Sitting on the Fence

One of many Red Admirals that, along with flocks of bees and hoverflies, were enjoying the flowers on the ivy this afternoon. Stand next to it and feel the buzz.
A1 is reading The Secret Hours by Mick Herron, who just gets better and better. Though described as a “stand-alone” novel, this is set in the same world as his Slough House stories and features a number of the same characters — though under different identities. Full of biting humour, on-the-nose political and social comments and, not least, a terrific plot, this is the yummiest read in the recent run of (mostly excellent) new books.
A2 is reading Voices of the Dead by Ambrose Parry (thx A1). The Victorian Scottish medics in a world of crooks, cranks, quacks, mountebanks and murderers.

Critter of the Day: Pyrausta aurata

The minuscule Mint Moth. It also likes a good thyme. Look at its lovely long antennae and beautiful blue eyes.
We had chicken, Yorkshire puddings and garden beans for our family meal with blackberry and apple crumble for afters and scored 10 (with generous marking) on the GSQ.
Admin1 is rereading The Stone Canal by Ken MacLeod. Admin2 is reading Winter in Madrid by CJ Sansom.

Critter of the Day: Ringlet

Aphantopus hyperantus sitting on a blackberry leaf. Their dark wings give them more solar energy so they are active on cloudy days.
Admin1 is reading Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway, who gives the hardboiled crime genre — there’s even a character called Marlowe — an SF slant (as have various other writers). Here it’s a tale of squabbling ultra-rich tech-heads who’ve had a life-extension process that also make them very tall. Rather different (and shorter) from books like Gnomon¬†and Angelmaker, it seems to have more in common with NH’s novels under his ‘Aidan Truhen’ monicker, which is an anagram if I’ve ever seen one. Thanks Admin2!
Admin2 is reading April in Spain by John Banville. An Irish couple on holiday spot somebody they presumed to be dead. A slow burner with a shock ending.

Owl and Squirrel

Our scare owl totally fails to bother the stupid squirrel, even though a real owl would eat it in a flash. The pigeons all studiously look the other way though.
June 2023 was a bit warmer and drier than June 2022 and, despite the dim and cloudy end to the month, the solar panels managed to absorb enough photons to pull ahead of June 2018 by half a kilowatt hour and become our sunniest June of all time. [Update 3/7/23: It was also the hottest June on record for the whole country.]
Admin1 is rereading River of Gods by Ian McDonald. Admin2 is reading The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths.


It’s the longest day, twins’ birthdays eve, the Moon and Venus are huddling up in the still-light sky, and here is a hoverfly hovering over a golden buttercup.
Admin1 is reading Hopeland by Ian McDonald, a well-named return to IM’s large-scale novels like River of Gods (set in India), The Dervish House (Turkey) and Brasyl (… go on, guess). This time he’s channelling Neal Stephenson in a tale of new ways of living in a post-climate change world — in this case set mostly in Iceland, Kalaallit Nunaat (aka Greenland) and a fictional South Pacific island. There are elements of fantasy (if you read it that way), but the primary focus is on extended family structures and gender politics, and how they can combine. It’s an involving and emotional read, and spectacularly well-written — in particular, the storm sequences.
Admin2 is rereading Dominion by CJ Sansom. One-word titles rule.

Critter of the Day: Common Blue Damselfly

Admin2, who is currently reading Fireside Gothic, three spooky novellas by Andrew Taylor while Admin1 is reading The Brutal Tide by Kate Rhodes, was trying to photograph a small skipper butterfly but caught this unexpected Enallagma cyathigerum instead. Its wings are so diaphanous that they didn’t show up on any of our photos but you can sort of see them in its shadow.
Today’s weather featured a substantial thundershower but not much rain was recorded, probably because the pigeons have been crapping in the rain gauge again. [Update, 30 June: And indeed they had — now cleaned.]

Elders and Critters

Admin2 photographed these elderflowers on her travels and only when she looked closely did she spot this little beast. Apparently it’s a varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), eating pollen while looking for a mate. Good luck with finding a carpet in a car park.
Admin1 is rereading The Eight by Katherine Neville. Admin2 is reading It Ends at Midnight by Harriet Tyce.

Baby Blue

A juvenile blue tit in the cherry tree.
Admin1 is reading Dark Angel by John Sandford. Admin2 is reading The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru, which starts off like Amitrav Ghosh and ends up like Evelyn Waugh. We had chicken and broccoli followed by 3 kinds of ice creams for our family dinner and scored a dismal 8 on the GSQ. The family took our Love (old Ikea chair) with them when they left.

Swarmer Weather

Thank you Ceri for taking this photo of bees on the move in the next door garden. It was an amazing sight, a big surprise and gave everybody a buzz on a lovely sunny day (12.4 kWh).
We had spag bol and a very solid rice pudding for our family dinner (sans Dave, who was camping) and scored a very solid 11 on the GSQ (with input from absent Dave by email).