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.

Raindrops and Earworms TWTW # 125

Hello. I’m just back from the allotment. It’s too wet today to do very much – it’s always a fine line on my plot to be able to work the ground, particularly if the ground gets wet, as they the clay in the soil makes it a quagmire pretty quickly. In the summer if hot and sunny – it will become a concrete-like dustbowl.

We took a quick detour on our morning walk to remove some of the coverings that have been on the seedlings so that they can get the benefit of the rain (and to save me having to hand water). The temperatures are up high enough that I don’t have to worry about frost for the next few days (and hopefully we’re done with it completely now). There is nothing like good rain water to make plants grow.

As you can see I think Ruby wasn’t quite so impressed at the stop. We’re now tucked-up warm at home and I’m writing this while she is gently snoring under a blanket.

Mostly this week when I’ve not been at my desk working, I’ve been out with at least one of the dogs. We don’t often all walk together now, the older one prefers to stay at home for us to come back. I know he sits and waits in the hall for us to return, and I feel sad about that but medically it’s better for him that he’s there and he seems happy to play the role of guardian of the front step until we get back.

This week was supposed to have been a four day week, but I opted to work on Bank Holiday Monday, to make sure that I made enough progress with a project that I could hand it off to those I was collaborating with before I had other things that I needed to do. I made a mental promise to myself that I would have my Bank Holiday another day. So I’m writing it down here too, so that there’s some accountability to it.


Amongst other podcasts I’ve been listening to the latest edition of @documentally’s newsletter pod this week. It’s a part of his newsletter that is available to paying subscribers, of which I am one. He has been interviewing his paid subscribers, who come from all walks of life but all seem to have interesting stories to tell. I’ve volunteered to be interviewed so at some point he will get to me, which the more I hear of the other editions the more I wonder what on earth we’ll talk about.

You can subscribe to his newsletter for free and you’ll get something good in your email inbox about once a fortnight but paid subscribers (it’s less than the cost of a good takeaway coffee a month) get a weekly missive and the bonus audio and other occasional extras.

I’ve also taken advantage of an offer for 3 months free of Apple Music. As a rule I don’t listen to a lot of music and I’m not sure the full price (£9.99/month) will tempt me at the end of the freebie period, but I thought I’d give it a try. So far it hasn’t swayed me either way particularly. When left to use its AI it seems to predictably serve up things that are already in my iTunes library and not offer me much that’s new or I’ve not heard before. I’m trying to help it a bit by liking or not the tracks it serves up but it doesn’t seem to be having much impact yet.


Watching. After deciding not to watch the last season of Line of Duty in our household, one of us weakened and we ended up watching the whole series over 4 evenings this week – for the record I was present during this time and kinda watching over the top of my book. If you haven’t watched it yet and are going to then I won’t spoil it for you.


Work. As mentioned above I’ve been working on a proposal over several days this week, we now wait and see what happens next. I’m relatively relaxed about it either way as it’s a completely remote piece of work and part-time, so would still mean that I’d have space for other clients or non-work stuff.


Reading. I finished reading The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster this week. When I went to add it to my GoodReads profile where I log all my reads I noticed that it’s the first book that I’ve completed for a couple of weeks. Not because I’ve not been reading, although I think it’s fair to say I’ve not been reading as much but because I’ve been dipping in and out of all sorts of things, ranging from the history of the D-Day Normandy landings in 1944 to Ernie Pyle’s accounts of the war in Sicily in 1943 to essays by George Orwell and tales of Ernest Hemingway. A mixed bag indeed.


Signal take out honest ads showing how Facebook profiles it’s users and gets it’s ads banned. [LINK] [LINK]

Hydrogen fuel may not be the best way to replace fossil fuels. [LINK]

Farmer accidentally makes Belgium a bigger country [LINK]

UK Government plans to make 50% funding cut to arts subjects [LINK]


Well that’s all I have for this week. The week ahead is looking relatively quiet apart from having to take Wilson to the vet for a check-up midweek. Whatever you are up to, take care and stay safe.


Infrared Euphorbia TWTW # 124

Hello.

I probably should be working on a bid proposal right now. I have a few days to do this but obviously the sooner it’s done the better, that said I wanted to write this post first.


I had the scans back from both of the rolls of film that I sent off to be processed. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but I am pleased with several of the images. One of the rolls was another roll of infrared and I want to get the negatives back so I can understand what I’m looking at a bit better. The first half of that roll I experimented a lot with different filters, exposure lengths etc and I took notes, but I really need to see the reference numbers on the negatives rather than the file names on the scans.

I’ve also bought a couple of new rolls, so hope to be loading the camera with one of those soon.

If you’re interested I’ve shared some of the images from both rolls in the slideshow below.


We watched The Call of the Wild over the weekend. We were both a bit sceptical about it being a good film, but both enjoyed it. It’s not going to win (m)any Oscars but it told the story from the book quite well. I’d been curious as to how that might happen. It wasn’t completely faithful but if you’ve read the book, you’ll certainly recognise it in the film. I’m not quite sure who the audience was meant to be and whether it was supposed to be a family film or something else, and it’s a shame that all of the dogs are CGI but it was a pleasant evenings entertainment if your bar is set fairly low.


I got to see my Mum in person this week. As covid rules are relaxed and vaccines deployed I was able to go and have a short visit after submitting to a rapid test. I’m not certain that Mum knew who I was behind all of the PPE, I think she recognised that it was someone she knew but not that it was me. That could be part of the Alzheimer’s disease too of course. A proper visit as opposed to a window visit or a phone call is of course much better and now that it can be a regular thing again, that’s much better.


Books. I’ve been reading The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster this week, albeit somewhat slowly. It’s all about the Common Swift and it seems a little poetic to be reading it at about the time that the Swifts normally return in any number. They seem later this year but that might just be my poor observation but I’ve spotted Swallows already and normally I see Swifts a little earlier than them.


Allotment. The nights are still so cold, despite us enjoying some warm daytime temperatures where I’ve even sat in the garden under our sun-brolly reading a book on a couple of afternoons. On the allotment I’ve been preparing ground for sowing but holding off with the actual sowing due to the nighttime temperatures. Clearing weeds and watering have also sucked up a lot of time. Although we’ve had a few passing showers they haven’t delivered much in the way of moisture for the plants and because of the temperatures a lot of things are under cover to protect them and so don’t see any of the rain.

Garden lore says that the first bank holiday in May is the time to sow runner bean seeds indoors and the second bank holiday the time to plant them out. I’ll be doing mine tomorrow on the bank holiday and hopefully temperatures will improve before the end of the month.


Work. As mentioned above I have a bid to prepare. I don’t feel that confident about it but we’ll see what happens. Otherwise this week has been pretty quiet in terms of work things, I’m not sure that I’m seeing the economy picking up in my sector the way it perhaps is in others.


The week ahead is going to focus on work things but hopefully there’ll be some time for some other things.


More Things To Go Wrong TWTW # 122

Welcome. I’ve just been potting on some plants destined for the allotment, although not just yet. Nights are still cold so they won’t be going outside just yet. I’ve been looking back at what was happening 12 months ago and despite the obvious I was spending some time in the garden reading and enjoying the sunshine, but it’s been much chillier than it was 12 months ago. It might be warming up again, but who knows.

It’s been a busy week.


Reading. I’ve reading more in Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence this week, finishing The Dark is Rising and then Greenwitch and The Grey King. I have forgotten more about this series than I remember and there’s just one book to go.


Watching. I finally got around to watching 1917. I can see why it won some of the awards it did, but I have to say it left me feeling a little underwhelmed.




Work. I’ve been having several conversations this week about potential work. Some collaborative projects that might come to fruition. Early days but it would be good to get things going a bit more than they have been over the past year.

It’s also the time of the year when I have to start looking at my tax return. It’s not going to take very long this year I suspect given the impact that the pandemic has had on my work.


Allotment. In addition to the plants mentioned above I spent some time on the allotment this week weeding the overwintering onions and preparing some beds for transplanting more onions that I’ve been bringing on in the potting shed. If there is an uptick in temperatures they might go out in the week ahead.

I also had the pleasure of seeing the pair of buzzards above fly right over my head while I was enjoying a coffee break. They’re amazing birds and much more prevalent than they once were, but in some quarters still persecuted.


I also picked up our new car this week. It is more or less the same make and model as our old one, but in the intervening years the technology has grown and now there are many more things that could go wrong. Hopefully it will prove to be reliable and last as long as our previous one.

I’d hoped that when we had to buy our new car it would be an electric powered one but sadly it’s not something that we can afford at this stage even a second hand electric is beyond our budget. I know all of the arguments about electric vehicles being cheaper to run etc and they are totally accurate but sadly you still need that bigger chunk of capital at the time of purchase to be able to afford it. We’re not there yet. So we’ve brought the most fuel efficient, least polluting non-electric vehicle we could. It still runs on fossil fuels and that does make me feel uncomfortable, but I have made concessions in other areas over the years, for example I haven’t been on an aeroplane since 2015, for personal flights I haven’t been on one since 2007. We do what we can, we’re not perfect.


That’s it for me this week, next week I have to take Wilson to the vet and have a couple of other things in my diary. Whatever you’re up to stay safe and take care.

TWTW # 120

Greetings from a Sunny Easter Weekend, whatever meaning this weekend may have for you, I hope this missive finds you safe and well.

We’ve had our follow up visits to the vet this week and some more not great news. Wilson has a couple of additional issues with respect to his gall bladder and blood pressure, which need treatment. Suffice to say this will involve some further long term medication for him. In himself he is a very happy little dog and I hope that he will long remain that way but like us all as we age, illnesses arise.


Reading. You remember those mental rabbit holes I talked about a couple of weeks back? Well it was in connection with Richard Nelson and I was trying to track down a copy of a recent biography. I did that and have been reading Raven’s Witness by Hank Leftner this week. More mental rabbit holes have ensued. To me Richard Nelson was a radio show host / podcaster and an author but there was much more to him than that. Now I guess that’s pretty obvious to some people but it wasn’t to me until now. What do I mean? Well the biography’s forward is written by Barry Lopez, who was probably also facing his own mortality at the time (he died in December 2020), but is also a world recognised environmentalist and nature writer. Also for me, this is the field that I work in and whilst these names are ones that are familiar to me, sometimes I don’t realise just how much more widely outside of that field they are known. Now they’re probably not in the household name category but neither are they someone as unknown as I am in that field.

Anyway I’m enjoying this mental rabbit hole and seeing where it takes me and I suspect there will be some more reading along a similar burrow soon.


On the subject of mental rabbit holes and books, Austin Kleon published this piece about books that suck you in and books that spin you out which is kinda the same thing.


Work. Nothing much to report this week. I’d deliberately kept some space in my diary for vet trips and of course it’s a Bank Holiday week so I wasn’t anticipating it being particularly busy in any case.


Listening. More Encounters podcasts, Goon Shows and some David Sedaris this week.





Allotment. It’s been a chilly long weekend so far and the forecast is for a continued cold snap. I had planned to sow some seeds direct on to the plot this weekend but the weather made me think again, instead I just prepared the ground for the seeds, the sowing will have to wait for another day and some warmer weather. I don’t want to sow seeds for them to germinate and then be knobbled by the frost!

I did manage to settle my bill at the allotment shop which has reopened again, they’d distributed seed potatoes and onion sets “on-tick” because the shop was closed so I wanted to make sure I paid up. I also bought a few other things while there as the only form of cash I had was an old £20 note – there’s considerable debate about why the shop doesn’t take cards or at least contactless payments but I think it’s as much to do with the choice of the person who runs the shop. As I suspect that no one else wants to do the job, she really has the final say even though it is a bit frustrating – I don’t think I’ve used a cashpoint in nearly a year!


I’m not a great fan of Marmite but neither am I a hater either and at times it is a bit of a secret ingredient in a few recipes and not just something that you spread on toast or crumpets. Here are some more suggestions.


That’s it for this week. Wherever you are stay safe and well.


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!

Sprung? TWTW # 115

Hello again.

My overriding memory of this week would be that the days are noticeably longer. Our morning dog walks now start in the light and it’s still just light past six o’clock in the evening. Meteorological Spring starts on Monday, although there are a few more weeks until astronomical spring, but it does feel like we putting a pretty dismal winter behind us.

When I was doing some tidying in our front garden this week I saw a lone bumblebee on the euphorbia so it looks like she might think Spring is on the way too.


Reading. I ended last year reading a lot of Simenon, Peters and Dexter. I continued with the Dexter into the new year, but until this week hadn’t read any Peters or Simenon. I changed that up this week by reading Ellis Peters’ The Hermit of Eyton Forest and Georges Simenon’s A Crime in Holland. I also received my copy of Chris Riddell’s Five Years – A Sketchbook of Political Drawings, Volume One. He’s been making one drawing each day since the general election in 2019 and they pretty much sum up the idiocy of governments around the world, but mostly ours. To say he has a rich choice of source material is kind of stating the obvious.



A bookmark I was gifted by the artist Jackie Morris also arrived this week. It was painted from a set of antique watercolours that are over 200 years old.


Working. I had another booking for an allotment talk confirmed this week (for the end of March), and also an enquiry as to whether I would sit on a conference panel to discuss climate risk – I’ve asked for more details on the latter because it’s very close and I don’t know how much prep I’ll need to do if I accept.


Allotment. I tried to do some digging on the plot this week, but it was like trying to break up cement. The ground is still very waterlogged. The forecast for this week is mostly dry, so I’m hoping that will be enough to dry it out enough to let me dig it without risking an injury. The allotment shop delivered all our potato orders this week. We had an arranged day / time when our orders would be delivered to our sheds and we had to go down and pick them up, thus avoiding having to actually go inside the shop, which remains closed. It was click and collect without any clicking or direct human interaction.


I got to see Mum this week for a “window” visit. The rules on care home visits will be changing soon but for the time being this is all that is allowed, and we’ve been trying to manage the need to limit leaving home with visits and so this is the first time in two months that I’ve actually seen her (we speak on the phone, but it’s not the same). Her Alzheimer’s disease means you never quite know what it’s going to be like. Last time we saw one another she didn’t know who I was, this time she did recognise me and we chatted for about 20 mins, it’s very difficult to make yourself understood and to hear what Mum is saying on this window visits but hopefully the next time we might be able to have a bit more interaction.


Warning NSFW content:


We’re about to enter the Prime Minister’s “road map” out of lockdown. Quite frankly I’m expecting the numbers to go up even before I actually qualify to be able to leave the house without restrictions. It does feel a lot like we’ve been here before.


That’s it from me for this week. Stay safe and take care.

Weather Window TWTW # 114

Another week has come and gone, filled with books, pancakes and a little bit of drawing.

We indulged in pancakes on Tuesday, it’s about the only time we eat pancakes so it’s a nice treat. I still prefer a simple lemon juice and sugar topping after nearly 50 years that hasn’t changed.

A year ago I used the Lent period to give up social media. I’m not going to do that this year as I think I have a healthier relationship with it now, and probably won’t be giving up anything else for that period this year either.


Reading. I’ve been reading a lot this week. I mentioned Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie last week. It’s a long book – 600+ pages – so it’s taken me quite a while to work through. Also Ann bought me a copy of Kurt Jackson‘s Sketchbooks for a Valentine’s present and that interrupted my reading of Joseph Anton because I picked that up straight away to look at. I also read the latest Jackson Lamb book by Mick Herron, Slough House. I was a little bit underwhelmed by the latter, I didn’t think that it was one of his best. I haven’t settled into anything else yet, and I still keep dipping back into Sketchbooks.

I’ve had some Audible credits building up in my account. Without travelling, my opportunities to listen to audiobooks has been drastically reduced so I haven’t always been using up my monthly credit but I did use one of them on the Complete Shakespeare, given that it’s nearly 100 hours of audio I don’t suppose I’ll be getting through it anytime soon.

Best AI Transcription Bloopers

The Opportunity of Laggards


Working. I’ve completed and submitted the proposal that I was asked for last week. No feedback yet, but it’s early days and I’ll follow up once they’ve had a chance to look at it. When I’d completed the proposal I picked up my own sketch page for a bit and drew the picture of the blue tit above. I don’t draw very often, but I’ve been doing more during the last couple of lockdowns to occupy my mind and spare time.



Allotment. The weather aligned this week to bring a dry, warmish (i.e. not frozen) spell of weather and I was able to get down onto the plot. I managed to clear the long grasses from around the base of the fruit trees and just enjoy being on the allotment for a period of time. I didn’t stay long as my plot neighbour arrived with a new shed. Our shed’s are next to one another and to give enough space for social distancing etc it was easier for me to give him the space to do what he needed to do and come back another time.


I have a “window” visit with my Mum in the week ahead. It will probably only be ten minutes or so and it’s not the same thing as being actually able to sit at either end of the same table as we did back in the summer but it’s a step up from a phone call (the irony is we still actually talk on the phone as otherwise we can’t hear what we’re saying because of the window).


That’s it for now. I hope you have a good week – take care and stay safe.

Making a Spectacle and Frozen Butts TWTW # 113

Happy St. Valentine’s Day everyone.


Welcome back, if this weeks post looks a little off kilter it’s because I broke my glasses at the beginning of the week and I’m typing this wearing my “spare” pair.

I did manage to repair my original pair and then subsequently broke them again a day or so later, so have had to reglue them for a second time. I’m leaving them a little longer to make sure that the glue has really hardened before trying to wear them again.

I really should go to the opticians and get a replacement but as it’s been just over two years since my last eye test and I can tell that my eyesight has deteriorated I really ought to have a fresh one. At the moment however I don’t feel comfortable getting that done. Maybe in a few more weeks time, I’ll feel a little more comfortable about it but for the meantime I think I’ll just be muddling through.


We’ve been visited by long-tailed tits everyday this week. They call by in the mornings when I’m working in my office and make full use of the trees just outside my window. It’s one of life’s more pleasant distractions in these times.


After saying last week that we hadn’t had any snow we had the meerest dusting on Tuesday morning, but it was gone by the afternoon. It has been very cold though, our water butt froze as did the ground on the allotment. Frozen solid there hasn’t been much that I’ve been able to do down there this week. Additionally the broad beans are looking very sorry for themselves. I hope that they might recover but it might have been just that little bit too cold for them.


Reading. I’ve mostly been reading Len Deighton’s Berlin Game this week, which I enjoyed. It’s the first part of a series of three trilogies – is there a name for a trilogy of trilogies? After that I’ve picked up Salman Rushdie’s memoir Joseph Anton, after reading a recommendation in my friend David’s article here. I wasn’t aware that he’d written this account of his time under police protection after a Fatwa was issued against him by Ayatollah Khomeini for writing The Satanic Verses. I’m only about a quarter of the way through but am finding it strangely gripping. It’s a little strange to be reading it now, after having some clear memories of it at the time.


Interesting to read Austin Kleon’s thoughts on blogging as a forgiving medium.


Work. It’s been a week of Zoom and Teams again this week with discussions with a client over some work that they’ve asked for a proposal for. I’m a little cautious about this as this client has asked for proposals before and then not taken the work forward, but there seems to be a need for them to have this work done, so it might go somewhere.

I also gave an evening Allotment talk this week to a group in Derbyshire. Giving these talks over Zoom isn’t the same as being in the village hall and being able to see the whites of the eyes of the audience, but it does give me a chance to talk to groups that I would otherwise not present to because of the cost of travel / accommodation.

I make a point with these talks of always asking for feedback and on this occasion someone wanted more recipes in my talk, I’m not sure that would have been particularly interesting to listen to me read a list of ingredients, but I will give it some thought.


Well I guess that’s about all I have this week. Lockdown certainly curtails what I’ve been up to, and these posts seem to become shorter each week. Anyway stay safe and take care.