Life Juggler TWTW # 128

Once again I seem to be writing this post on a Saturday. In a couple of hours, I’m going to get my second Covid vaccination, so I went to the allotment yesterday rather than have to try and juggle things today. My unscientific analysis of other people who’ve had their second jab is that side-effects aren’t too bad, but I’m keeping my diary clear for a few days just in case. All of this means the time to write this post is now.

How are you doing? It’s been a busy week for me, as they all have just recently. Monday ticks around to Friday without me really noticing and the weekends are gone in a flash. I sometimes wonder what I have to show for it and often it is just knowing that things have moved forward is confirmation of success.


I had to take Wilson back to the vet again, he still doesn’t seem to have recovered from his upset stomach. Another course of pills and the potential delight of having to collect a three day stool sample are on the horizon for us. I was quite astounded to see that two-thirds of the money that I’ve spent this month (excluding grocery shopping) is at the vets.


Allotment. As mentioned I went to the allotment yesterday, I’ve had a lot of plants that needed to be transplanted out and so I was busy preparing ground, putting up canes, rigging netting and all sorts of other things. I’ve transplanted french climbing beans, cabbages, broccoli and leeks. I still have courgettes, squash and a few other things to go. As ever there’s lots of things to do, for example I need to net the fruit bushes soon, but before I can do that I need to remove all of the cleavers and other weeds that have done so well in the last periods of rain. Always something to do and that’s when I’m not being distracted by the wildlife – a passing buzzard, woodpecker or something similar.


Work. Another quiet week. I gave an evening Zoom talk to a gardening club and this is the last one of these now until October. Unless there is another booking in the meantime the next one I give will in theory be in person, although who knows whether that will actually be the case or not. My work diary is looking quite sparse.


Reading. I finished reading the Brother Cadfael that I started last week and then picked up Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie. This is the first book in the series which were made into the TV series Grantchester. I also picked up an interesting blog post by the author Paul Finch – Daytrips to Terror: the counties of England, which in summary is a horror / ghost story from every county of England by different authors selected by Paul. I thought I’d read a few if I could track them down and will start with my own home county of Hampshire, so will be tracking down The Humgoo by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes for some Bank Holiday reading.


I’ve been watching some of the nature webcams on CarnyxWild’s YouTube channel. I particularly like the Chichester Peregrines and the Coquet Puffins.


Links.

End Mowing of road verges to create huge wildlife habitats (I wish my local council would be more mindful of this. I’ve tackled them about it a number of times but always get the same answer – it’s a highway verge, so we mow it – their lack of ability to think astounds me).

The Folly of Cumbria’s Plans for a New Coal Mine

Making Concrete Green


Well I think I’ve blabbered on for long enough for this week. I hope you have a great week ahead, particularly if you’re on the half-term break. Whatever you’re up to take care and stay safe!

A Blanket Made of Home Spun Wool TWTW # 127

Once again the allotment is wet and miserable, but the weather is due to improve later so I’ll be heading down there then. I did pop in to check everything was alright this morning after a day of strong winds yesterday. No damage to report. While I was there I picked these radish, the warm and wet conditions of the last couple of weeks means that they’ve grown well, and these have a very fiery taste, eye-wateringly so!

I’ve spent a little time on the plot during the week this week, it was perhaps a perfect way to spend an afternoon, I was earthing up the potatoes and sowing some extra broad bean seeds. The weather was sunny and the temperature not too hot.

I’ve also been clearing out the potting shed of the over-wintering plants and converting the space to enable us to grow some tomatoes and cucumbers.


I had to take Wilson back to the vet on Monday, and upset stomach has kept us busy but it wasn’t resolving on it’s own. Things seem much improved now though.

It was also Ruby’s 7th birthday. I pulled together a short montage of some of my photo’s of her over the last seven years.


Reading. I’ve been rereading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the umpteenth time this week, I enjoy these stories so much but it’s been a while since I’ve read the whole collection. I’m planning to go on to Memoirs and Return in due course but picked up a Brother Cadfael – The Confession of Brother Haluin to read in the meantime. I always learn something new reading these, often having to resort to looking something up in a dictionary or encyclopedia. For example did you know that a “Brychans” is a blanket made of home spun wool?

I’ve also been reading some of George Orwell’s Diaries, these are interesting particularly as you can see how his experiences recorded in them later translated to some of his books. For example his journey to go hop-picking where he spends some time sleeping “rough” is very similar to what ends up being in Down and Out in Paris & London. I hope as I read more of them there will be some similar parallels.


Links. There’s been a lot of coverage of the Queen’s speech and the government’s announcements about tree planting and peatlands. There’s a good summary here. Personally I think the proposals are a bit weak and don’t go far enough, particularly with regards to stopping the use of peat-based compost, with the government holding yet another consultation on this rather than actually taking action based on the decades of evidence that it already has.

There’s also a good ranking of companies by the Financial Times of those reducing their carbon emissions here.

Twenty firms produce 55% of the worlds plastic waste [LINK].

David Quammen on travelling into the past to cover the pandemic [LINK]. I’ve said it before but you need to read David Quammen’s book Spillover to help understand how we got to where we did with Covid-19.


I’ve been sorting through a lot of boxes from my parents loft this week. In one I found a lot of old books from my childhood. There were a lot of Dandy annuals and also my old i-Spy collectors books. It looks like I had a life membership from around 1977 but there no longer appears to be an i-Spy club going in the same format anymore. Great shame as it these and other similar books that really got me into nature and the outdoors and recording all the things that I saw. Something that I am still doing to this day.


Work. A very quiet week workwise, it’s a real struggle at the moment. I’ve got a booking for an evening allotment talk next week and have been making the final arrangements for that and preparing my slides. It’s a Zoom talk and the last one I have in my diary for several months. In fact the next one is supposed to be an in person talk – booked before the pandemic – but whether that will go ahead in that format remains to be seen.


The week ahead is looking fairly busy but with small things of little importance but that are necessary and will take up time. I seem to have weeks like that now and again when I try and get through a lot of tasks that I’ve been putting off or unable to do. It gets them done but makes for a pretty boring week overall. I’ll have to see if I can find a way to put a little bit more life into it!

Whatever you’re going to be getting up to, Stay Safe and Take Care.

Who Are You? Who Am I? TWTW # 103

I’m writing this on Sunday morning after being woken up at 2.50am, 4am and 5.45am by dogs who: wanted to get on the bed / needed to go for a pee / wanted their breakfast. Suffice to say if this is complete nonsense – or at least more nonsense that usual – you know why.

How are you doing?


We heard on Tuesday that Mum tested positive for coronavirus. So far she’s only showing mild symptoms so our hopes are that she will remain that way. Her test was on the Sunday before so today is the mid-point of what the doctors are saying is her infectious period. We’ve been in touch with her on the phone most days, and I really appreciate the staff in the home, some of whom have also caught the virus, for looking after her and all the other residents during this time. The simple task of taking a phone to Mum and all the rigmarole of changing PPE before and after, sanitising the phone and all the other task they now have to do that they didn’t before must be stressful enough without the added concern that they are constantly at risk of exposure themselves. Standing on our doorsteps clapping (haven’t seen much of that recently) just simply isn’t enough. Carers, nurses and all the other essential workers that we rely on, not just in these times but all the time just are not recognised for what they do and are certainly not appropriately recompensed.


Lockdown life certainly makes things a little quieter. My trips out have been to get groceries and to walk the dogs. The weather put pay to any serious work on the allotment this week, so that was also combined with a dog walk. I’ve been doing a few jobs around the house including repair our back step which had become pretty rotten. I managed to make the repairs with leftover wood and fixings from other projects. I like these little projects where in reality I have no formal training or skills but life has made me wise enough to work out what needs doing and do it.

The rest of my time has been spent thinking about Mum and generally trying to stay sane.


I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking and cooking this week. I enjoy making our meals from scratch and this week it’s as much been about distracting my brain as anything else. I always have a few basics and change other ingredients around by what I have on the allotment or have bought. The onion and parsnip soup that I mentioned last week, sprout chilli this week. With just the two of us many of these last for a couple of nights and then I move on to something else.


I’ve gotten through another Inspector Morse mystery this week – The Secret of Annexe 3 by Colin Dexter. I wasn’t actually planning on reading another one so soon, but after drifting between other things I picked this one up one evening and read it across a few days. I moved onto a Brother Cadfael – The Raven in the Foregate by Ellis Peters after that which I’m still reading. It’s early days, no one has died yet.


Looking for something to do during lockdown but are tired of jigsaw puzzles – well you could always try this.


The Emboughered by Dickie Straker

The Lookout Cookbook

A Single Map is Enough

First Mile Podcast

Tim Ferris – Podcast with Scott Kelly


Ding Dong (best played with sound). I’m glad he’s gone, I’d have been happier if he’d been sacked after his “eye-test”. My fear is that he’s already done so much damage that it can’t be undone and on January 1st we’ll truly start to see just what a piece of work he really is.


Until next time – stay safe and take care.

Annual Trip, New Procedure TWTW # 86

Well hello again, welcome!

It’s been a busy week for me, there seems to have been lots happening, some of it important and some less so but it has filled the time.

We had a trip to the vets for annual check-ups and vaccinations. You no longer go into the practice, but let them know that you’ve arrived via the reception window and then when it’s your turn the vet comes out to the car park to see you. If needed they then take your pet inside for whatever treatment is required. This of course pre-supposes that they can of course get your pet into the surgery. Neither of our dogs were keen to enter (they’re not at the best of times), and it took me walking across the car park with the vet to the door to convince them. We had some unusual test results for one so will have to repeat the exercise in a months time (assuming that the procedure is the same).


I’ve read a couple of books this week. Spike Milligan’s excellent Hitler, My Part in his Downfall which was a quick short read, and another Brother Cadfael. Ellis Peter’s The Pilgrim of Hate. I’ve since started reading the next in the series – An Excellent Mystery – these more recent books don’t seem to be as good, and so far there hasn’t been the usual medieval murder and I’m a third of the way through the story.


I’ve been taking a few photos this week, and my roll of infrared film arrived so I’ve loaded that into a camera and have been experimenting. I’ve read a few different articles about getting the best results and so have been trying a few different approaches. Ultimately I’ll see how the roll comes out but I’m about two-thirds of the way through it.


I’ve been enjoying see the world through other people’s views with Window Swap. Touring the world one window at a time.


I went to see my Mum on Friday. It’s the first time that I’ve been able to see her in the care home since she went in there. They’ve opened up to socially distanced visits in their garden just this week. Although the visit was short – only 15 minutes allowed – she seems to be settling in very well.


Thanks to the person who bought me a virtual coffee this week, I won’t name them as I don’t feel like I have their permissions to do so, but they should know who they are. Your generosity helps offset the hosting fees of the blog and is very much appreciated. Thank you.


Yellowstone’s Zone of Death where you might just be able to get away with murder.


Newsletter author David Charles is currently cycling around Britain and recording a daily vlog on YouTube. In part because in a world without Covid-19 he would be cycling to Athens on the Thighs of Steel fundraiser for grassroots refugee projects, but for obvious reasons that has been cancelled. so instead he’s heading out into the “post-Brexit, mid-Covid pre-apocalypse Britain”.

He’s just passed through my neck of the woods, and by the time this post goes live he’ll probably be somewhere in East Sussex / Essex I’d guess.


Our broadband upgrade didn’t happen as it was supposed to, so I’m scheduling this post ahead of time so that the internet can do it’s thing in case something happens next week and I’m unable to get online to hit the post button myself.

Stay safe out there and look after yourself.

About The Birds TWTW # 65

I was on my travels this week, down to see a client in Somerset again, I made what is becoming a regular stop and a visit to a charity shop on my way back and picked up a couple of secondhand books. I think I’ve purchased something in there every time I’ve been there, and their stock turnover seems to be quite frequent so there always seems to be new stuff for me to look at.


On Monday I was walking the dogs and saw a Kingfisher flying along the little creek in one of the local patches of woodland. I was quite surprised to see it, as I’ve always considered that little patch to be a little too urbanised to attract such a bird, but then what do I know. I was able to watch it for a couple of minutes and then lost sight of it.

We’ve also had a one legged / one footed Grey Wagtail hanging about our garden. He’s obviously lost the lower half of one of his legs, whether this is due to a predator or getting it caught or tied up in something and then slowly losing it I’m not sure. He seems to be quite happy though and getting about without too much trouble, although I suspect why we’re seeing him in the garden so much is that he finds it easier to find food in our garden that he would elsewhere in the wild. We’ve always had the odd grey wagtail about so it’s not unusual to see one, but we’re seeing a lot of this one. We’ll keep up with the regular feeding of all of the birds, and he’s most welcome to take his fill.


I’ve been reading a couple of books this week. First up was Ellis Peter’s – A Virgin in the Ice, which is a Brother Cadfael mystery, it was an enjoyable read although one of the things that I’ve noticed with these is the slightly misleading data that I get from the kindle. I’ve noticed this before as I have several of these books on my kindle and each one has a chunk of the next book at the end and some other material which although is interesting is not part of the story. This means that the percentage reading on the kindle is out, and the actual book ends at around 60% to 70% and the remaining portion is the other stuff. It’s not a big deal, but does make for some confusion when a book you think you’re only about halfway through ends.

My second read is Andrea Camilleri’s – The Treasure Hunt, which is an Inspector Montalbano mystery. I picked this up in the charity shop in town earlier in the week, and am reading it now because we’ve been watching the Inspector Montalbano mysteries on i-player and I know that this one is coming up soon, so I wanted to read it before we watch it. They’re quite gentle watching and we’re enjoying watching some of the earlier ones that we haven’t seen before. I hope that the tv adaptation sticks quite closely to the story in the book because I think it will make for an entertaining watch.


The allotment has been a bit of a wash out these last few weeks with the two storms we’ve had and this past weekend has been pretty wet and windy too, it’s not been too conducive to getting anything done. It’s looking a pretty desolate place, but it won’t be too much longer before things really start picking up.


It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks, and I asked for some 35mm film so that I could get one of my old film cameras out and use it. It’s not terribly expensive stuff and it provoked a little question as to why I’d want it. Anyway it was duly ordered and evidently arrived this week and was given to me as an early birthday present. I haven’t done anything with it yet, and will probably wait until my birthday before I load the camera up with it, but I am looking forward to experimenting again.


I’m on the road again a couple of days in the upcoming week, but otherwise I’ll be cracking on with work at home for clients. There are some deadlines for various things in the not too distant future, so it’s important to keep things moving on forwards.

Wherever you are I hope you have a great week.