Rinse and Repeat TWTW #38

img_20191003_072036752_hdr-effectsAutumn seems to have arrived, damp and much cooler.

I must admit to feeling a little frazzled, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and although I missed writing here on my usual weekly post, I’m glad I gave myself the break.

My routine has been: Wake Up>Make & Eat Breakfast>Walk Dogs>Work>Make & Eat Lunch>Walk Dogs>Work>Make & Eat Dinner>Travel To Evening Talk>Give Evening Talk>Drive Home>Sleep>Repeat as required.

This has included quite a bit of travelling for other work commitments as well as to give evening talks, and I’ve got through a fair bit of audio books and podcasts when I’ve been on a train or in the car, more on that below.

It also feels good that my days have returned to a bit more normality (at least for the time being), I have no more evening talks until the middle of November and then after that nothing until January, so I can focus on the day-job!


I’m really looking forward to the new Star Trek series, and this new trailer dropped as part of the New York Comic-Con.


And while thinking about this, the series writer is Michael Chabon, and this is an interesting discussion about some of his other works and how they have influenced the Star Trek  cannon.


I’ve only had a little time for the allotment in the past couple of weeks. The weather hasn’t always been favourable, but I have managed to do some of the end of season digging and put some manure out on the plot to feed the soil for next season. With autumn arriving it’s going to be more of the same over the coming weeks.


screenshot_20191010-145052I’ve finished a couple of audiobooks while I’ve been travelling. Darwin Comes To Town by Menno Schilthuizen and A Jaguar Ripped My Flesh by Tim Cahill.

I  also finished The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov.

All were great and I enjoyed them all. I’d forgotten that the Asimov was as much a crime fiction as a science fiction, and it’s made me want to track down the previous two books (The Caves of Steel & The Naked Sun) in that series because I don’t remember those either. At the moment though my to be read pile as rather large and I think I need to work on reducing it a bit before I buy more books, plus I’ve got some pre-orders arriving over the next few weeks. I will keep an eye out for them in the secondhand stores thought and if I don’t find them before I’m ready, I’ll be using the library.


In between audiobooks, I’ve also had my earbuds in listening to a lot of podcasts. I think I’ll save the list of the things I’ve been listening to for another time, as this post is probably going to be quite long as it is, but I particularly enjoyed listening to a recent edition of the Tim Ferriss podcast on one of my journeys. It features Neil deGrasse Tyson, and prompted me to track down a couple of his books.

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One of those books I ordered secondhand and it came in the post on Friday – Death By Black Hole – when I opened it up there were lots of bookmarks still in the book. It had obviously been someone’s (there was a ticket stub with the person’s name and address on) airport / in-flight read at some point in 2008. This person had, in October that year flown from Luxor to Cairo and then later the same day on from Cairo to Sharm El Sheik. He’d had a pizza and a margarita on his stop over in Cairo. Three weeks later he flew from Heathrow to Denver at which time I think he must have finished the book because that is where the forensic trail runs cold.

I’ve had a couple of secondhand books like this recently that people have left “bookmarks” in and it’s always interesting to see what you can decipher from them.


The Problem With Net-Zero Emissions Targets [LINK]. I’m involved in a couple of projects looking at this at the moment, so this was an interesting read for me.

And at the other end of the spectrum, the 20 firms behind a third of global carbon emissions [LINK].


North Atlantic Right Whales Are Dying in Horrific Ways[LINK].


If you can access BBC Sounds or iPlayer – I’m not sure whether this works outside of the UK or you can use a VPN to access – then BBC 6 Music are doing a series of the favourite music of graphic content writers. They’ve already had Alan Moore, and Neil Gaiman on. Hannah Berry and Warren Ellis are up in the next couple of weeks.


Jonathan Franzen: online rage is stopping us tackling the climate crisis [LINK].


img_20191002_142921461The last few years I’ve wanted to give a Hobonichi diary a go. I journal most days and I hope that this will be something a little different.

I know it’s only October but these sell pretty quickly, and in previous years I’ve left it too late to get one, so I’ve ordered early.

Bit of time before I get my hands on it properly, but I’ve already got quite a few dates for things in 2020.




Watch Out For The Wicked Witch! TWTW # 34

I’m sorry this is posting later than normal – I thought I’d set it to post automatically this morning but something went wrong.

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Well it’s been another busy working week, I’ve been progressing things for clients and had another trip down to Somerset for a meeting with one of them. I like being busy, although it is easy to worry about making sure everything gets done, particularly with life outside of work being a little uncertain and at times also time consuming.

I stopped in a lay-by on my way back from Somerset on Thursday, it’s one that is only legally accessible to access from one side of the road, and I’ve travelled back via different routes before so only passed the lay-by before on the “wrong side” of the road. This time I pulled in to eat the sandwiches I’d made in the morning for a late lunch and saw this little cafe there. Apart from the imposing CCTV signs it looks like it might be a nice lunch stop, perhaps another time when I’m a bit early and they’re still open. I wondered aloud on Instagram about where Hansel & Gretel might be.


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I also picked up a little bluetooth receiver this week for the car. I’ve been doing a bit more travelling recently and there’s only so much Radio 4 you can listen to at the moment, when every other story is about Brexit. Using this I’ve been able to connect my phone to car radio and listen to audiobooks from my phone (and have the navigation prompts over the car radio, which interrupt the audiobooks seamlessly and then go back to the book). I’m impressed. I think I could also link my kindle to it to listen to the audiobooks that I have on there, but then wouldn’t be able to have that and the navigation available.


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Things on the allotment are starting to die back a bit at the moment. I need to go down with the wheelbarrow and bring back all the pumpkins and butternut squashes that are down there. There’s also been a manure delivery so I need to go down and move some of it across to my plot. Tomatoes are doing well in the potting shed, as is finally my first aubergine. I suspect it will be the only one I get this year. Although the plants have been covered in flowers this is the only one that has actually come to fruit.


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I picked up a few paperbacks on Saturday morning when I was passing the secondhand book shop. The Alistair Maclean’s are a bit of staple from my childhood, as is the Doctor Who book. The latter made more poignant as the author Terrance Dicks died very recently.


Love this electric JCB digger:


42 Douglas Adams quotes to live by


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In addition to the books I picked up on Saturday, I’ve been reading one of the new “Dragon Tatoo” books. I think it’s the second of the three that have been published postumously and on the basis of having read the first of the “new” books and now this one I don’t really think they are a patch on the originals. They’re a bit like fan-fiction taken too seriously by a publisher. I’m not even sure whether or not I’ll finish this one. I suspect I will but given that the only time I’ve really had a chance to read (other than audiobooks in the car) has been at bedtime, when I’m too tired to read for more than a few minutes, it’ll take a while.

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I’ve been listening to “I Contain Multitudes” by Ed Yong in the car. All about microbes and such and absolutely fascinating. This audiobook thing is a bit of an experiment. I used to have an Audible subscription, but I wasn’t listening to the books I was downloading and so paused it. If I catch up I might consider starting it again. After all a 4 hour roundtrip in the car or 6 hours on the train is a lot of listening.

Also in audio listening I noticed that both Roger Deakin’s BBC shorts The House and The Garden are available again online. Not sure how long they’ll be available for or whether they’ll be accessible outside of the UK, but they are worth a listen. His old short Cigarette on the Waveney is also available (cigarette is a type / name of a canoe).


I just picked up my personal journal to see if I’d missed anything that I should add to this post, and realised that I haven’t written anything in it since Monday, so it must have been a busy one!

I have a couple of personal meetings this week and it’s Ann’s birthday, but otherwise my time is mostly going to be occupied with work.

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All Work and No Play – TWTW #33

A thank you to all those of you who left comments or emailed me directly after last weeks post, it meant a lot.


This week has mostly been about the work, I’ve been working mostly on one clients work, but dipping into another in preparation for more this week when I have another road trip to do to Somerset.

On one of my twice daily dog walks this week I did manage a trip along the canal path with the dogs, with the plan of allowing them a swim, but the water level was so low all they really managed was a paddle. I don’t suppose they were really bothered either way. Our other walks haven’t taken us as far from home, mostly due to trying to get the work hours in.


I’ve been reading a few different things this week, including another Ellis Peters Cadfael novel – The Leper of St.Giles. My other reading material has mostly been related to work, so I won’t bore you with the content.

I’ve been listening to a few different podcasts and other things including the abridged audio version of Ben Myers new novel “The Offing” on Radio 4, it’s got another week to go in it’s run, but you can catch up on the link above.


Fun fact: The original title for the third “Naked Gun” movie was going to be “Naked Gun 33 1/3 – For the record”, but was changed because producers didn’t think viewers would understand the joke.


Been doing quite a bit of digging on the allotment, getting things ready for the application of some manure. There’s still quite a bit growing, but equally quite a bit of bare ground as things have been picked, dug up, or eaten by badgers!


Haven’t seen one yet but – First White-tailed Eagles released on Isle of Wight





That’s about all I have for this week, be careful out there.


Some Not Very Good News TWTW # 32

This last week has been pretty busy, and although I’ve had some good work related news (see below), I’ve had some sad news too. I think I’ve mentioned before that my Mum’s health has not been the best – well she had an appointment this week which was a follow up from some tests and a scan that she had a few weeks ago. The news that the consultant gave was not good, although perhaps wasn’t a surprise given the symptoms she’s had, we’re still processing what that means. For the time being at least I’m not going to say very much more.


The good, work related news, was that the second client I’d been talking to has come on board and that pretty much means in work terms I’m booked solid for the next couple of months. I much prefer being busy to having time on my hands though.


When I went to the allotment last I nearly trod on this pair of mating slugs that were between my shed and compost bins. I was surprised to see them there as this is more of a nocturnal activity, my guess was that they were in the shade there, and it wasn’t until the sun came around that they moved off and went on their separate ways to ultimately lay eggs to produce more slugs to eat my crops!


24 White Storks released in West Sussex rewilding project


I have been listening to the BBC Prom concert based upon the book “The Lost Words” by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. It’s available here for a short time. As a celebration of nature, wildlife and words, it is very much worth a listen.


I’m leaving it here for this week, lots to do over the coming days and obviously plenty to think about.

A Bit Like Buses TWTW #31

This time last week I was on my way to Somerset to see a potential client, who I’m pleased to say look they will become one. I can’t say much more than that at the moment.

On the way back I made a stop in a little village where we used to go for family holidays when I was a child. It’s actually quite a convenient spot to stop anyway and I’ve done so a few times over the years. The village used to have a secondhand bookshop, sadly now gone, but other than that the village hasn’t changed all that much. After a wander around, I got back on the road and headed for home.

I had previously been asked to hold a date in my diary for another meeting with another potential client. It’s work that we’ve been discussing on and off since January, and I wasn’t convinced that it was going to happen at all and then suddenly the request for the meeting. Then silence again. I followed up towards the end of the week and still didn’t hear anything until Friday when a message came in say that yes the meeting was still on, and could I come in an hour before the meeting to discuss a contract as they do want me to do the work. So it looks like I’m going to be busy.

I have the capacity to do both these contracts as neither is full time work, but I do need to sort out the exact number of days and timescales etc. I’ll be working on that this week.


The badgers have struck again and wiped out my entire crop of sweetcorn. It’s my fault, I’d started putting up a protective fence around the plants, but with one thing and another I’d never finished it and that was enough for the badgers to get in and have a good feed. I’m not too bothered, I’m obviously disappointed to loose the crop, but I feel that this species is persecuted (both legally and illegally) enough, so I don’t begrudge them a bit of corn, because I wasn’t able to do something that would have prevented it. There’s always next year!


Saw this sign on one of our dog walks this week, sure enough this little improvised sign was pointing towards a fairly active wasp’s nest. Very grateful to whoever improvised this little sign.


I’ve been listening to David Hewson’s new podcast this week you should be able to find it via the podcast app of your choice or on his webpage. He talks about writing and audiobooks, and the role Venice has played in his writing in the first three episodes.


The Persuasive Power of the Wolf Lady




That’s it for this week. The upcoming few days are going to be pretty busy I think, so will probably have my head down for most of it.

Be careful out there

Another Strange Anniversary : TWTW # 27

Another week that was supposed to go one way ended up taking a different direction, strange how despite all the planning things don’t seem to be turning out the way they were envisaged. It’s left me wondering how the week ahead will pan out, which looks like being another one at the moment, but could potentially change.


Four years ago I said goodbye to my last full time, paid job. Although at the time I didn’t really know how things were going to pan out, I’ve been asked a few times if I regret the decision to leave. Simply put the answer is no, although in the last four years combined, my income has probably been less than any of the years proceeding that, it allowed me to do many things. Although I didn’t know it at the time it allowed me to spend a lot more time with my Dad in the last year of his life. It allowed me to be present for some other difficult family things and possibly it reduced my stress levels and the chance I might have had a complete meltdown had I stayed where I was. Most of those things aren’t even tangible but they are most definitely real to me.

I’m still not quite sure where this freelance work is taking me or even if I can keep doing it at such a low level of income. There have been suggestions of offers of work, and I am always on the look out but it might not be sustainable in the long term. I still don’t regret that decision though.


A slightly unplanned trip to the library meant that I ended up with a couple of books, it was as a result of reading the latest newsletter from Joanne McNeil about Michael Seidenberg and the Brazenhead book store. It was the final paragraph of that newsletter:

Read an underread writer this summer in his honor. Any lonely and interesting-looking unfamiliar book at a used bookstore will do.

which prompted me to check-out In The Wet” by Nevil Shute and Uncommon Type” by Tom Hanks on my library card. Now I’m not sure that either of those two books technically qualifies but that paragraph was in my head when I was browsing the stacks and I knew that I hadn’t read a Nevil Shute book for probably close to 20 years, despite reading a lot of them in my late teens and early twenties. The Tom Hanks was one that I knew I would never buy new and possibly not even secondhand, so they both did kinda fit the bill.

Anyway the Nevil Shute was amazing and I remember why I liked him as an author. Probably not the best book of his I’ve read (A Town Like Alice & On The Beach are probably both better known and better books), but it did prompt me to go on a hunt in our loft to drag out some of his books that I have up there and now plan to read.

The Tom Hanks however was, well it was just a bit meh. It had some great blurbs on the cover and maybe it was just me but it just read a bit like it was one of his early movies. It’s a short story collection and I enjoyed a few of them, and there were some nice tricks with how the book is laid out, but just not my cup of tea.

I enjoy popping into the library every so often I seem to always find something that I’ve missed elsewhere or wanted to read, it’s a great resource that has suffered a lot from government austerity measures, so I’m pleased to support it.

I get to go back in the week ahead, return the books I have on loan and see what else they have for me.



After writing last week about reading the Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri I was a little surprised to read his obituary, but interesting comments about the translation of Sicilian.


I finally got around to pickling some of the gherkins from the allotment this week.


Well that’s about all I have for this week. Who knows what’s going to happen in the week ahead, it may even be that it pans out according to plan!

Half Way Point – TWTW # 26

This last week turned out not as expected. Last Monday was going to be one of those days where I was going to be on the go all day – which generally isn’t a problem – and hope that everything will work out fine and there won’t be any hiccups that throw things out. However before the day had even gotten started I had a call to say that my first meeting of the day had been cancelled, then a few moments later another call to say that another meeting had been postponed. By the time I would have been due to leave the house for the (now cancelled) first meeting, my entire day had been cleared. My unexpectedly free day gave me an opportunity to do some chores and a few other things that I would have done later in the week. I was grateful for the free time, although most of those meetings will have to be rebooked at some point.


Thanks to everyone who commented or contacted me by email about the upcoming changes here which I posted about earlier in the week. Your contacting me is appreciated. I don’t have any more news to share at the moment, but once I know what’s going on I’ll post about it.


The nice people at Elliott & Thompson books produced this advert for the book I reviewed a couple of weeks ago.


Speaking of reviews, I read and reviewed Every Breath You Take by Mark Broomfield this week. I also read the first of the Inspector Montalbano books – The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri.


We’re supposed to be moving towards a zero-carbon economy and part of that is phasing out fossil fuel powered vehicles in the not too distant future. That future is at the moment somewhat reliant on electric vehicles, but will there be enough “fuel” for them?


Related to that, perhaps Elon Musk isn’t all that he made out to be?


The allotment is doing well. I’m at the point of the year when I feel that perhaps the weeds are winning a bit, but I’m getting good crops of gherkins (for pickling), courgettes, lettuce, beetroot, cauliflower, onions and coming on quickly are runner beans and cucumbers.

I’ve sown some purple sprouting broccoli and kale this week, with the aim of having that as a follow on crop from the broad beans. I’ve also sown some new rows of lettuce and beetroot, again to have some crop continuity for what we’re harvesting right now.