28May

Notes from the Lakes

Coniston Water

Stone circle

hills

Three days of escaping to the Lake District, before (finally) a house move at the weekend. Hence the lack of posts (and potentially a further lack next week, when I’m without an internet connection). We stayed at an old rectory, near the west coast. Darted inland to various lakes – Coniston, Windermere, and Bassenthwaite. Even managed to visit a whisky distillery, which was brilliant. Much-needed rest before a hectic few days ahead. Life is good, but very busy.

2May

Drone Aviary

“The Drone Aviary reveals fleeting glimpses of the city from the perspective of drones. It explores a world where the ‘network’ begins to gain physical autonomy. Drones become protagonists, moving through the city, making decisions about the world and influencing our lives in often opaque yet profound ways.”

27Apr

Latest Whisky Updates

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I managed to get an article in industry publication Whisky Magazine this month. The edition is a Speyside special, and my article is all about the history of the railways of the region, and how important they were to whisky production. It’s hopefully a fascinating history of whisky from an unusual angle, talking about all manner of things including the whisky thefts that were prevalent on the lines. It’s a properly geeky article. If you’re really interested, you can download this issue for your iPad.

The website is ticking along as normal. I still don’t much like Jura whisky, I still very much like old Glenglassaugh, and I wrote about a long-closed distillery.

20Apr

Allotment update

Allotment
The first really nice day on the plot this year. Things are happening, but it’s a lot easier than the previous years because most of the structures are in place. Fruit bushes are starting to push through, as are the weeds. It’s more a case of tidying up, planting seeds, digging over beds ready for seedlings to go into the ground. Going there is more habit now. We’re looking to move house shortly so this year’s efforts are an attempt at low-maintenance growing; we’ll see how that goes. Still, it’s all very peaceful, and one of the few places to get away from distractions (on that note, this is an interesting read).

It’s nice to see some of the surrounding plots get transformed from overgrown messes to productive beds. I was speaking to a Romanian who has done some incredible work on his site – what looked as if a bomb had detonated underneath is now orderly land, with two sheds, and even a bit of a lawn for his children to play on. He has hopes of getting a polytunnel for next year, so that he can grow the crops that he’s more used to growing back in the warmer climate of Romania.

12Apr

Reading Pile

Books
I’ve not posted much book-related stuff for a while. Generally speaking my updates aren’t anywhere near as frequent as they used to be – mainly as I’m pouring my blogging energies into my whisky review site, which has just celebrated its third year. (On the whisky front, I ought to have an article published in Whisky Magazine next month, which is exciting.)

But suffice to say I am still writing (deadline this October, so there’ll be a bit of a gap in books from me for a few months). And I’m reading a fair bit – diverse as always, as the above shows. I’m about to start Ragtime, purely because Mad Men has begun the last season and that seems to make me want to read great American fiction.

I had a bit of a nostalgia-fest when I re-read The Fellowship of the Ring (again). I’m hoping to continue with The Two Towers in the summer. I’m embracing a lot of the fantasy I read when younger, so in the future I’ll probably be ploughing through a lot of 80s and 90s fantasy novels. I’ve got some David Gemmell books to go through at some point as well.

There’s a great feeling about those old novels: even the typography, and the slightly faded paper, just feels so comforting – though I’m not strictly reading for comfort. I find myself browsing old fantasy artwork as well. I think I’m trying to capture that thrill of reading from an earlier time.

3Apr

Cat Haven Island

This is a little featurette about Tashirojima, an island that has only 44 elderly people – and 800 cats. (Whilst I’m in the middle of trying to move house, this content is as good as it gets…)