All posts by Armin Grewe

Hi, it's just me.

Pair of Blue Tits from my window

Over the last few weeks I’ve been watching a pair of Blue Tits in the trees opposite my windows. I think they’re nesting somewhere under the roof of my block of flats, although I can’t see that from my window as they are entering from the side. I can see them very well in the tree opposite my window though and with the warmer weather this weekend I used the opportunity to take a few pictures. They are only about 4 metres away, so I was able to take some nice close up shots, especially when they sat on one specific branch:

I hope you’re enjoying the pictures as I’m enjoying watching the Blue Tits hopping around in the trees and flying over to where I think their nest is. Should I get a chance I’ll try to take some video of them over the coming weeks.

Almond Rye Shortbread

Decided to do a bit of baking today. Made some breads (Almonds & Laphroaig, Walnut) and some partially improvised shortbread. The recipe for Almond Rye Shortbread I noticed on the back of a Doves Farm Rye Flour bag (but it’s also available online). As you might notice from the picture I didn’t follow it strictly (partly out of necessity, as I didn’t have any ground almonds, only chopped almonds). Anyway, this is how my end result looks:

Picture of three pieces of Almond Rye Shortbread
Almond Rye Shortbread

Here are the ingredients I used:

  • 125g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 125g Doves Farm Organic Wholemeal Rye Flour
  • 125g chopped almonds (the original recipe is for ground almonds)

And this is how I made it:

  • Preheat oven to 150°C (fan assisted)
  • MIx butter and sugar in a bowl until creamy
  • Mix in flour and chopped almonds
  • Gather it all together into a firm ball of dough
  • Roll dough into a cylinder shape and chill (I actually put mine into the freezer for 30-45 minutes or so)
  • Slice into round biscuit shapes
  • Place on baking rack lined with non-stick baking paper
  • Bake at 150°C (fan assisted) for about 40 minutes

Turned out very nice, taste very nice. The chopped almonds make them quite crunchy. I’ll also make them with ground almonds once I’ve been shopping and bought some ground almonds. I expect they will be a bit smoother then. Either way, I think both ways will be great, I’m happy I tried out the recipe and am sure I will make them again.

May colours at Westonbirt Arboretum

My first real day out for over a year since the pandemic started, my last big day out before was a trip to Oxford on the day I picked up my new car (which stiil has less than 2,000 miles on the clock) at the end of January 2020. Spurred on by memories of May 2020 where we had some beautiful sunny weather (but couldn’t get out much under lockdown) I had decided to take a week off in May 2021 for some first tentative steps to get out a bit further than the local walks and weekly trip to the supermarket. Of course the weather didn’t really cooperate, although I probably picked the best day for the only real trip I managed to get in:

After not having been for probably more than a decade I decided to visit Westonbirt Arboretum, in the hope of some nice spring colours. A few days before I pre-booked my ticket online, for the time being admission is only with pre-booked tickets so that they can control visitor numbers and make sure it doesn’t get overcrowded, allowing social distancing to keep everyone safe. After an uneventful drive I arrived at 11:00 to some mostly cloudy weather with occasional showers. Luckily the clouds broke up early afternoon, giving me some beautiful sunny intervals to enjoy the colours. My hopes for some beautiful May colours were certainly fulfilled, lots of plants in bloom and a lot of fresh greens (and reds). I took a lot of pictures, here are 10 of my favourites:

I spent the whole day until closing time at 17:00 walking around, discovering new views, new trees, new colours, new plants, revisiting places for different light after the sun came out and more. It wasn’t busy most of the time, I think through a combination of the pre-booked tickets and the not very promising weather forecast (with the weather turning out much better than forecasted luckily). Some features (e.g. small parts of the treetop walk) were closed to ensure social distancing, but the vast majority was open. My enjoyment of the arboretum wasn’t diminished at all. The staff was friendly and helpful when I needed them. All in all a great day out, I felt safe pretty much throughout and enjoyed the May colours I had come for.

On my return journey I decided to a small bonus and made a detour to an old haunt of mine, a place I had visited many times when I first arrived in the UK, Avebury. I didn’t stay long, but had a nice time revisiting familiar views.

I arrived back home in the evening very tired, but also very satisfied after a great day out.

Big Stones at Avebury Stone Circle

On my first big day out for over a year due to the pandemic I went to Westonbirt Arboretum (pictures from that in a separate post) on a May day with changeable weather. On my return journey I decided to make a detour via Avebury Stone Circle, a place I had great memories of from my early years in the UK 25 years ago. I hadn’t visited since moving to West Berkshire over 10 years ago. I had the place pretty much for myself (well, apart from the sheep and lambs) and took a few pictures of some of the standing stones during a few short sunny intervals. I used my wide angle lens and went close up, hopefully showing the massive size of these stones.

I didn’t stay long as I was tired after a long day walking around Westonbirt Arboretum, also some heavier clouds moved in and it looked like rain was on the way. But I’m sure I’ll be back later this year or next year as we hopefully progress with overcoming the pandemic and the country opens up further. In the meantime I hope you’ll enjoy these pictures.

What I’ve been listening to recently

Having been moved from Google Play Music (now shut down) to YouTube Music by Google a few months ago I’ve been playing around with playlists a bit. It seems I can share them, so here’s one I’m using a lot at the moment:

My “Bad Mood Blaster” playlist, showing the first song on it. Not ideal but that’s what it does. Open it in YouTube to shuffle, view the full list etc

I’ve called it “Bad Mood Blaster”, partially because it came to my mind first and after that I couldn’t think of anything better, partially because that’s what it helps me with, picking me up and cheering me up both when I need it and just generally. I’ve described it as this:

Loud songs to blast any bad mood away. Guitar, bass and drum focused. Max 2 songs per artist. From the 1980s to the 2020s

That’s about it. It will continue to grow and change as I add artists and in some cases possibly switch out songs (as I want to stick to the max 2 songs per artist “rule”). Some well known songs/hits you will probably know, some lesser known songs you might not know.

Obviously includes six songs from the three bands I discovered for me last year, The Mysterines, Dream Wife and The Big Moon. I wonder which bands new to me I will add this year, if any?