Home From Home TWTW # 142

Slightly different surroundings as I type this today. We’re still in the process of sorting out my Mum’s house and decided to come and stay for a couple of days to try and get a bit more done than we can by ‘commuting’. It’s worked well so far and it’s also been nice to reacquaint myself with an area I used to know very well. It’s interesting to see how some things have changed but the broad landscape is still very much the same. Paths that I’ve not walked for a few years are once again becoming familiar, and my daily step count is going up rapidly. I’ve put a few pictures that I’ve taken in a slideshow below.


Wilson had another vet appointment this week, and received praise from the vet. She’s very pleased with his progress and if it continues in the same vein we might be able to reduce the dosage of one of his tablets. I also received a very prompt turn around to a claim I made to the insurance company. I am surprised at how quick to be honest so I hope they didn’t make a mistake.


Work

I’ve had some good news this week and the proposal I wrote has been accepted. The client had a couple of clarification questions but has accepted it without further alteration. Subject to receiving a purchase order I’ve said I’ll be starting on it in about a weeks time with the aim of having it completed before the end of the year.


Reading

I finished Mexico Set by Len Deighton. It stands up really well as a cold war thriller and it’s interesting to see how much the world has and hasn’t changed in the intervening period since the book was written. Perhaps same problems just different fronts might be a good way of looking at it, but then again some of the fronts aren’t all that different.

I picked up Horatio Clare’s Heavy Light which could be more contrasting a subject. It’s about the author’s mental breakdown and descent into psychosis and his experience of the mental health system before, during and after his breakdown. It’s not an easy read and although mental health and stability have featured in some of his previous books, this is much more concentrated in it’s treatment and discussion of the subject. From a first person perspective it is also very frank and honest of his experiences. It is very well written but I struggle to say that I enjoyed it, rather I think that I learnt a lot about certain aspects of mental health and it’s treatment.


Watching

The Clint Eastwood boxset has been taking keeping us entertained again. We’ve watched Space Cowboys, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before and Firefox, which I’ve don’t think I’ve watched since it first came out. Neither were particularly taxing but were a couple of evenings entertainment.


I’ve been using Evernote since 2014. I use it both for my work, and also personally, it helps with content for these pieces too. I’ve been paying for the “Premium” package for several years. It renewed recently and then a few weeks later I got an email to say that my subscription was changing and that I was now going to be on the “Personal” package as a new tier of “Professional” had been introduced. Don’t worry it said nothing has changed your package content remains the same.

Now firstly Evernote has been getting a bit glitchy of late (well before this recent subscription change) but there were some changes being made to the apps and software so I wasn’t unduly worried. One of the things I liked about Evernote was the interchangeability between operating systems and desktop and mobile platforms, wherever or whatever device you were using your notes synced between devices seamlessly. This then stopped being quite so efficient. I noticed that notes that I’d save on say my phone, weren’t showing up on my desktop app and vice-versa. Also Evernote made a change that meant when you saved something on a mobile device you then had to open the Evernote app to sync. Before I could simply save something to Evernote from say a browser or other app and Evernote would do the syncing in the background. Evernote was becoming Evernot.

I’ve stuck with Evernote because I really liked it and because I have an enormous amount of information stored there, but after this recent subscription change I am thinking of finding something else. I don’t think there is any malice in the change so soon after my subscription renewed, that’s probably just coincidental timing, however as I pay upfront it looks likely that I won’t be able to get any of that subscription back if I do move. The question however is what to move to. There are a few choices (DevonThink, Obsidian, Omnifocus are ones that I’m aware of so far) and obviously I have some time to make that decision. If you have any others that you think I should look at then do leave a comment below.


Links

Notebooks – I read a piece on Alastair Humprhey’s blog that took me down a rabbit hole of a twitter feed about notebooks (I’ve posted this before but it keeps growing) and then on to another piece about artists / writers and their notebooks.

Inspector Morse voted No. 1 TV theme tune

Photos from ‘beyond the grave’: camera discovery reveals climber’s last images before fatal avalanche

Hilary Mantel: why I feel ashamed in England, and I will be an Irish citizen soon and European again

COVID-19 Long-Haulers Are Fighting for Their Future

FAA Grounds Virgin Galactic Spaceplanes Pending Investigation Into July 11 Flight

Ministers face showdowns on post-Brexit green bill weeks before Cop26


Well that’s it for this week. I’ve got some more sorting of stuff to do. Whatever you are up to this week, take care and stay safe.

Like a Wet Weekend TWTW # 138

It’s a rainy Saturday post again. I’ve already been to the allotment today and done a quick harvest of a few things; tomatoes, squash, beans; but it’s far too wet to do much else today. The forecast looks better for tomorrow so hopefully things will have dried out enough that I can get down there without the fear of trampling everything into a squishy, muddy mess. We’ll see what happens!


For fun I’ve started an online drawing course this week. I doodle and draw quite a bit but have never really taken much instruction and have probably reached the limit of my abilities to date. The course was on special offer, so I thought I’d take a risk on it, and so far I’ve been pleased with it. I can go at my own pace and have completed the first module and am working my way through the second. The first drawing task was to sketch the tools that you use for sketching, so here are a few of mine.


We had another vet trip this week. This time with Ruby who was due her booster injections. All relatively straightforward and in and out before our actual appointment time. We don’t have to take Wilson back until the beginning of September (unless there is something that we’re worried about) so we might get through most of a month without having to visit the vet.


Reading

I’ve been reading John le Carre’s The Honourable Schoolboy this week. It took me a couple of attempts to get through the first chapter, but I can now see how it ties into the previous book Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Although these are very much cold war era spy stories they still stand up well today and actually there is an element of history repeating itself with modern events.


Links

My friend Christian (@documentally) is planning on riding his bicycle from London to Edinburgh to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Great North Road being renamed to the A1. He’s never cycled more than 32km in a day before so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge. He’s also aiming to raise some money for Choose Love, a charity that supports refugees around the world. If you’d like to know more, follow him on Twitter or visit Cycling Hertz where you can sponsor him should you be so inclined. I’m sure he’ll also be sharing some behind the scenes stuff in his newsletter.


Scientists Spot Signs of Gulf Stream Collapse – I’m beginning to think that I might see the extinction of man in my own lifetime.

Ban urban and garden pesticides to protect bees, other wildlife and human health – Petitions – If you are entitled to vote in UK elections please consider signing this petition.


That’s it for this week. I’m off to do a sunny weather dance, whatever you’re up to this week, take care and stay safe.


Hot Tomatoes TWTW # 136

It’s been a hot one this week, temperatures in our garden topped 30°C on several occasions, shade and fluids have been priorities all week. It’s curtailed a lot of the plans that I had and instead the focus has been on keeping the house and the dogs as cool as possible as well as ourselves. Friday and the weekend became a bit cooler and a welcome respite. We can only expect more of the same. We topped 42°C (110F) in the potting shed which the tomato and cucumber plants loved but they were the only ones!

Meanwhile another billionaire has shot himself into “space” (I’m sorry but it’s not really space is it, there was no passage through the atmosphere into orbit. Being shot into the sky in something akin to a giant dildo, which is barely in flight for ten minutes is not space travel it’s more like a glorified carnival ride). But have no fear, he’s not an astronaut.

I really don’t get it. I support meaningful exploration of space from a proper scientific approach but I just can’t support the massive waste of resources that this kind of “space” tourism brings. I can see benefits to the Space X programme supplying the international space stateion, although I question why it has to be private companies doing that, but what Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are doing just seems like someone playing with very expensive toys.

We’ve seen just what can be achieved with tackling covid and “space” travel, perhaps it could be used on something else like tackling climate change or getting vaccines out to the remaining 99% of the population of poorer countries who have yet to have a supply of it?

We had a bomb scare in our little town this week. A “suspicious” package was reported outside Poundland and the town centre closed and evacuated. Now it’s not clear what was in the the said package, but the bomb disposal team deemed it not to be explosive. It does sound like it had been there for some time before it was reported.


I’ve had some new subscribers this week, if you are one of them – Welcome!

If you’re new here and wondering what an earth you’ve signed up to, welcome, this is my website / blog.

By training I am a biologist and by profession I generally make most of my income from being an independent environmental consultant. Outside of that I have a fairly wide interest in all sorts of things. I normally publish a post like this on the weekend at the end of the week (TWTW = The Week That Was), and talk about what I’ve been doing in the previous week, links to things I’ve found and anything else that I think might be interesting. Other occasional posts will appear at other times e.g. book reviews.

Thanks for signing up, but if after reading my ramblings you’re regretting your decision feel free to unsubscribe, there is a link to do so in each post if you subscribe by email. Obviously I hope you’ll stick around.

I also post on Instagram and Twitter where I am also @tontowilliams


Work

I was all set for a meeting this week, but as the date drew close I realised the details hadn’t been confirmed and queried whether the meeting was going ahead. Turns out it had been cancelled but no one had bothered to tell everyone invited. It is being reorganised but all the proposed dates are difficult, although not impossible, for me. Yet nothing has been confirmed so it looks as if that might not go ahead either.


Reading

I’ve not read much this week, my brain has just been too fried in the heat to make much sense of a book. I did pick up Philip Kerr’s A Man Without Breath again, which I’ve only read about half of. At this rate I might actually finish it this time. For fiction it is great how historically accurate it is and how many of the characters, particularly the minor ones were real individuals, now brought to life again.


Allotment

Far too hot to get much done this week, but with the cooler temperatures on Saturday I did manage to get some weeding done and a few other smaller tasks. The heat is causing things like lettuce to start bolting, and also the onions to finish their growing cycle. This year has been one endless battle with the weeds and it does seem like they’ve got the upper hand at times. It’s at this point each year when I’m thinking whether I am going to renew my licence in October or give up my plot.


Watching & Listening

We’re progressing with our Star Trek rewatch and watched films V and VI this week but other than that we’ve not had the television on much. I’ve been trying to catch up on a few podcasts but it’s one of those situations were as soon as I’ve listened to an older episode a newer one pops into the feed. So far I’ve been keeping the unread count about level.


Links

Cockatoos in Sydney are learning and teaching each other to bin dive for food

Grizzly Bear Terrorises Man for Days in Alaska – Rescued By The Coastguard

Neil Gaiman Also Working On Bringing Anansi Boys To The Screen


We had another vet appointment on Friday, we’ve reached the point where we’re not sure that any of the interventions that have been made are making much of a difference, so the vet is going back to the specialist for further advice. Until we’ve heard back we’re just carrying on as we are.


Well that’s about it for this week. In the coming week I may or may not have a work meeting, plus I am going to visit my Mum so will be sticking a swab down my throat and up my nose. I think I’m getting used to this, but each time is as unpleasant as the last but the thought of covid is worse.

Whatever you are up to this week, take care and stay safe.


Straight Circles TWTW # 134

Another week goes by and somethings move in cycles where others are more linear. I’ve had a few interesting things happen this week as well as some sad news.

We managed to get Wilson out for a proper walk this week, albeit a fairly short one. I’m not sure whether we’re winning or his illness is but our weekly checkup was on Friday and the vet is still non-committal either way too. He’s happy enough in himself but very itchy at times.


RIP – Frank Lee Ruggles.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of photographer Frank Lee Ruggles this week. I’ve been following his progress on the 79 Years Project, trying to reshoot Ansel Adams’ 171 shot portfolio of US National Park photos on the same day of the year as Adams, and using the same camera as Adams.

We’d never met but he was always gracious to comments and as only a few years older than myself I’ve felt his loss in particular. It’s clear that he had a similar impact on many others too.


TV.

We’ve been continuing with our rewatch of Star Trek films – Wrath of Kahn and Search for Spock – and a little bit of the England games, which if I’m being honest I’m really done with watching. The whole spectacle of the “fans” constantly booing the other team including when their national anthem is being played is unacceptable. If that’s what being a football fan is about then I’ll leave it thanks. The only consoling factor is that the Manager and players set themselves a much higher bar. It’s a shame that the “fans” don’t or can’t pick up on this.


Reading.

I finished Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre this week, it really stands up well considering that it is almost as old as me and the setting of the early 1970’s are completely different to how you might write the same story in a modern era. Back then no computers, mobile phones, satellite surveillance etc but changing times do not mean that the story is any less compelling or that the modern enemies are any different to those of today.

I’ve got a couple of books for review next, both of which look like they should be good reads. I’ll post the reviews in due course when they’re closer to their publication dates.


Work.

This week has been good for work, as you probably know I give talks about the allotment and related topics. It’s been a lean couple of years with Covid and only being able to give virtual talks, and whilst they don’t make much income I do enjoy doing them. Well this week I had an email inviting me to give a talk (virtually) at the Lambeth Country Show, following discussion with the organisers they actually commissioned both the talks I give virtually. This has meant preparing the talks and pre recording them so that they are ready to be watched on the days of the show.

Anyway if you’re interested in sitting through one of my talks or even both of them, then they’ll be available via the link above next weekend (17th & 18th July). Of course if you’d like to commission me for something live and in “person” – either physically or virtually – then do get in touch.


Links.

The Three Simple Rules That Underscore the Danger of Delta

Home Scar – of Limpets and moving / finding a home


If you’re new here and wondering what an earth you’ve signed up to, welcome, this is my website / blog.

By training I am a biologist and by profession I generally make most of my income from being an independent environmental consultant. Outside of that I have a fairly wide interest in all sorts of things. I normally publish a post like this on the weekend at the end of the week (TWTW = The Week That Was), and talk about what I’ve been doing in the previous week, links to things I’ve found and anything else that I think might be interesting. Other occasional posts will appear at other times e.g. book reviews.

Thanks for signing up, but if after reading my ramblings you’re regretting your decision feel free to unsubscribe, there is a link to do so in each post if you subscribe by email. Obviously I hope you’ll stick around.

I also post on Instagram and Twitter where I am also @tontowilliams


I think that’s about it for this week. I’ve a few things in hand for the week ahead; including I hope a visit with my Mum. Whatever you’re up to I hope that you have a good week. Take care and stay safe.


Hammock Days TWTW # 130

Well it’s been a busy week, Ann’s had a ear infection so we’ve been limited on what we’ve been doing, trips to the pharmacy etc have been the order of the day.

I had a visit with my Mum, these short visits are as much a check-in that she is generally okay and doesn’t need anything. A covid test and a quick chat and time is soon over.

Wilson has had more issues necessitating another set of visits to the vet. We not sure what’s wrong and as the vet said: “It’s not like him to have something normal wrong with him is it?” She’s right of course he does seem to gravitate to the more unusual problems and illnesses. Hopefully we’ll get test results back early next week which might give us a direction for treatment.

I feel like in the latter half of the week I’ve been running to catch up with myself a bit but I did spend one afternoon earlier in the week suspended in my hammock in the garden reading. It was bliss as the weather has been so obliging, gently swaying in the breeze with the branches of the birch tree hanging down around the edges of the hammock.


Books. I’ve finished reading Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night and then moved on to The 13 Problems by Agatha Christie. I’ve not settled into anything else yet but have a couple of ideas when time allows. Having
read several crime fiction novels I feel like changing the type of book to maybe some travel or other non-fiction.


TV. We’ve hardly turned the tv on this week, but I did forget to mention last week that we had watched the BBC TV adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Alec Guiness in the lead role of George Smiley. It stands up really well and we managed to watch the whole thing (7 one-hour episodes) over a couple of nights.



Allotment. It was a tonic to escape to the plot on Saturday morning. The weeds have really gone gangbusters over the last couple of weeks, a period of rain followed by sunshine will do that, I wish that the vegetables did the same thing. Outside of the weeds the plot is looking pretty good. It’s nearly full now without much space left for other plants, and we’re getting lots of food from the plot, particularly broad beans, radishes and lettuce.

My next door neighbour gifted me some brussel sprout plants which I planted out and sowed some purple sprouting broccoli alongside, if that germinates and grows hopefully we’ll have a good supply of sprouts for Christmas (!) and then PSB in the early spring.


AudioMo. I’ve been continuing to post for AudioMo for each day and surprisingly, although they’ve mostly been short posts I’ve managed it everyday so far. I am however well behind on listening to other people’s submissions, so I’m playing a bit of catch up and even as I type these words I’ve got my earphones in and am listening to posts from over the last three days or so.


Work. Unfortunately still very quiet, a blessing this week as I’ve had time for all the other things. Next week I have a meeting with a long standing client, so I might get some idea of their plans over the coming months and whether they need anything from me or not. Fingers crossed they do, otherwise I might need to consider some other way to pay vet bills.


Links.

Congrats to Ed Yong on his Pulitzer

Whale swallows man and spits him back out again

RIP Edward de Bono

Nature writers on the childrens books that inspired them


That’s it for this week. I hope you had a good one. Stay safe and take care!

Raindrops and Earworms TWTW # 125

Hello. I’m just back from the allotment. It’s too wet today to do very much – it’s always a fine line on my plot to be able to work the ground, particularly if the ground gets wet, as they the clay in the soil makes it a quagmire pretty quickly. In the summer if hot and sunny – it will become a concrete-like dustbowl.

We took a quick detour on our morning walk to remove some of the coverings that have been on the seedlings so that they can get the benefit of the rain (and to save me having to hand water). The temperatures are up high enough that I don’t have to worry about frost for the next few days (and hopefully we’re done with it completely now). There is nothing like good rain water to make plants grow.

As you can see I think Ruby wasn’t quite so impressed at the stop. We’re now tucked-up warm at home and I’m writing this while she is gently snoring under a blanket.

Mostly this week when I’ve not been at my desk working, I’ve been out with at least one of the dogs. We don’t often all walk together now, the older one prefers to stay at home for us to come back. I know he sits and waits in the hall for us to return, and I feel sad about that but medically it’s better for him that he’s there and he seems happy to play the role of guardian of the front step until we get back.

This week was supposed to have been a four day week, but I opted to work on Bank Holiday Monday, to make sure that I made enough progress with a project that I could hand it off to those I was collaborating with before I had other things that I needed to do. I made a mental promise to myself that I would have my Bank Holiday another day. So I’m writing it down here too, so that there’s some accountability to it.


Amongst other podcasts I’ve been listening to the latest edition of @documentally’s newsletter pod this week. It’s a part of his newsletter that is available to paying subscribers, of which I am one. He has been interviewing his paid subscribers, who come from all walks of life but all seem to have interesting stories to tell. I’ve volunteered to be interviewed so at some point he will get to me, which the more I hear of the other editions the more I wonder what on earth we’ll talk about.

You can subscribe to his newsletter for free and you’ll get something good in your email inbox about once a fortnight but paid subscribers (it’s less than the cost of a good takeaway coffee a month) get a weekly missive and the bonus audio and other occasional extras.

I’ve also taken advantage of an offer for 3 months free of Apple Music. As a rule I don’t listen to a lot of music and I’m not sure the full price (£9.99/month) will tempt me at the end of the freebie period, but I thought I’d give it a try. So far it hasn’t swayed me either way particularly. When left to use its AI it seems to predictably serve up things that are already in my iTunes library and not offer me much that’s new or I’ve not heard before. I’m trying to help it a bit by liking or not the tracks it serves up but it doesn’t seem to be having much impact yet.


Watching. After deciding not to watch the last season of Line of Duty in our household, one of us weakened and we ended up watching the whole series over 4 evenings this week – for the record I was present during this time and kinda watching over the top of my book. If you haven’t watched it yet and are going to then I won’t spoil it for you.


Work. As mentioned above I’ve been working on a proposal over several days this week, we now wait and see what happens next. I’m relatively relaxed about it either way as it’s a completely remote piece of work and part-time, so would still mean that I’d have space for other clients or non-work stuff.


Reading. I finished reading The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster this week. When I went to add it to my GoodReads profile where I log all my reads I noticed that it’s the first book that I’ve completed for a couple of weeks. Not because I’ve not been reading, although I think it’s fair to say I’ve not been reading as much but because I’ve been dipping in and out of all sorts of things, ranging from the history of the D-Day Normandy landings in 1944 to Ernie Pyle’s accounts of the war in Sicily in 1943 to essays by George Orwell and tales of Ernest Hemingway. A mixed bag indeed.


Signal take out honest ads showing how Facebook profiles it’s users and gets it’s ads banned. [LINK] [LINK]

Hydrogen fuel may not be the best way to replace fossil fuels. [LINK]

Farmer accidentally makes Belgium a bigger country [LINK]

UK Government plans to make 50% funding cut to arts subjects [LINK]


Well that’s all I have for this week. The week ahead is looking relatively quiet apart from having to take Wilson to the vet for a check-up midweek. Whatever you are up to, take care and stay safe.


Life is a Rollercoaster TWTW # 117

This week has been full of ups and downs. It was my birthday on Tuesday. The weather was amazing. There was cake and presents; you know a fairly typical birthday, or at least as far as possible in pandemic times. Things went on the downslope a bit after that.

I had to go out in the car, I used the opportunity to drop off a birthday parcel for someone else at the sorting office and then headed for the motorway. As I pulled onto the slip road the dashboard lights came on. They weren’t the “!STOP NOW!” kind so I made it one junction and pulled off. I was able to come home via the backroads to my local garage. That’s where the car is now. They’re going to try and look at it soon, at least to diagnose what might be wrong, but they’re really busy and short-staffed at the moment and so probably won’t get to it until later this coming week. I have a sinking feeling about it this time that might mean the car is beyond a sensible repair bill. It’s around about 18 years old so I can’t grumble as I’ve had good service from it. I was hoping it might last a little bit longer though as I’d really like to go to an electric car next but currently they’re a little beyond my financial means. I’d also like to consider not owning a car at all any more but again there isn’t quite the infrastructure locally to support that for us. So for the time being we’re going to see what the garage has to say. It might be something simple (fingers-crossed) and we’ll be back on the road again. If not then we’ll have to reassess our options.

Later on that same evening the dog bowl that our dog has had since we first got him was knocked off of the draining board and broke on the kitchen floor. That was just another emotional kick from a shite day.


Reading. I’ve mostly been reading Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the painting of the water lilies by Ross King, which was a birthday present. It’s good stuff and although the focus is on the latter period of Monet’s life it covers a lot of his life overall so is a fascinating read.

I’m also looking forward to reading Together by Luke Hawker when it’s published – video below.

If you enjoy reading newsletters, Mike Sizemore has a new one out and it’s pretty good. Great story about a bear in the first edition. You can sign up and read the archive here.



Watching. We’ve been watching The Terror this week.

It’s being shown on the BBC, having I think previously been on Netflix, so we’re a bit late to the party. Although I didn’t realise until I came to type this up, that what we’re watching is season one and there is a second season. The premise is based on what might have happened to the ships HMS Terror and HMS Erebus when they disappeared when scouting for the Northwest Passage in 1848. The wrecks of the two ships were found in 2014 and 2016, but as to what actually happened nothing is known. The TV series is based on the book by Dan Simmons. The second season is about another story. I have to say that while is started out well we both started loosing interest in it about three-quarters of the way through and although we watched to the end I don’t think we would have been too bothered if we’d stopped early.


Allotment. Although we’ve had some stellar weather this week, we’ve also had quite a bit of wind and rain too. Pretty typical March. I went down to the plot early this morning when I was walking the dogs and it’s back to being too wet to dig again. I have however managed to sow some seeds this week and plant some onion sets into modules, so although there isn’t much to show, there are at least things in the pipeline as it were.


Work. A quiet week this week, which was planned due to the birthday but fortunate given the car situation. I did however get another booking for an allotment talk. This one isn’t until May but I do have one the week after next so will be prepping my slides over the next few days, as I want to make some adjustments. Having given this talk on Zoom a couple of times now there are some things that I want to change so that they work better.


The news is quite full of articles of the type “a year ago today” in recognition of the anniversary of the pandemic. Oddly it really started much earlier than that but the media and the government were both asleep at the wheel when it came to realising what was going on and how serious it would become and how quickly. I was having a look back through my journal and there are a few highlights that at the time were routine things but now are oddly milestones. For example the last time I had an in person work meeting was 7th March 2020. After that everything switched to phone and video calls. I think I might keep that retrospective up over the next couple of months as we come out of lockdown # 3 as at the time we were just going into lockdown # 1. The Prime Minister seems to think that this will be the last lockdown. I’m not sure I have the confidence in his abilities to believe him (we’ve been there before after all).

By coincidence the artist / writer Austin Kleon has also been doing the same.


Well that’s it for this week. Stay safe and well!

Digging In TWTW # 116




Greetings from my allotment. No I’m not there typing this but I was thinking about this week’s post earlier when I was there. Thinking that for many weeks I haven’t had all that much to report about my plot but I’m hoping that as this week I’ve actually been able to turn the soil a bit as we’ve had a dry spell and the heavy clay is less heavy and therefore less likely to do me an injury when digging, that there will be more news to tell.
I’ve been thinking about what I need to do over the coming few weeks to get things moving into spring properly and realise that I’m probably a bit behind with seed sowing, so this coming week I’ll be making some headway on getting things moving in the right direction.



Reading. My reading this week has been more listening that reading as I’ve been working my way through some audiobooks.
I’ve been listening to Austin Kleon’s audiobook trilogy of Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work & Keep Going. I have actually read all of these and they’re a great resource to dip into but I’ve found quite a few things by listening to the audiobooks, that I missed when I read them. It’s been interesting just thinking about how my brain works differently when listening as opposed to reading – ears over eyes.


Also from Austin Kleon was a post linking to the artist Julian Onderdonk who is one of the artists who I added fairly early to my Artists Twitter list.


Shaman Balls – Craig Childs


We had a trip to the vet this week. A planned appointment for Wilson to have some blood drawn for his regular checkup and adjust his medication if need be. We haven’t got the results yet but we’re not expecting any nasty surprises. Fingers-crossed.


Watching – The Commute Walking 90km to Work. I’ve done this a few times over the years, but I think the longest I’ve done was about 8 miles each way and I left early and got home late to make sure I was on time for the start of my day. I’ve been enjoying Beau Miles latest video this week. It reminds me how much I’ve missed walking during this latest lockdown. Fingers-crossed that everything will continue to move in the right direction and in another few weeks the only being able to go out once a day for exercise rule will be relaxed.


I’ve had my film cameras out this week. The sunlight has been great and I’ve loaded a roll of infrared as much to have an experiment with different exposure, iso and other settings ahead of being able to get out properly and take photos. My theory is that experimenting in controlled conditions in my back garden mean that I can make better judgements later. I also broke my cable release and have had to order a new one.


Well that’s it for this week. It’s my birthday on Tuesday, not that I’m expecting to be doing anything much different, but I am planning on doing some different things from my usual routine.

Stay safe and take care.


Of Nighttime Smells & Sleep Deprivation TWTW # 105

This is possibly going to be another one of those posts that doesn’t make much sense as it’s typed by sleep deprived fingers and brain.

This week has been quite busy with the first half involving some long video conference calls on a particular project that is looking to make up some ground on the basis of being delayed for most of this year. The latter half by lack of sleep due to a poorly dog. There’s not much that I can say about the work stuff, and you probably don’t want to know about the dog stuff in detail, suffice to say that it’s involved a couple of trips to the vets, some moderately expensive bills and several nights that have been punctuated by rather smelly trips into the garden. The dog is feeling very sorry for herself, and has seemingly attached to me like a limpet and I would really just like a snooze.


I didn’t read all that much this week, but I did read the Maigret novel Lock Nº 1. I’m not sure whether it was the fact I was reading in the evenings when I was tired (see above) but I really didn’t enjoy it. I found it a confusing read and it seemed out of place in the series. I’m intending to go back and read it again because it seems unlikely that it was that bad given how good these novels normally are. This was reinforced by also reading the Maigret novel (The Liberty Bar) that immediately precedes it in the chronology straight afterwards and finding that one to be an absolute humdinger.


Deneholes – no, I’d never heard of them either (Alastair Humphrey’s exploration of his local OS map, one square at a time continues)


Ever had a truly memorable cup of coffee?


I had reason to ring customer service for one of the major supermarkets this week. Despite the recorded announcement telling me that they were extremely busy, my call was answered in less than a minute by a true star of customer service.

He told me that until recently he’d been a stand-up comedian but now he was working as a customer service rep as covid had pretty much wiped out his old worklife. He did this while he was efficiently dealing with my issue, which in the grand scheme of things was pretty banal. We chatted as we waited for “the system” to do it’s thing and then I was on my way and he to the next person. It was a short interaction but it’s stuck in my mind to write about today. I’m not sure whether he’s any good as a stand-up, maybe I should have asked him to tell me a joke, but he’s certainly got it nailed as a customer service rep until he can get back on the stage.


I took some photographs of the Moon & Mars on one evening this week. Mars was almost directly above the Moon and really easy to see with the naked eye. Here’s a quick slideshow:


It looks like good news with my Mum, it’s now been three weeks, and the mild symptoms that she appeared to be suffering from have mostly disappeared. There were several infections in the home that she was in and all but two have managed to get through it without needing significant medical intervention. If progress continues in this way it might mean that the residents can all have a Christmas that whilst it won’t be normal by any stretch of the imagination will be way better than being in quarantine.


Advent starts this week, and I’m looking forward to tucking into my tea advent calendar.


Right I’m stopping here, hope you all have a good week. Whatever you’re doing stay safe and take care.


Social Distance TWTW # 69

It’s probably impossible to write here and not to acknowledge what’s happening in the world, even though my experience is only limited to what is going on around me. It also seems that things are constantly changing and greater efforts are being made to contain the spread of the virus and pressure on the vital health services. However as I write this on Sunday things will have moved on by the time it’s published tomorrow, so bear with me.

On Monday things seemed to be more or less normal, with most businesses being open although we were being encouraged to work from home more and avoid unnecessary contact. By Friday the country was very different.

I won’t dwell on all the different restrictions or the various different announcements, but I do want to make a plea. Please be considerate, please don’t be selfish. Don’t be a dick.


It’s been easy to be distracted from work this week, I admit to be a little anxious about groceries and in particular making sure that my Mum has what she needs. She has Alzheimers and doesn’t understand what is going on, maybe that’s just as well.

More cancellations / postponements and suddenly my diary is looking very empty over the coming weeks. I still have a couple of reports to write / finish, I’m hoping that I won’t have a problem getting paid for them.


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I gave Ruby a haircut this week, she was less than impressed. It’s something we try and do at the start of the spring and then again later in the summer to help reduce burs and snags in her coat, and also keep her cooler. I think I’ve been forgiven already, at least until she’s due her next cut. We hang the spring cut in an old bird feeder in the garden and the birds – particularly the blue tits – come and take it for their nests.


I finished reading East West Street by Phillippe Sands and got an Inspector Montalbano – Excursion To Tindari – in. I haven’t had a chance to start anything else yet.


I’m really grateful for podcasts this week, particularly those that have enabled me to escape the background noise of coronavirus. I’ve been listening to a few different ones in particular this week, including going back through their back catalogue to listen to ones that I’ve missed. A couple of picks for you:

99% Invisible – stories about all sorts of things, not everything is something that I would be naturally interested in but it’s presented in such a way that I’ve found out a lot about things that I’ve never have bothered with before.

We Have Ways of Making You Talk – very much about WWII, it’s history and stories.

Deep State Radio – American domestic and foreign policy podcast, and actually not one you want to listen to if you want to lower your anxiety levels, but good for staying informed on what’s happening on the other side of the Atlantic.

Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project – Adam Savage from Testd and Mythbusters fame podcasts, covering many different films, games, science fiction, toys and more.


My social media abstention has continued. I think to be honest absence from social media has helped lower anxiety levels, although there have been a couple of times when I wanted to go onto Twitter to have a complete rant about something but didn’t. I actually think posting less is probably a good thing, posting pictures of empty supermarket shelves often just prompts people to go out and panic buy because they think they are not going to be able to get what they need.


The week ahead, I’ll mostly be at home, apart from dog walks. I will need to try and get some groceries at some point, but otherwise I’m making sure I’m practicing social distancing and not putting myself or anyone else at increased risk.

Wherever you are – stay safe.