Category Archives: Paper

A question for the ages


A small stack of post-it notes emerged from a heap of random paperwork.

The first said:


The second said:

The third said:

The set must have meant something once.


Sploshing about


A relaxing read, on the whole, though the prose is occasionally purple and narration always in the present tense.  I always want more biology and fewer atmospherics, but a few facts sifted into the text.  Much can be forgiven to a fellow newt-fancier and pond-digging advocate.

Module the sixth


I am expecting to find the teaching for this one very interesting, and we are only here for three days. However, on the way from the station my feet took me to buy playing cards, a sketch block, and TWELVE small jigsaws.  So what is that about?  (I did manage to ignore the urge to buy something to knit.)




Bother Oxford, I thought sniffily, going out as the rain slowed.  So I turned left, interested by the curious mixture of pretension and seediness that characterised the area.  (Click an image for the gallery)

Today I travelled home.  Someone burned the toast at Oxford station and we evacuated, but luckily that was the only drama.

Imposition schemes


Boss-eyed with e-books, working on an imposition scheme seemed restful, until the prototype went wrong for the third time.

The traditional method (poundage a little excessive):

Being impatient, I also tried the modern method, in spite of a curious smell, which might have been the microwaved elastic bands.  It sort of worked; though it is surprising how much water there was in these few small specimens.  At least it used up the stack of essay drafts as blotting paper, a fate that they well deserved.


Another stonking pantechnicon


I’m showing my age again:  the primary association of “consumption” for me is the coughing, haemorrhaging and fading millions leaving this worldly scene, led by Keats, Brontë and so forth.  And I’m sure that unwritten History of Consumption would be fascinating, if distressing.

This is the other kind of consumption.  I was made happy by the information in Chapter 2 about lupin seed stalls in classical Athens; unfortunately it is not one of the chapters I am supposed to be reading.  A hasty route march through a chunk of 600+ pages is required.

Herpetologist’s stoop


I have been indulging in Cyril Hare.  His trademark plots each turn on some  legal clause or condition, and his settings are an austere wartime or post-war England.  Interestingly, this and An English Murder include various refugees and displaced persons in the cast of characters; does this reflect what post-war society really was like, or is it political correctness of the time, or just a taste for the exotic?

Small triumph:  I did guess the murderer, though not the motive.

Outside, dealing with neglected pots.  I had to cut this one off, and the plant lost big chunks of root, poor thing.

The wildlife is gratifying but reluctant to pose for portraits.  A slow-worm tucked itself down into a warm spot:

I craned agonisingly over the water (newts are worth hirpling for) looking for small slitherings and turnings.  There they were, in pairs and small clumps.  One pair was seriously interested – at least he was interested, though perhaps she was not.   But they were shy, and ducked when the camera came out.


I gave in …


… the marketing got me.  This is the freebie.

Bits went missing while the washing machine spun out or I counted stitches on the needle, attention wandering off in Rome and returning to Egypt or the Great Plains.  The chapters were somewhat repetitive, but unfortunately this was often due to the same agricultural errors being repeated … again … and again … and yes, again.  Anyone who ever grew a potato or a pea will understand the importance.

I would have liked a little more about soil as a microbiome, especially as Montgomery was keen to realign soil science with biology instead of chemistry.  An enticing image of bacteria as minuscule livestock on the farm was not followed up, and there was only brief mention of mycorrhizal fungi or even invertebrates (we did get a few worms).

Take home message?  Get composting, folks, and if you have a little plot of your own, be ready to dig for victory when times get tight.



The week was miscellaneous.

The end of an era:

Not the end but near the end, and not looking very promising at the moment:

A beginning:  Beyond New Age is fairly well written:

Holocene  – interesting, but, read in dribs and drabs over a year, it was difficult to keep the large picture in mind.  Good words though – palynology, eustatic, oligotrophic, varves.

Winding up the experiment, I am left with a kitchen in a bag.  It looks so useful, except I can’t think when it will be used:

It’s difficult to photograph things that aren’t there.  Kindly imagine a piano-shaped absence.