A Warm & Damp Sensation (TWTW # 3)

It’s been a cold week and we’ve seen a little bit of snow, although we seem to have escaped the worst of it there have been some quite significant falls just a few miles up the road, so very localised. Fortunately I’ve not really had to go anywhere too far or when I have it was before the snow fall.


We took our dog Wilson to the vet this week, nothing serious we think but it did necessitate gathering a wee sample the next morning. As with human samples this had to be collected from the first “wee of the day” mid stream. When I’ve had to do this in the past I’ve just improvised but the vet provided a collection kit this time. It was nothing glamorous, effectively a sample tube with a scoop attached to it. The only downfall with it, is the ability to see whether the sample tube is full. The warm and damp sensation on the back of your hand is a good indicator though.


I found this interesting infographic on the daily routines of creative people.


In this series of online articles the author has been cutting out one of the big 5 tech companies (Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple) from her life each week, with some fairly scary results (particularly with Google), she’s yet to do the final week when she cuts out all of them at the same time but they all make interesting reading.


I was given a copy of Maigret at Christmas for a Christmas present, and thoroughly enjoyed it having not really read any Maigret novels and only really coming across him through TV adaptations (Michael Gambon and more recently Rowan Atkinson). I thought I’d get another one and I’ve been reading that this week.

It was another good read and Georges Simenon has a really smooth and economic writing style.

 

 


I also watched a couple of episodes of the series “The Last Resort”. It’s a simple premise – nuclear submarine is order to launch a warhead via a recognised back-up system, but questions order as it appears there is no war / conflict going on. It is then attacked by it’s own side and goes on the run.

There’s some interesting parallels to it and what else is happening in the world (even though it appears to have been made over five years ago). I’m not sure how well it will stand up as a series, but I’m likely to watch a couple more just to see.


It seems that the US government shut down was good for the elephant seals.

The Week That Was # 2 (Experiments With Sourdough)

I’ve been wanting to do some sourdough baking for a while now. I already bake quite a bit of our own bread (mostly in a breadmaker), and regularly make pizza bases, rolls and other things and I wanted to give sourdough a try too.

I got a starter (you can make your own but I opted for the slightly easier option) from the Wild Baker and it arrived earlier in the week. I feed it (with flour and water) a couple of times and then it was ready to go.

There are a couple of quite long pauses for rising etc. in the sourdough process and I think next time, I’ll shift things around a bit so that these happen overnight rather than try and squeeze things all into a day-and-a-half.

That said the resulting loaf was fantastic (see above). Great tasting and a definite success. It’s always good when cookery of any kind goes well, but this was especially pleasing.


It’s been a pretty chilly week, with temperatures dropping below 0°C on most nights. This had meant that my home office has been a little inhospitable some mornings and so I’ve moved to our lounge to work.

I’ve been assisted by the dogs to keep me company (and warm), although I must admit they have been a little more distracting than normal. I assume that this is as much the change of routine for them as it is for me.

I’ve been asked by a potential client for a proposal for a piece of work, so I suspect that most of the coming week will be taken up in pulling that together. They have ambitious plans so it’s good that potentially I’ll be a part of that work.


I’m between books at the moment, but a quick visit into town to post a parcel took me past the secondhand bookshop.

I always try and leave more books with them than I take away, and this time I succeeded, although I have to admit to be quite pleased with the ones I found.

Best Reads of 2018

GoodReads prompted me this morning with an email about my year in books. You can see the update on my GoodReads page here. I’m not sure that I’ll get through anymore books before the end of the year, but I’ve managed to read 52 this year (although a few of these where actually quite short, so I’m not sure it’s quite the same as reading 52 tomes!)

There have been a few highlights for me out of the 52 though. In the order they were read, they include:

Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions by David Attenborough – Although this is essentially a reprint of some earlier editions of this book, it was wonderful to step back in time with the author to when an expedition wasn’t accompanied by loads of technology, and the wildlife was less vulnerable and exploited than it is today. As someone who is credited with being one of the great natural historians of modern times, this was originally written long before he was as well known as he is today. I enjoyed it immensely and am really pleased that I have the next volume in the series on my bookshelf to read, probably early next year or over the festive period.

Under The Rock: The Poetry of a Place by Benjamin Myers – 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.

The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare – I’ve read several of this authors books this year, all have been excellent but this is the pick of the crop for me.  It’s the authors story of a winter through mental difficulties but one which is as inspiring as it is troubling. It’s a wonderfully written, candid account and another book that I know I will read time and again.

I’m leaving my list here, because although I’ve read many fine books these are the standout three for me, I can only hope that I read as many splendid ones in 2019.

Round and Around – (Quick Links 124)

The end of the week at last! It’s been a busy one for all sorts of reasons, but none of them being really work related. I’ve had a couple of nights of disturbed sleep with a poorly dog, and a few things to do with my Mum.

It was also Ruby’s birthday. She’s now 4 but it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since we collected her, the time has flown by.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time on the allotment (it’s about this time every year when I wonder if it’s all worth while).

I’m coming to the end of the week feeling pretty tired and worn out. Next week’s looking like being busy too (at least the first half).


I went to see Avengers: Infinity War on Wednesday.

I enjoyed the film, but felt a bit underwhelmed by it. Maybe it’s because it’s had so much hype for so long, but I felt that both of the two previous “Avengers” films were better. I also haven’t seen Dr Strange or Thor: Rangnorok, which I think probably meant that I missed a few things that might otherwise have made sense.

It’s still a good film though, and the next installment, next year should be the best of the bunch if they don’t mess it up.


Craig Mod Newsletter – I may have mentioned the excellent Roden Explorers newsletter from Craig Mod before (or I may not, I can’t remember). It’s an infrequent but excellent read. The latest edition [LINK] contains all sorts of interesting stuff, but the thing that stuck in my mind was his walk where he ended up with blisters and how he dealt with them. It made me positively wince as I read it. It’s well worth a read, and you can always sign up via the link at the top of the newsletter page.


Work – A quiet week overall, a few emails exchanged with a prospective client and a phone call with a recruitment consultant but otherwise that’s about it. I’ve been looking at possibly expanding my grow-your-own work, but not made any decisions about that yet.


Allotment – Busy week here. It’s that time of the year when everything is ready to go out onto the plot. This week I’ve transplanted runner beans, cucumbers, sweetcorn, courgettes, pumpkins, squash, Brussels sprouts and sown seed for more radish, lettuce, purple sprouting broccoli & rocket.

img_20180518_103314_490.jpgThe sweetcorn entailed the building of an enclosure to try and keep the badgers at bay should they try and eat it. Not sure I’ll be very successful in keeping them out if they’re determined, but at the end of the day I only need to try and dissuade them and hope they move on.

I’ve been doing similar in Mum’s garden, trying to get her plants out as well (very similar combinations to my own – probably because I’ve grown them for her). I also mowed her lawn and a few other odd jobs around the house.


Currently Reading – I’ve just finished reading “Under The Rock” by Ben Myers [LINK], I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not sure what’s up next.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


I’m thinking about taking a break from writing on the blog for a while. I know I’ve said that before but I feel like what I’m saying isn’t much, and it’s certainly not exciting. I’m also haven’t had the time to actually find much in the way of interesting stuff that I normally add for some time. I’m also getting a lot of spam comments and email sign ups, although the filters are catching just about all of them they’re pretty annoying, and I wonder if a break might stop them, if there are no new posts for a while. So there may not be a post next week or for some time. If you have any thoughts on what you like to read here then do leave me a comment. I’ll likely still be updating in places such as Instagram and Twitter where you can find me as @tontowilliams, but in the meantime take care until next time!

The Short One – (Quick Links 123)

I’m a little late posting this week, having not had the time to write much of this update in advance this week, so I’m not sure how long this is going to end up being. Here goes!

I avoided the Bank Holiday crowds at the start of the week, and instead did a bit of a coastal walk on Tuesday. The tide was out which meant I was able to walk around the section of the coast path that the signs guide you away from, and make you walk inland. When the tide is in, this part of the path is not that accessible but at low water there’s plenty of time to make the trip. Even got to see a couple of Wheatears across one of the fields, but had to wait until today to see my first Swift of the year.

It feels a bit like Summer has arrived this week, with daytime temperatures reaching the mid to upper 20’s, we’ve had a few rain showers over the weekend, but it’s warming up again.


GDPR – If you haven’t received multiple emails from people about this then you’ve been very lucky. It seems most people have been getting it completely wrong when it comes to what you’re actually supposed to do, with the major corporations being the biggest offenders. I’ve been using it as an opportunity to “unsubscribe” to a lot things.

I’d be a bit remiss though if I didn’t remind you that if you receive this post and other posts via email, you can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link provided. Of course I hope you don’t but it’s your choice. If you have provided me with your email address it only get used to send you posts from this site and nothing else, and it will never be shared with anyone else.


Work – There’s been a bit of movement with a client on some work, but it’s still not clear whether this will go ahead. If they don’t make a decision by the end of the month, then it definitely won’t be proceeding, so there’s still plenty of time, and for me nothing much to do other than wait!


Allotment – Been doing a fair bit this week, I’ve been getting ready to plant out things like squash, pumpkin and courgette, and they’ll be going out probably in the next week or two. I’ve also been preparing the ground and have now planted out the Cavlo Nero on the end of the existing brassica bed. Everything is starting to come alive at last. There’s plenty of soft fruit stating to form, in particular gooseberries, and seeds sown a couple of weeks ago are growing well. Of these I’ve even harvested the first radishes of the year!


Currently Reading – I’ve been reading “Under The Rock” by Ben Myers [LINK] this week and jolly good it is too. It’s likely to be one of my favourite books of the year.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Sean Bonner – Citizen Science


I’m outta here, otherwise this thing is never going to get posted. Have a good week.

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore – (Quick Links 122)

It’s been a fairly busy week for me, and also an election week for local councils.

We had an opportunity to vote this week. Despite our current Councillor retiring, I hadn’t expected any change in political party even if the face changed. This proved to be true with the new Councillor getting over 50% of the vote, although given the campaigning before the day, you’d have thought there was only one candidate standing as we heard nothing from any of the other three, although I did see a representative of one of the other candidates campaigning in town on the Saturday before polling day. Sadly he was being pretty offensive and rude to people he spoke to, and not doing his candidate any favours in the process, he put me off voting for his candidate.


I was sitting doing my end of month accounts when I realised that my calculator had stopped working. I thought it was just the battery that had died, but it appears that’s not the case and this is probably an end of life failure. A little sad because I was given this calculator for either a Christmas or Birthday present (I can’t remember which) when I was starting my science classes at school. It’s seen me through all my school, college and university career, and on it to my working life. It’s done more than a few project appraisals, as well as month after month of household accounts. As I said on Instagram – We’ve done some maths together. By my reckoning this calculator is 35 years old, and that is some serious service for something that probably now we would be surprised if it lasted more than a few years. They don’t make them like that anymore.


I’ve never really wanted a “fitness band”. Not the musical kind, one of those things that you wear on your wrist that measures your steps, and heart rate and a few other things. My phone counts my steps and I’ve been pretty happy with that.

Well this week this happened:

The jury is still out for me on this at the moment. It seems pretty accurate at counting steps (compared to my phone the two seem broadly in alignment). It also measures sleep, but I’m not sure this is terribly accurate as it can’t seem to discern between “light” sleep and being awake but resting quietly. I’ll keep giving this a try to see how I get on with it


Mythos – I’ve been listening to this BBC radio drama on iplayer this week on my travels [LINK] – (this might not work outside the UK, but it is worth the try). It’s a good mix of mythology and humour with some interesting story lines. A bit of a shame it was only three episodes, and I hope they make some more. If you’re a fan of Charles Stross’s Laundry novels [LINK], you’ll probably enjoy it.


War On The Walker – I walk as much as I can, if I can get somewhere without using the car I try to do so. I get annoyed by cyclist riding on pavements where there is no cycle lane and insufficient room, and by people who are inconsiderate and park on the pavement blocking it. It seems that our current government is pretty set on the car, despite the fact that there are too many of them and not enough room for them. The solution is to build more roads. My local council’s view of how to overcome congestion and air pollution is essentially to build more roads – go figure. It also seems that even for electric vehicles, we haven’t gotten this right yet [LINK] and the Transport Secretary isn’t much better [LINK].


Nuclear Titanic – In times of crisis nuclear powered vessels can be used to provide power to communities where their normal power supply has been lost. In some ways I think this is possibly what Russia was thinking with the Akademik Lomonosov [LINK] but I’m not altogether sure that this is the best idea in the world.


Work – A bit of prep for, and time at a meeting mid-week but otherwise it’s been another quiet week on the work front. The outcome of the meeting however means they’ll be a bit to do in the coming weeks (subject to the response from the client).


Allotment – The weather turned for the better midweek (and is due to last until after the Bank Holiday Monday). As well as the allotment I managed to get a few things done in the garden at home.

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I had a little help in the garden as I was replacing some of the supports for our climbing roses that grow up the wall between us and one of our neighbours. It was lovely to be out in the sun doing some of those small jobs that often get forgotten in the garden because of lack of time.

On the plot things have been doing pretty well, despite a couple of late frosts this week. I’ve planted out some leeks, mowed the paths and gave the beetroot seedlings a good weed, they’re looking the better for it.


Currently Reading – I’ve been reading “On The Moor” by Richard Carter [LINK] on and off this week. It’s an interesting mix of science, landscape and natural history. I’ve also been dipping in and out of a few other things.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Ant Man & The Wasp


Monday’s a Bank Holiday, and if the weather holds beyond then I’ve got a couple of plans, but then you know what they say about the best laid plans! Have a good week.

Swallows Return (Quick Links 121)

My car went in for it’s annual MOT this week, unfortunately it failed and needed some work, but all has been put right now, and it’s good to go for another year. I’ll need to get a couple of new tyres soon as well, but they’re good for a few more miles.

Not having a car for a couple of days meant a slight change in plans but I managed to get everything done, just perhaps not in the order I’d originally planned.


I mentioned last week about the blue tits gathering dog hair from the garden. Well I managed to capture them in action in this short video.


I saw my first Swallow of the year this week (a week later than last year). I haven’t seen any Swifts or House Martins yet, but they’re normally later sightings for me anyway. I also saw a couple of black caps just across the road from my house. They used to be regular garden visitors but I haven’t seen one in the garden for a couple of years, so it’s good to know that they’re still about, and maybe they might find the garden again.


Work – I heard back about the work that I was involved for the tender for a few weeks ago and unfortunately we were unsuccessful. This was very disappointing as I thought the bid was strong. As yet we’ve not had detailed feedback so I don’t know where we fell short, but I am quite interested to find out. This means that at the moment there is no paid work on the horizon, so I need to hustle a bit and get that changed around.

Had a couple of work related meetings but they’ve been in the diary for a while.


Allotment – The forecast for the weekend was wet, but in reality it has mostly been dry to this point at least. It meant I managed to finish clearing the old purple sprouting broccoli patch, dig it over and add some compost, ready for new crops. It will likely be the site of the coming years leeks and sweetcorn. For the latter I still need to devise my badger proof enclosure to stop them eating all the cobs before we get a chance.


Currently Reading – I finished   “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee [LINK]. Haven’t really gotten into anything else at this point, been a bit busy with other things.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Total Ban on Neonicotinoids – [LINK] I’ve written about this numerous times here, but at long last a total ban on these chemical pesticides has been declared. Hopefully it’s in the nick-of-time, but it is good news for once. Understandably the manufacturers are not happy about it (but they wouldn’t be really would they), but everybody else seems happy.

 


A short one this week, hope you all have a good week ahead.