moment given the high levels of the virus in the population. I’m waiting to hear back from the organisers of the first of these talks about their new arrangements, but they seem to think that this is down to the owners of the venue.


Allotment

Photograph shows some sweetcorn cobs on a tea towel

As the photograph evidences I’ve managed to harvest some sweetcorn this year. If you’re a regular reader here you’ll know that in previous years harvesting sweetcorn has always been a race against time with the local badger population or some serious fence construction to stop them getting to the plants. In previous years they have pushed over the plants to get at the ripe cobs, devastating the entire crop. Whilst I don’t begrudge them a feed, given how persecuted they are, I don’t intentionally grow the sweetcorn for them. This year I beat them to it.

I suspect the truth is that the set that was behind the allotment site is actually dormant at the moment and the badgers have moved on elsewhere. There’s no sign more generally that they have been about.

In addition to the sweetcorn, I got a good harvest of French beans, patti-pan squash and autumn raspberries.

It’s the time of year when I am thinking about whether or not I am going to continue with the allotment for another year – fees for the year ahead are due in October. This year has been a hard one, with more failures than successes and contaminated manure has lead to a lot of problems with weeds. I am honestly not sure what I am going to do.


Links

The All-Seeing “i”: Apple Just Declared War on Your Privacy – by Edward Snowden

Amazon’s older Kindles will start to lose their internet access in December (US only)


Well that’s it for this week. Have a good week ahead and take care and stay safe whatever you’re up to.

Rain Stops Play TWTW # 140

Well a slightly earlier post than I’d planned today.

I’m just back from the allotment where I’d planned to do a series of different jobs until it started to rain hard.

The forecast must have changed a bit overnight because I thought I’d at least have 2 to 3 hours before the rain arrived.

Anyhow I finished up what I was doing and then headed for home, I’ll try again tomorrow in the meantime I’ll just have to finish my flask of coffee at home in the dry.

You know I’ve had that flask the best part of 30 years. I got it when I was working in the woods all day and needed a warm drink, particularly in the winter. It’s served me well, and still keeps my drinks warm even today.

The outer green paint is flaking off on one side and it’s a little bit rusty underneath. I did look to replace it a while ago, but that was during the first lockdown and you couldn’t get them. They’re available again now, but I really don’t want to replace it now. I think I’ll just keep going until it doesn’t anymore. Maybe it will even outlive me?


Watching.

We seem to have watched a lot this week. We’ve been continuing to watch Ghosts which I think I’ve mentioned before and have finished series 3. We also watched a couple of movies; Green Book which we really enjoyed, even if it does make for some painful watching because of some of the historical treatment of people of colour; and Pale Rider which I don’t think I’ve sat and watched from beginning to end for a very long time. It still stands up well, and the finale with Eastwood taking on an overwhelming force has been repeated many a time in the western genre and it’s a great example of it. It’s made me want to watch a few more of the old Eastwood westerns too, and perhaps some others that I haven’t seen in a while.


Reading.

I’ve been reading Arthur C. Clarke’s The Lost Worlds of 2001. A bit like The Odyssey File which I mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s more of a making of the movie, although it does contain some original stories that went into 2001.

I’ve also started on Volume One of Roald Dahl’s short stories, which are incredible pieces of work. Some I’ve read before – including Lamb to the Slaughter which has just the best telling of the the disposal of a murder weapon that I’ve ever read – but some are completely new to me. I’ve got the second volume to read as well so I could be reading these for a while.


Work.

I’ve been working on a proposal for a client at their request. It’s actually revisiting one that I worked on back in February that didn’t go anywhere due to budget cutbacks. However it seems like they now have some funding in place so I’m hopeful. They’ve also expanded the brief a bit, so it’s slightly more work than I bid for before. Fingers-crossed that it works out. It was submitted on Friday, so hopefully I’ll hear something in the next week or so.


That’s all I have for this week. It’s still raining outside, so I think I made the right decision about the allotment.

Whatever you’re up to in the week ahead, stay safe and take care.


Late Night Grande Hotel TWTW # 139

The start of this week was plagued by some ghost alarms on my phone. For an unexplained reason my phone started playing an alarm at 05.30 each morning, even turning itself on to do so. There were no alarms set on the phone and it took a couple of days to work out what was going on. Fortunately I’m normally up before this time and my phone charges in another room to the bedroom overnight so it was more of a nuisance than a disturbance.

Eventually it turned out to be a problem linked to a fitness band that I haven’t used in over a year which (at the time) had synced to the health app on my phone and was causing the alarm from there as part of the sleep / wake function.

If this happens to you, turn off the “sleep schedule” in the health app and the alarms should stop – unless of course you want to be woken at a specific time.

It seems that a recent OS upgrade has caused this and a number of other problems. I’m also suffering from my podcasts app mislabeling the podcasts in the library so that sometimes it doesn’t play what it says it is supposed to be playing.

Sometimes these things are just too complicated for our good.


So how are you? Other than the above my week has been pretty good.

I had a visit with my Mum in her care home. She was in good form, all other things considered and it was one of those lucky visits where there is no one in the slot after mine so that the staff let mine overrun so we had extra time together. It doesn’t happen that frequently but it’s good when it does.


Reading

I finished John le Carre’s The Honourable Schoolboy this week. It’s set in a very different time period, but it’s interesting how pertinent it is to today with different conflicts around the world and with Russian spies surfacing in unlikely places.

I had planned to read something else next but thanks to Hermes the rather useless delivery company who appear to have lost the package with that book in, I’m probably going to have to change my plans. Hermes only seem to have AI for customer service and no humans, the AI is insistent that they are trying “very hard” to deliver my package but I fear that they are just very trying. Sadly they also have another package of mine which is a part of Ann’s birthday present, so I’m not hopeful that they’ll manage to deliver that one either.


Allotment

The weeks of rain and warm weather have been kind to the weeds and I spent a long time on Saturday on my hands and knees weeding different bits of my plot to try and get on top of them. I had some success and the piles of weeds speak in testament to my efforts.

It’s also been good for other things, and as usual the squashes and courgettes have gotten away from me to the extent that I was leaving some on the site’s “swap” table for anyone who wants them.

I also lifted the last of the onions – it’s been a really good year for those and I’m considering switching permanently to the new supplier I tried this year for all my onions. This is in part down to the consideration that I’ve heard our allotment shop is not going to be ordering potatoes or onions sets this year.


RIP Nanci Griffith


Watching

We’ve been watching the new series of Ghosts this week. It doesn’t feel as strong or as funny as the previous series but it’s still much better than a lot of things on at the moment.

We’ve also been watching Hemingway which has been interesting and has added quite a bit to my knowledge of the life of the author.


Well that’s it for this week, I have a proposal to prepare in the week ahead but other than that my diary is looking quite empty, although I dare say I’ll be waiting around at some point for a parcel that may or may not be delivered.

Whatever you’re up to, stay safe and take care.