Always Check Your Exposure TWTW # 135

These posts are always a look back at the week gone by, and sometimes either because I’ve not done much or because there’s stuff I don’t want to or can’t talk about it’s a struggle to know where to begin. My week this time started with a visit to see my Mum, she’s very well, but didn’t recognise me or rather she had me confused with her cousin. This is pretty normal, and I suspect partly to do with having to wear a face mask but the alternative i.e. covid is much worse.

I’ve had another vet appointment with Wilson, he’s much the same and we go back again next week.


Allotment

It’s been very hot at times this week, and I’ve been picking the moments when it’s slightly cooler to go down to the allotment, mostly earlier in the day. The weeds are relentless but we’re getting a nice run of different things now, including the start of courgette season – it won’t be long before the novelty wears off I suspect.


Watching

Another Star Trek movie this week – Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home – but not much else of significance. I did enjoy this YouTube video though, Jaws is one of my favourite films and this was a little treat.


Reading

I’ve been reading Nature Cure by Richard Mabey this week. Or rather re-reading it. It’s the authors story of recovery from a period of mental illness and how he falls back in love with nature.

It’s not actually that long ago that I read it, but the book was originally published in 2005, and this is a reprint to celebrate the author’s 80th birthday.

If you’ve never read it, I’d recommend it and all of his other books to be honest. I have another more recent book of his in my tbr pile – Turning the Boat For Home – which I’ve yet to read.


Photography

I’ve had one of my film cameras out this week, I’m determined to make use of the better weather if I can but I am very conscious of the rising covid numbers and therefore cautious about where I go to take photos to not put myself at risk. I’ve exposed about half a roll of film, which doesn’t sound like much but given the fact that film photography is so much more expensive these days, carefully choosing a shot is much more important. I accidentally took a frame this week (I pressed the shutter a little too far when trying to trigger the autofocus and it took the picture before I’d had a chance to set shutter speed and aperture to check it was properly exposed) and I felt a little guilty knowing that one probably won’t come out. I might of course be surprised by the result.

My plan is to try and finish that roll this week if I can.


Links

In Cape Cod’s ‘Sharky’ Waters, Humans Learn to Coexist with an Apex Predator – after watching the Jaws YouTube video this landed in my inbox!

Sea, sand and dogs galore: the best British beaches to run free

Climate scientists shocked by scale of floods in Germany


Well I guess that’s about all that I have for this week. I’ve got a couple of unconfirmed work things and a vet appointment in my diary this week but otherwise no firm plans. Whatever you’re up to, stay safe and take care.


Of Dogs, Vets and Hollyhocks TWTW # 132

I’m not sure where this week has gone, but it feels like it’s been quite constructive. I do seem to have broken something on the blog though as ads appear to have returned. I’ll try working out how to turn them off.

I took Wilson back to the vet’s on Tuesday, a pre-booked appointment to have some stitches removed but also to see if they had received the outstanding test results. We achieved both, the tests were delayed by a covid outbreak at the lab where they do the analysis but they had now had the outstanding ones. It turns out he has an autoimmune disorder – Pemphigus Foliaceus – on top of everything else that he has. This latter point dictates a certain treatment regime and he’s started on a course of medication. We’re back at the vet’s this coming week for a blood test to see how the treatment is working. I’ve now been able to file an insurance claim and I hope that will be accepted.


I didn’t manage to make it to the 1984 Symposium this week. George Orwell’s – Eric Arthur Blair – was born on 25th June 1903.


Reading. I read an article on The Last Word on Nothing this week that sent me down another rabbit hole. It bought back memories of sitting and watching coastal birds through a telescope in the early 1990’s, in Devon I was counting Avocets. I sat and sketched an avocet and made plans to dust off my telescope and go out and look at coastal birds through it again. The article also mentions a book by Peter Matthiessen – The Wind Birds – which doesn’t look like it was ever released here in the UK, probably because it’s about US coastal birds. I did track down a paperback copy though and I would like to read it, given how much I have enjoyed many of Matthiessen’s other books including the Birds of Heaven, The Cloud Forest and The Snow Leopard.


Watching. The final season of Bosch was released this week, it’s only an eight episode season and I’m nearly finished watching it. If you haven’t watched it yet I recommend it, it’s consistently good from season one through to eight and I’m pleased that it gets to go out on a high. A spin-off series is planned, so there might yet be more.


Great to see the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness video podcast back again


Allotment. I’ve been pretty busy in the garden and allotment this week, I’ve had a lot of Hollyhock plants to transplant into bigger pots, and I still have a tray of seedlings which I’m planning on transplanting out around the garden. These won’t flower until next year, assuming that they survive, but I’m investing in future colour in the garden. I don’t know quite what colour they will be as they are saved seed from a number of different plants and I suspect that there has been some cross pollination. They could be anywhere from jet black to a light pink colour.

My neighbour gave me some sweetcorn plants that she had spare and I’ve planted them out onto the allotment, I didn’t grow any myself this year because of the risk that the badgers will come and knobble them before I get to eat the cobs. So at some point I’ll have to construct some sort of frame around them to keep the badgers at bay!

I’ve also sown Tuscan kale, pak-choi and mixed mizzuna seeds this week.


Links.

The Greatest Walks in Literature.

Half the Trees in Two New English Woodlands Planted By Jays.

Stories to Save The World: A New Wave of Climate Fiction.


That’s it for the week ahead. I have a few diary commitments this week but many are weather dependent. Whatever you are up to take care and stay safe.

Hammock Days TWTW # 130

Well it’s been a busy week, Ann’s had a ear infection so we’ve been limited on what we’ve been doing, trips to the pharmacy etc have been the order of the day.

I had a visit with my Mum, these short visits are as much a check-in that she is generally okay and doesn’t need anything. A covid test and a quick chat and time is soon over.

Wilson has had more issues necessitating another set of visits to the vet. We not sure what’s wrong and as the vet said: “It’s not like him to have something normal wrong with him is it?” She’s right of course he does seem to gravitate to the more unusual problems and illnesses. Hopefully we’ll get test results back early next week which might give us a direction for treatment.

I feel like in the latter half of the week I’ve been running to catch up with myself a bit but I did spend one afternoon earlier in the week suspended in my hammock in the garden reading. It was bliss as the weather has been so obliging, gently swaying in the breeze with the branches of the birch tree hanging down around the edges of the hammock.


Books. I’ve finished reading Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night and then moved on to The 13 Problems by Agatha Christie. I’ve not settled into anything else yet but have a couple of ideas when time allows. Having
read several crime fiction novels I feel like changing the type of book to maybe some travel or other non-fiction.


TV. We’ve hardly turned the tv on this week, but I did forget to mention last week that we had watched the BBC TV adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Alec Guiness in the lead role of George Smiley. It stands up really well and we managed to watch the whole thing (7 one-hour episodes) over a couple of nights.



Allotment. It was a tonic to escape to the plot on Saturday morning. The weeds have really gone gangbusters over the last couple of weeks, a period of rain followed by sunshine will do that, I wish that the vegetables did the same thing. Outside of the weeds the plot is looking pretty good. It’s nearly full now without much space left for other plants, and we’re getting lots of food from the plot, particularly broad beans, radishes and lettuce.

My next door neighbour gifted me some brussel sprout plants which I planted out and sowed some purple sprouting broccoli alongside, if that germinates and grows hopefully we’ll have a good supply of sprouts for Christmas (!) and then PSB in the early spring.


AudioMo. I’ve been continuing to post for AudioMo for each day and surprisingly, although they’ve mostly been short posts I’ve managed it everyday so far. I am however well behind on listening to other people’s submissions, so I’m playing a bit of catch up and even as I type these words I’ve got my earphones in and am listening to posts from over the last three days or so.


Work. Unfortunately still very quiet, a blessing this week as I’ve had time for all the other things. Next week I have a meeting with a long standing client, so I might get some idea of their plans over the coming months and whether they need anything from me or not. Fingers crossed they do, otherwise I might need to consider some other way to pay vet bills.


Links.

Congrats to Ed Yong on his Pulitzer

Whale swallows man and spits him back out again

RIP Edward de Bono

Nature writers on the childrens books that inspired them


That’s it for this week. I hope you had a good one. Stay safe and take care!

Life Juggler TWTW # 128

Once again I seem to be writing this post on a Saturday. In a couple of hours, I’m going to get my second Covid vaccination, so I went to the allotment yesterday rather than have to try and juggle things today. My unscientific analysis of other people who’ve had their second jab is that side-effects aren’t too bad, but I’m keeping my diary clear for a few days just in case. All of this means the time to write this post is now.

How are you doing? It’s been a busy week for me, as they all have just recently. Monday ticks around to Friday without me really noticing and the weekends are gone in a flash. I sometimes wonder what I have to show for it and often it is just knowing that things have moved forward is confirmation of success.


I had to take Wilson back to the vet again, he still doesn’t seem to have recovered from his upset stomach. Another course of pills and the potential delight of having to collect a three day stool sample are on the horizon for us. I was quite astounded to see that two-thirds of the money that I’ve spent this month (excluding grocery shopping) is at the vets.


Allotment. As mentioned I went to the allotment yesterday, I’ve had a lot of plants that needed to be transplanted out and so I was busy preparing ground, putting up canes, rigging netting and all sorts of other things. I’ve transplanted french climbing beans, cabbages, broccoli and leeks. I still have courgettes, squash and a few other things to go. As ever there’s lots of things to do, for example I need to net the fruit bushes soon, but before I can do that I need to remove all of the cleavers and other weeds that have done so well in the last periods of rain. Always something to do and that’s when I’m not being distracted by the wildlife – a passing buzzard, woodpecker or something similar.


Work. Another quiet week. I gave an evening Zoom talk to a gardening club and this is the last one of these now until October. Unless there is another booking in the meantime the next one I give will in theory be in person, although who knows whether that will actually be the case or not. My work diary is looking quite sparse.


Reading. I finished reading the Brother Cadfael that I started last week and then picked up Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie. This is the first book in the series which were made into the TV series Grantchester. I also picked up an interesting blog post by the author Paul Finch – Daytrips to Terror: the counties of England, which in summary is a horror / ghost story from every county of England by different authors selected by Paul. I thought I’d read a few if I could track them down and will start with my own home county of Hampshire, so will be tracking down The Humgoo by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes for some Bank Holiday reading.


I’ve been watching some of the nature webcams on CarnyxWild’s YouTube channel. I particularly like the Chichester Peregrines and the Coquet Puffins.


Links.

End Mowing of road verges to create huge wildlife habitats (I wish my local council would be more mindful of this. I’ve tackled them about it a number of times but always get the same answer – it’s a highway verge, so we mow it – their lack of ability to think astounds me).

The Folly of Cumbria’s Plans for a New Coal Mine

Making Concrete Green


Well I think I’ve blabbered on for long enough for this week. I hope you have a great week ahead, particularly if you’re on the half-term break. Whatever you’re up to take care and stay safe!

A Blanket Made of Home Spun Wool TWTW # 127

Once again the allotment is wet and miserable, but the weather is due to improve later so I’ll be heading down there then. I did pop in to check everything was alright this morning after a day of strong winds yesterday. No damage to report. While I was there I picked these radish, the warm and wet conditions of the last couple of weeks means that they’ve grown well, and these have a very fiery taste, eye-wateringly so!

I’ve spent a little time on the plot during the week this week, it was perhaps a perfect way to spend an afternoon, I was earthing up the potatoes and sowing some extra broad bean seeds. The weather was sunny and the temperature not too hot.

I’ve also been clearing out the potting shed of the over-wintering plants and converting the space to enable us to grow some tomatoes and cucumbers.


I had to take Wilson back to the vet on Monday, and upset stomach has kept us busy but it wasn’t resolving on it’s own. Things seem much improved now though.

It was also Ruby’s 7th birthday. I pulled together a short montage of some of my photo’s of her over the last seven years.


Reading. I’ve been rereading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the umpteenth time this week, I enjoy these stories so much but it’s been a while since I’ve read the whole collection. I’m planning to go on to Memoirs and Return in due course but picked up a Brother Cadfael – The Confession of Brother Haluin to read in the meantime. I always learn something new reading these, often having to resort to looking something up in a dictionary or encyclopedia. For example did you know that a “Brychans” is a blanket made of home spun wool?

I’ve also been reading some of George Orwell’s Diaries, these are interesting particularly as you can see how his experiences recorded in them later translated to some of his books. For example his journey to go hop-picking where he spends some time sleeping “rough” is very similar to what ends up being in Down and Out in Paris & London. I hope as I read more of them there will be some similar parallels.


Links. There’s been a lot of coverage of the Queen’s speech and the government’s announcements about tree planting and peatlands. There’s a good summary here. Personally I think the proposals are a bit weak and don’t go far enough, particularly with regards to stopping the use of peat-based compost, with the government holding yet another consultation on this rather than actually taking action based on the decades of evidence that it already has.

There’s also a good ranking of companies by the Financial Times of those reducing their carbon emissions here.

Twenty firms produce 55% of the worlds plastic waste [LINK].

David Quammen on travelling into the past to cover the pandemic [LINK]. I’ve said it before but you need to read David Quammen’s book Spillover to help understand how we got to where we did with Covid-19.


I’ve been sorting through a lot of boxes from my parents loft this week. In one I found a lot of old books from my childhood. There were a lot of Dandy annuals and also my old i-Spy collectors books. It looks like I had a life membership from around 1977 but there no longer appears to be an i-Spy club going in the same format anymore. Great shame as it these and other similar books that really got me into nature and the outdoors and recording all the things that I saw. Something that I am still doing to this day.


Work. A very quiet week workwise, it’s a real struggle at the moment. I’ve got a booking for an evening allotment talk next week and have been making the final arrangements for that and preparing my slides. It’s a Zoom talk and the last one I have in my diary for several months. In fact the next one is supposed to be an in person talk – booked before the pandemic – but whether that will go ahead in that format remains to be seen.


The week ahead is looking fairly busy but with small things of little importance but that are necessary and will take up time. I seem to have weeks like that now and again when I try and get through a lot of tasks that I’ve been putting off or unable to do. It gets them done but makes for a pretty boring week overall. I’ll have to see if I can find a way to put a little bit more life into it!

Whatever you’re going to be getting up to, Stay Safe and Take Care.

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.

Digging In TWTW # 116




Greetings from my allotment. No I’m not there typing this but I was thinking about this week’s post earlier when I was there. Thinking that for many weeks I haven’t had all that much to report about my plot but I’m hoping that as this week I’ve actually been able to turn the soil a bit as we’ve had a dry spell and the heavy clay is less heavy and therefore less likely to do me an injury when digging, that there will be more news to tell.
I’ve been thinking about what I need to do over the coming few weeks to get things moving into spring properly and realise that I’m probably a bit behind with seed sowing, so this coming week I’ll be making some headway on getting things moving in the right direction.



Reading. My reading this week has been more listening that reading as I’ve been working my way through some audiobooks.
I’ve been listening to Austin Kleon’s audiobook trilogy of Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work & Keep Going. I have actually read all of these and they’re a great resource to dip into but I’ve found quite a few things by listening to the audiobooks, that I missed when I read them. It’s been interesting just thinking about how my brain works differently when listening as opposed to reading – ears over eyes.


Also from Austin Kleon was a post linking to the artist Julian Onderdonk who is one of the artists who I added fairly early to my Artists Twitter list.


Shaman Balls – Craig Childs


We had a trip to the vet this week. A planned appointment for Wilson to have some blood drawn for his regular checkup and adjust his medication if need be. We haven’t got the results yet but we’re not expecting any nasty surprises. Fingers-crossed.


Watching – The Commute Walking 90km to Work. I’ve done this a few times over the years, but I think the longest I’ve done was about 8 miles each way and I left early and got home late to make sure I was on time for the start of my day. I’ve been enjoying Beau Miles latest video this week. It reminds me how much I’ve missed walking during this latest lockdown. Fingers-crossed that everything will continue to move in the right direction and in another few weeks the only being able to go out once a day for exercise rule will be relaxed.


I’ve had my film cameras out this week. The sunlight has been great and I’ve loaded a roll of infrared as much to have an experiment with different exposure, iso and other settings ahead of being able to get out properly and take photos. My theory is that experimenting in controlled conditions in my back garden mean that I can make better judgements later. I also broke my cable release and have had to order a new one.


Well that’s it for this week. It’s my birthday on Tuesday, not that I’m expecting to be doing anything much different, but I am planning on doing some different things from my usual routine.

Stay safe and take care.


TWTW#5 A Necessary Spectacle

This week has been a bit of a busy one with several trips to and from the vets as the mystery around whatever is wrong with Wilson continues. The good news is that the vet has ruled out a lot serious things but we’re still not 100% certain what is wrong. We’re now waiting the results of some other tests which we should get on Monday or Tuesday.

When I’ve not been doing that I’ve been working on a client proposal and a few business development things.


I’ve been re-reading Empire Games by Charles Stross, mostly because this is the first book in a trilogy and I have the second book to read, but couldn’t remember what happened in the first book or how it ended. It involves multiple timelines, and I understand it better now having reread it. Not altogether sure what’s up next, as I want to read something else before I get started on the second book in the trilogy. The final book should be out later this year but has been a bit delayed already as the author wrote about on his blog.


Will Burrard-Lucas caught a rare black leopard on film for the first time in a while.


I had to get my glasses repaired. They were a new pair that I bought following an eye test just before Christmas and they fell apart almost instantly. I returned them to the opticians and they agreed to replace them free of charge. As I hadn’t heard from them I followed up with a phone call, and miraculously they were ready that afternoon.

Whilst I don’t think the opticians was at fault for the glasses I was a little underwhelmed by their customer service.


One of Those Days…

 

One Year Today
 

Being woken at 2am to the sound of a dog vomiting, is never likely to signal a good start to the day, and things didn’t improve from there. By 4pm I found myself fighting the traffic on the way to the vets with Ruby; ultimate diagnosis, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, treatment; 3 x jabs, plus antibiotic tablets and kaolin paste.

The good news is she seems to be perking up, but not back to normal yet, although she did bring a chew toy up on to our bed this evening. We need to see what tomorrow brings, but hopefully a return to food for her and not more sickness and diarrhoea.

It’s also one year to the day that we bought Ruby home for the first time as a puppy.