The Easter Bunny Cometh… (Quick Links 117)

Easter Sunday today, for us this is very much about family time and my Mum is coming for a Sunday roast a bit later (the joint is already in the oven cooking), and I’ve made another batch of hot-cross buns (that I actually managed to put the crosses on this time).

It’s been a mixed week, I was out on Monday for a work meeting, but I’ve been working from home for most of the rest of the week and it’s pretty much rained everyday  and our dog walks have been pretty soggy affairs.

It was Wilson’s birthday on Wednesday, and I wrote a quick post about it here.

The council came and took away our old three-piece suite, we’d tried finding someone who would take it and recycle it, but it was just to old and worn. It’s still odd to be sitting on garden furniture indoors, but by this time next week I should be sitting on our new sofa, it’s due to be delivered on Friday.


Wind River 

I watched this yesterday, and would thoroughly recommend it. It’s written and directed by Taylor Sheridan who also wrote Hell or High Water [LINK] which is also an excellent film.

Wind River [LINK] stars Jeremy Renner (Avengers) as a wildlife warden who comes across the body of a dead woman whilst tracking mountain lions that have been killing cattle on the Wind River Indian reservation in a Winter Wyoming. The tribal police chief, played by Graham Greene (Longmire) calls in the FBI and Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Age of Ultron) arrives, under-equipped and agrees that the circumstances are suspicous, and asks Renner to help her with the investigation.

It’s a good movie and I really enjoyed it. The acting is good, and the winter scenery is just stunning. At around 90 minutes it’s a short film but well worth it. If you have seen Hell or High Water you’ll likely enjoy this too.


Work – As mentioned above I was at meetings on Monday, and that pretty much set the tone for the remainder of the week workwise as I had some follow-up work to do based on those meetings.

I’m also waiting on some tender deadlines to find out if submissions have been successful.


Allotment – Heavy rain again this week has meant little work on the plot again. I was hoping that I could get my potatoes in but I’ve had to postpone that.


Currently Reading – I read Neil Ansell’s “Deer Island” [LINK] and Chris Riddell’s “Travels with my Sketchbook” [LINK] the latter is based on the drawings made by the children’s laureate during his two year tenure as he was travelling.


The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


 

That’s all follks, a short one this week.

Glamping in the Lounge (Quick Links 116)

I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, from a garden chair in my lounge. We’re making way for some new furniture and our old suite is in the front garden, waiting for the Council to collect it. We might be in a state of flux for a week or so.

Works been keeping me busy this week, and things seem to have settled back into a bit more of a routine, although we still had snow around at the beginning of the week.

I baked some hot-cross buns during the week. They didn’t last more than a couple of days, and in the end didn’t even end up getting the crosses applied to them. They were good eating though. I’ll be making some more ahead of Easter, just as soon as I get some more supplies!

I also watched IT, and wrote some thoughts about it here.

 


Work – A busy week with phone calls, meetings and some preparation for upcoming meetings and tender responses.


Allotment – First time in a couple of weeks that I’ve actually been able to get on to the plot. It’s still too wet and cold to do much, but I did manage to get some weeding done ahead of hopefully planting in a week or two.


Currently Reading – Another week where I’ve hardly picked up a book or my kindle or when I have I’ve fallen asleep quickly and read very little.


Sudan – The last male Northern White Rhino has died [LINK]. This species is nearing extinction (only two females remain, Sudan’s daughter and granddaughter) and scientists are planning to use IVF and other technologies to revive the species [LINK]. I have mixed feelings about this. Largely we humans have driven this species to this point, mostly through poaching and demand for rhino horn, so maybe we humans should try and do something about it. Actually I feel we should have done this years ago and not reached this point, and maybe our lesson is to prevent this happening with other species. These are deeply philosophical points I know, but I’m not sure trying to use science in this way is the right answer.


France’s Bird Population Collapses Due To PesticidesLINK – [] Not wishing to labour a point above, but when are we going to learn the lessons of what we have done and are continuing to do to this planet under the guise of “progress” and “growth”?


Citizen Science – Really enjoyed reading this story [LINK] about how local birders were able to provide the evidence against a developers claims, but will it be enough. All to often I read similar stories were the “tame” ecologists of a developer produce reports that are fundamentally flawed or even false.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Neil Ansell – Deep Country  I finished reading this book [GoodReads] early in the year, this week I came across this video trailer for it.


That’s all follks. Catch you next week.

Return of the Beast… (Quick Links 115)

As you might have gathered from the title of this post and the photo above, the snow is back. It’s Sunday morning as I write this and when I went to bed last night there was very little snow and hardly any had settled. When I got up this morning, I’d guess we’ve had between one and two inches overnight, definitely more than a couple of weeks ago, however it is not as cold this time. Have to wait and see what happens I guess, there’s a little more forecast during the day and overnight tonight and then it looks like it’s set to get a bit warmer.

I’ve finished the decorating in the lounge this week, there’s still a little more sorting to do as we put things back in place. We’ve also ordered a new 3-piece suite, which should be here just after Easter. We tried to donate our old one to a charity, but sadly it’s too old and worn for them to be able to do anything with, so the Council will be coming to collect it a week Monday.

I’ve also been sorting through a lot of my old books and dvds and donating some to charity, and also selling a few via Amazon marketplace. I sold two within 12 hours of listing them.

It would have been my Dad’s 81st birthday this week, I took Mum out for breakfast on the day as a mark of remembrance.

I’ve been trying to get a decent picture of a heron that’s been eating the frogs in the damp patch of my local recreation ground for a while now. I finally managed to get something half-decent earlier this week. I suspect both the heron and the frogs have been snowed off for the time being!

 


Customer Loyalty – Had an interesting conversation this week when I tried to cancel a magazine subscription. I had the renewal notice and the price and gone up nearly 22%, whilst I like the magazine and I know that production costs do rise, I don’t like it that much and decided to cancel it. When I rang up, as I expected they tried to talk me out of cancelling, claiming that they could offer me a “customer loyalty discount”, meaning that the price would actually hardly rise. Tempting. However why wasn’t I offered this on the renewal? I didn’t feel like I was being treated like a loyal customer at all. End result, subscription cancelled. Charge customers whatever you like, but if you’re not offering your best price to your loyal customers first time, don’t expect their loyalty to last long.


Work – In between decorating and other things, I’ve been catching up on a few conversations that were postponed because of the last snow fall. Will be working on a couple of things this week ahead of meetings the following week.


Allotment – Sadly snowed off again. Had some broccoli plants, which I ordered last year arrive on Saturday. There’s no way they can go in the ground yet, so I’ve potted them up for now, and will plant them out when the weather is a little more cooperative. It looks as though things will be a bit later this year.


Currently Reading – Still not really settled into a new book yet, but I did have a belated birthday present arrive (see pic below). These puzzle books are a lot of fun so far, although I think they start out easy and get harder as you progress through the book. They both also contain a little bit of interesting background information to the history of Bletchley Park and GCHQ


Dr Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018) – 

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Cambridge Analytica –  I expect that there’ll be a lot of coverage of this over the coming days [LINK], but it’s pretty scary just what can be done with all that data that we seem all to willing to give companies with no moral or ethical compass. I might well be deleting my Facebook account (again).


Falcon Heavy


Two Days In Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – [LINK]

If you don’t already subscribe to @documentally’s newsletter then you should [LINK]


I’ll be hunkering down for the rest of the day, trying to keep warm and hoping that this latest batch of snow if short lived. Wherever you are in the world I hope your weather is a little more clement, but if not stay safe. Catch you next week.

Birthday Boy (Quick Links 114)

Busy, busy, busy this week. I’ve been doing more decorating and moving bookcases in the lounge to allow me to hopefully finish the decorating in the lounge in the coming week. This has mostly been in between other things: work, appointments with my Mum and my birthday on Friday. Today is also Mothering Sunday in the UK, so we’re having a lunch with my Mum later on.


Work – Mostly this has been rearranging things that were postponed due to the snow, and catching up with a couple of meetings that were in the diary already for this week. I’ve got a few development things to do in the next week as well as preparing for a pitch meeting in a couple of weeks time.


Allotment – The plot seems to have borne the weather pretty well, and wasn’t as badly effected as I had feared, the broad beans certainly seem to have held up well. The weather this week though (mostly rain) has meant that the ground is very wet again, so not much happening. There are a couple of photos below taken last week in the snow, and a comparable image now that the snow has gone to see the contrast.

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Currently Reading – I haven’t had much reading time this week, but did get a couple of new ones for my birthday, so expect to get in to one of those in the week ahead.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


When Twenty-Six Thousand Stinkbugs Invade Your Home – [LINK]


A Map of Radical Bewilderment – On the liberation cartography of Henry David Thoreau – [LINK]


The Wreckage of the USS Lexington Found in the Coral Sea – 


More decorating in the week ahead and a couple of other things, but for now that’s all folks! Stay safe out there and I’ll catch you next week.

The Bacon Will Get You In The End (Quick Links 113)

Luckily I’ve been able to completely avoid going anywhere other than to walk the dogs, and instead busied myself wall papering in the lounge and progressing the decorating there.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Although I don’ think we got the worst of the “Beast From The East” by any means we did get some snow this week, although not until quite late in week. We had a light dusting overnight on Wednesday / Thursday and then a bit more overnight Thursday / Friday (see above). Overall I don’t think we’re had much more than a couple of centimetres. It’s the first snow that Ruby has seen in her nearly four years, and she was quite intrigued. Our other dog was not really bothered as he’s a bit of an old hand at the snow thing. By Saturday lunchtime it was pretty much all gone, and by the time of writing this on Sunday morning you wouldn’t know it had been there at all.

Elsewhere in the UK it’s been a bit more full  on and as is the norm for this country we’ve failed to cope very well. One lady from Canada who spent the night on a train when it broke down was quoted in the Evening Standard as saying:

“I’m kind of shocked that for a country as populus and built up as England that a tiny, tiny little bit of snow is able to bring an entire country to a standstill.

“I’m Canadian so I’m used to very intense winters but sitting on a broken down train and looking out the window and realising I could still see the grass through the snow… I don’t understand how in 2018 a major, major train company is not set up to deal with a tiny bit of snow. It’s utterly mind-blowing to me.

“There were moments where I was reduced to tears,” she added. “There were definitely some pretty scary moments.

“For the first few hours I was very annoyed and then about four hours in, I was really, really angry, and then after that I just didn’t have it in me to be angry anymore. I was just exhausted and upset and wanted to be at home.”

I think that pretty much sums up how we deal with snow in the Country and because in most places we get it so rarely nobody knows what to do.

Luckily I’ve been able to completely avoid going anywhere other than to walk the dogs, and instead busied myself wall papering in the lounge and progressing the decorating there. There’s still a bit of painting on the other walls to do, but a trip to the DIY store is needed for more paint.


Work – Fortunately no  meetings this week, and although I had a few phone calls booked, I managed to fit those in around my decorating. A quieter week than I was expecting but probably a reflection of the impact of the weather across the Country.


Allotment – Other than a visit to check how the plot dealt with the snow I’ve not been down there this week. Physically things look okay, and there doesn’t appear to be any lasting damage, however it does look as though my broad beans have had a nasty case of frost / snow damage. Normally they would survive pretty well, and had the snow been a bit deeper they probably would have been fine. However they’re looking like they might not recover. We’ll have to see.


Currently Reading – I read “The Galapagos” by Henry Nicholls [GoodReads] this week. It was a very readable book, and for me a bit like going back in time to when I studied biology, as this is one of the most quoted Charles Darwin studies for evolution.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


If The Snow Didn’t Get You Then Bacon Will – [LINK]



I’m outta here for now. The coming week is looking fairly busy, mostly with family related stuff. If you’re still somewhere that’s snowed in, I hope you thaw out soon too. Take care.

The Beast From The East…(Quick Links 112)

This week has absolutely flown by. I’ve been looking at a lot of wallpaper (in DIY stores – we’re planning the next stage of decorating our lounge), and a lot of PowerPoint (see work below). I’ve been repairing an arbor at my Mum’s house, and reconnecting with my basic carpentry skills.

The weather forecast for the week ahead includes snow warnings for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, when “The Beast From The East” is due to arrive. We’ve had these warnings a couple of times during the winter but never actually had any snow – so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens this time. I have to admit to thinking whoever comes up with the nicknames for these things needs their bumps felt, as really all it makes me want to do is shrug my shoulders and sigh, rather than potentially taking it more seriously. I’m pretty sure professional journalism is all-but dead in this country.  It will probably be the end for those few flowers that had started to appear thinking Spring had arrived too, which I feel more sad about than the headlines.

I’ve been thinking a bit about my routine this week. It’s going to be three years this year since I left my permanent job and went freelance, taking voluntary redundancy. Interestingly though I still seem to wake at the same time each morning, as I did when I used to have to leave the house to catch a train. I guess all those years doing that have left their mark even if now there’s no train and different things to do.


I’m hoping to restart on the decorating this coming week. In fact that is why this post is a little bit later than usual, as I’ve been clearing the decks to give me the space to get started. We’ve settled on the paper above – and before anyone comments, yes we will be pasting it to the walls and not hanging it from bulldog clips. It’s taken a couple of months to reach a decision, but hopefully it will look good when it’s finished. If the aforementioned beast from the east arrives I hope he’ll pick up a wallpaper brush and lend me a hand.


Work – As mentioned above PowerPoint has been a big chunk of work this week. I co-hosted a presentation on Thursday evening to a group from the local chamber of commerce, and the preparation for that has taken up a lot of time. We had a dry run of Tuesday, and that helped as my skills were a little rusty. I enjoyed doing it and am hoping something more might come from it, but only time will tell.


Allotment – Finally managed to get onto the plot and do some work this last week. I took down the netting and supports over the late brassicas, and dug the spot they were on. This is going to be the area where the potatoes will go this year. I’ve also recorded a short update video, first one in a while.


Currently Reading – I read Stephen King’s “Finders Keepers” [GoodReads] this week. It’s the middle book in the Bill Hodges trilogy (“Mr Mercedes” is the first, and “End of Watch”, the last). I was a little disappointed with it, in that the tale spent a long time building up to what was ultimately a fairly short ending. It’s one of those books that is slightly better than the 3 stars I’ve given on GoodReads, but the site doesn’t allow for half-stars, as it is worthy of a higher rating but not quite the 4 stars which would be the other option.


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The Week In Wildlife In Pictures – [LINK]


Troy – I mentioned this last week. It’s a while since I’ve been comprehensively disappointed in a TV show, but I really didn’t enjoy this. Shame. Not even going to bother watching the second episode.


Stephen Fry’s Announcement


So that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll be a little bit more timely next week (although possibly I might be under a pile of wallpaper or snow, we’ll see. Take care and stay away from The Beast From The East, I hear he’s a bit of a cold chap.

The Last Week Of The Year – Quick Links 31st December 2017

This is going to be short. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to exist at all or not.

It’s been a quiet and busy week in equal measure. We had a pleasant Christmas Day and Boxing Day, sharing them with my Mum, and exchanging a few gifts. I’ve got quite a few new books to read over the coming weeks, so that should keep me out of mischief if nothing else does!

The turkey was mysteriously very tough to eat, and not really that nice, which is a shame when you’ve gone to the trouble, but the rest of the meal was more than substantial, although I still didn’t have much of an appetite after being sick last week.

Unfortunately my Mum’s car broke down on Boxing Day – although we didn’t actually realise it at the time – just as she got home. She asked me to look at it the next day and although at first I couldn’t find a problem, when I took it for a drive it was evident that it was undrivable, and had to call the breakdown service. They were able to diagnose the problem but couldn’t fix it roadside, so towed the car to the garage where it stayed until they were able to get the relevant part and return it to us on Friday. No great problem, but a bit of a nuisance and a change in plans for the remainder of the week.

 


Work – I’ve been checking emails, and not doing much else. I still need to finish my 2018 planning and targets, but I wanted to reflect on these over the Christmas break and finish that in January.


Allotment – We’ve had snow, a lot of rain and some high winds this week, so not much  to report from the plot. I am however starting to think about next season, and I really need to look at what seeds & plants I need and get them ordered.


Currently Reading – I started Kim Stanley Robinson’s “New York 2140” [GoodReads] and enjoying it so far. I suspect that it will see me into the New Year as it’s quite a big book and I seem to be reading quite slowly. Once that’s done I’m not sure what’ll be next as I have quite a few to choose from after Christmas.


That’s it for this week folks, I did say it would be short. There’ll be a Quarter Four review later and possibly something for the New Year on Monday. For now though, I hope you have a great New Years celebration if you do, and service will probably return to normal next Sunday or the Sunday after.

 

Merry Christmas – Quick Links 24th December 2017

Well ’twas the night before Christmas and all that. Whether you read this before, during or after I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Not sure what I’ll be posting next week, as both my Sunday Quick Links and my fourth quarter review are due on the same day. You may get one or both, but hopefully something. I also normally try to post something on New Years Day as well. Not that I am expecting anyone to read it on the day it goes live, as I’m sure you have much better things to do than read my ramblings. Anyway, if you have been reading these posts, thank you.

I was expecting a quiet week this week, and other than an appointment I attended with my Mum I’ve not really been anywhere. This is probably just as well as I’ve not been feeling very well, and think that I managed to catch a stomach bug on one of my rare trips out. I’m recovering now, but did at one point wonder whether it was going to be a pre-Christmas instant diet or something that would drag on over the festive period. Hopefully it’s the former.


Work – I’ve been doing my end of the month admin a little early, so that I can pretty much be work free next week. I’ll be checking my emails, but that will be about it and I’ll pick things up again the following week. I’ve been working on my targets for next year, and things need to get serious to develop at least some income.


Allotment – Not much to report this week, it’s been quite a mild week, and the ground has been a little soggy at times, so I’ve been staying off of the beds now that they’re dug.


Currently Reading – I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” [GoodReads] this week, there’s quite a bit of his life story in there as well as tips and approaches to writing, although I felt that I had read most of it in other places.


Neil Gaiman Reading A Christmas Carol – Audio version of the author reading the classic Dickens Christmas tale. [LINK]


Open Railway Map – Open source map of many of the worlds railways [LINK], pretty cool to look up your local lines.


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The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


Brexit Is Going To Be Titanic – Exactly like the ship


Merry Christmas From The Muppets


Bird Spikes In Trees – Although this only came to light in the last week, it seems that this has been going on for a while – but why? As this other article points out, we are seemingly blind to the damage that we are doing to the planet.


Alarming Customer Service Fail From Amazon when they started sending “coded death threats” to a customer [LINK]. If this had been me I’m not sure I would have noticed, as I do read quite a few crime novels anyway.


Dolphins – Nice piece by author Philip Hoare [LINK]


The Future Worlds of Work – Although I haven’t read the full report yet, I do intend to but these different scenarios [LINK] for what the future of work will look like in 2030 are quite interesting on the surface. I think I far prefer the Green or Yellow versions but I suspect without intervention that the world is heading towards the Blue scenario. I might come back to this again once I’ve had a proper read.


That’s it for this week, catch you all again soon.

Quick Links 17th December 2017

My week started with lots of comments on the weather, particularly the snow, of which we had not a flake. Although when I had to try and take the car to the garage on Monday morning it was sleeting just a little amongst the wet and windyness that was our prevailing weather conditions. The car was returned fixed on Tuesday – turns out the oxygen sensor in the engine had failed and needed to be replaced – so I was able to make the service of remembrance on Tuesday evening.

As I didn’t have the car at the start of the week I had to reorganise a few things, but it wasn’t as bad as it might otherwise have been, and actually ended up with more time than I might otherwise have had.

On Friday I went to see Monty Halls talk at Selborne, it was really a summary of what he’d been up to during 2017, although the focus was on The Freedom Trails which I’ve mentioned here before. He has another different series coming out early next year, which will be completely different but looks like it will be just as good. He also signed both my copy of The Freedom Trails book, and another one of his that I’ve had for a while. If you haven’t watched the TV show then I recommend it (LINK)  – not sure whether this will work worldwide and if you don’t have an account you’ll need to create one – but that’s free.

I haven’t managed to get to the cinema to see The Last Jedi yet, although I might be able to early next week. If not I’ll leave it until the schools go back in January.


Work – Not having a car for the first couple of days this week meant that I had to move a few meetings around, but otherwise I’ve been getting a few things done before the Christmas period. I did hear that a bid I’ve been collaborating in has been unsuccessful which means my first quarter won’t necessarily be as busy as I thought it might be. Shame, but that’s how it goes.


Allotment – The ground has been frozen on the plot most mornings this week. I’ve been tidying up the fruit bed, in particular the loganberries – removing last years dead stems, and tying in the new ones which will bear next years fruit.


Currently Reading – Not much change from last week on this front, although I did finish From Source to Sea [LINK] late last night.

If you’re looking for a Christmas present idea or two, you might want to check out this list of Agatha Christie books that make good presents.


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The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

I’ve also been enjoying the Comedy Wildlife  Photography Awards


A Couple of Movies That I’m Looking Forward To Next Year – 


I’m Very Cynical of politicians who suddenly start doing something that they haven’t really done before [LINK] and Tory government politicians suddenly growing concern about the environment leaves me a little cold. In fairness I’m willing and hoping that actually this [LINK] is genuine and not like the last time when David “Hug-a-Husky” Cameron declared that they were to be “The Greenest Government Ever” and then promptly forgot all about it once elected and successive “Environment” Secretarys did precious little to protect and promote the environment. So far Michael Gove – despite my ongoing suspicions – seems to be doing a good job, although his wildlife minister Theresa Coffey less so.


I’m planning on a relatively quiet Christmas, but I am planning to post next week, so until then I wish you adieu, and leave you with this snowy video I made back in 2010 – the last time we had any serious snow fall.

Snow – Parallel Highway from tontowilliams on Vimeo.

 

Quick Links 10th December 2017

Ever have the feeling someone is watching your every move?

It’s been a pretty busy week both with work (see below) and other stuff. Next week is looking the same (although less work related busyness and more personal stuff). Unfortunately on Thursday afternoon on the way back from a meeting the dashboard of the car lit up like a Christmas tree. I’m not sure exactly what’s wrong suffice to say it needs a trip to the garage. The earliest they can fit me in is Monday, so it meant our plans for the weekend had to be tweaked (we’ve had a pre-Christmas thing with a part of the family) and I’llbe unable to attend a service of remembrance that I was planning on going to. There is another one on Tuesday, which fingers-crossed and the car gods permitting I will be able to make. I have several other things in my diary for next week too, I can work around most of them apart from the one on Tuesday  and a book reading / signing I have a ticket for on Friday.


Work – I was at another business networking event on Monday evening. I think it went well and it’s the last one for a while. Earlier in the day I had an unexpected phone call about some work. If it happens it will mean that I’ll be pretty busy pretty much all the way the first quarter of next year. I’m not holding my breath, but to be honest I could do with the money so I am hopeful. The rest of the week was mostly spent catching up with myself to ensure that I can take some time off completely from work over the Christmas period.


Allotment – With everything that’s been going on this week, and the family commitments at the weekend there’s not much to report from the allotment. It’s really the dormant season anyway so I’m comfortable with not having time down there this weekend.


Currently Reading

I’ve started listening to the audiobook of “Persephone” by Julian Stockwin [LINK] when I’m in the car. I’m enjoying it so far, although I think I’m just starting the third (of 10) CD so I have a little way to go.

I’ve also been reading “From Source to Sea: Notes from a 215 Mile Walk Along the River Thames” by Tom Chesshyre [GoodReads], it’s a good read so far, not too heavy and would probably act as a pretty good guide for someone thinking of doing the same thing.


Thomas The Tank Engine Does Stunts – 


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – 


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The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


I’d Like To Visit this bookshop if I get a chance to the next time I’m in London.


My top nine #2017bestnine Instagram photos this year are all allotment related.