Gardening Diary 🌱 — 📅 22nd July 2021

Some garden flora:


Garden Meadow!

Common Poppy

Common Poppy

Common Poppy

Corn Marigold

Corn Marigold

Common Cat's-ear

Common Cat’s-ear



Orange Hawkweed

Orange Hawkweed

Orange Hawkweed

_Common Spotted Orchid_

Common Spotted Orchid

Cabbage White on Horseradish

Cabbage White on Horseradish

Marsh Thistle

Marsh Thistle

Common Lavender

Common Lavender


















A Brazilian stew 🍲

I don’t usually make a record of improvised recipes I cook but this turned out particularly well and I’d like to be able to repeat it. If I’d planned this properly I’d also have taken a photo of the finished dish 🙁.

I was attempting a vegan version of a Brazilian feijoada, loosely inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Smoky veggie feijoada.


500g dried Brazilian carioca beans (or pinto)

1 kg (~12) medium/large carrots
12 vegan sausages

2 red onions 4 cloves garlic 5 sticks celery
1 or 2 red/yellow peppers
1 large courgette
700g passata
¼ bottle red wine

8-10 fresh bay leaves
cinnamon stick
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp smoked paprika (plus extra for roasting the carrots)
fresh and/or dried thyme
fresh coriander


Soak the beans overnight then rinse and put in a large pan with plenty of water, 4 or 5 bay leaves and a cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil, boil vigorously for 10 minutes then simmer for about 50 minutes until beans are tender but slightly firm. Do not overcook. Drain and set aside, reserving some of the stock. Discard the bay and cinnamon.

Wash the carrots and trim the tops off - do not peel. Place on a flat roasting tray (or 2 if necessary!). Sprinkle with smoked paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil then rub in the oil/paprika mix to coat the carrots completely.

Roast the carrots for about an hour in a 180°C oven. They should be slightly browned and, again, tender but still firm. For the last 20-25 minutes of the cooking add the sausages to the tray, also making sure they get coated with the seasoned oil.

Allow to cool then cut the each sausage into 3 equal sized pieces. Cut the carrots into equivalent lengths.

In a large lidded casserole dish heat some olive oil, add 4 or 5 bay leaves then gently fry the onion, garlic, celery and peppers (all chopped fairly coarsely) until tender. Add the ground coriander and smoked paprika, fry for a couple of minutes more then add the passata, red wine and thyme. Bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Take off the heat, season the sauce with salt and pepper then stir in the drained beans and a little of the reserved bean stock.

Chop the courgette into chunks and add to the casserole dish along with the sausage and carrot pieces. Mix well then cover and place in a 160°C oven. After half an hour check the casserole, stir and add more bean stock if necessary. Reduce the oven to 120°C and cook for another 30-45 minutes.

Just before serving remove the bay leaves, check the seasoning and stir through some chopped fresh coriander.


Served with coarse boulgur wheat, wilted spinach (or other greens) and grated smoked cheese - Applewood if staying vegan.


  1. The vegan sausages I used were by Naked Glory. Any will do as long as they are quite firm and don’t disintegrate into the stew.

  2. Carioca. Beans or feijão are a large part of the Brazilian diet, and pinto beans or carioca are one of the firm favourites. The most popular lunch in Brazil includes a serving of white rice along with cooked beans - so much so that the phrase arroz com feijão the “rice and beans” is a colloquial term used to mean the “basics”.

  3. Coarse boulgour/bulgur wheat

My anniversary

My first post to was made four years ago today - on Tuesday 2nd May 2017.

There are posts dated earlier than this on my hosted site because I imported my content from various web silos - including Twitter, Instagram and - into the The Dim Pause.

Gardening Diary 🌱 — 📅 23rd April 2021

In July 2011 my father-in-law built a treehouse for our children.


(Apologies for the quality of the photo - it was taken with an old Blackberry 9300 mobile phone)

Now, nearly 10 years later, the children have long outgrown such things. Having a shed up in a tree wasn’t too practical or convenient so (finally!) over the last couple of days I have dismantled, relocated and reconstructed it.

Shed in garden

Shed in garden

It took me considerably longer to dismantle and get down from the tree than it did to rebuild.

The shed is still in fairly good condition but the next job is to paint it with a wood preserver. I also need to take advantage of the good weather over the next couple of days to build a roof where the shed used to be - we use the area that was underneath the treehouse for storing, drying and seasoning logs.

Medical Grade Music 📚🎵

Received my signed copy of Medical Grade Music by Steve Davis and Kavus Torabi.

Medical Grade Music book cover

Signed front page of book

Last week I joined a Rough Trade hosted Zoom meeting with Kavus and Steve where they read excerpts from and discussed the book and some of the stories from and behind it. They were both very enthusiastic!

Zoom meeting screen with Kavus and Steve

In addition to reading the book I’m particularly looking forward to investigating music I haven’t heard before. In the Appendices there are several musical lists, including recommendations for an album a week for a year from both authors. I’m not familiar with many of them (although more of Kavus’ than Steve’s).

Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd

Went to the Bunch of Grapes in Pontypridd for a meal last night - pubs and restaurants in Wales were allowed to open for indoor dining from Monday this week. Our first meal out near home in Wales since the beginning of March.

Bunch of Grapes

The food was really good, especially the Roasted Cod Loin, so I can’t resist posting some details. 😀

Menu Board

Menu board

Sweetcorn Soup - Charred sweetcorn, butterbean and radicchio soup, garlic and rosemary sourdough crouton

Sweetcorn Soup

Pan Fried Cockles - Pan fried cockles, leeks and laverbread on fried sourdough bread, charred lemon

Pan fried cockles

Beetroot Pie - Beetroot, mushroom, black bean and spinach pie, sautéed garlic greens and roasted red onions

Beetroot pie

Roasted Cod Loin - Ancho chilli roasted cod loin, sautéed mussels, cockles, laverbread and saffron, roasted fennel mash

Roasted cod loin

Grapes in the Bunch


To accompany the meal I had my first proper cask beers since March - two from Salopian Brewery, a pint of Shropshire Gold bitter and a pint of Dewdrops New England IPA. 🍺

Vegetables: Riverford Organic Farmers 🌱

Using my submission to this week’s Flickr FlickrFriday theme #Vegetables in praise of Riverford Organic Farmers. Photo is of our vegetable box delivered at 6:30am this morning, as it is every Monday. We’ve been Riverford customers for over 10 years but their deliveries during the current COVID-19 lockdown have been invaluable. They have maintained high quality service and continued to provide excellent produce throughout this period.


Gardening Diary 🌱 — 📅 25th May 2020

After years of neglect we’ve been trying to improve and actually make use of the area of garden behind our house.


I should really have taken some ‘before’ photographs but here are a few details in pictures of progress so far.


Sun terrace 😀


Oregano bed and compost bin


Thyme planted in a rusty wheelbarrow!


Small raised beds cleared and dug over ready for planting


Greenhouse, which still definitely needs some repair, semi-tidied and an attempt at seed germination started - including basil, coriander, dill, rosemary, sage and tarragon



Rampant mint alongside the greenhouse


Chives and bay in two of the raised beds


Garage newly painted and starting to get some decoration


Buttercups flourishing alongside the garage

Meanwhile, for some rest and relaxation time, at the front of the house the weather has now been good enough to string up the hammock.


Politics and social media

An interesting article on The Correspondent about social media and politicians - If a politician can say something in 280 characters, perhaps they shouldn’t say it at all.

I’m not sure that I agree with the conclusion that politicians should not engage with social media but there are certainly a number of valid examples of how it (or at least Twitter) can and has been misused.

The comments on the article are also interesting, comparing social media to newspaper headlines, soundbites and a TL;DR culture. I have more sympathy with some of those points of view.

Trying a Labour Party Webinar

Last night I took part in a Labour Party video webinar with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Faiza Shaheen. Both were impressive speakers, coming across very well and appearing passionate and knowledgeable about the issues of the current election campaign.

Labour Webinar

There were around 3000 people taking part, using Zoom video conferencing software - it worked well.

The format was a half hour discussion by the two main panellists plus a couple of guests, a 15 minute presentation of some Labour Party campaigning software, then a short Q&A session with John and Faiza answering questions raised by participants. Text chat was enabled for all participants.

It was good to see a new way of electoral candidates presenting their ideas in a political campaign. I only had two criticisms - the Q&A session could have been longer and the chat needed some moderation (it was spammed sporadically by a few users).

Australia vs India cricket commentary 🏏

Great to see BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra broadcasting ABC Grandstand’s live ball by ball coverage of the Australia vs India cricket Test series. I listened to a couple of hours of it when I couldn’t sleep in the early hours of this morning. Good quality commentary and good to see that Alison Mitchell is part of ABC’s commentary team. Will enjoy more during the nights to come, I’m sure.

16-bit Intel 8088 chip

It’s National Poetry Day, so …

16-bit Intel 8088 chip

with an Apple Macintosh
you can’t run Radio Shack programs
in its disc drive.
nor can a Commodore 64
drive read a file
you have created on an
IBM Personal Computer.
both Kaypro and Osborne computers use
the CP/M operating system
but can’t read each other’s
for they format (write
on) discs in different
the Tandy 2000 runs MS-DOS but
can’t use most programs produced for
the IBM Personal Computer
unless certain
bits and bytes are
but the wind still blows over
and in the Spring
the turkey buzzard struts and
flounces before his

Charles Bukowski

Bats in libraries

Some impressive interiors in this collection of The world’s most beautiful libraries. This caption also intrigued me –

one of only two libraries in the world that houses bats to protect the books against insects

so I had to investigate further

the bats, which are less than inch long, roost during the day behind “elaborate rococo bookcases” and come out at night to hunt insects which otherwise would feast on the libraries’ books. The price of this natural insect control is paid in scat; the bats […] leave a thin layer of droppings over everything. So each morning the floors have to be thoroughly cleaned and the furniture has to be covered at night.

Merthyr Rising Festival 2018

Dreadzone – Friday 25th May

Roland Gift (of the Fine Young Cannibals) – Saturday 26th May

The Blockheads – Sunday 27th May

An Illustrated Guide to Guy Debord's 'The Society of the Spectacle'

From Hyperallergic: An Illustrated Guide to Guy Debord’s ‘The Society of the Spectacle’

Guy Debord’s (1931–1994) best-known work, La société du spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle) (1967), is a polemical and prescient indictment of our image-saturated consumer culture. The book examines the “Spectacle,” Debord’s term for the everyday manifestation of capitalist-driven phenomena; advertising, television, film, and celebrity.

St. Fagans Museum of Welsh Life

Kennixton Farmhouse

Kennixton Farmhouse Kennixton Farmhouse Kennixton Farmhouse

Iron Age Roundhouses

Iron Age Roundhouses Iron Age Roundhouses Iron Age Roundhouses

Abernodwydd Farmhouse

Abernodwydd Farmhouse

Stryd Lydan Barn

Stryd Lydan Barn

Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Kerameikos Cemetery Reliefs

Photo I:

A relief of the deceased girl Korallion, shown seated, holding out her hand to her husband. Grave enclosure of the Herakleotai, Street of the Tombs.

Ca. 350 B.C.

Photo II:

A relief of the deceased girl Eukoline, shown with her parents, her grandmother and her dog. Found near the Sacred Way.

Ca. 350 B.C.

Photo III:

Grave relief of Demetria and Pamphile.

The inscription beneath the pediment gives the names of the two dead sisters.

The women, remote and isolated, gaze apathetically at the spectator. They are already in another, transcendental world, far from the things of this life. The pilasters of the naiskos have been restored. It is one of the last tomb stones made before the law passed by Demetrios of Phaleron prohibiting the erection of luxurious tomb monuments.

Ca. 325-310 B.C.

It's just not cricket!

There seems to be about 10 mins worth of video clips of today’s Ashes play available for free online at BT Sport at the moment. Basically the fall of each wicket, Vince reaching 50 and the final ball of the day review. BT Sport don’t seem to have released any video for use anywhere else - ECB website has none, BBC have none. Poor.

Sri Lankan cooking tonight

I recently bought this book

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‘Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka’ by Bree Hutchins - from our local library (stock reduction). It’s an interesting and well photographed travel journal of a trip around Sri Lanka in addition to a multitude of recipes picked up along the way. Tonight I cooked from it for the first time - Boiled Egg Curry, Spinach with Dhal and Fried Cabbage -

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The results were superb; gently spiced but extremely tasty. A lucky random find that I can highly recommend!

The Chronikler

🔖 Bookmark ― The Chronikler – “a thought provoking trip through both the main avenues and back alleyways of Middle Eastern and Western societies”

The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life

The new sleep science – An adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night would be predicted to live only to their early 60s without medical intervention. I’m not long for this world …

Tapas at Bar 44

Another delicious tapas meal at Bar 44 in Cardiff last night. Their Cabrales blue cheese was a revelation!


via Instagram


via Instagram