I’ve been spending a lot of time attending to my plants this week, which has involved pulling out a lot of weeds. I noticed one weed in a pot a few days before, which was unusually big and seemed to appear virtually overnight. You know that feeling when you pull a weed and wiggle it a bit and the whole root comes out with it? Well that wasn’t happening here. I looked down the stem and could see there was a pretty big rhizome or something in the soil, so I decided to come back to that one later and dig it out properly…

So I came back to it, and…. it’s an oak tree? This was just in a little 10cm square pot, and I definitely did not put the acorn there. I guess a squirrel must have planted it. I wish I could show the little squirrel what it did. Yes, you made this! Anyway, it’s now in another pot where I hope it will be happier.

In other news I had a recruiter email me with a job that sounded promising, but it turns out it’s with a company I interviewed with about two years ago… who never got back to me after the interview! Well, actually a phone interview and an on-site interview. I can understand not responding to failed applications, but not contacting interviewees is just bad.

That had me a bit stumped – what’s the etiquette here? I’ve mailed him back and said so, and then said that normally I’d be happy to re-interview with a potential employer after two years, but in this case I’m not sure it’s a good use of my time. If he wants to convince me it is, then he can try but it’s probably not happening. I did a bit of LinkedIn sleuthing and it seems that they have high turnover. I met three people there, and two of them have since left after being there less than two years. Good: The person responsible for behaving unprofessionally might have left. Bad: The company behaved unprofessionally and has high turnover. Ehh.


Last week the government announced it is going to ban the sale of peat compost from 2024. Which is good because peat is a precious resource and the vast majority of compost does not need to contain peat. But it’s bad if you grow plants that have evolved to grow in peat bogs, like me. I tried a peat substitute called Thrive a few years ago for germinating seeds and it was rubbish. The seeds germinated fine, then grew for a little while, then just stopped and eventually died. Meanwhile the ones in peat kept going.

So I’m trying again!

These are some Venus Flytrap seedlings which were germinated in peat. I think they’re about a year old but I’m not exactly organised when it comes to this stuff.

The ones on the left are in coir, which is some kind of coconut by-product and supposedly* an eco friendly peat substitute, and the ones on the right are in sphagnum, which is/can be a beautiful moss (not so much here, but hopefully after the sun gets on it).

My prediction is that the ones in sphagnum will do fine, and the ones in coir won’t.

Here are a few other planties. I’m pleased with the plant in the first photo, which is a Sarracenia Luecophylla. It’s been very slow growing and doesn’t produce many pitchers, but it’s 70cm tall this year. I have a few divisions of it now but this is the biggest. I liked how the colours on the second photo came out.


*I am sceptical that coir’s real life production is either eco-friendly or ethical, but that’s for another time.

Lockdown life

The lockdown has been pretty great for me if I’m honest because it finally gave me the time to sort out my plants. I am actually getting towards the end of my plant todo list, which is amazing, really. Were it not for the lockdown, I’d be spending my weekend afternoons wandering around parks and sitting in coffee shops and not doing anything at home. It’s been a nice change of pace.

I haven’t sacrificed my running at all though. When I was in good shape last year, I’d do Parkrun on a Saturday and intervals on a Wednesday. I’d be running every other day too, but those two days would be speed work. Without having done any speed work for months and months, I’ve been feeling slow lately. So last week I started back with interval Wednesdays. Intervals are a fun way to experience the joy of starting running all over again, in as much as by the end of the 5th interval you just try to avoid collapsing on the ground while thinking “oh my god, why am I doing this to myself?” as psople walk past you with a mild expression of concern on their face. No it’s alright, I’m doing this on purpose, you see. It’s hard to pace intervals.

This week I also added some 1km intervals onto the end of my Saturday long run. When Parkrun starts up again I want to be in PB shape. We’ll see. I have some pretty sensitive shin splints this evening though but they usually settle down as quickly as they appear, so hopefully they will do that again this time.

I was supposed to be doing a half marathon next Sunday, which obviously isn’t happening now, but I’m planning to run the distance just because. I won’t do it fast because for me the recovery from a race pace half is significant (unlike a 10k), but I just want to say I did it.

I’ve also been trying to get back into some strength work for running which at the moment just involves a few sets of squats. I think squats are an efficient way to hit your legs and hips and abs at once and hopefully even out any imbalances. Last week I fit them in before starting work (thanks to working from home and not having to commute). That’s another way the lockdown is a positive thing for me.

Actually I’m finding the lockdown quite relaxing. I see a lot of attention now in the media towards paying attention to one’s mental health in these stressful times, but for me at least, it’s been quite nice.

Plants 🌱

Good Friday is a holiday here in the UK and the weather has been uncharacteristically lovely, so I spent some time with the plants and setting them up a home for the summer.


Storm Ciara turned out to be surprisingly bad. My weather app described it as ‘dangerously high winds, so it was a weird day of staying inside all day until late afternoon when I went out for a short walk just to say I had. It occurred to me that the last time I didn’t go outside for a whole day was probably last January when I had flu. I really would have liked a run but I had visions of being hit by a flying tree.

I did some of what I wanted to with my plants. I didn’t do anything with them this time last year because I wasn’t really (mentally) healthy enough to think about ‘investing’ in them. Somehow I managed to keep them alive, but plants are a long term thing. You repot them now and in six months they look better. You sow seeds or take cuttings now and maybe in 3 months you see the faintest hint of growth. I wasn’t really doing long term back then. So some of them are long overdue a bit of care and attention. I don’t like doing much with them over the summer because it can shock them and interrupt their growth, so the best time is right now, just as they’re starting to wake up.

Usually they wouldn’t wake up until a bit later in the year but apparently this year must be mild, because a few of them are throwing up flower stalks. A couple of years ago they didn’t really wake up until June(!).

I still have a lot more to do, but I’ve split a few and potted them up, and de-weeded a few other pots.

This one has been so neglected that it’s deformed the pot. I think that it’s been trying to grow downwards because of lack of space…

A few trays I brought inside so they wouldn’t blow away. As you can see, I have the gift/curse that I can grow plants very easily, which (un?)fortunately means have millions of them. I was intending to start selling them but it’s too much hassle. Baby flytraps are so cute.

IMG_20200209_103420_1 - Copy

I forgot to take a ‘before’ pic of this one but here’s one from last summer, then after splitting it into two today. The smaller of the splits is in the original pot. This was a therapy plant my dad bought for me (in a very unusual display of generosity!) shortly after I had a serious trauma about 18 months ago.



I did Parkrun today at max effort and my hip feels… fine?

So in total today I’ve done about 9k (warmup + parkrun + run home) at a fast pace, which is both further and faster than I’ve run for a long time, and everything feels fine.

I’m hesitant to say everything really is fine, because I’ve had some pain from it this week, but I think it was actually a different pain which might be a red herring (I did a lot of planks one evening, and had some sharper pain the next day; I may have just overdone the planks).

Usually I’d run about 15k on Saturday and then again on Sunday, and I won’t really feel I’m recovered until I’m doing that again. Unfortunately, Storm Ciara looks set to disrupt any Sunday running, but maybe the weather forecasters are being hyperbolic and I won’t really be cowering in my house all day. I can hear the wind now though…

But in some ways it will be good if I do just stay home all day tomorrow because I have about a million plants that need repotting before the growing season starts (which it seems to be doing thanks to some mild weather).