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.

Marathon Man (Quick Links 120)

Well this week has seen a real change in the weather, suddenly much warmer and brighter, I’ve made the switch from wellingtons to hiking boots on my dog walks and if this keeps up there’s a real danger of shorts – you have been warned! We ended the week with some thunderstorms last evening and a drop of rain, but the sun was back out again this morning.

It gave me a proper opportunity to get into our garden at the start of the week and do a few jobs that I’ve been putting off because it was too cold / wet / unappealing. It was really nice to be out in the garden and an opportunity to see what’s going on. I saw more butterflies in one afternoon than I’ve seen all year so far. It’s a far cry from those snow-days of just one month ago!

I also gave my Mum’s lawn it’s first cut. It had dried out sufficiently to allow a mower on without sinking in. The mower started (nearly) first time, which is always a relief after being in the shed for the winter. I also took her over some seeds and planted out some cabbage plants in her raised beds.


I had a dental check-up this week. I really don’t like going to the dentist. It’s not a phobia – I just don’t like going. Don’t like my dentist much or the way he treats his staff, and I think he charges too much (although to be fair I have no comparison). I keep saying that I should move to another practice, particularly as my current one isn’t that close to home and the only reason I keep going is because it’s where I went as a kid, but the guy who was my dentist then has long since retired. Anyway check-up was fine, nothing needs doing, so now I have 12 months to source another dentist.


 

Work – A couple of virtual meetings this week, but quite quiet on the work front.


Allotment – The seeds that I sowed last week are starting to germinate. I was worried that they might get frazzled as they are under plastic at the moment, and had visions of having to resow every single one, but my fears were unfounded and they seem to be doing okay. I gave them a good water and covered them up again.

I also harvested our first rhubarb and made a crumble with it – yum!


Currently Reading – I finished  “Travels” by Michael Crichton [LINK], and started reading “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee [LINK]. The latter got me thinking about how I learnt to swim, and I wrote a short post on it.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Hummingbird “Love Charms” la chuparosa – Until I read this National Geographic article, I had no idea that this was even a thing. We don’t get hummingbirds in this country, but I know if we did I’d be trying to attract them to the garden like I do the other birds – as I sit typing this there’s a blue tit pulling some of Ruby’s fur out of a feeder that we’ve put out for the birds to provide nesting material, Ruby provides this cast-off fur when we brush her.

I suppose in a way I shouldn’t be surprised. As a species we humans have exploited just about everything else and every other species on the planet for our own ends. For birds the records on shooting song birds in Malta [LINK], and the persecution of birds of prey in the UK in favour of providing a few rich people some “sport” [LINK] are equally abhorrent. Why is it that we just can’t respect other life on this planet? When are we going to stop destroying our own home?


Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom – I was looking forward to this, but now I’ve seen this trailer, I think I’ll wait until it comes out on DVD, seems to be more of a rehash of Jurrasic Park: The Lost World, than fresh ideas.


The Meg – Looks like it might be fun in a bad B-movie kind of way, but again I’ll probably be waiting for the DVD or Amazon Prime release.


Solo: A Star Wars Story – I think they’re releasing this a little soon after Episode VIII, but I’ll probably go see this on the big screen because, well, Star Wars etc. etc.


That’s all folks, my car’s due an MOT next week and I’ve got a couple of meetings in my diary but otherwise if this nice spell of weather continues I want to try and get out and about.

Unstable Times (Quick Links 119)

The world feels like it’s a lot less stable this week than it was last. I won’t go into all the news from around the world as it’s easy enough to find. What worries me is that the people who are “in charge” do not really feel competent to me.


I used the Hive website this week to order a couple of books. It’s the first time I’ve used them and I was really impressed. Primarily they are there to support local bookshops in the UK, and you can order anything in their catalogue and have it delivered to your local independent bookshop – they will also deliver to you directly.

As a result of my order (which was cheaper than on either Amazon or Waterstones) I discovered an independent bookshop that I didn’t even know existed, and is less than 5 miles from my house. Ordered on a Tuesday morning, they were ready to be collected by lunchtime on the Wednesday. The bookshop I collected it from is a great little store, and I’ll probably be going back again some when soon. See below for what I ordered.


I didn’t write a quarterly update at the end of March. Nobody seems to have noticed. I felt that I was repeating myself a little bit doing them, so I just didn’t write it. Probably won’t with quarters 2, 3 or 4 either.


Work – I’ve been writing some workshop proposals and outlines this week, a lot of hours in front of a computer screen.


Allotment – Although we had a really wet start to the week, things had dried up by Wednesday and stayed dry for the rest of the week. This enabled me to get some seeds sown (beetroot, radish, lettuce & rainbow chard), and also plant some Horseradish.


Currently Reading – I finished “A Time of Gifts” by Patrick Leigh Fermor [LINK] and started “Travels” by Michael Crichton [LINK].

The two books I ordered from from Hive are: “Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin’s Lakes” by Jessica J. Lee [LINK] and “Floating: A Return to Waterlog” by Joe Minihane [LINK]


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Bosch Season 4 – This is now available on Amazon Prime Video. Seasons 1 to 3 were amazing, so hoping this one will be too. I’ve watch the first couple of episodes already, and they were really good – bodes well for the rest.


Swimming with Sperm Wales in Sri- Lanka – [LINK]


That’s all folks, next week we have a mini-heatwave forecast, if this proves to be true I hope to get some time in the garden and on the allotment. I  should also hear about one of the tenders that was submitted a while back, and I have a dental check-up to look forward to. Assuming of course that we don’t all get incinerated in a nuclear fireball. Hope to see you all next week.

The Spuds Are In! – (Quick Links 118)

IMG_20180403_151806_365.jpg
Gate Detail At Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club

I took my Mum out for breakfast on Tuesday, something that is maybe becoming a regular thing. We went to Emsworth, and for a brief moment it wasn’t raining, so we were able to go for a short walk after we’d eaten. The photo above was taken there. We had a good chat over breakfast and did a couple of other chores while we were out.

I like Emsworth as a place, and I could actually see myself living there (although I doubt I could afford the house prices).


I had an interesting conversation about how technology has changed the way we think and see the world now, and how everything is much more immediate. It’s probably something that many people have thought about and I suspect the sides are both well rehearsed, but I’m not sure that all of the technology that we have now can actually be regarded as progress.


Pretty sure that we have a pair of Great Tits setting up a nest in one of our bird boxes. I’ve seen one of the birds taking beaks full of nesting materials into the box a couple of times, and they seem to be around the garden a lot. I’m conscious that they are around and am trying not to unduly disturb them, so that they can get on.


Our new furniture arrived on Friday. So far so good, very comfortable. Just need to get used to the room feeling a little more crowded than it did for the past couple of weeks when there was hardly any in there!


I was given an R2D2 travel mug for an Easter present, and gave it a test run on the allotment. It seems to work well and kept my  coffee suitably warm while I was down on the plot.


Work – It’s the financial year end, and I’ve spent a little bit of time getting my business expenses in order and a few other tasks so that I can do my tax return. I have plenty of time to get this done, but I don’t like to leave it to the last minute.


Allotment – The weather really hasn’t been compliant this week. We had a wet Easter bank holiday weekend and this continued until Thursday morning, when for the first time we had a dry day. I did get some seeds (pumpkin, patti-pan squash, tomato, cucumber and sweetcorn) sown indoors and finally on Saturday got my early potatoes in and transplanted out my “spare” broad beans. It then rained overnight which is a good thing but I still haven’t been able to get to do much of anything else. I still have brassicas to go out and some seeds that need to be sown. I’m hoping for a couple more dry days and then perhaps sometime next week I can get a few more things done.


Currently Reading – Not really sure what I’ve been reading this week. I am part-way through A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor [LINK] but otherwise I don’t think I’ve really been reading much. As an author Fermor has fascinated me for some time. A war hero and adventurer, he seemed to live a very full life.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]



That’s all folks, next week I have a couple of work meetings as well – hopefully – some more time on the allotment planned. Have a good week wherever you are.

The Easter Bunny Cometh… (Quick Links 117)

Easter Sunday today, for us this is very much about family time and my Mum is coming for a Sunday roast a bit later (the joint is already in the oven cooking), and I’ve made another batch of hot-cross buns (that I actually managed to put the crosses on this time).

It’s been a mixed week, I was out on Monday for a work meeting, but I’ve been working from home for most of the rest of the week and it’s pretty much rained everyday  and our dog walks have been pretty soggy affairs.

It was Wilson’s birthday on Wednesday, and I wrote a quick post about it here.

The council came and took away our old three-piece suite, we’d tried finding someone who would take it and recycle it, but it was just to old and worn. It’s still odd to be sitting on garden furniture indoors, but by this time next week I should be sitting on our new sofa, it’s due to be delivered on Friday.


Wind River 

I watched this yesterday, and would thoroughly recommend it. It’s written and directed by Taylor Sheridan who also wrote Hell or High Water [LINK] which is also an excellent film.

Wind River [LINK] stars Jeremy Renner (Avengers) as a wildlife warden who comes across the body of a dead woman whilst tracking mountain lions that have been killing cattle on the Wind River Indian reservation in a Winter Wyoming. The tribal police chief, played by Graham Greene (Longmire) calls in the FBI and Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Age of Ultron) arrives, under-equipped and agrees that the circumstances are suspicous, and asks Renner to help her with the investigation.

It’s a good movie and I really enjoyed it. The acting is good, and the winter scenery is just stunning. At around 90 minutes it’s a short film but well worth it. If you have seen Hell or High Water you’ll likely enjoy this too.


Work – As mentioned above I was at meetings on Monday, and that pretty much set the tone for the remainder of the week workwise as I had some follow-up work to do based on those meetings.

I’m also waiting on some tender deadlines to find out if submissions have been successful.


Allotment – Heavy rain again this week has meant little work on the plot again. I was hoping that I could get my potatoes in but I’ve had to postpone that.


Currently Reading – I read Neil Ansell’s “Deer Island” [LINK] and Chris Riddell’s “Travels with my Sketchbook” [LINK] the latter is based on the drawings made by the children’s laureate during his two year tenure as he was travelling.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


 

That’s all follks, a short one this week.

Glamping in the Lounge (Quick Links 116)

I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, from a garden chair in my lounge. We’re making way for some new furniture and our old suite is in the front garden, waiting for the Council to collect it. We might be in a state of flux for a week or so.

Works been keeping me busy this week, and things seem to have settled back into a bit more of a routine, although we still had snow around at the beginning of the week.

I baked some hot-cross buns during the week. They didn’t last more than a couple of days, and in the end didn’t even end up getting the crosses applied to them. They were good eating though. I’ll be making some more ahead of Easter, just as soon as I get some more supplies!

I also watched IT, and wrote some thoughts about it here.

 


Work – A busy week with phone calls, meetings and some preparation for upcoming meetings and tender responses.


Allotment – First time in a couple of weeks that I’ve actually been able to get on to the plot. It’s still too wet and cold to do much, but I did manage to get some weeding done ahead of hopefully planting in a week or two.


Currently Reading – Another week where I’ve hardly picked up a book or my kindle or when I have I’ve fallen asleep quickly and read very little.


Sudan – The last male Northern White Rhino has died [LINK]. This species is nearing extinction (only two females remain, Sudan’s daughter and granddaughter) and scientists are planning to use IVF and other technologies to revive the species [LINK]. I have mixed feelings about this. Largely we humans have driven this species to this point, mostly through poaching and demand for rhino horn, so maybe we humans should try and do something about it. Actually I feel we should have done this years ago and not reached this point, and maybe our lesson is to prevent this happening with other species. These are deeply philosophical points I know, but I’m not sure trying to use science in this way is the right answer.


France’s Bird Population Collapses Due To PesticidesLINK – [] Not wishing to labour a point above, but when are we going to learn the lessons of what we have done and are continuing to do to this planet under the guise of “progress” and “growth”?


Citizen Science – Really enjoyed reading this story [LINK] about how local birders were able to provide the evidence against a developers claims, but will it be enough. All to often I read similar stories were the “tame” ecologists of a developer produce reports that are fundamentally flawed or even false.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Neil Ansell – Deep Country  I finished reading this book [GoodReads] early in the year, this week I came across this video trailer for it.


That’s all follks. Catch you next week.

Return of the Beast… (Quick Links 115)

As you might have gathered from the title of this post and the photo above, the snow is back. It’s Sunday morning as I write this and when I went to bed last night there was very little snow and hardly any had settled. When I got up this morning, I’d guess we’ve had between one and two inches overnight, definitely more than a couple of weeks ago, however it is not as cold this time. Have to wait and see what happens I guess, there’s a little more forecast during the day and overnight tonight and then it looks like it’s set to get a bit warmer.

I’ve finished the decorating in the lounge this week, there’s still a little more sorting to do as we put things back in place. We’ve also ordered a new 3-piece suite, which should be here just after Easter. We tried to donate our old one to a charity, but sadly it’s too old and worn for them to be able to do anything with, so the Council will be coming to collect it a week Monday.

I’ve also been sorting through a lot of my old books and dvds and donating some to charity, and also selling a few via Amazon marketplace. I sold two within 12 hours of listing them.

It would have been my Dad’s 81st birthday this week, I took Mum out for breakfast on the day as a mark of remembrance.

I’ve been trying to get a decent picture of a heron that’s been eating the frogs in the damp patch of my local recreation ground for a while now. I finally managed to get something half-decent earlier this week. I suspect both the heron and the frogs have been snowed off for the time being!

 


Customer Loyalty – Had an interesting conversation this week when I tried to cancel a magazine subscription. I had the renewal notice and the price and gone up nearly 22%, whilst I like the magazine and I know that production costs do rise, I don’t like it that much and decided to cancel it. When I rang up, as I expected they tried to talk me out of cancelling, claiming that they could offer me a “customer loyalty discount”, meaning that the price would actually hardly rise. Tempting. However why wasn’t I offered this on the renewal? I didn’t feel like I was being treated like a loyal customer at all. End result, subscription cancelled. Charge customers whatever you like, but if you’re not offering your best price to your loyal customers first time, don’t expect their loyalty to last long.


Work – In between decorating and other things, I’ve been catching up on a few conversations that were postponed because of the last snow fall. Will be working on a couple of things this week ahead of meetings the following week.


Allotment – Sadly snowed off again. Had some broccoli plants, which I ordered last year arrive on Saturday. There’s no way they can go in the ground yet, so I’ve potted them up for now, and will plant them out when the weather is a little more cooperative. It looks as though things will be a bit later this year.


Currently Reading – Still not really settled into a new book yet, but I did have a belated birthday present arrive (see pic below). These puzzle books are a lot of fun so far, although I think they start out easy and get harder as you progress through the book. They both also contain a little bit of interesting background information to the history of Bletchley Park and GCHQ


Dr Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018) – 

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Cambridge Analytica –  I expect that there’ll be a lot of coverage of this over the coming days [LINK], but it’s pretty scary just what can be done with all that data that we seem all to willing to give companies with no moral or ethical compass. I might well be deleting my Facebook account (again).


Falcon Heavy


Two Days In Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – [LINK]

If you don’t already subscribe to @documentally’s newsletter then you should [LINK]


I’ll be hunkering down for the rest of the day, trying to keep warm and hoping that this latest batch of snow if short lived. Wherever you are in the world I hope your weather is a little more clement, but if not stay safe. Catch you next week.