The Fitbit Flex, a hairy yellow caterpillar and other things

I’ve had a very rubbish week, which I’m not going to write about.  However, it’s left me without very much to say at all.  I’ve taken a couple of pictures though so I thought I’d share those with you in the absence of anything to write about.

Fitbit Flex bracelet

I bought a Fitbit Flex a couple of months ago, and I was going to write a review about it when I’d tested it for a while.  However, mine stopped working after 40 days, so there is no review.  I sent it back and got a full refund, and I don’t want another one.  They’re a good idea, but I can’t be doing with technology that fails after a month.

I was reading up on the Apple Watch this morning, which also has health tracking functions like the Flex, and I think it’s a brilliant idea.  When we first heard about a possible Apple watch, I wondered what on Earth we’d need a smart phone on our wrist for, but the project has been very well executed.  I have absolutely no need for one in my life though, so I shall leave it for other people to play with!

Pale Tussock moth caterpillar Dasychira pudibunda

This is a Pale Tussock moth caterpillar, Dasychira pudibunda.  I found it on my drive when I was popping out one afternoon this week.  A very random spot!  I’ve actually never seen one before, so it was quite exciting.

Spider web on washing line

It’s autumn, and you know what that means: spider webs everywhere.  You can’t move in the garden at the moment without stepping into one.  However, they’re actually pretty hard to photograph as they all face the wrong way and so don’t glitter in the sun properly.  However, I got this photo for you one morning this week.  I don’t mind spiders, but I draw the line at having them in the bedroom.  If they sneak in there they get carried back outside.

Archie in conservatoryAnd here’s a gratuitous Archie photo to finish this post.  Have a lovely weekend.


Giveaway winners!

Monologue A5 contrast notebook

It’s time to announce the winners of the Monologue notebooks giveaway!  There were three winners to be drawn, and I’ve tried to match everyone up with their requested notebooks!

Monologue Contrast notebook winner:  Aida!

Monologue sketchbook winner:  Aisazia!

Monologue Platinum notebook winner:  Clare A.!

Congratulations to you all!

I will be emailing you all in the next day or so, but if you see your name above please send me a DM on Twitter or an email with your delivery address details!

Thank you to everyone who took part!

Lego Moleskine week 33 & 34

I’ve got a bit behind sharing these photos, so we’re going back to August now.

Lego Moleskine Week 33

Week 33

This is the week that Robin Williams died, which was very sad.  I tried to restart my diet, but that failed!

Lego Moleskine Week 34

Week 34

My sunflowers didn’t grow as well as the sunflowers in that photo.  I cut it out of a magazine.

Sunset on Friday night

I used to collect sunset photos.  I sort of still do, but I only take them a couple of times a year now, which is sad.  I need to make more of an effort!  Anyway, I saw a beautiful sunset when I was at my local reservoir on Friday night, and that’s gone into my collection.

Sunset reservoir 12.09.14

I also spotted this chap at the reservoir. The photos aren’t great due to the distance, but it’s a grey heron.

Heron collageI haven’t taken many photos in the last couple of weeks, so I need to start practising again.


2015 doodle planner

I have already bought my 2015 planner!  I’ve gone with a Moleskine again.  The paper is still rubbish, but I like the layout and it mostly works fine for what I need (apart from the show-through!).  I’ve chosen the week-to-view with notes, as I do every year.  I like having a blank page each week to jot things down on.

This year I’ve gone with a Star Wars limited edition again, this time an homage to the Rebel Alliance (my 2013 planner was a Moleskine Yoda planner).  I got stickers with it too!

This is my fourth Moleskine planner in a row.  They don’t really match up because they’re all swollen and bruised after a year’s worth of use, but I like that they’re all the same height and cover type (the first one – 2012 – was red so they’re not the same colour!).

2015 Rebel Alliance Moleskine

I love buying a new planner!

August reads (2014)

I read six books in August, which is less than I intended, but I suppose a good number.  One was a re-read that I read every year or so, which I still enjoy.  Read on for my comments!

Feral – George Monbiot

Gosh, I enjoyed this book! I have worked in the conservation sector since I graduated six years ago, and this book has taught me so many things! It’s basically Monbiot’s plans for re-wilding the UK and it’s a brilliant idea. If you have any interest in the environment you should read this, even if you don’t live in the UK!

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

Another brain book! I do like a good pop-sci book about psychology and neurology! This one, as the title suggests, is about habits: why we have them, how they work and how to change them. It’s another great read. I’m wondering whether I should write a top 10 of my favourite psychology books as there are some great ones out there. This one would make the list.

You are not a gadget – Jaron Lanier

This book was a hard read. It’s a great topic – how the Internet and technology stifles creativity, and what we as a species should do about it, but it’s very heavy reading and very detailed. I must admit I skimmed a few bits! Overall, it is a fascinating look at some of the problems of modern society that I’ve not really thought about before. Lanier argues that the Internet erodes the individual, and we end up all becoming part of the Internet blob (my words, not his!). He says this is bad, and we should design the Internet to promote the individual, not get rid of them. I agree!

Almond Blossom Appreciation Society – Chris Stewart

This is one of the sequels to Driving over lemons, which I very much enjoyed.  It’s about a British family’s experience of leaving off the land in Andalucia, Spain.  It’s funny, eye-opening and a good read.  I recommend that you read Driving over lemons first if you haven’t, then you can read this book.

 Choosing simplicity – Linda Breen Pierce

I’ve read this book several times before, and I always enjoy re-reading it.  It’s a study into people who live simply, comparing their lives and their experiences of downsizing and streamlining.  I wrote a post about this book here.

The Bluffer’s Guide to Etiquette – William Hanson

This book was a fun short read, and quite interesting.  It’s a guide to British etiquette.  Did you know that you should always call the sweet dish at the end of your meal a pudding?  It is not a dessert.  A dessert is a piece of fruit at the very end of a meal to cleanse the palate after eating.  This book is filled with interesting factoids like this!  It was also cheap on Amazon when I bought it!

Have you read any good books this month?

Around here lately

I haven’t done much posting this week, so I thought I’d just do a general catch-up post instead of things around here lately.

  • I changed the bullet point symbol for blog posts, because why not.  It’s now a teeny tiny orange atom instead of a boring dot.
  • My giveaway for some Monologue notebooks is still open, so go enter that if you haven’t already.
  • I’ve been backing up my laptop with CrashPlan, which is a cloud back-up of your computer (unlimited GB, which is nice!).  I originally used Time Machine with an external hard-drive, but my Mac doesn’t like external hard-drives very much, so I decided a cloud back-up was safer.  I think it’s about £50 a year.  It’s taken weeks and weeks to upload my whole computer hard-drive to the cloud, not helped by the fact I accidentally duplicated my iTunes library, so I had two copies of everything (an extra 250GB)!  I’ve sorted that now though.  CrashPlan will update daily without prompting, so should my computer ever die I can just download my old computer from the cloud on to a new computer without losing anything.
  • I was going to download Clean My Mac, but it’s £34.95 for something that is basically free on a PC (makes a change!), so I wasn’t sure if it was worth it.  I used to run the defrag and disk clean up regularly on my PC, so maybe I should get the app?  Thoughts please!
  • I’m jealous that PC users get Sims 4 before Mac users.  This is my first Mac and I don’t like not getting the game the same time as everyone else!  I haven’t played any games on my Mac yet as all the ones I want to play require me to partition my drive for Windows, and I don’t want to do that!  Maybe I should have bought a PC instead, but my Mac is such a joy to use in general…
  • I am excited for OS X Yosemite, but I am not excited about the iPhone 6.  The price is getting ridiculous, and I drop my phone all the time so don’t want something that valuable in my pocket.  I wasn’t planning to change phone next year anyway when my contract is up because my iPhone 5s is working fine, but I think when it is time to change I might be looking for an Android instead (sad times).
  • I finished season 3 (the final season) of Deadwood, and I am sad it didn’t get another season.  Despite the foul language I enjoyed it (the language really was terrible, it won some award for having the most f**ks in a show ever!  One every 90 seconds on average!). I love stories of the Old West, although I am reading Bury my heart at Wounded Knee at the moment which is horrifying.  So much needless slaughter.
  • I’ve started watching Buffy this week.  Despite my geek credentials, I’ve actually never watched Buffy, so I’m a bit late with the discovery that Angel is quite yummy.
  • I learnt to do fishtail plaits (or braids, for my American friends).  My hair isn’t really long enough yet (almost!) so I used my sister’s hair to practice, which is nice and long.  She came home at the weekend and we had Italian takeaway.  I love pasta, and pasta takeaway is a brilliant invention.
  • The street urchins (the children on my street who play outside ALL THE TIME) are annoying me more than usual this summer, and I will be glad when it’s cold and they can’t play outside any more.  They are always shrieking, shouting and crying.  Plus they come on my drive and stand on my rockery and poke the flowers (our street is open plan).  I tell them off whenever I see them, but I can’t be everywhere.  I hope the new dog barks at them and scares them away!  I can hear two talking under my window right now and I suspect that if I get up and look outside they will be on the drive again.  They like going on the block paving with their little scooters because it’s bumpy and exciting.

That’s pretty much everything going on at the moment!  I’m having quite a quiet week, children aside.  How are you?

Brimstone butterfly (and a squash!)

I haven’t had many brimstones in the garden this year, but I spotted this little fellow on the bean plant at the weekend (still producing fruit incidentally) and got a few snaps! You can see his long tongue extending into the flowers to gather up the pollen (if you can’t, look at the last photo – it is the long black thing extending into the plant under the antennae).

Brimstone Butterfly Aug 2014

Brimstone Butterfly Aug 2014 2

Brimstone Butterfly Aug 2014 3

The butternut squash plant is hanging in there, but I fear that the colder weather may finish it off before the squash has a chance to ripen properly.

Butternut squash August 2014

Giveaway: three Monologue notebooks!

Monologue A5 contrast notebook

I finally fixed my Rafflecopter account, which means that it’s giveaway time!

I will be choosing three winners for this giveaway, and each will win a Monologue notebook. There are three options to choose from.

To enter the competition, you must leave a comment on this blog post. Please tell me which notebook you’d prefer to win if successful, and I will do my best to accommodate you.

You can also get a couple of additional entries by following me on Twitter, tweeting about the competition and writing a blog post.

I’m hosting the giveaway with Rafflecopter, so please use the box below to enter :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thriving rides and hedgeways

I’ve been for walks along some rides recently, and everything has been looking lovely, so I took some photos for you!

Blue damselfly aug 2014

I’ve seen a lot of dragonflies and damselflies this year. I saw some really big ones at the weekend actually, but they don’t stay still long enough for me to photograph them. I do like seeing them around. They remind me of my childhood. We had a fairly large pond in the garden and the dragonflies loved it.

Xanthoria lichen cups

Lichen! I still love lichen! Most the ones I’m finding at the moment though are this yellow type, Xanthoria. I need to see some more exciting varieties!

Speckled wood

This is a speckled wood butterfly. You don’t see many around here, but well-managed rich hedgerows are a good place to look. (And nowadays a good hedgerow is a hard thing to find. But that’s a separate topic!)

Common blue

This is a common blue butterfly. I have been trying to photograph one all summer, having seen them multiple times when out on walks, but the little buggers rarely stay still! Finally I got this one shot, and luckily it came out ok because he wasn’t hanging around for a second photo!

Field scabious Aug 2014

Field scabious is one of my favourite wildflowers. I grew some in the garden this year, but this is a wild one.

Ladybird Aug 2014

For the last few summers, you couldn’t move outside without finding a ladybird, but this year the population seems to have declined back to more normal levels and they are no longer that easy to spot. This chap is only one of a handful I have seen this year.  He actually has a damaged wing: if you look closely you can see a dark line on the wing where he’s torn it.