Adventures in Freecycling

February 13, 2009

I’m a huge fan of Freecycle. I’m a fan in theory and, having used it in London to de-clutter before the move, I’m more or less a fan in practice although there does seem to be a large overlap between people who use freecycle and people who regard turning up at the agreed time and place to pick up something to be surrendering to the man. But rural Freecycling isn’t quite like London Freecycling. For a start, there’s less of it – Bigtownshire’s freecycle gets about a tenth of the number of messages than Lambeth’s does – and for another start, as Huttonian and Country Strife have noticed over in Berwickshire, Freecycle in rural areas is less a recycling service and more a sort of cargo cult where there’s no request too ambitious (we’ve seen wanted posts for sheds, caravans, games consoles and even cars) nor too specific – a mahogany tv cabinet, for example, or long curtains ‘cottagey design preferred’ – to be worth a shot*. The other half’s theory is that whereas Freecycle in London is basically a service whereby strangers come to your house and donate you a few cubic feet of free space (far more expensive than stuff), out here everybody has access to enough sheds, garages, barns and other outbuildings that there’s no real reason why their extra stuff wouldn’t stay in storage forever if people didn’t come out and ask.

But anyway, the neighbour had moved out hurriedly and left us with a random collection of stuff to get rid of, so Freecycle it was. I braved the very bossy moderators who like leaving ‘helpful’ annotations on your messages if you get the format wrong, my two ‘offered’ posts passed muster, and I was shortly inundated with people wanting airgun manuals, gardening books and an old carpet. I made my selection (first come first served, although I’m sometimes tempted to choose on the basis of ‘anyone who doesn’t use ‘LOL’ as punctuation and knows where to put an apostrophe’ if that would actually leave me with anyone to choose from) and arranged a time for pick up. As a bonus, two (out of three – the airgun nut hasn’t shown up yet, do you think I should be worried?) were bang on time and as a double bonus the carpet guy rewarded me with a box of chocolates. That’s something I never got in London. I wonder what he’d have given me in exchange for a car?

*And, if the ‘received’ messages are anything to go by, often fulfilled.

Information for Stalkers*

February 12, 2009

On Saturday, yes Valentine’s day, I shall be here doing this.

*I’m fairly sure I nicked this line from JonnyB’s Private Secret Diary but it seems to have gone now.

It Gets Worse

February 11, 2009

So we’re sitting having lunch, and I’m feeling that there’s still a small corner left that needs to be filled

Me: I was thinking of having some toast, do you want some?

OH: you might struggle a bit

Me: why, where has all the rest of the bread gone?

OH: …

Me: you fed it to the birds, didn’t you?

It’s a slippery slope, I tell you.

Dependency Culture

February 10, 2009
What do we want? More bread...

What do we want? More bread...

Now, listen up, birdies. We’re feeding you to be nice, right, and it’s our bread (okay, well it’s the heels but even so) we’re putting out for you – and not just any bread either, that’s Tesco’s Finest that is. And we’re cutting it up in nice small beak-sized pieces, and buying expensive bird peanuts, and fat balls to boot. And yes, you do repay us by having interesting bird-fights outside the kitchen window, but even so, we’re doing you a favour. So the other half would like to be able to step outside for a cigarette occasionally without having a delegation of blackbirds coming and yelling to him about the slack service.

And don’t even get me started on the subject of crapping on the car…


February 9, 2009

So the sky dawned red yesterday morning, showing that those shepherds know a thing or two, and sure enough, we finally got some snow.


And I know you are all, ‘oh, yeah, snow, we did that aaaaages ago, and you know, we’re a bit sick of it now…’ but hey, these things take longer to arrive outside the big cities.

So bear with me. Woo! Snow!

finally morning_shadows squirrel_prints

Because if the rest of the internet jumped off a cliff I would too

February 7, 2009

And besides I wanted to

theres probably no busBus slogan generator from Rule the Web, via Non Timeo Sed Caveo, and pretty much everyone else on the web too.

Paperback Writer

February 6, 2009

A week or so back I finally had my fifteen minutes of fame with a piece in the local paper, complete with the obligatory cheesy local paper photograph of me with my binoculars having apparently gone out for a spot of impromptu birdwatching and absent mindedly (these writer types) taken a copy of my own book with me*. Thus ‘outed’ I found myself, for the first time, actually meeting someone who had seen my picture in the paper and who knew me, first and foremost, as a writer.

I was braced for the (supposedly) usual questions – where do I get my ideas from, do I write with a pen or a pencil, are you writing a sequel – but the only question I actually got was: ‘So, this book of yours, how much is it selling for?’ ‘Six-ninety-nine,’ I was able to reply, as it has finally come out in proper cheapo paperback form. ‘Well, that’s good,’ was the reply. ‘That’s very affordable.’

You know, there was much angst on the radio a few days back that the recent catastrophes with the Royal Bank of Scotland and the like might have damaged the hard won Scottish reputation for prudence with money. Something tells me that it’s going to take more than a few wild bankers to overturn a stereotype that the entire nation seems bent on reinforcing.

Which is all a very long winded way of saying: any Scots out there who have not yet bought ot on cost grounds should click on over to Amazon where it is an even more affordable £4.89 and eligible for free UK delivery to boot.

*The distracted expression you could see on my face was due to having to look at the photographer while I could distinctly hear a woodpecker calling in the trees behind him


February 4, 2009

Typical, I thought, coming out of the shop. You don’t see any cyclists all week and then three of them come along at once. For suddenly there were bikes parked outside, a sprightly older woman in a helmet coming in, and two wiry old boys in lycra waiting outside. Turns out that I had bumped into Bigtownshires’ nonegarian* cycling club. I had looked for a local cycling group when I came up here but even the least serious of them seemed a bit fierce, with long scheduled rides and rules about bringing along spare inner tubes and what have you and I decided they weren’t for me and carried on pedalling around on my own.

But anyway, I got chatting to these guys and they’re going to send me a program of events. I was a little worried that they might be a bit fast or fit or hardy for me – they all had those sorts of ancient looking road bikes that are held together by handlebar tape and which I swear must have hidden motors in them somewhere – but they explained that wasn’t the way it worked.
‘We don’t ride together,’ one of them said. ‘We just meet for lunch and then disperse. You can ride the whole way in or drive part of the way there – you go as far and as fast as you like.’
In fact, we’ve only got one rule,’ the other added. ‘You have to be at the designated pub by twelve.’

Now that’s the sort of rule I think I can obey.

*or thereabouts

I Know I’m going to Regret this…

February 3, 2009

… but …

no_snow_herewhere’s my snow?

Everybody else has snow.

All we’ve got are these:


Lots of these


And they’re pretty and all, but it’s rubbish sledding on them.

Snow Fair

February 2, 2009

Why should London get all the fun? We’ve been watching flurries come and go but nothing’s stuck; what is the point of moving to Scotland when all the snow’s down south? And not that far down south either – I had a call from the local nature reserve a few miles south of us cancelling a volunteering session tomorrow due to the weather – I was standing looking out at the bright sunshine while he was explaining there was a blizzard (‘er well, it was a blizzard it’s a bit more of a flurry now’) outside the window.
Actually I’m still glad we’re not in London any more, and not just because of the transport chaos. Our roof used to leak every time there was a snow fall, as soon as it started melting. The first time it ruined everything in our bedroom – after that we were a bit more wise to it, but the landlords – or the useless* letting agent – found it was cheaper to replace a carpet than a roof so all they ever did was send a bloke round with a bucket of something to patch up the roof every time we complained that our bedroom was soggy again.

They may have had their comeuppance though. After we left, the useless letting agent let the house out … to himself. So either he’s had to do some work to fix the roof up properly, which would have been painful in itself, or else he’s looking at spending the night in a very damp bed tonight. To which I can only say: ah, shame.

* If that’s not a tautology…


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