Happy 8th Birthday Wilson

It is Wilson’s 8th Birthday today. I’m not sure where those years went. In dog terms that means he’s reached the status of a “Senior”, but I’m not sure I hold much store by those arbitrary boundaries. He gets some special treats today to mark the occasion.

The weather is not being particularly compliant today, and it’s been raining most of the night and all morning so we might postpone a special walk until tomorrow, or we might just go anyway as the forecast for the next few days doesn’t look any better.

Here’s some older photos:

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Third Quarter Review 2017

Each year for the past few years I’ve been doing a year end review; last year I split that across the year, doing one at the end of each quarter. This year I’m going to try and do the same as last and do a quarterly review – books I’ve read, films/TV programmes I’ve watched and other things related to life, work and the allotment. The 2017 Quarter One Review is here and Quarter Two is here if you’re interested.


Work – The third quarter has continued in the way quarter two went – a lot of effort on preparing proposals and looking for clients but no luck. There were a couple of proposals in there that I was really looking forward to delivering, so I’m disappointed that I won’t be – but that’s the way it goes.


Allotment – It’s been a good season this year, probably not as good as last year, but not shabby, and some things like pumpkins and cucumbers have been much better than last year. We’ve had a lot of our food from the allotment. As the quarter ends though, the season is winding down, but I’m planning for the winter season and next year.


Books – I’ve exceeded my GoodReads target of reading 25 books. That said, this still feels like an arbitrary number, particularly when there are only a couple of books that stood out for me this quarter. They were “Santorini” by Alistair MacLean [GoodReads] and “risingtidefallingstar” by Philip Hoare [GoodReads]. The former was a reread, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. The latter I enjoyed because of the personal content as well as the historical and biographical content.


Films & TV – I’m pretty disappointed with TV at the moment, there seems to be nothing on. That’s pretty normal for the summer months, as most of the new programming starts in the autumn. There are a few things that stick in my mind as I enjoyed them:

Strike [LINK] – This is the adaptation of the novels of Robert Galbraith (a.k.a J.K. Rowling), so far they’ve adapted “The Cuckoo’s Calling” & “The Silkworm”. I thought they were well acted and as far as I can tell were pretty faithful to the original books. It’s also supposed to be coming back for further adaptations next year. I’d recommend checking it out, even if you haven’t read the books.

Arrival [LINK] – I watched this on Amazon Prime with little expectation, but enjoyed it. I’d say though that this is perhaps a film that you’ll either like or find really boring.

The Martian [LINK] – I know I’m pretty late to the party on this one and I’ve had the DVD for a little while before getting around to watching it, but I did really enjoy it. A nice Saturday evening in film – if that makes any sense?


Life In General – It’s been a hectic quarter with family things. My Mum has had her knee replaced, and so I’ve been spending a lot of time with her. In some ways the fact that work has been quiet has been helpful to me. I’ve got lots of things to do around the house and garden, as well as continuing to help sort out my Dad’s things and my Grandma’s house. Hopefully the latter is almost complete as there’s a buyer in place and it’s just waiting for things to go through.

Second Quarter Review 2017

Each year for the past few years I’ve been doing a year end review; last year I split that across the year, doing one at the end of each quarter. This year I’m going to try and do the same as last and do a quarterly review – books I’ve read, films/TV programmes I’ve watched and other things related to life, work and the allotment. The 2017 Quarter One Review is here if you’re interested.


Work – It’s been a very quiet quarter. I’ve been doing a lot of proposals and business development work, but it has yet to lead to any paid contracts. I think to an extent that uncertainty around Brexit, the General Election, and a few other things mean that things are quieter than they were this time last year, and as we now enter a traditionally quiet time that will probably continue for a while yet. I’m conscious as to how long a contract drought can last before I need to bring in a wage or income from somewhere else. I’m not there yet, but it is something I’m thinking about at the moment.


Allotment – These second quarter months really mark the start of when things really get going in the new season. Although it’s been a little bit odd with quite a few failed or only partial germination, most notably with sweetcorn, courgettes and cucumbers. Second sowings have been more successful, but the timings have been no different to last year, although the weather has been a little bit cooler in April & May, although June was a scorcher! So far this year doesn’t feel as strong as last year, but that’s just the ups and downs of growing.


Books – I’ve reached my GoodReads target of reading 25 books early. It feels like such an arbitrary number to me, I sometimes wonder why I bother with the challenge, but I’ll leave it alone for now.

Highlights this quarter, include Guests of Summer: A House Martin Love Story by Theunis Piersma and Bee Quest by Dave Goulson. Both excellent natural history books and both sadly showing evidence of decline in many of the amazing species on our planet.


Films & TV – Still watching the reruns of  “All Creatures Great & Small“. Although, apart from the Christmas special all have been shown now, and the channel has started back from the first episode again. I have a good few stacked on our DVR still to watch.

I did enjoy the BBCs Line of Duty, although this is in its fourth season, it’s the first one I’ve watched. Although some of it has been a bit of a stretch, it had me watching each week. I’ve also been watching a few things on Amazon Video. Bosch returned for Season 3, and was excellent, it’s a series that keeps getting stronger. I’ve also been catching up on The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead.

Finally I’m going to mention American Gods. I had great hopes for this adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book, and although there were some high points generally it was a disappointment.


Life In General – Although things are moving on there is still a lot to do following the passing of my Dad and Grandma. I suspect that it will be a running theme of the year and dominate a lot of what I do during the course of the year. I’m more aware that I’m thinking about my Dad and being a bit introspective in terms of my own life and it’s direction.

I’m also waiting to hear about my Mum having a knee replacement, which is likely to be sometime before the end of the calendar year, so the upcoming six months, have a certain level of uncertainty about them.

I’ve also been having car trouble, it’s not let me down, but has been back and forth to the garage for a scheduled repair where a part failed repeatedly, this might mean that I have to replace the car in due course, but I’ll see how that goes.

First Quarter Review 2017

Each year for the past few years I’ve been doing a year end review; last year I split that across the year, doing one at the end of each quarter. This year I’m going to try and do the same as last and do a quarterly review – books I’ve read, films/TV programmes I’ve watched and other things related to life, work and the allotment.


Work – Last year was my first full year being self-employed, it had its ups and downs, and as I enter my second year I’d like to be a little busier than I am but in some ways with everything that has been going on generally in life (see below), having some extra time for that has been useful. I’m trying to grow things a little this year, and am looking at new areas of work to help spread my horizons a little more and hopefully bring in some more work over time.


Allotment – The first quarter is all about getting things ready really. The weather hasn’t been that kind in terms of being able to get onto the plot but the last few weeks of this quarter have seen things picking up. We’ve enjoyed fresh vegetables all through the winter and continue to do so in the spring. I’m looking forward to what I hope will be another good year on the plot, with it providing a significant proportion of our food during the coming months.


Books – Well according to GoodReads I’ve read 18 books so far this year. That feels like a lot, but a couple were short books or novellas, so perhaps it’s not as many as it at first seems. There wasn’t really anything that stood out particularly, although some of the images in Yellowstone by David Quammen were amazing.


Films & TV – TV has been a bit of a disappointment so far this year, I had high hopes for the adaptation of Len Deighton’s SS-GB, but in the end I was pretty disappointed by it. The one thing I have been watching and enjoying though is “All Creatures Great & Small“. This was first shown in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and I remember it well from my childhood. One of the Freeview channels has been repeating episodes each afternoon, and we’ve been recording them and then watching them when nothing else is on. They hold up pretty well and it’s been quite an indulgence to rewatch them.

On the film front there are a few that stick in my mind. Rogue One was a highlight at the start of the year. I do like Star Wars films, and this one is no exception. It’s also the first film that I’ve been to watch in the cinema for quite a long time. I’d also add The Magnificent Seven reboot with Denzel Washington & Chris Pratt; Hell or High Water with Jeff Bridges & Chris Pine; The Legend of Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgard & Samuel L Jackson; In a Valley of Violence with Ethan Hawke & John Travolta; and finally Swallows and Amazons, another reboot.


Life In General –  As regular readers will know, I lost my Dad at the end of last year and then early in January my Grandma. Loosing my Dad has been particularly hard and I still think it will be sometime before things return to “normal”, whatever that looks like. Much of these first few months of this year has been taken up with various things in connection with these two events – solicitors, dealing with companies, bureaucracy, etc. I am a little astounded by how little some companies care about their customers in these situations and how just getting something right first time would be essential. It seems that this isn’t the case for many of them.

I’ve also had some health issues of my own to deal with, and that will be ongoing for a while I think.

Being my own boss has helped give me the time to deal with a lot of this, I know that were I still working for my old employer that this wouldn’t have been possible in the same way, and ultimately may have lead to more conflict. However I can’t continue to give this much time to some of these things, it’s not critical yet, but something I am conscious of and need to keep under review, and try to resolve some of the outstanding items.

Foggy Day

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It was a very foggy day yesterday. I’m used to taking my dogs for a walk in the dark, and I have a good head torch, so it’s no big deal, but fog is a little different. It was so thick yesterday, I could stand on the centre spot of the football field, and I couldn’t see either end or either side of the pitch. I could hear other people walking their dogs (mostly calling for them, because they’d wandered off into the fog), but I didn’t see another sole.

It always reminds me of the Stephen King story “The Mist”, which I think is in the compilation “Skeleton Crew”[GoodReads]. There was also a reasonable movie made of the story a few years back, which is worth a watch (see below).

It actually got thicker during the morning, and hung around all day. I’ll be out there again, when you read this on another dog walk.

How Not To “Walk” Your Dog

When I was on my morning dog walk I saw something, that sadly I see more frequently than I would like.

A car pulled up next to the playing field, and one of it’s doors opened and out jumped a dog – I was a little distance away but it looked like a boxer, although I couldn’t be sure – which promptly dashed across the service road on to the playing field and towards a group of seagulls that were resting / feeding. The gulls immediately took off the moment they saw the dog coming and circled around looking for a place to land. The dog was still trying to chase them or pursue the stragglers that had called it’s bluff and were still on the ground.

The dogs “owner” was still in the car while this was happening.

Eventually she got out of the car, and walked onto the field. The field is pretty muddy at the moment, and I’m wearing wellingtons, and still get splashes of mud above the top of my boots on my jeans. She was wearing white trainers.

She pulled her phone from her pocket and stood on the edge of the field while her dog continued to chase seagulls, and then decided to take a dump.

I could almost see what was going to happen next. When she saw that her dog was doing his business she started to look around. Now I might be being judgemental, but I’ve seen this behaviour a number of times. It’s the:

“can anyone see what my dog is doing because I really don’t want to have to pick it up look”

Unfortunately I was there, and she could see me, so reluctantly, it seemed, she went and picked up behind her dog and put it in the dog bin (not 10 metres away).

After about 2 minutes of standing checking her Facebook or whatever she was doing on her phone she obviously decided that it was time to go, and she called her dog and started back to her car.

Her dog however had other ideas, and wouldn’t come to her, he ran straight past, and across the service road, away from her. Every time she tried to go near him, he jinked and went in another direction. I didn’t see how this played out but it looked as if it was going to go on for a while.

This is obviously not the way to walk a dog.

Firstly you need to be present, don’t just put your dog out of your car and either stay in the car or stand around looking at your phone. You need to know what’s going on. What your dog is doing, who else is around and what they (and they’re dogs) are doing. This was also right by a service road, which although quiet early in the morning, does get busy quickly and there is quite a bit of traffic even at that time of the day.

Secondly if you can’t pick up your own dogs faeces with a bag, then you probably shouldn’t even have a dog.

Thirdly; letting you dog chase birds isn’t great. It teaches bad behaviour, and although the dog obviously found it fun, when the “game” was over, the dog didn’t think so and wouldn’t come. Often birds like this are resting or feeding, and it takes an awful lot of energy to get airborne and fly away. It’s better to give them as wide a berth as you can. Persistent behaviour by dog owners like this is one way to get dogs banned from some public spaces. Don’t be selfish.

Fourthly; if your dog has this much energy it probably needs more exercise than you’ve just given it. Now maybe you’ll take him out for another walk later on today. That’s great if so, but it didn’t feel like this person would be doing that. Dogs need exercise. Every day. Depending on the dog, some need a lot. Think hard about this before committing to owning a dog.

Now of course I could be completely wrong about all of the above, and I might be stereotyping a lady who is just looking after someones dog for them while they’re away, sick or unable to do it themselves for a while, and doing the best she can, but unfortunately I see this sort of behaviour frequently and it makes me disappointed that it happens at all.