h-notes ∈ January 2021

This note covers January 2021. A twelfth of the year, gone!


A routine gentle wiggle of a cotton bud in my ear in early Jan dislodged what I assumed was a large bit of earwax. So far, so bodily secretion-y. However, on closer inspection it turned out to be a chunk of foam from the eartips of my in-ear headphones. “This is … gross”, I thought.

But it gets worse.

I checked my headphones thinking, “I’ll need to replace the tips”, but, the tips are … well … while not fresh exactly, definitely in one piece. This piece of foam is old. I can’t tell how old because I can’t remember when I last replaced the tips. I last bought tips in February 2019 and I know I’ve changed them a few times since then, but I can’t remember how many times, or how often. It’s clear that this piece of foam had been in my earhole for months.

I spent the rest of January in a constant state of worry: “is my ear itchy… or is there more foam lodged in there”; “is everyone super quiet on this zoom call… or is there more foam lodged in there”; “can I hear the TV properly… or is there more foam lodged in there”. So that’s fun.

Probably gonna get some bone-conductor earphones to avoid this disgusting thing from ever happening again.

A smell

For about a week our bathroom had a smell. As if someone did a big poo and it really needed a double flush, but they’d left it after one. After a day we brought it up with each other, “uh, did you do a massive poo?” and realised, no, there’s just a smell. I stuck my face right into all our plumbing and confirmed with my nose that it wasn’t the pipes1.

It’s hard to google for a smell, but we did our best. With help from the internet we came to the conclusion that something probably died in the floor or walls and we’d just have to live with it for a week to ten days until it went away.

It eventually did dissipate (or we just got used to it) but it’s hardly a satisfying resolution.

Excess water

Roughly a week later I was in our kitchen, which is underneath our bathroom2, and noticed water running down the wall. This clearly wasn’t a brand new thing either as it had warped an mdf shelf. My mind immediately went to the most grotesque option available to it and assumed it was the liquid putrescence of whatever had died in our bathroom running down our walls. It didn’t reek though, so instead we blamed our neighbours who we could hear bathing their baby next door and panic messaged them via our whatsapp group.

A day later I thought to check our pipes and found a cutoff valve in our bathroom sink that was a bit leaky. I turned it off and on again and it stopped leaking as much. We’ve had no drips in our kitchen since so I apologised awkwardly to our neighbours during the nursery run the following morning. Thankfully they’re nice.

The life and times of Carrotstick

It actually snowed in London enough for snowballs and snowfolk. R had seen snow before, but she was less than a year old so she couldn’t actually remember it. But she’s au fait with snow because we watch Frozen, or other Frozen related media, several times a month, so when she saw it coming down, she knew exactly what it was and what she wanted to do.

Did we want to make a snowman?

Yes, we wanted to make a snowman.

Her and a friend made a snowman on the pavement in front of our house and named him “carrotstick” on account of his carrot nose and stick arms. We then had to check on him every morning as he melted away, often first thing before breakfast.

It may be a cliché, but having a child and seeing them experience things for the first time is a real eye-opener; it reminds me of how wonderful things can be if I just stop to be amazed by them.


I watched series 2 of the Mandalorian towards then end of Jan. It’s fun, but not as good as the first. The 1st series was such a palate cleanser after the sequel trilogy. Small stories in a universe with enough nods to all that has gone before, and I just wanted more of that. This series really ups the “it’s in that universe you like” stakes with major characters making appearances. As I said to T after watching the last episode: “it got worse the more star-warsy it became”.

I’ll almost certainly watch more if they make it, although I think it’ll be more of what I didn’t like and less of what I did. In particular I liked the “RPG fetch-quest” nature of the storytelling, and could have happily watched several more episodes of Mando romping around a familiar universe fetching some macguffin or other while seeming to drive an arc forward, but not really. Maybe not everything needs to have multi-season arcs of terrible importance. Thoughts like this are probably why I’m not a TV executive though.

The groaning trencher there ye fill

We bought a massive haggis for burns night. Haggis, neeps, tatties & whisky sauce on Burns. Same on Tuesday. And a haggis toastie for lunch on Wednesday. Then I turned the rest into a bolognese3 on Friday. Which we also ate on Sunday. There’s still a portion in the fridge. There’s even a vegetarian haggis in the freezer that we didn’t even attempt to cook.

What if haggis, but too much?

I don’t know what we were thinking.

On cutting sausages

I made a quick sausage lasagne for the first time using cauldron vegetarian sausages. It turned out well enough, but the difference between meat and plant based sausages is in how they deform under heat. The meat ones crumble away and you get an even ragu, the plant ones remain the size you cut them up into, which makes for a very chunky ragu and uneven layers in the lasagne. Really just sharing this as an aide-memoire for next time that, unlike my usual rustic style in the kitchen, the vegetarian sausages need to be more carefully cut into much smaller chunks.


Managed to run 5 times this month! Slightly more than once a week, but then it did snow so I didn’t go running one weekend. I’d like to do more, but we’ll get there.

My body seems to have settled into the low-heart-rate method. I worry that all I’m doing is training myself that running is slow now. I expect I need to do more runs and be generally more active for this plan to have any impact on my fitness level the way I hope. My average daily step count of ~2k probably isn’t helping.


I read two books:

and I started a 3rd one:

Reading is back! I like reading. But I’m doing it all on my phone with the kindle app and this isn’t going to make a dent in the pile of unread dead-tree editions on my bedside table.