I’ve had an allotment since November, but I came into possession of it just in time to wind up the year’s efforts and withdraw indoors. I spent some time before Christmas digging over a patch (what turned out to be a small patch in the grand scheme of things) before my next door neighbour turned up with a rotivator. I am lucky enough to have a friend in Julian Cottee (of OxGrow) who furnished me with six chitting potatoes in six exciting varieties: Edzell Blue, British Queen, Isle of Jura, Salad Blue, Maris Bard, and Arran Victory.

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Animals and Documents

A friend asked on Facebook why there were no documents penned by animals. He claimed that ‘not a single one was to my knowledge written by an animal other than a human’. I disagree. Here are some notable quotes I have collected on the subject. ‘A cat could no more write a thesis on the plight of man than a man could on the condition of being a cat’

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Some bizarre ancient ritual that takes place in the last week of March? No, it’s Mano Panforreteiro playing his Gaita bagpipes in Oxford. With help from some pipes of another kind.

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My first cruise of the 2012, the first Torchbox cruise of 2012 and the first outing for the new decking. Also check out Louise’s flickr set.

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How to make boat decking in 11 easy but detailed steps. 1 : Find a load of scrap timber. Put in on the roof and pace up and down a bit. It is crucial that you stay away from the edges whilst pacing if there is someone else on board. 2 : Remark upon the awkward disposition of the nails. It is important to spare a thought for the craftsman who came before you.

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After coming back from a team-building trip, I started to notice things were going a bit slow on my work laptop. I took it with me for casual emailing and working on the train, but spent about 4 days not really using it and certainly not ‘working’ on it. It came out once to display the lyrics to a song about Pithivier, and once to check emails, but that was about it.

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When visiting Umefolk recently we came across a snow castle in the city centre. It would have been impossible not to have a go…

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Play the MP3 and imagine this. I recorded it walking through the musicians.

A weekend festival, with a 25 year heritage and massive following, is drawing to a close. Hundreds and hundreds of people must have passed through its doors. Headliners such as Garmana and Hoven Droven have drawn in crowds, impromptu sessions have brought out nyckelharpa players, and a large variety of players from all over north-east Europe have entertained and captivated. The event is winding up, and on the dance floor Anton and about 30 young people are playing for the final dance…

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Umea and Umefolk

I spent the last week at Umefolk, a folk music festival in Umeå in the north of Sweden. We met Anton Teljebäck, who runs the festival, at a small festival in the UK and he invited us. Umefolk is well established (the first was in 1986), and Anton was keen to spread the word further afield. We are no strangers to Scandanavian music in Oxford. There is a budding session which has found its feet in the last few months, run by Ed Pritchard, who plays a nyckelharpa amongst other things.

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I’ve just been on a call with a client. They have Strauss or somesuch a hold music. Orchestral waltzes. The person on the other end picked up exactly at the end of a phrase. It was perfect. My idea: On-hold music programmed with meta-information that stores the exact timecodes of cadences and the end of phrases. When the person who is being waited on picks up the phone, the system keeps playing the music until the next point.

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