On the Beach TWTW # 123

I feel like I’ve packed a lot in this week. This might be because what I’d planned to do at the start of the week was scuppered and I ended up having to squeeze some things in on other days.

Monday morning was a trip to the vet, which was supposed to be a drop-off and pick up a couple of hours later. Unfortunately one of the machines that the vet had planned to use failed and a couple of hours turned into most of the day. I used the time well but it wasn’t what I’d planned. Everything worked out in the end, although the ripples were felt across the rest of the week.

The weather this week has mostly been cold to start and then warming up during the day, but each day has been gloriously sunny and I feel like I’ve taken full advantage of the sun whether it be drinking my coffee out of doors or taking photographs (see below).


Work. I’ve been waiting to hear about a couple of things, but incoming transmissions have been quiet this week.



Reading. I haven’t read all that much this week. Each night as I’ve gone to bed, my eyes have become heavy quickly and I’ve not been able to keep them open to read.



Photography. I’ve been taking a lot of photographs on film this week. I had a couple of rolls in cameras that I’d started a while ago and with the glorious weather decided to finish both. I took my camera(s) with me on my morning dog walks and now both rolls are being processed. Hopefully by next week there’ll be something to share.

One of the types of film I use regularly is Kodak Portra 400. I like the colours and the results that I get with that film, so I wondered if there were any instructions on the interwebs where I could adjust the picture styles on my digital camera to mimic this effect. I found these suggested settings and I’ve been using these revised custom settings. I have to say I’m quite happy with the results so far, here are a few that I took last week:


A couple of items dropped through our letterbox this week. Both connected to Robert Macfarlane’s book Underland. The first was a set of the Field Notes limited edition notebooks based on the book. I’ve mentioned this before and the use of Field Notes notebooks that Macfarlane made when researching and writing the book. The second was a bookmark made by the Anna at the Sea Library similarly to celebrate the book. Anna makes these bookmarks and sells them on her Etsy Store, each has a link to a particular book in the library.


Allotment. The weather is slowly getting warmer overnight and I’m planning to sow / plant out my remaining onion sets this week. I’m also planning to sow more seeds. Those sown a fortnight ago have started to germinate, so watering is starting to be the order of the day once again.

I feel like I am a little bit behind with the allotment, but then again looking back through my journal from last year, there isn’t a great difference. Some things are a little bit later but others have happened sooner.


The week ahead promises to be different. I haven’t been able to see my Mum without at least a pane of glass between us for about 9 or 10 months, next week all being well we might be able to hold a proper conversation without one or the other of us having to ask the other to repeat what they said as a van drives by. This is a benefit of vaccination.


Wherever you are and whatever you are planning to do in the week ahead, stay safe and take care.

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!

Allotment Update 18th June 2016

2016-06-18 11.29.09I had a really productive weekend on the allotment. I’d been itching to get down to the plot all week, so was pleased when Saturday came around. It’s odd, that as I work for myself, I shouldn’t feel guilty about going to the plot during the week, assuming that my “paid” work is up to date and I’m not letting a client down by being there, but I guess some habits are hard to shake and being on the plot Monday to Friday still feels a little weird. Maybe if I did it a little more frequently it would feel less weird?

Anyhow I knew that I had a lot to do, mostly weeding, as we’d had a warm, humid but wet week, so everything but in particular the weeds was growing well. Some of my plants in particular the leeks and the most recently planted brassicas were in need of some weeding.

I had a little experimental dig of my early potatoes. Technically they shouldn’t be ready until the beginning of July, but they’re already starting to go over, so they appear to be ready. I dug the end of the short row, as that area is one that I’ll need again fairly soon, for my overwintering brassicas. I dug the first couple of plants and got a kilo of spuds for my efforts. We had some of them for supper that evening, along with the chard, runner beans and a “crustless” caramelised red onion and cheddar quiche that I knocked up later on.

The spuds were amazing. They’re a variety called Arran Pilot, and tend to be quite a floury potato and can go quickly to mush if over-boiled, but I cooked them in a steamer and they seem to have held together much better. Whether it is the more gentle cooking action of the steamer as opposed to boiling I don’t know, but anyway they were delicious and I don’t think we’ll be buying potatoes from the shops for a while now.

2016-06-18 09.45.45I also lifted all of the over-wintering onion sets and shallots. They too had started to lean over and were ready to be harvested. They need to be dried a little, and sorted through, which I’ll do some when in the next few days. I noticed there were a couple that need to be eaten sooner rather than later due to basal rot, but the vast majority should store well. Another item that we won’t need to be buying from the store for some time. I dug over the area where they were, and sowed some mixed coloured beetroot there. I’ve left some space as it’s close to where the courgettes and cucumbers are, and I expect they will spread out a little.

The radishes and turnips were next on my list, as they haven’t done anything apart from bolt and go straight to seed. I’m not sure why, but I removed them, dug over the ground and have replaced them with Perpetual Chard (a gift from Dale Calder in Canada) and some Rocket. The latter I had previously sown earlier in the year, but it failed to germinate, so I’m hoping for better luck this time.

The rest of the time I spent weeding and tidying. It looks as though the first of the soft fruit (loganberries and gooseberries) might be ready this week, so I’ll keep an eye on those but otherwise there is plenty of other veg coming to keep us fed.