Oíche Shamhna shona daoibh.

I discovered a good, reasonably-local independent bookshop: Riverside Bookshop was hiding in plain sight on Tooley Street opposite London Bridge station. It really is hidden by some scaffolding at the moment, but even at the best of times the shops along there are obscured by the old warehouse frontage, and I hadn’t noticed it in all the years I’ve been cycling along that road paying more attention to buses, taxis, white vans, and potholes. I think I’ll be getting books from there in future.

I gave in and bought a new TV. The old one’s backlight died in early summer, and as we were thinking about getting a projector instead and as there’s more to do outside at that time of year we didn’t get around to doing anything about it. But it’s colder and darker now, and projectors turn out to be potentially noisy, very expensive, and debilitatingly confusing to buy. I had someone quote for repairing the backlight, but it would have come to most of the cost of a new TV, so I just gave in and bought the cheapest TV of the same size for £255 from John Lewis (this Toshiba one, also available at Amazon for reasons that will shortly become apparent).

The thing that most put me off a new TV was the awful ad-ridden user interface of most modern TVs. As it happens, I’m pleasantly suprised with the new one. It’s not great, but it’s far from the worst. It’s a “Fire TV” so it runs Amazon’s slightly hobbled fork of Android, but it has enough processing capacity to do so very smoothly. It does insist on showing ads for shows I don’t want to watch, and I had to turn off a lot of annoyances and tracking, and it’s not possible to get rid of Amazon’s launcher in a way that sticks, as far as I can tell, but it is possible to enable developer options and sideload applications over ADB so I don’t have to spend too long living in Amazon’s front end.

I installed the SmartTube client for YouTube, which makes the experience much nicer than the official application. The set also runs the Jellyfin client very well, which lets me stream anything off my home server.

The TV is 4K resolution, which I only realised when I saw it on the box. That’s twice the resolution of the old one, but I can’t tell the difference versus 1080p from far away or from close up. Maybe if I were using it as a computer monitor I might notice.

Inevitably, I had to adjust all the awful default showroom mode settings like the creepy motion smoothing, edge sharpening, overly saturated colours, etc., but now it’s fine.

“Toshiba” 東芝 is literally “east grass” but it doesn’t really mean that. It’s a kanji abbreviation formed from the names of two companies that merged in 1939.

The enormous hornbeam tree that shaded our garden is no more. It was growing in the garden of the next house but one, imposing an endless night on both their garden and that of our immediate neighbours. It also reached as far as our boundary, casting our garden into shade for most of the afternoon and covering it with seeds and leaves in the autumn.

The tree was absurdly large for the setting, and needed cutting back. It was close enough to the houses that it would soon have started to threaten their foundations, so I’m not surprised they chose to cut it down entirely.

I’m sorry for the tree, but on balance I’m glad it’s gone.

Neneh Cherry would be sad.

We went on a mushroom foraging course on Saturday. I’d never have been confident enough to do it on my own, even with books. It made all the difference having someone else show how to find easily identifiable species that are good to eat.

We brought home a variety: snowy waxcaps, deceivers and amethyst deceivers, millers, meadow puffballs, and blackening russula. I fried them with garlic for breakfast on Sunday. The flavour made me understand why people forage rather than make do with bland supermarket mushrooms.

Also, we didn’t sicken or die, which is the most important thing.

I bought Eurostar tickets and booked a hotel for FOSDEM in February. I haven’t been for a while. In fact, this will be exactly ten years since my last time. I’ve made things relaxing by booking three nights in Brussels so I don’t have to get up early on Saturday or rush away immediately on Sunday evening.

We went to Musica Antica’s final concert of the year on Saturday evening. It was, as ever, excellent, although the extended theorbo solo set just before the interval was a challenge too far for most of the audience. Even as someone who enjoys the theorbo, I have to say that less would in this instance have been more.

The clocks went back. I hate it. I’d rather have daylight in the afternoon than waste it on mornings.