That was the week that was, erm, interesting..

Well, actually the last two weeks have been, erm, interesting. In addition to today’s flower photos I thought I’d give a taste of what I have been up to. This includes some work stuff. I know I do not normally blog about work but there are some weeks where it affects every part of my life. That said, my contribution to Guest in Jest today was work related.

Work stuff: The big event of my year happened on Thursday 29th March when I took delivery of some very expensive new equipment for my lab. The process of purchasing this has been ongoing since last summer – before most of you even knew me. It has been frankly hellish – as anyone who has ever had to deal with UK public sector procurement could attest I’m sure. There is a strict cut-off date for delivery of purchases at the end of the financial year. Thanks to procurement dragging the process out I took delivery FOUR HOURS before this cut-off and this was only made possible by the monumental efforts of the suppliers involved after the tender was awarded. I was so stressed by that morning that I was unable to keep food down. Anyway- here are my new million-pound toys:

Also one of the existing instruments packed up and I had to call in an engineer. Coincidentally he was on site the same days as the people installing the new kit. It was bedlam in the lab so I hid in the office 😊

In addition to this, my only two free-ish days were taken up with meetings.

The consequences of this were that I did not get to the gym for two weeks. If you are accustomed to working out most days this is torture. Seriously. Coupled with the stress this was challenging.

The Easter weekend was thankfully peaceful. I got some gardening done and my latest artistic project has sprung from the collaboration with my blogging friends. I am so inspired to draw at the moment. We also went to visit the Mollster. She is moulting and you can see the state of Susan’s black gloves afterwards!




Tuesday the 3rd we went to our home town for the wedding of two friends. I coped OK but I was not at my best I must admit, and was even quieter than usual. Some of the people there I had not seen for 30 years and it made me very reflective on change, especially how much I have changed and yet at the same time how some things still hold me back a little. Such reflection is not good for me.

I am also still troubled my my lack of activity with regards travel plans. Even the post I drafted on my travel anxiety has languished in my drafts folder for over a month now as I even have anxieties about posting it!

The week has improved. The lab looks better for a start. My artwork is going well. Though since putting the image of the start of a new piece on Instagram I have had a lot of new followers:


These are almost exclusively persons of the ‘life coach’ and ‘empowerment’ variety, or travel bloggers who seem to be largely young ladies who post pictures of themselves on exotic beaches or doing yoga. Often whilst not wearing much. Whilst I certainly have no objection to young ladies in bikinis (as if) I do wonder how they found me. Maybe I should message and ask? I am not naive enough to imagine it was the selfie of me in my new Indigo Acres t-shirt that attracted them. Unless it was the t-shirt itself??? You might be on to a money spinner here Roda.

Thinking about it, my list of Instagram accounts I follow is incredibly eclectic. It includes lots of artists, gardeners, and people with puppies (no surprises there). But also fashion, especially vintage, gothic and steampunk clothing and even jewellery designers. There are yoga and meditation bloggers (hello Martina). There are inspirational bloggers, authors, psychologists. Travel bloggers. There are special-effects makeup artists and studios. Musicians, poets etc. I guess the thing they all have in common is creativity and inspiration.

My other half would think at least half of this is ‘weird’ stuff. I sometimes wonder if Susan expects me to follow the 50+ Northern male stereotype of being an ultraconservative Daily Mail reading Brexiteer. Like that would ever happen!

Anyway. Enough of this. Here are some pretty pictures from the Easter weekend:

Iris unguicularis ‘Pelopponese Snow’
Saxifraga oppositifolia
Tulipa stapfii
Corydalis ‘Craigton Red’
Corydalis malkensis
Gladiolus pritzellii – this has a gorgeous scent!
Fritillaria armena
Tulipa kurdica
Fritillaria stenanthera
Fritillaria raddeana
Giessorhiza heterostyla
Muscari anatolicum
Hesperantha pauciflora
Corydalis ‘Craigton Red’ with Corydalis malkensis and Ficaria verna ‘Brazen Hussy’


    1. Thank you Tom😊
      The left hand one is an LCMSMS system for accurately measuring trace levels of contaminants in environmental samples. It is a more sensitive replacement for the instrument I used for doing work on neonicotinoid pesticdes. The trouble with LCMSMS is that you need to know what compounds to measure first. This is where the other instrument comes in. This is an LC/GC QTOF system which can identify unknown compounds in a sample. For example, if someone suspected a contaminant had reached a watercourse, perhaps due to fish dying, but did not know what then we could run samples through the right hand instrument to identify the contaminant. Then we could measure accurately how much of it had reached various parts of the food chain in that habitat, using the other instrument.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. I strongly suspect that, despite the denials, a primary reason for strong conservative support for Brexit is also a lot to do with ditching EU environmental regulation. But I risk straying into expressing opinions that my (government backed) employers would find uncomfortable…

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow. Are all those flowers from your garden? Your drawings are utterly incredible, so not surprised you are attracting diverse audiences. It is interesting what you say about the typical Northern man. I would hope he is evolving into someone more rounded, sensitive, reflective, open… Wait! You are evolution in action!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Ali,
      Yes, they are all in the garden somewhere but differ in the amount of protection they get. The Iris and Corydalis are very good garden plants and get no special treatment. The tulips and fritillaria are in a raised bed that gets covered by a cold frame to keep them warm and dry in summer whilst dormant. The Gladiolus, Geissorhiza and Hesperantha are from South Africa and live in the greenhouse which I try to keep just above freezing.
      Delighted to hear you like the drawing too😊. Thank you.
      Evolution in action? Perhaps!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I love the follower draft !
    Lovely picts 🌸
    There is nothing good in being stressed. Poor Darren! Things will get better don’t worry 😏

    Liked by 2 people

            1. I do get that. Statistically driving is more dangerous than flying but these anxieties are never logical. I put up with pressures at work that have made my predecessors resign but I feel far more panicky about driving even a short distance than I do about work stuff.

              Liked by 3 people

  3. Pictures are great as usual but this time I enjoyed more the story behind them.super well written ,it was like I spent Easter breack with you and Susan and Molly……about moulting then…..welcome to my world:some dog shed and change their coats twice a year….Kurt does it twice a month😩

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The fact that you shared work experiences, wedding discomfort and travel angst with us tell me that you are feeling comfortable here. That’s a very good thing because there are people here who adore you. The work madness has lessened and the wedding is over; now all that’s left is to figure out your travel plans. Is it being in a car in general that makes you anxious or just when you are driving yourself? Maybe there’s a place you can go where there is public transport or a plethora of taxis or Ubers. Just a thought. Stay strong my friend. Your art and plants must be a great comfort. You know this community is here for you, too. ❤️💕❤️💕❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Correct.😊. The QTOF ( Quadrupole time of flight) has both a GC and an LC attached to it which will enable analysis of both polar and non polar compounds. I have never used one before so i see yet another steep learning curve ahead😊

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I am assured that calibration is now easy and automated. Ummm.
          They are apparently much more stable than they were even a year or two ago – calibration can be weekly instead of daily. Still a lot more frequent than the triple quad which will only need a mass calibration annually!

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Ha😄. Things have definitely improved. I remember doing ammonium in water analysis by steam distillation and having to stop every time the wind changed to blow from the direction of the farm next door😄

              Liked by 2 people

  5. Hello Darren!
    These are some beautiful photos 🙂
    I know what you mean about missing exercise days. If I skip a day when I am supposed to exercise, I feel incredibly guilty about it, even if it is for a legit reason (like work haha 🙂 )

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The flowers are gorgeous! I love the detail that you have captured. Wonderful new lab equipment, I can imagine you were stressed with it all falling into place just hours before the deadline, but you did it! You already know that I am a fan of your amazing art. I’d love to see the colors through your eyes, you are so good at it. I would really like to read the piece about travel anxiety. I have struggles with it, too. You have accomplished so much, you are brilliant my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Seeing your flower pictures always makes me feel like walking in a beautiful garden, Darren – thanks so much for that! And I can relate to some reflections not being so good though I´m lately prone to do them myself. Getting busy helps a bit.
    Your drawing is stunning!! Can´t wait to see it when it´s finished! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a lovely comment, thank you❤️.
      Yes, self reflection can be a curse sometimes. Whilst I do think insight is helpful it can be also a burden.
      The drawing is going well still, thank you, and I am glad you like it. I have something cooking with moraea pictures that is quite exciting too so watch this space. 💕

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Beautiful photos and flowers as always! Do not worry too much about the driving as you have been practicing a few times already since last october and every time it went well. You even drove once when it was pouring rain! Leave the worry for when you’ll come in Montreal and have to drive on the right side of the road while sitting on the left side of the car! Ok, I promise when you’ll visit Linda and me I will drive you around. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand your need to have the freedom to do and go wherever you want. Follow your instinct and trust yourself. You’ll know exactly what you have to do in order to over come this phobia. But don’t ever forget all the progress you have already made! So happy for you my friend. 🌺


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