Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Sunlight and geekiness

If not quite the uninterrupted sun that, until the early hours of the morning, the BBC had been consistently forecasting for several days, but nonetheless, Monday turned out to be the best bank holiday in ... well, for quite some time.

And one nurses a hope that the weather itself realises just how much we need a proper, sustained period of good weather.

Windows were pushed open even before people had seriously decanted themselves from slumber; wood creaking and spraying around the accumulated dust and grime of some eight months of being closed against the gloom and damp and cold.

Sunday had seen a bout of serious tidying in the garden, with bedding plants packed in around the lemon tree, whose surrounding soil, naked against the forgotten heat, was drying out too quickly.

Ever-reliable violas, purple with a yellow face; sweet William, yet to flower, and belis, in delicate strawberry and cream garb.

The tidying produced a number of small snails, all instantly crushed and disposed of. The campaign starts early this year and with some knowledge to begin this struggle.

Dying tulip.
Frankly, much of the rest of the weekend has been spent in sitting outside, writing. Which is partly what a garden should be for.

And yesterday, The Other Half cooked springbok steaks and boervors over a fire, to be served simply with a bread roll and good mustard.

The first braai of the year was consumed with relish. Otto rushed back through the gate the moment it was ready: she may have a smaller appetite than the other cats, but her ears are perfectly attuned to the sound of food being served and what she lacks in appetite, she more than makes up for in the gourmand stakes.

All three of the cats relished a day when they could potter around, in and out of the flat as they pleased, for the best part of eight hours.

If you get your hands on any springbok, then like deer, it’s very lean and needs handling with a little care.

The Other Half rubbed olive oil into these and left them between plates, at room temperature, for some time before cooking.

And then, as always, you don’t cook over actual flames, thus reducing the chances of the Great British Uncooked Sausage Syndrome.

It’s actually difficult to get your head around just how quickly the weather has changed.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the nights were still dipping close to or below freezing, and bed was a place to snuggle down into.

Now, as if somehow we’ve had the whole of a conventional spring wedged into that intervening two or three weeks, the temperatures are well up and, at night, it’s almost a question of throwing back the covers to keep from getting over hot.

Has there really ever been a winter-spring like it?

And almost as suddenly, everything is in – or coming into – flower and leaf.

One week out of the country and the silver birches in the carpark were suddenly green – and even the planes, always late to turn green, are now close to it.

And even the dying flowers have their own beauty – something that I tried to capture in a brief photographic safari around the garden.

In such conditions, surely spring cleaning is inevitable?

I did some – well, sort of: assuming you can call attempting to tidy my iPod and iTunes ‘tidying’ and don't expect something more akin to Mole's efforts in Wind in the Willows.

It was mostly a question of trying to impose some order onto the rather grotty new version, which seems determined to create chaos, particularly in my large (and growing) classical music section.

This, geeky as it sounds, also brought about my ranting moment of the weekend, as I tried to change details and import cover art, which the present system seems remarkably reluctant to do all by itself.

And when you’re scrolling through an iPod, having cover art is a nice, helpful way of identifying what you have and what you want.

And, oh goodness – more of it this evening.

Okay, it's not just the software developers' problem – it is quite astonishing just how many albums appear to have a choice of four or more lots of data when you're importing them.

Then, of course, there is no consistency in the basic labels are arranged: for instance, some stuff comes in as R Strauss, while others come in as Strauss (R). But this rather screws with any hopes of an ordered list.

The solution, then, is to change the data, but the new version of iTines seems intent on making it more difficult to find and then fully highlight the required album. And this is a long-term project to digitise and organise the whole of a rather large collection.

Technology – wonderful when it works, and a complete pain in the proverbial when you find yourself struggling with it!

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