Toast before sherry

Toast before sherry | Robert Zarywacz

Most Sundays we enjoy a small glass of sherry before our main meal. I didn’t used to like sherry, but started drinking it as my Mum liked a glass when she was cooking a roast and no one else did. Gradually, I started enjoying it myself. This morning, I spied the decanter through the toast … Read more

Silence and noise

Silence and noise | Robert Zarywacz | robertz @ robzlog

Silence and noise fascinate me. I used to work with a manager who told me that as soon as she arrived home, she turned on the television in the background. Now people have TV, radio or other audio devices throughout their homes, and ear buds or headphones to provide sound wherever they go: on transport, … Read more

20 years ago . . .

1951 postcard of Ilfracombe pier | Robert Zarywacz | robz @

20 years ago today Mrs Z, our cocker Felix and I posted the keys of our house in Windsor through the letterbox and drove 194 miles to our new house in Ilfracombe, North Devon. A big move and, while we knew in our hearts what we were doing, we had no detailed plan. People often … Read more

My three words for 2024: Immeasurable – Kind – Solid

My three words for 2024: Immeasurable – Kind – Solid | Robert Zarywacz

While I don’t make New Year resolutions, I used to follow a practice suggested by Chris Brogan of choosing three words to focus on over a year. Lately, I find a number of issues recurring and have selected three as my focus words for 2024, issues which I believe we will be forced to address … Read more

Bury your head online

Don't bury your head online | Robert Zarywacz

Sometimes this world, or rather what we do in this world, seems too much to stomach: politicians, governments, institutions, wars, economic worries, technology, greed. Why are we so crazy? I don’t like to bury my head in the sand, but temporary diversions can help. I’m reading a Dorothy L. Sayers novel from the 1930s. Enjoyable, … Read more

A good night’s sleep

A good night's sleep | Devon Duvets | Robert Zarywacz |

Sleep is vital. It settles us. It heals us. It recharges us. I have been very fortunate to have slept through most of the troubles of the past four years. I slept through the pandemic, the cost of living crisis, personal and family health problems (including my own) and all the associated worries. I believe … Read more

What are we counting on?

Leaves | What are we counting on? | Robert Zarywacz

1 January 2024. Another day. What is different? Nothing outside the tiny inward-looking world of humanity. Nature continues to work hard: in the Northern hemisphere many plants have long withdrawn from the surface and are regenerating in readiness for Spring. As far as we know, only humans use numbers, at least as a written language. … Read more

Contract Cleaning | a ghost story at Christmas?

Contract Cleaning | Robert Zarywacz

The idea for this story popped into my head when I was researching and writing my dissertation for my History MA in 2019. I put it on hold and each year have tried to complete it before Christmas until abandoning it as work deadlines took precedence. With similar deadlines this year, I was determined to … Read more

Celebrating risk and failure

Celebrating risk and failure | Robert Zarywacz | robertz @

On 1 January I stepped on and broke my glasses. What an idiot! Why did I put them on the floor? I’ll never know. They are new and very comfortable. I have to replace them. Life is full of risk and failure. Good job too. My memorable failures include my revolutionary recipe for Pickled Onion … Read more

A handful of qualities

A handful of qualities | Robertz @

Traditionally, New Year is a time for adopting new resolutions. I don’t follow this custom as such, but I do assess what I have worked on over the previous 12 months to decide if and how I might modify my approach. This year, five qualities stand out which have become valuable to me and which … Read more

Weekend filth

Weekend filth | robertz @

No, I haven’t been watching the LinkedIn feed or Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’ve been cleaning out our shed gutter, emptying our fifth water butt and cleaning it out: old-fashioned husbandry which everyone used to complete to maintain their homes and gardens. I do find it quite refreshing. The sludge in the gutter and butt … Read more

Well-fed worms

Leaves | @robertz @ robzlog

There are leaves everywhere. Nuisance or resource? This morning we swept them up from paths, steps and all over the garden. The rain makes them slippery underfoot so they have to be removed, but I would remove them anyway. We pile them on our raised beds and vegetable borders where worms and woodlice chomp away … Read more

Come alive

Christmas pudding | Robert Zarywacz | @robertz @ robzlog

All Hallows Eve, the first day of Allhallowtide, turns my mind to those souls no longer on earth. During the long hospital vigil before my Mum’s departure, a clinical psychologist talked with us about the approaching change and how we would create new traditions to replace those we had celebrated happily with loved ones over … Read more

Living in harmony with uninvited neighbours

Caterpillar of the Bright–line Brown-eye or Tomato moth

What a marvellous holiday in the garden. Building another raised bed using planks from an old shed door so we can grow more potatoes – their flavour is sublime. Preparing for another water butt to increase our rainwater harvesting – we have no shortage of naturally occurring fresh water when we can be bothered to … Read more

Point taken

Pin | Robert Zarywacz @

Both my parents were tailors and sewing was a constant activity in our house. Dad conjured jackets and suits out of rolls of cloth and canvas, while Mum’s hand-sewn buttonholes were works of art. But there were pins everywhere. Often sticking in our feet: ouch! One day, some of those typically pointless questions popped into … Read more

Care and control


This morning when I walked down our high street with the Four-Footed Financial Controller, one shopkeeper was sweeping the pavement while another had a mop and bucket and was washing it down. These businesses are 100+ and 60 years old respectively, but still care not only about their customers but our community and place too. … Read more

Bringing earth back to life

Vegetable plot created from paved over ground

When we moved into our current home, large areas of garden were buried under plant-suppressing plastic sheeting, paving or concrete – they were dead. The previous owner said it wouldn’t support a lawn or plants. We immediately ripped up the plastic and pulled up the paving. We sifted the dead soil in the front garden … Read more

Colossal consequences of crab sandwiches

St James Tea Rooms, Ilfracombe | Robert Zarywacz @

A crab sandwich from this tea garden triggered our move to Ilfracombe 20 years ago. The chance offer of a week’s holiday for my aunt and mum had brought me back to North Devon, after I offered to drive them down to Fremington with our spaniel, Felix. I stayed over a day which we spent … Read more

Thawing on Blue Monday

Blue Monday | Robert Zarywacz @robertz @

Freeze! A human response to threats. At one time, I had nightmares where I tried to escape from a threat but was literally glued to the spot – at which point I would wake up startled. I also went through a time of grief when I found it tough to do the simplest things: getting … Read more

50 years of a most unwelcome partnership

Batteries | 50 years of a most unwelcome partnership | @robertz @

In 2022, I am celebrating 50 years of a most unwelcome partnership. It was that long ago that I was struck down by Crohn’s disease: great pain, long school absences – two whole half-terms – hospital stays, physical examinations, blood tests, x-rays, barium meals, a blood transfusion, powerful steroids and, a year later, major surgery. … Read more