Nest Building TWTW # 70

After last weeks posts the Prime Minister announced a full “lockdown” in the UK. Stay home, only go out for essential items. Our lockdown is not it seems as harsh as those in some other countries, but then our government has been doing it’s own thing with this pandemic from the start. The practicalities of these new rules don’t really bother me that much. It has meant curtailing my usual two dog walks to a single one in the morning, but otherwise I don’t think I’ve been outside of the boundaries of our property for anything since probably last Sunday.

I’ve spent my time mostly working in the mornings, although despite a request from a client for a short briefing note that wasn’t planned, this seems to be slowing down now. My diary is looking decidedly empty of even virtual meetings, and I suspect April will be the quietest month that I’ve had in a very long time.

My afternoons have become a time to do “stuff”. I’ve been cleaning windows, grooming the dog, making bookmarks (more on these two items below), editing video, all sorts of things that normally I’d save for a day off or the weekend. I’ve also been reading and catching up on a few movies.

Since we last spoke I’ve read a couple of books. Bay of Spirits by Farley Mowat and Denali by Ben Moon. The former was after listening to a podcast where the author was name checked for another book which then led me to this book and the latter was a Valentines present. Both were okay but I enjoyed Bay of Spirits more than Denali, probably because of the latter’s subject matter. Whilst I like a good story with a dog, this one’s a bit of a tear jerker and there are elements to it that were a bit too close to home, but don’t let me put you off, both are worth a read.

The best film I watched all week was Malta Story, starring Alec Guinness. As you might be able to guess it’s based on the siege of the island of Malta during WWII, and is an old black and white movie. Sometimes these old movies hold up much better than those made much more recently. Case in point is the other film we watched which was Hollow Man starring Kevin Bacon, this just didn’t hold up well.

I wrote about giving Ruby a groom last week. I don’t remember whether I mentioned that we put her cut hair into a bird feeder and hang it in the garden. We do this so that the birds can use it for nest material. I also set up the trail camera in the same tree and caught a few short clips of a Great Tit helping itself to the supply. I suspect they’re building their nest not too far away as he was back fairly frequently throughout the day on Friday.

This is an interesting snippet about the ephemera that you sometimes find in old books. I wrote about this not all that long ago, and I’m also a user of custom bookmarks. I frequently make my own – the picture left is of some that I made from wrapping paper that I had for my birthday – or use something that is to hand. I also frequently have a pencil tucked into a book (Austin Kleon wrote about reading with a pencil), or a pocket notebook in which I’m writing notes. This is one of the things I most love about the kindle is the ability to highlight and save your notations as you’re reading.

And yes electric cars really do produce less CO2 than petrol ones.

Takaya the wolf has been killed.

I managed to get to the allotment on Saturday and planted my potatoes, and did some weeding. There’s a list of jobs that I need to get done, fortunately it seems that going to the allotment is counted as exercise and included in permissible activities in the lockdown.

Well that’s about all I have to say for myself this week. Stay safe wherever you are.

It was Wilson’s 10th birthday this, so this being the internet I’ll leave you with a cute puppy photo.

Allotment & Potting Shed Update 27th June 2019

I’ve finally managed to get to the allotment when there was nobody else around and record a video there, and tag a visit to the potting shed on the end.

Although the allotment is technically a public place and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t film there, I feel that in some ways I’m invading the privacy of the other plot holders by catching them in a video, even though they probably won’t know or ever see it.

Anyway here’s an update from the plot and potting shed, I hope you enjoy.

TWTW # 10 Potato Palooza

After digging the potato trenches last weekend, I finally got my potatoes in the ground this weekend. This is considerably earlier than last year, as this time last year we had snow on the ground, and there was nothing happening on the allotment, but around the end of June / beginning of July we should have some new potatoes to eat.

I also managed to transplant my shallots and get them out, along with sowing a row of carrot seed between them and the over-wintering onions. The smell of the onions and shallots is supposed to disguise the smell of the carrots from the carrot root fly.

I’m also feeling that I have a better idea of the rest of the allotment layout for this year ahead. If the weather holds, I’m going to start sowing some more seed.

I think the season has really started in earnest.


I had a meeting mid-week which resulted in a request for a proposal and I completed it on Friday, now I just have to wait and see what happens next.

I spent a morning this week sorting out all of the loose recipes in the kitchen, which I’ve been meaning to do this for such a long time. These are all the printed sheets of paper from recipes off of the internet or those clipped out of newspapers and magazines. They’re now in a nice folder and the shelf in the kitchen is a bit tidier. I had planned to move some of my cookbooks onto the shelf but it is deceptively low. It looks like regular sized cookbooks will fit, but it’s about a centimetre too short and they won’t.

Quick Links 12th December 2016

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.


This past weeks been taken up with catching up on preparations for Christmas. Up until this week I’ve not done anything much in that respect. So putting up lights, writing cards, buying presents etc. etc. have been the order of the day. In between times, there’s still plenty to do in connection with my Dad. I think the latter is going to go without saying for some time.

I can’t say that I am particularly looking forward to Christmas –  but I can’t do much about the timing, as it is what it is – so I guess I’ll just be making the most of it.

Currently Reading

Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and a Writer: 2 (The Journals of Thomas Merton) by Thomas Merton [GoodReads].

The Wastelands (Dark Tower III) by Stephen King [GoodReads], ongoing read for an online disucssion group.

When Eight Bells Toll by Alistair MacLean [GoodReads]. By the time this post goes live I expect I will have finished this. It’s a reread too, although I think I was about 13 or 14 when I read it the first time. Despite being published over 50 years ago it stands up really well, great little action novel. I like many of MacLean’s books, but this is one of my favourites.

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Giraffes have been hitting the headlines this week after the IUCN report showing how they have declined in numbers in recent years. The report also shows that there are 24,000 species at risk of extinction in the world. Humans are driving this planet to destruction and without major changes we won’t be able to stop it. It’s not just the exotic species either, everyday we place pressure on an already strained system in the name of “economic growth”. It seems that have more and more money is the answer to everyone’s woes and yet it is the rich who seem to get richer and the poor, poorer. Poverty amongst working people is on the rise in the UK,  and our NHS and elderly social care systems are bordering on collapse. There are sections of society that are also likely to become extinct, the only difference here is it’s one species and eventually the issues will rise up the wealth ladder until poverty and related issues has a wider reach. We seem to have forgotten what is important to society as a whole. Maybe it’s because we don’t use some of those systems, for example most people hope that they will never need the NHS, but wouldn’t you want it to be there when you did? So doesn’t it matter that just because your not using it, it should still be in a good condition in case you do?


Making A Quick Potato Salad

Here’s a quick video for making potato salad. Details below.

Makes enough for four people.

You’ll Need:

  • 6 to 8 small / medium sized potatoes
  • Fresh Chives or mint
  • 2 small / medium red onions
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lemon juice (2 to 3 tablespoons)

To Make:

  1. Prepare the potatoes, peel if needed (if you’re using young new potatoes, they’ll probably just need a scrub and the skins can stay on). Chop them into bite size pieces.
  2. Boil them until they are just soft, be careful not to over-boil, particularly if you are using a fluffy type potato.
  3. When they’re done, drain and put them back into cool water, and allow them to cool down, until they cold enough to handle comfortably with bare hands.
  4. Prepare the onions and chives by chopping into as finer pieces as you can manage, put these into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the potatoes into the mixing bowl, with the onions and chives.
  6. Add some mayonaisse (about 3 or 4 tablespoons), be careful not to add too much, you can always add a little more if needed.
  7. Add a good grind of pepper and salt and the lemon juice.
  8. Mix all together in the bowl, either with clean hands or a couple of large spoons, be careful not to mash the potatoes!
  9. This is ready to serve or can be refrigerated in a covered container for a couple of days.

Blight on the Allotment

We’ve been having a lot of weather recently that is ideal conditions for the spread of blight. It effects tomatoes and potatoes, of which I grow both. Fortunately I am only growing my tomatoes inside this year, so they are less likely (although not guaranteed) to contract it. The potatoes on the other hand are outside and directly in the firing line. I wasn’t that surprised then to find that I had blight on the potatoes when I arrived at the plot yesterday.

I’d been keeping an eye on them, so I caught it early and it was confined to the haulms, and hadn’t reached the roots or the potato tubers themselves.

There’s a bit more detail in the video below, but essentially blight, which is airborne, spreads more easily when the weather is wet, mild and humid. More details about this disease in the UK can be found at:

Allotment Update 2nd July 2016

I spent a bit of time on Saturday morning recording the above update from the allotment. I achieved most of the tasks I wanted to, but primarily I wanted to dig my early potatoes. Although I didn’t weigh them, I’d estimate around about 15 to 20 kilos of spuds (including what I’ve already harvested), which is a good harvest and should keep us going for a while. The second earlies and main crop aren’t due to be ready until the last week of August, but I’ll keep and eye on them and in particular for signs of blight. With all the humid and wet weather we’ve been having, with relatively low temperatures, it’s ideal conditions for blight. If I see any signs I’d consider an earlier harvest, or at least remove the haulms to prevent transmission to the potatoes underground.

Otherwise the main harvest at the moment seems to be the loganberries, I’m picking every other day and taking home between 250 – 300 grams each time. Lettuce, beetroot, and rainbow chard are also doing well, and courgettes are starting to come into their own. At the moment I’m cutting the latter when their small and cooking a few together, but given the number of plants I’ve got I can see a glut on the horizon! Harvested the first broccoli head at the weekend too!