Sunday 29 May 2022

Another visit to Olde Englande

A piece of Olde Englande refers. This time, closer to old home, on the way back from Oxford. GPS trace.

At a turn in the road is a Lychgate that I haven't been through before. It turns out to be for Wilstone cemetery, but it is some way from Wilstone. Indeed it is some way from anywhere.


Inside, we look back out:


All is calm and peaceful. And I feel a surge of feeling for England, the land.


There's even a Proctor. There's nothing particularly old, though. Presumably this is the overflow cemetery.


And then on to Ivinghoe Beacon. How tall it used to be, when I was young.


Ah, time.


Thursday 26 May 2022

My apiary

Hello and welcome to my page about my apiary. This page is mostly here so I can point people at it. The sort of people who might be interested are those who buy my honey. Although you might wish to take "Bismark's" advice. This page is pointed at by

Let's start with a link to my most recent honey-extraction: Bad beekeeping: spring recolte 2022 (2023). And now, a picture of my two (2023: one) hives.


Yes, only two: I am an artisanal beekeeper. Over the years, the number of hives I've had has varied from zero (sadly) to four. Four was a lot to keep going. Two is a good number, I've been on that for a while. Here's some honey:


Recently - spring 2022 - I moved house from leafy Coton into Cambridge where I felt my bees might be less welcome, and so have moved them into the long garden of a friend who also keeps bees. This picture shows the fuller setup: mine are the two central; the far right is theirs; the far left is a spare, currently empty.

Extracting honey

After the frames are removed from the hive and de-capped (the bees will seal the cells with a little wax cap when they think they're ready; to spin out the honey this cap needs removing; I do this with a kitchen bread knife; see this picture) they are then put in the extractor and spun. I have a 1/3 share in a stainless steel "tangential" extractor (which means the frames are placed tangential to the circumference, which means they need to be spun gently, rotated, spun again, rotated, and spun again; which is why the pros prefer radial extractors. Pic showing the inside). Spun off honey then collects in the base of the extractor and can then be tapped off, filtered (in this case via the conical stainless steel filter shown here) to remove bits of wax and undesireable bits of bees, and collected. It is then fit to be bottled.


The archives

There are lots of old blog posts over the years; let's list some:

* Beekeeping, 2021 (an index page which I failed to find, hence created this one)
Bad beekeeping chez M+S (swarm collection)

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Scifi and Fantasy reviews

281839557_568185454666409_5760724985706195430_n Inspired by John Aspden and now by RP (too), here are my sci-fi and fantasy reviews, arranged in order of favouritism. I achieved this order by starting at the most recent and going backwards, inserting into wherever they fit. Books of course cannot be linearly ranked in this fashion; in particular literary quality and fun ideas are hard to inter-rank. As I add more, the discrepancies grow larger. Books get points for: quality and fun of reading; novelty; interest of the ideas; worldbuilding; being a classic; "must include something by this author"; and more. Note that points-for-ideas does not imply that I agree with them, merely that there are some; you get more points if I agree, of course. But sadly most SciFi authors tend to pick up crap philosophy (hello Plato, I'm looking at you).

This list only includes stuff I've actually written reviews for, which is most of the recent stuff but very sporadic earlier. Stuff I would add: The Deep; more Banks; Blish; more LeGuin; Wolfe; Benford; The Forever War;  etc.

The top, but unrankable: The HobbitLord of the Rings, The Deep.

Beasts and Engine Summer, John Crowley

Foundation, Isaac Asimov

* Icehenge, Kim Stanley Robinson

White Queen, Gwyneth Jones

Neuromancer, William Gibson

Anathem, Neal Stephenson

The Iron Dream, Norman Spinrad

Across Realtime, Vernor Vinge

Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein

* Divine Endurance, Gwyneth Jones

* Dune, Frank Herbert

* City of the Chasch / Servants of the Wankh / Dirdir / Pnume, Jack Vance

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

* Stations of the Tide / Vacuum Flowers, Michael Swanwick

Consider Phlebas, Iain M Banks

Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C Clarke

(those above this marker are "you should read")

* Emphyrio, Jack Vance

* The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie

* The Dragon Masters, Jack Vance

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie

* Grass, Sherri S Tepper

Uprooted, Naomi Novik

City of Illusions, Ursula LeGuin

* The Forever War, Joe Haldeman [2023/11]

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein

* Look to Windward, Iain M Banks

The Enemy Stars, Poul Anderson

The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn, Isaac Asimov

Out of the Silent Planet / Perelandra / That Hideous Strength, C S Lewis

Heroes and Best Served Cold, Joe Abercrombie

* Big Planet, Jack Vance

* Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

* The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson

* The Martian, Andy Weir

The White Mountains, John Christopher

* The Cadwal Trilogy: Araminta station; Ecce and Old Earth; Throy, Jack Vance

The Languages of Pao, Jack Vance

The Silver Chair and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C S Lewis

* Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik

(those above this marker are "worth reading")

* Mickey 7, Edward Ashton

* The Long Tomorrow, Leigh Brackett

* Blindsight, Peter Watts [2023/01]

* Wyrms, Orson Scott Card

* Ender's game, Orson Scott Card

Confluence: Child of the River / Ancients of Days / Shrine of Stars, Paul McAuley

* Blood Music, Greg Bear [2023/01]

Space, Time and Nathaniel, Brian Aldiss

The Undercover Aliens, A E Van Vogt

A World Out Of Time, Larry Niven [2023/12]

* The Memory of Earth, Orson Scott Card [2023/12]

* Neptune's Brood, Charles Stross

The Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay

* Rosewater, Tade Thompson

* Star King, Jack Vance

Involution Ocean, Bruce Sterling [2023/12]

Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir

* Fifth Planet, Fred and Geoffrey Hoyle

Dark Light, Ken McLeod [2023/12]

* Sabriel / Lirael / Abhorsen, Garth Nix

Shikasta, Doris Lessing

H G Wells anthologyThe War of the Worlds

* Redshirts, John Scalzi. 

* Sundiver, David Brin

Blue Remembered Earth, Alastair Reynolds

Rotherweird and Wyntertide, Andrew Caldecott

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow

* The Owl Service, Alan Garner

Utopia, Thomas More

* Glory Road, Robert Heinlein [2023/04]

Revolt in 2100, Robert Heinlein

The Witches of Karres, James Schmitz [2024/01]

All the Colors of Darkness, Lloyd Biggle [2023/11]

(those below this marker are "meh")

Anthem, Ayn Rand

Feersum Endjinn, Iain M Banks

The Gift / The Riddle, Alison Croggon

Daughter of smoke and bone, Laini Taylor

* Toyman, E C Tubb

The Green Odyssey, P J Farmer

* Transition, Iain Banks

* The Brightness Reef trilogy, David Brin

Artemis, Andy Weir

* Nemesis, Isaac Asimov

The Narrow Land, Jack Vance

* The Forge of God, Greg Bear

Something Coming Through, Paul McAuley

Ringworld, Larry Niven

The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan

I, Robot

With a Strange Device, Eric Frank Russell [2023/10]

(those below this marker are "you should not read")

Raising the Stones, Sherri S Tepper

* Wherever Seeds May Fall, by Peter Cawdron

Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu

Ancient Light, Mary Gentle

* Proxima, Stephen Baxter

Bones of the Earth, Michael Swannick

The Exiles Trilogy, Ben Bova

* Heart of the Comet, David Brin and Gregory Benford

On the steel breeze, Poseidon's Wake, Alastair Reynolds

Seveneves, Neal Stephenson

See also

Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010

Diary of an injury: my back #4

A post from 2016 refers. I don't think I did a post for #2 or #3, which were both on the erg. #2 about 6 months back, #3 about 2 months ago. #2 was me doing a 10k, and at the first stroke something felt wrong, or odd; but it is very hard to describe what. I stopped at... I forget. Perhaps after 7k. Having vainly dropped the split in order to complete. I should have stopped earlier. For #3, I did stop earlier, but not early enough; after 2k. #4 was just lifting that stupid heavy bulky black ceramic junk round the side into the bin.

Motto: be more careful.

On HeiaHeia: #4; #3; #2 (probably).

Friday 20 May 2022

Holiday list

DSC_5895 2021: Saas Fee and Zermatt solo

2020: Ecrins with D+E

2019: Chamonix, including Mt Blanc with D+E and to a lesser extent, M

2018: Dolomites with M+E+D

2017: Ecrins with M+E+D

2016: Norway with M+E+D (UNFINISHED) and Ecrins (solo)

2015: Peloponnese, with M+E and Stubai with D+Jamie (UNFINISHED)

2014: Peloponnese, with M+E+D and Stubai solo