Robins Will Perch on Anything – TWTW #24

I was wondering whether or not this last week was going to be hectic or very quiet, and in the end it was somewhere towards the latter.
The rush proposal that I was asked to do has been put on hold, so having to gear up quickly and get cracking with that didn’t happen and it allowed me to get on with some other work.

I’ve had to do quite a bit of weeding on the allotment in the last week or so, and there has been the usual ever present robin keeping an eye on me and also catching the insects that are disturbed as I work. I tried to get some video footage of this and was only really partly successful, as you can see the robin was happy to have his photo taken, but on his own terms.


This article is a healthy reminder that all those e-books you have on your devices are not actually yours, you just own a licence to them. I’ve written before about the power of companies like Amazon who licence you an e-book and can pretty much do whatever they want if they feel you have broken their terms and conditions (whether you have done so intentionally or not). Now I love my kindle, but there are the obvious vulnerabilities or loosing or breaking it (and having the cost of a replacement), and the issues around DRM that these two articles raise. In the former case at least it looks as though customers will bet their money back, but what if this was a company that went into bankruptcy and there was no cash left to pay for the severs or refund their customers. Amazon is pretty big, but is it too big to fall?

I’ll still be using my kindle and buying books (licences for books) for it but I’ve never been completely happy about that relationship and I’m still not. I have my eyes wide open though.



I’ve been reading “Bloom” by Ruth Kassinger this week. It was sent to me by the publisher for a review, and if you want to read what I thought you can do so here. The short version is that it is an excellent book.

 

 

 

 

 


This week I’m mostly going to be working on a client project and trying to get some sensible thoughts into a report for them. Beyond that I doubt that I’ll be doing much else as my diary is relatively clear of other commitments.


 

 

Dough Monster – TWTW # 18

This week feels like it’s been full of lots of good things, it’s been fairly busy but in a good way, and yet I’ve had time to spend on some of the things that I love.

It’s also been blessed by being mostly warm and dry for the better part of the week, with a little rain at the weekend to help the garden and the allotment along. I can’t complain.


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It’s been a week of books this week. It started on Monday went I had to go into town to run a few errands and I popped into the library to look for a book that my other half wanted to read. They didn’t have it, but by chance I was looking to see if they had any Maigret books on their shelves – I always look, but am usually disappointed – and they had two. I’ve mentioned it before but Maigret has become a bit of a thing for me, and these two (Maigret, Lognon & the Gangsters and Maigret & the Reluctant Witnesses) didn’t take long for me to read. I had a reasonably long journey on Thursday and finished the second one on the train. I’ll take them back this week and see what else they have.

I also received a surprise from E&T Books – “The Seafarers” by Stephen Rutt. I’ve reviewed a few books for E&T and this one came in the post and I am about halfway through. I’ll post a separate review when I’ve finished it. Finally Nigel Slater’s latest cookbook “Greenfeast” came. This is actually a two part set, and this volume covers Spring and Summer. Autumn and Winter is out later this year. It’s a lovely book, although I haven’t had a chance to indulge properly yet!


On Tuesday morning I was walking the dogs along the creek when we chanced upon a Hedgehog. Haven’t seen one in a while, and a little surprising that it was out so late (they’re mostly nocturnal). Normally this isn’t a good sign, as it means they are staying out to find food, but this one seemed to healthy enough and was of a good size so I left it be.


The Marshes of America’s Space Programme


The Day I Tried To Love Ticks


The Bitter Truth About Starbucks Coffee


The Poetry of Painting: how to paint loss and life


On Puerto Rico’s ‘Forgotten Island,’ Tesla’s Busted Solar Panels Tell A Cautionary Tale



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Had a bit of a bread adventure at the weekend too. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been experimenting with sourdough bread for a while. Well last week we had a bit a of a lack lustre starter mix, that although it turn out a nice loaf, it didn’t really seem to rise all that much. Anyway, as is my habit, the leftover starter went into the fridge in a Kilner jar for the next time. On Saturday morning I noticed that the starter in the jar was rising at quite a fast rate (normally there is very little or no rise when it’s in the fridge). When I checked on it a little bit later in the day it had risen even more, and was into the lid of the Kilner jar.

I thought that I should take it out of the fridge and release some of the pressure from the jar, which I did and the jar open with a loud pop, and the starter started to ooze over the edge of the jar.

I decided to use some of this to make another loaf, so I measured up my ingredients and put the remaining starter back into the fridge (where it has been behaving itself since). I must have made a mistake with the measurements however, as the resulting dough was very wet. Too wet to do anything much with, so I had to add extra flour, which I did and kneaded in, and then put to one side for a final rise.

It worked out okay in the end, even though I’m still not sure how this happened I got a good loaf out of it.

Let The Sunshine In TWTW # 17

A short Bank Holiday week this week, it feels like its been a long week though for some reason. I spent the Bank Holiday on the allotment getting the brassicas in, and they seem to be  doing well. The allotment is coming together.

We’ve also had a break in the fine weather and a day that delivered some light rain, enough to refill waterbutts and make sure that my newly transplanted plants were watered.


A couple of weeks ago the catch on the car sunroof failed. It would lock shut, but wouldn’t stay open. I went to the garage to see how much a replacement would be, and they quoted me over £100. I took a pass on a new one, hoping that I could find a secondhand one, or one from a scrapyard. After a bit of searching this week, I found someone selling on e-bay. A couple of clicks later it was mine, and was delivered the next day. It took about 5 minutes to take off the old catch and fit the new one. Rarely have I known, something happen so smoothly. The cost £20. Bargain!

Just in time for some sunshine too!


Will You Choose Alive Time or Dead Time?


I read “Dark State” by Charles Stross this week, and “Maigret’s Anger” by Georges Simenon, I enjoyed both, but I have to say the Maigret novels are such an easy read. The author used to bang out them in about a week, and they take just an evening to read as most are only around 150 pages.

TWTW # 12 Welcome To British Summer Time

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The clocks changed last weekend, and my body & mind have been trying to catch up all week, and it’s been a pretty busy week!

On Monday evening I was giving a talk to Harwell Gardening Club. The talk was entitled An Allotment Year, but as Monday was also April Fools Day, I couldn’t resist talking a little about some of the “gardening” April Fools that there have been. These included Waitrose’s Pinanas; Tesco’s whistling carrots (so you can tell when they’re cooked); who could forget the great Panorama spaghetti farming story; and finally Herr Moler’s phosphorescent sunflowers so that you can read in the garden at nighttime.

I think the talk went well, and there was an invitation to come back another time, so a good evening was had by all.


I’ve also been mostly working on the delivery of the proposal accepted by one of my clients last week. It’s involved a lot of research, and I’ve started writing the main report. That will continue this week, and I hope to deliver the draft to the client next week.

I’ve had a couple of other meetings so it’s been a pretty busy working week all in all.


Although we are officially on Summer Time, it seems the weather has dropped several degrees in temperature. Gone are the shorts of last week and I’m back in jeans again. This will probably be short-lived (sorry for the pun), as it was getting warmer again yesterday.


The weather has meant that other than harvesting purple sprouting broccoli and leeks, I’ve not done very much on the allotment. Instead I’ve been busy transplanting broccoli and cauliflower seedlings into bigger pots, and sowing some sweet peas and a few other flowering annuals for hanging baskets and pots.


It’s possible that we might soon be able to see White Tailed Eagles not very far away from here. A licence has been granted for their reintroduction, and although that’s only a step in the process it’s moving in the right direction for a reintroduction in due course, possibly as soon as this summer. You can read more about it here.


The clocks changing has really mucked up my sleeping patterns, and with a busy week I’ve been a little bit too tired to read when I finally end up in bed. I’ve been dipping into Under The Rock by Benjamin Myers again, which although I read this last year, is coming out in paperback in a couple of weeks time and the publishers have asked me if I’d re-review it. They’ve also given me a copy of the paperback to give away here when that review is published, so if you’re interested watch this space (if you really don’t want to miss your chance then you can subscribe to posts in the box on the right hand menu – you can unsubscribe at any time, and I don’t give your details to anyone else or spam you with anything other than posts from this blog, one post equals one email).


That’s it for this week. Things are a little quieter this week, my main focus needs to be on my clients report. The sooner that’s delivered, the sooner I can have a bit of fun!

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.


TWTW # 9

I’m behind. Normally by this point in the week I’ve written this post and it’s scheduled to appear around 10am (GMT). Today although I’m behind it will probably appear a bit before that.

I have an allotment talk coming up at the beginning of April, so I’ve been doing a little bit of prep-work for that this week, making sure that the slides I want to use are still relevant.

I’ve also been following up with a few clients on work that is ongoing or bids that have been submitted but haven’t had a response yet.


My exploration of the Maigret novels continues. I had a book token for my birthday and have purchased a few more to keep my curiosity going. This week I read The Night At The Crossroads which was very good. All these novels are very short, most seem to barely 150 pages, and only take a few hours to read. They are also very good, I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to discover them.

I also read An Arabian Journey by Levison Wood which is an incredible tale of his journey around the Arabian peninsula. He undertook the journey when ISIS were still very much present and there was civil war raging in Syria. This really is a tale of what that part of the world is going through, and if you have any interest in that part of the globe I’d recommend reading it.


Warren Ellis posted about wearing a watch this week. I can’t say that I’ve ever owned or wanted to own a “smart” watch, and I flip between wearing an ordinary timepiece and not wearing one at all.


Beginning to think that Elon Musk is a pretty unstable and a not very nice person.


I wrote a short review and recorded a video about my Pineider Pen Filler, which was  a birthday present.


I also recorded my first allotment video of the year (and actually the first one for quite some time).


I also managed to get my potato trenches dug, I’m hoping to get the potatoes in the ground later on this week. With that and the rate of progress of some of seeds that I’ve sown recently (swede, cauliflower) it won’t be long before the season is really underway.

TWTW # 8 Another Solar Orbit

Another week, and another year of my life completed. Saturday was my birthday and although I mostly had a quiet day I did have cake!

This one has been pretty quiet overall, particularly when our TV set-top box died. We were able to get a work around going, but it means that we lost all of our recordings. We’ll get a replacement but it seems it’s one of those things where as the technology moves forward there is less choice. We really don’t want to be live streaming everything, some plain old fashioned technology would work. I was wondering if there’s still an old VHS machine in the loft. Maybe we could go retro.

Speaking of retro, one of my favourite tools is a fountain pen. I much prefer them to write with, probably second only to a pencil. For my birthday I was given a portable inkwell. The idea of this is that you can take several refills of ink for a fountain pen with you, without having to carry a whole bottle of ink. There’s a little bit of faith involved in refilling an empty pen, as it requires you to hold the inkwell upside down with the pen you’re trying to refill inside. I’ve had one trial run so far, and the ink stayed in the pen or the inkwell and didn’t end up getting on me or my desk. I look forward to trying it when I am truly out and about.


I ordered a new banetton for bread making, one that is oblong rather than round, which obviously means I get an oblong loaf.

It worked well and the loaf, and sliced bread is a much more usable shape for things like sandwiches.


The allotment is still pretty wet after a few days of rain, I’ve got a few seeds sown in the potting shed, but I’m still not ready to sow directly onto the plot. In another week or two, I’ll get the potatoes in the ground.


I was watching and listening to some of the coverage of the Space-X Crew Dragon this week. Whilst it would appear that everything went very well, there was quite a lot of discussion regarding the “commercialisation of space”. It concerns me that this appears to mean that there is going to be competition for resources in space, particularly on the Moon and Mars. Perhaps someone should be asking the question as to why we should be doing this as we have virtually destroyed earth by our own arrogance, we’re going to do the same (potentially) on the Moon and Mars too.