Memories of Jumping Jets TWTW # 99

I seem to have packed quite a bit into this week, including a trip to the seashore. Here are some highlights.


I’ve been reading Colin Dexter’s – Last Seen Wearing this week, an Inspector Morse novel. I finished it yesterday afternoon and immediately picked up Rowland White’s – Harrier 809 (Britain’s Legendary Jump Jet and the Untold Story of the Falklands War. A bit of a contrast in reading matter. The Inspector Morse was a good read if a bit convoluted in plot terms towards the end. It’s a bit early to say much about the Harrier book, except that it is already bringing back memories of watching Harriers practice ski-jump take-offs and vertical landings at RNAS Yeovilton. There’s an aviation museum there and right alongside it is/was the airfield where you could go and stand against the fence and watch the aircraft. In those days mostly Harriers and helicopters. They also had a Concorde in the museum where you would walk up a stairway at the tail of the aircraft and walk along its length to end up looking at the cockpit. You can probably tell that I’m looking forward to reading this book, and in truth have had it on preorder for a while.


We’ve had a number of lovely days this week, and on Friday the nice weather coincided with an opportunity for me to take my film camera out again. In truth I took two film cameras, and a digital out. One film camera loaded with a partially exposed roll of black and white film and the other with a new roll of colour. I finished both the rolls and they are now on their way to be processed. I’m using a new company to do this, but they seem to be well recommended so hopefully I’ll have something to show for it in a week or so.

I was a bit undecided as to where I was going to go. I’d been thinking about trying to get some photographs of the autumn leaves, but the colours aren’t really there yet so in the end I went to Royal Victoria Country Park. It’s the site of an old military hospital, has a military cemetery on site and is right next to Southampton Water so there is a land / sea interface to play with photographically. The bulk of my pictures are on those rolls of film although there are some digital ones shared here.


My car passed its MOT without requiring any work other than a couple of advisories. I was worried that I might end up with a big bill for repairs, but other than anything that might need doing in the meantime we’re all good for another year. I’m hoping that my next car will be electric but at the moment the prices are still prohibitively high so I am trying to make what I have last a little longer in the hope that those prices may fall.


I’ve been digging and manuring on the allotment this week, nothing very exciting, but essential work to prepare the ground for next year.

I gave a talk via Zoom to a horticultural society on Thursday evening. There were about 25 viewers, which is about half what they normally get for an in person talk. It’s strange giving talks this way. They need to be revised as some of the things that I can do in person don’t work via Zoom and you don’t get the same feedback as you do when you’re there in the flesh. It is however keeping something going.


Covid-19 lockdown rules are pretty much a mess here in the UK at the moment. Summed up pretty well by Jonathan Pie


A Rare Look At a Bobcat Family


My friend David has a new article up at Lit Reactor on Modern Western Films. I love his selection and would also recommend watching In a Valley of Violence and Jane Got A Gun if you haven’t seen them.


Well I guess that’s about all I have for this week. Take care and stay safe!

Allotment Zoom TWTW # 98

Is it really that time of the week again? Some days pass so fast, even when I don’t feel like I’ve been doing all that much.


I’ve been working on a proposal this week, or rather reworking one for some work that I was involved in last year and the early part of this year that got postponed when lockdown started. The client wants to get going again, and so I’m requoting for the work, hopefully only because it’s changed emphasis but I’ve submitted my fee proposal and now I’ll just have to wait and see.

I also got asked to give an allotment talk via Zoom. All of my in person talks for this year were cancelled and although I’ve been offering to give them via videolink very few groups have wanted to give it a go, but it seems that some are now being a bit more adventurous. It’s booked for this coming Thursday, they’re not sure how many of their members will tune in but it is good to talking about the allotment again.


Speaking of the allotment, I’ve been harvesting the last of the squash and pumpkins this week. I did about half of them a couple of weeks ago, but there were a few that didn’t look quite ready so I left them for a bit longer. My barrow was full and quite heavy walking home. Now that they’re gone I can dig that area and spread some manure getting ready for next year. I have quite a bit of digging to do, and there are plenty of weeds so it’s going to keep me busy. Hopefully it won’t rain too much and I can get on, as once the soil gets wet it’s virtually impossible to work as it has a high clay content and just becomes a waterlogged mess.


The only thing I’ve read this week is an Inspector Maigret novel – Maigret’s Madwoman – I’ve been dipping into other things, but nothing has really caught and held my full attention.

I have been thinking about next years reading list and trying to get through some of the tbr pile. Possibly going on a complete book buying hiatus or restricting it in some way. No decisions have been made yet – watch this space.


The week ahead holds some uncertainty as my car is due for it’s MOT and so it could turn out to be an expensive week. Keeping my fingers crossed for a pass.

Wherever you are this week stay safe and take care.

Bit Twisted TWTW # 83

Hello again! This week started with a lot of promise of getting stuff done, and then on Wednesday morning I twisted my ankle and getting stuff done was restricted to what I could do sitting on my bum with my foot up. I don’t think I’ve done any serious damage, a bit of swelling is all I really have to show for it and painkillers keep most of the discomfort at bay. It has meant though that dog walks have been shorter or limited to the garden and I wasn’t able to drive for a few days.

It also meant that I spent one afternoon playing around with some watercolours. I doubt that I’m going to be a famous artist any time soon, but I did find it very relaxing and with no pressure or expectations it was nice to experiment.


I’ve continued with AudioMo throughout this month, some of the posts are just short snippets, others are longer recordings. Those that I haven’t listed in a previous post are linked below if you’re interested.

AudioMo will be over in just a couple of days and I’ve really enjoyed this years. The discipline of making myself record something everyday and discovering new voices and acquaintances along the way has been fun, and thought provoking.

AudioMo Day 15 – Currently Reading, Day 16 – A Lockdown Problem, Day 17 – To The Woods, Day 18 – Online Voting, Day 19 – Buffering, Day 20 – Buffering, Day 21 Harvesting After The Rain and Allotment Audio TourDay 22 – Woodland Ramblings, Day 23 – Lockdown Reading, Day 24 – A Touch of the Ouchies, Day 25 – Not at the #1984symposium, Day 26 – Reimagining Ansel Adams, Day 27 – Reflecting on AudioMo 2020, Day 28 – The Week Ahead


Work has been very quiet this week, which in some ways has been a blessing. I’ve been able to do some sorting of my Mum’s stuff and then being laid up with a twisted ankle hasn’t had the impact it might otherwise have done.


The Committee on Climate Change produced it’s annual report to government this week, it has recommendations for every government department. If you want to read the whole thing you can find it here or this Guardian piece is a good summary. I’ve been working my way through it slowly but my fear is that government will do little or nothing about it.


I read another Brother Cadfael this week – Dead Man’s Ransom, although these have kind of become my fall back when I don’t feel like reading anything else I found this one a little bit disappointing. Won’t stop me reading the next one though.

My friend David also published some poetry recently, it’s really good and you can read it here.


One thing that I didn’t do this week was visit the grave of George Orwell on his birthday (25th June). I’ve done this a few times but this year with coronavirus and a twisted ankle it wasn’t to be. These events are “organised” by my friend @documentally, and he wrote about it in his newsletter this week. If you don’t already subscribe to his newsletter you should, it’s free every other week or for the cost of a cup of coffee each month you can pay for the full weekly experience.


Lockdown seems to be completely over now, although we’re still broadly avoiding anything other than essential stuff here. Half-a-million beachgoers in Bournemouth had other ideas.


I haven’t been able to get much done on the allotment this week either, fortunately despite us having the hottest day of the year, we also had some rain so I didn’t have to worry about trying to get any watering done.


One of my minor successes this week was cooking a feta and spinach puff pastry roll. I’ve made this a few times and it’s really straightforward. You’ll need: a sheet of ready made puff pastry, a packet of feta cheese, a big handful of spinach, a bunch of parsley, some dried oregano, 2 eggs, some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Take the pastry out of the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature to make it easier to handle.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas 6 or equivalent.
  3.  Get a baking sheet big enough to accomodate the puff pastry sheet and grease or line with baking paper to prevent the puff pastry sticking (baking paper also helps with one of the later actions, and is my preferred method)
  4. Wash, drain and dry the parsley and spinach and then roughly chop and place in a mixing bowl.
  5. Chop the feta into cubes and add to the spinach and parsley.
  6. Sprinkle oregano over the top (about 1 to 2 teaspoons) and salt and pepper (don’t be too heavy handed with the salt as feta is already quite salty).
  7. Add one of the eggs and about a tablespoon of olive oil, and mix everything together to combine.
  8. Next place the puff pastry on the greased / papered baking tray.
  9. Lengthways down the centre of the pastry place the spinach / feta mix. You don’t want to overload the pastry or you won’t be able to seal the roll but make sure it is evenly spread.
  10. Beat the other egg to combine the white and yolk.
  11. If you are using baking paper now lift the bottom edge of paper to make the bottom part of the pastry sheet fold over the spinach mix. Brush the egg mix of the exposed pastry atop the spinach mix and the exposed pastry above the mix. Then use the top part of the baking paper to fold the pastry down to cover the mix and overlap the pastry. Press down gently to seal, and seal the ends by pinching with your fingertips.
  12. Carefully cut three or four slices in the pastry to allow the mix to breath in the oven, and brush the whole thing with the remaining egg.
  13. Cook in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Serves 4 to 6. Works well with veg or salad or baked beans and chips if you want a trashy tea. Will keep in the fridge once cool if you can’t manage the whole thing in one sitting. Reheat in the oven at the same temperature / time; but cover with foil to prevent the pastry burning.


That’s it for this week – ankle permitting I’m going to be doing some more sorting of things for Mum in the week ahead but otherwise I don’t have any specific plans.

Stay safe!

Emotionally Draining TWTW # 82

Hello! If you’re one of the new subscribers who have joined this week, welcome. This is my weekly post (The Week That Was), which is a review of what I’ve been up to in the previous week, or at least as much of it as I can remember.

This last week ranks as probably one of the most emotionally draining weeks of my life. I write the intro to these posts last and this weeks is a little bit shorter than normal because of what’s been going on – details below.


On Tuesday of this week my Mum went into a care home. She has Alzheimer’s Disease and for some time now it has been progressing to the point where we cannot provide the care that she needs by keeping her in her own home or that she would be safe to be there by herself. It’s a home that she has lived in for over 50 years, but no longer recognises as her home and constantly asked to be taken “home”. Her short term memory is failing and confusion and distress are not uncommon. She no longer recognises me all of the time, frequently confusing me with other people.

We know that this move is the right thing to do for her but it is possibly the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

We can already see though that it is the right thing. She has been much brighter in the few days that she’s been there and although there is still a period of adjustment, hopefully as she settles down and becomes familiar with her new surroundings some of the other memory issues that Mum has will be less of a burden for her.

There is also a period of adjustment for us to. Many of my routines were built around making sure that Mum was okay, and doing things for her that she could no longer manage. There will of course be new routines in time but it’s barely been a week, so it’s early days.


Speaking of new routines, I almost always go to the allotment on a Saturday morning. This week it was absolutely slinging it down with rain and so I did some other things and went on Sunday morning. I harvested a lot of loganberries and gooseberries as well as some potatoes and lettuce. The weeds love the rain and so there are plenty of those but also the other plants are looking good. With everything that’s been going on this year the plot isn’t looking quite how I’d like it to be and there are a lot of plants that I just haven’t had time for this year.


I finished reading David Sedaris’ Calypso and still have Valentine Warner’s Consolation of Food on the go. I’ve also been reading C S Forester’s The Good Shepherd which is being made into the movie Greyhound. I can see that depending on how they do the transfer to the big screen, if they keep to the story then either it will be an amazing film or a bit of a flop. I’d recomend reading the book whether or not you intend to see the film.


 


Suspicious Puddles TWTW # 79

Hello and welcome to the sunny south coast of the UK where that strange orange orb in the sky has been slowly roasting me all week.

I’ve mostly been at home – but things have been pretty quiet, although there are a couple of high spots to share and things to talk about. How’s your week been?


I received my developed film back from the processors, both this photo and the one above are from that roll. I opted for negatives and a transfer to USB stick (that I supplied) as this seemed like the cheapest option, and I didn’t want to waste a lot of paper on potentially poorly taken photos when I could print the best ones at home anyway. This was probably a good choice, as it would seem I have (or the camera has) a slight tendency to underexpose frames – I’m going with operator error until I have any other evidence to the contrary – and in most cases I can tweak these things afterwards if I need to.

A little bit like I have with this image.

I’m already part way through my second roll and for the most part I’ve enjoyed this little return to “analogue” photography and will probably keep going.

I think in some ways I prefer the immediacy of a digital camera and the ability to take many frames of the same thing with little worry as to the cost, until you get the image you were looking for. That said the challenge of having a limited number of exposures and thinking much more about the image you want before you press the shutter release is also a bit of a thrill. There will be more film in my immediate future.


I finished reading Maigret’s Pickpocket and also read The Sanctuary Sparrow by Ellis Peter’s (a Brother Cadfael mystery). The Maigret was excellent, one of the better ones and although I enjoyed the Brother Cadfael it wasn’t one of the best. I’ve yet to settle into anything else.


Don’t Worry I Live With All These Books


I spent a bit of time doing the conversion from winter mode to summer mode in the potting shed this week. This essentially means moving out the remaining tender plants into the garden, taking down the bench they were on and setting up for tomatoes and other things. This year I have some tomatoes but also some lettuce and beetroot in tubs. These are doing exceedingly well and we have had our first harvest of beetroot leaves and lettuce alongside some broad bean and coriander pesto on pasta. We’ve been eating broad beans pretty much continuously for a couple of weeks now, and the main crop are coming to an end, but we have some “spare” plants that I put in tubs in the garden that will also give us a second crop in another couple of weeks.


The tale of Ollie and Dollie, a pair of pigeons that befriended a family on lockdown


The water leak on the car has also now been fixed. The garage got the part and fitted me in on Thursday morning and the bill was less than they thought it was going to be. I’ve hardly driven the car anywhere since but it seems to be okay – no suspicious puddles on the floor of the garage – but I haven’t given up carrying the big bottle of water in the boot quite yet.


Work has been very quiet this week. I’ve had a couple of things to do, but jobs that only really take a half-hour or so to do. I need to be mindful about where this leaves me. The government says that I am not eligible for the self-employed income support scheme, although I’ve asked them to explain exactly why because I’m not clear on their reasoning. So I’ll be needing to find some income of some kind if my existing work doesn’t pick back up. All of my talks for this year have now been cancelled – quite rightly – either by me or the organisers as clearly they can’t go ahead under current conditions. Some of the talk formats will also need to be reconsidered – those that involve produce tasting for example – as they are also no longer practical in their current method of delivery. At the moment I’m not sure it is worth spending a lot of effort on as things could change so much before the next talk that I have provisionally booked in January 2021, but it will be slowly burning away in the back of my mind in the meantime.



Well that’s about all from me for this week. It’s looking like it’s going to be another quiet one in ongoing sunshine. Stay safe wherever you are.


Analogue Sunshine TWTW # 78

Hello again, thanks for stopping by.

This week Summer seemed to arrive. Temperatures in the mid to high 20’s, cloudless sunny skies.

Time felt like it was well spent this week, whether it was work related or something else. Days felt like they were packed.

As the week wore on and it got hotter it became harder to sleep at night and I can’t say I was disappointed when things cooled down again on Friday.


You might remember that for my birthday I asked for some 35mm film for my old cameras, my friend Christian (@documentally), also gave me a couple of additional film cameras when we last met and I duly loaded up a roll. I exposed about half the roll and then things started to get a little sketchy with coronavirus and then lockdown happened, and I didn’t make much more progress with the rest of the roll. Now that lockdown has eased a little I managed to get out and finish up the rest of the roll. The processing “stores” are also open again now, and I packaged up the roll and sent it off. I got a call Saturday to say it had been received and that they’d get it in the post and on it’s way back to me after the bank holiday. So hopefully I’ll have some pictures to share next week.


It’s the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. It’s a film that I remember going to see with my Dad, a trip in the school holidays on a day that it was pouring with rain. We bonded over the original Star Wars trilogy and again over the prequels, so they hold a special place for me. I rewatched Empire last Friday to revisit those times a bit, and because it’s a great movie.


Work’s been quiet this last week, after a flurry of activity. I’ve had a few things to follow up on, but most days have been short. With a bank holiday and in theory half-term holidays, I expect the week ahead to be even quieter.


I finished reading Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw and then read Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö – the first in the Martin Beck series. I enjoyed both, although I did think that the Martin Beck story became a little convoluted towards the end, with the murderer identified it took a long time to bring the story to its conclusion.

I seem to have slipped into another Maigret novel – Maigret and the Pickpocket – since then, which I may well have finished by the time you read this.


What we inherit when we inherit books

Should you keep books in pristine condition?

12 classic novels coronavirus lockdown would have absolutely ruined


I bet Dominic Cummings didn’t abide by this advice either.


I heard from my local garage this week too, they have now managed to order the part for my car, and all being well they are going to fit it in the coming week (assuming that it turns up as planned). I’ve been managing so far, but have always felt that things were a little touch and go at times, so I’ll be glad to get the repair done.


Time on the allotment this week ranged from covering up the fruit bushes to prevent the birds getting to the ripening fruit and then planting out the brassicas that I’ve been growing from seed.

They also needed to be covered to prevent pigeons getting to them and also to keep the cabbage white butterflies from laying their eggs on them and their caterpillars then decimating the crop.

A lot of growing on the allotment or in any garden is about balancing between growing things that you can eat and preventing other things from eating them.


That’s all I have for this week. Stay safe.


Lockdown Locks TWTW # 77

Well it’s been a week of video calls and conferences, phone calls and other physically distanced conversations. Some of my calls went about as well as the one below, but most were much better.

You can also see one of mine that was recorded for my review of The Cabinet of Calm, which was posted last Saturday and can be found here.

Outside of that I’ve enjoyed extra dog walks, now back to at least twice a day since Wednesday, but otherwise our routine has been the same and we’re still observing the previous lockdown rules, although sometimes it feels like we’re the only ones who are. It seems to me that the muddled and confusing messages from government about returning to work, not using public transport and reopening of certain businesses are likely to lead to a resurgence of cases if the VE Day street parties and BBQs where people were getting pretty pissed and behaving exactly as they would pre-coronavirus don’t.


How are your lockdown locks doing? I think it’s nearly a 100 days since I had a trip to the barbers for my usual haircut and actually it doesn’t seem to growing as fast as it normally seems to between shearings. It was suggested that I was looking a little “Grizzly Adams” this week, but I think that was more in relation to the beard than the scruffy hair. As things go I doubt I’ll be attempting a home cut any time soon, but then I also can’t see me that keen about returning to my barbers if things stay the same, even if they’re not likely to be able to reopen until July.

How are you doing have you gone for the home haircut or complete buzzcut or like me are you just letting it do it’s own thing?


I finished reading London Rules by Mick Herron, and it was pretty damn good. I started reading Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw, but haven’t made that much progress with that at this point. After that I have a pile of things to read still not to mention a kindle that is bulging at the metaphorical seams.

If like me you’ve been struggling to read, artist Austin Kleon had some thoughts on this last week.


I’ve been enjoying listening to a new (to me) podcast this week. Field Recordings is a short daily podcast of – yes it’s exactly what it says on the tin – audio recordings made in the “field” (not necessarily in an actual field).


With various other things going on I’ve not spent that much time on the allotment this week, although the allotment shop is now open again, with a nifty little one way system in operation and only one customer allowed inside at a time.

We also had our first harvest of broad beans of the season. They ended up in a pasta dish with some feta cheese, onion, pepper and garlic dressing. They were lovely. I love eating broad beans, and we’ll have plenty more to come by the looks of things.

It looks like the weather will be warming up again, so it might be time to plant out some of the plants that are waiting to go. I also need to try and cover up the gooseberries and loganberries. It looks like being another good year for them and if I don’t cover them soon, the birds will get them as soon as they’re ripe.


Television gardener Monty Don reported the death of his dog Nigel this week.


There have been a couple of particularly poignant posts on the Last Word on Nothing this week:

The Cat and the Coronavirus

My Father Isn’t

One or both will likely make you cry.


Contrary to internet urban legend, what Neil Gaiman has actually been doing.


That’s about it for this week. Stay Safe.



 

Book Review: The Cabinet of Calm by Paul Anthony Jones

The Cabinet of Calm by Paul Anthony Jones

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve been aware of this author for a while, I have a number of his books on my shelves all of them packed full of words, their meanings and etymology.

The Cabinet of Calm is no exception, but it is also different for it is a collection of words to find solace in troubling times. Prescient then you might say, given that we’ve all been under some form of lockdown for a while and our futures have an amount of uncertainty in them. Given the lead in time for books though, that seems unlikely. (Although it is a question I did ask the author when we spoke (see below)).

As with all of this authors books, I come away having not just learnt new words, but also fascinated about their origins and some of the historical significance associated with them. In some cases wondering why they ever fell out of modern usage and why I’m reading about them for the first time. This is a book that you can read from cover to cover or pick up time and again and learn something new.

In The Cabinet of Calm there are words to soothe all manner of life’s stresses and tests, whether they be about your relationship, for grieving or just because you feel a little bit down or disappointed. There are words that you will never have heard of before, but may well find hard to forget. Whether they are words like Worldcraft – which is the knowledge you gain by living your life; or Zenobia – which derives from the third century and relates to impostor syndrome; this is book which will broaden your vocabulary and widen your knowledge of language and it’s origins. It will make you smile and chuckle and get a little slack-jawed with a “well I never”.

There are 51 words arranged in an A to Z but in each one there are even more words. Learn how storks feet relate to your pedigree (see the video below) and how you might term the different types of friend that you might have – jolly-dog, shop fellow, inkweaver – to name a few. There are words here that I will use again and again and the book is one that I will return to repeatedly. Everyone should have a copy of the Cabinet of Calm on their bookshelves, probably next to that dictionary and thesaurus you haven’t picked up for a while but will now be inspired to look at in a different way.

Bring The Cabinet of Calm into your lockdown world and have soul soothing home language lessons par excellence.

A Video Conference with Paul:

 

About the Author:

Paul has a Masters in Linguistics and is a language blogger from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. His obsession with words began with a child’s dictionary he received as a Christmas present when he was eight years old. As @HaggardHawks he has tweeted obscure words since 2013 and now has a social media following of over 75k, including the likes of JK Rowling, Robert Macfarlane, Susie Dent, Richard Osman, Greg Jenner, Ian McMillan, Rufus Sewell, Simon Mayo, Michael Rosen and Cerys Matthews.

HaggardHawks.com brings together the entire HH network including a blog, books, quizzes & games, the 500 Words YouTube series, Instagram gallery and newsletter. He regularly contributes to the media.

Cabinet of Calm – Soothing Words for Troubled Times:

Is published by Elliott & Thompson on 14th May 2020, at £12.99. Find your local independent bookshop by searching on the local bookshop finder.

The book has also been on a blog tour, and you can read other bloggers thoughts via the blog addresses below:

[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]

Just Walking The Dog # TWTW 76

Well another week is over and another one starts. At the moment it’s bright and sunny out there, if a little windy and we’re just back from our blustery dog walk. It might be that later in the week we can also reinstate our second dog walk. Although that remains to be seen.

The lockdown rules are set to change this week, and although a second dog walk each day (or unlimited exercise as seems to be the rumour would be welcome) ultimately I suspect this means little or no change for our daily routine. This week gone like those that have preceded it has been very much about a routine. Some work, some household stuff and some leisure activities. We have dogs to walk but no kids to homeschool or any of the other things that many of you out there are having to cope with. In many ways we’re lucky in that respect.


Work this week has consisted of some conference calls (yes those are still a thing), some video calls, and some planning for video calls. It’s a steady if significantly reduced stream of things to do. My income is definitely down, but hopefully only temporarily.


I feel like I’m really behind with the allotment now. I’m still bringing along seedlings that I see other people on social media and neighbouring plot holders already planting out. I’m not sure that I am though, and maybe this is just a false impression of finally having the plot more or less ready to go, but nothing yet ready to plant out. It’s strange because at one point I thought I was going to have loads of seedlings and no access to the plot to be able to plant them out.


I’ve started reading the next book by Mick Herron in the Jackson Lamb series – London Rules – I was going to save this after finishing Spook Street last week, and read something else, but the temptation was just to strong. It’s good, and this series has gotten better over time. I find myself highlighting patches of dialogue and text just because they’re good or because the humour appeals to me. There’s one more in the series after this one, and I think another on the way but these have been a little bit like an addiction and soon they will all have been read. I am going to resist buying the next one for as long as possible.


I’ve been enjoying watching these sorts of videos this week.


 

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I’ve been looking for a new pair of headphones for a while. Principally I need something for listening to podcasts and making phone calls, and wireless. I had an old pair of “fake” airpods, and whilst they weren’t bad they had a really short battery life but other than that they pretty much fitted the bill, over time however the battery life got shorter to the point of being unusable.

I have now replaced them with a pair of Anker Soundcore Life P2 wireless headphones. They actually came over a week ago but I hadn’t had a chance to try them out properly but now I have and I’m impressed. They’re perfect for listening to podcasts and call quality is good. Battery life is impressive, I have yet to manage to fully discharge them before returning them to their little charging box. The stated time is 7 hrs per ear pod and with charging in the case upto 40 hours total. This seems likely but as I say haven’t had a chance to test them to extreme, suffice to say they more than last for my usage.

You can use both together or either pod individually which again means you can push the battery life further. Price wise mine were under £30 at the time I bought them, but they were on offer, so price may have gone back up again, so worth shopping around. They come with several sizes of ear pieces so you can find the one that best suits your own ear, and when fitted they block out a lot of external noise. They’re not noise cancelling but I only ever use one when I’m out walking so I can still hear what’s going on around me if I need to.


The BBC have put up a whole load of photos of empty sets that can be used as backgrounds for Zoom or other video calling software packages. So if you fancy being in the tardis or Dell Boy’s flat these could be for you.


I meant to post this in last weeks post, but forgot about it. Here’s a blog post from David Quammen regarding Coronavirus. David wrote the excellent book Spillover which pretty much predicted where we are now.


That’s it for this week, not sure what I’m up to this week, as I have a few things in my diary that are “tentative” so I could be quite busy or not so much.

Take care out there and stay safe.


Goonies  Reunited


 

Weeding & Seeding TWTW # 75

In another time, I’d have been at the dentist this past week, but as politicians and journalists seem to be keen to remind us the “new normal” means those sorts of appointments are not, at present, part of those arrangements. Admittedly I will not miss having to pay the bill.

Otherwise it’s been a quiet week, I’ve mostly been doing a little work, reading, watching the moon, listening to the rain fall and to owls hooting somewhere behind the house.


I had a trip to the allotment to do as much weeding as I could. Mostly this was on areas dug over the winter where the weeds have already started to regrow. They’re now ready for planting / sowing. I’ve also been sowing seeds which I hope are germinating in the potting shed as I type. Mostly squashes, pumpkins, tomatoes and a few other things. I’ve decided with the problems that I’ve had with sweetcorn over the last couple of years that I’m going to give sweetcorn a miss this year. As soon as the temperatures are warm enough these will be planted out.


I’ve had a couple of enquiries this week asking if I would be interested in a couple of contracts. Obviously the answer was yes, but at this stage these are only expression of interest so I’m not clear as to whether they will progress or not. It’s nice to know however that there is still some work out there.

The opportunity to continue giving garden talks via the internet rather than in person isn’t taking off. I can’t say I’m surprised given the average age of the regular audience it always looked like they would struggle with a video webinar approach. I’ve had a few enquiries but they’ve never progressed. It looks as though the remaining couple of in-person talks that I’m due to give will also be cancelled, and quite rightly. The “new normal” might well mean that talks in person don’t happen again for some time.


Forget homeschooling during the pandemic. Teach life skills instead.


Much debate as to whether the government should bailout Virgin airways, and Richard Branson’s forgetfulness about how another one of his companies once sued the NHS. There’s an interesting account of the latter here. Personally I don’t think we should be bailing out any airlines. We did it with FlyBe before the coronavirus outbreak and they proved unsustainable and I see that we have already bailed out EasyJet and promised them a reduction in “green” taxes. Perhaps the time is for any large bailouts for environmentally damaging industries should be directly linked to green recovery rather than given breaks to get around existing environmental legislation. Then again this is ultimately a Tory government and that seems unlikely that it would ever happen.


Michael Moore has produced a climate change “documentary”. I’ve watched it to save you the trouble, my synopsis: it’s a pile of 5h1t don’t waste your time, and perhaps YouTube should take it down.


I’ve been reading Spook Street by Mick Herron over the last few days. The fourth book in the Jackson Lamb series, it’s been pretty good so far but my progress has been quite slow. I also had some details come through for a book that I’d agreed to review, and that will be next. I’ll talk more about the latter in due course.



A couple of weeks ago we ran out of bird seed for the garden birds and I’ve been trying not to order things unnecessarily or at least to combine things so that we only have one delivery with several things in it every couple of weeks or so. One of these deliveries this week included bird seed, a 12 kilo bag which will hopefully last a while, although looking at how much the birds are getting through since we refilled the feeders, I might have misjudged how long it will last, I probably should add another bag to the next combined order.


We watched The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society  last night. I have to say I’ve been put off from watching this film due to it’s rather odd title for some time. However I have to say that I actually really enjoyed it. A gentle watch, which is always welcome at the moment and I’ll certainly give it another watch.


I’m out of here. Stay safe and well.