A sporadically updated note about stuff currently exercising my mind.
Last updated: October 2023

A disrupted year

My writing has been severely disrupted this year by the long-term illness, then death in August, of my mother-in-law, Pat—a lovely lady, whom I’ll miss.

Darwin book

I’m around 87,000 words into the first draft of my second book, Through Darwin’s Eyes. It’s about how Charles Darwin looked at the world, and about how he enabled us to look at the world in a new and better way.

Online concerns

  • I’m making a concerted effort to spend less time providing ‘content’ for our social media overlords.
  • My strategy is turn my website and newsletter into my primary platforms for ‘putting stuff out there’.
    • I’m making an effort to publish regular(ish) blog posts and reviews.
    • My disrupted year means my Rich Text newsletters have ground to a halt. But I’m working on ways to simplify/streamline their production, and plan to begin sending them out again soon. (You should definitely subscribe.)
    • Please check out this explanation of why I’d like you to sign up to my newsletter (or RSS feed). (One sentence summary: if you only follow me on Facebook or other social media, you’re probably not seeing most of the stuff I put out.)
  • I’ve been concerned about the direction Twitter has been taking for the last few years—even before the narcissist took over and systematically enshittified everything. So I have decided to severely limit my interactions on that platform, using it mainly to inform my lovely followers of new/topical content on my various websites.
    • My preferred social media platform is now Mastodon, where I am
    • I’m also dabbling with Threads (as @freshgruts). I have severe misgivings about investing any more of my attention on a platform owned by Facebook, but it’s pleasant enough at the moment—especially as some of my old Twitter friends now hang out there.


  • Having finally obtained all 30 volumes of the magnificent Correspondence of Charles Darwin, and inspired by my visit to Cambridge last year where I got to see some of the correspondence, and meet a couple of people who worked on the project, I decided it was about time I committed to reading the entire collection. Therefore, on 1st January 2023, I embarked on my ‘Daily Darwin’ challenge, in which I undertook to try to read at least 10 pages of the correspondence every day that I’m at home (which is pretty much every day). Thus far, while at home, I haven’t missed a single day, and I am loving every minute of it.
  • Here are the books I’ve read so far in 2023.
  • My newsletters provide links to some of the stuff I’ve been reading online recently. (Did I mention you should subscribe?)


  • In 2021, I learnt about the Zettelkasten note-making system, and quickly became besotted with the wonderful Obsidian app, which helps me make far more useful notes. I continue to update my Obsidian ‘vault’ on a daily basis, and can’t imagine working without such a system.
  • If you’re at all interested, here are some sideline pieces I wrote about note-making, arranged in chronological order.
  • As well as making notes to help with my Darwin book, I’m also making notes about a whole bunch of topics that also happen to interest me. I find these notes are beginning to interact in interesting ways.
  • Other topics I find I’ve been making notes about include thoughts on factual writing, and vestiges of things that have so far escaped the entropy—a recurring theme in my first book, On the Moor: science, history and nature on a country walk.

Tempted by analogue

Although I’m committed to my computer-assisted note-making and writing, I find myself increasingly intrigued by the idea of going a bit more analogue. Not as a replacement for my computers, but as a complement to them. In particular, I like the idea of using analogue notebooks as a means of slowing down, and thinking more about what I’m working on. As a paper notebook addict, I have literally scores of them stored away in boxes simply crying out to be sullied with my horrendous scrawl. Soon, maybe!