September 18, 2009
… if you really need to know what’s going on around here you have to get yourself down to Noticeboard Tree:
(currently advertising: a nearby beer festival, a coffee morning, the chance to stand in the community council elections, and the village choir).
September 17, 2009
I’ve actually been working for my living these last few days, and it’s been something of a shock to the system – not least because it’s coincided almost exactly with the late arrival of the summer. I just know that the minute it’s over, the clouds will roll in and the rain will start making up for lost time.
So, this lunchtime, with the blue sky taunting me, I decided to abandon my laptop for an hour or so for a little pootle around the lanes on my bike, because I could. Sometimes, you’ve got to take advantage of these moments while you can.
As I rode out I stopped for a while to watch the progress of sheepdog school, and then I wandered on, down the road and over the river, noticing at all the melancholy signs that autumn is just around the corner. The roads were empty, except for a lone fisherman trudging back to his car, and the weather was just about perfect for a gentle cycle ride to work up an appetite for lunch.
A few miles later, refreshed, I turned and headed home. As I approached the field where the sheepdogs were, I heard a few distant whistles and shouts but saw neither man, nor dog, nor sheep. And then I heard a discreet cough and the sound of chewing. Looking over the wall, I saw the sheep, huddled quietly between the trees and the wall. The boss one gave me a look that clearly said, ‘shhh! Nobody knows we’re here.’
Looks like I wasn’t the only one who was sneaking off for a little P&Q today …
September 16, 2009
Ah, I’ve just remembered what I was going to blog about, only this time it’s not as a rant, but in puzzlement. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed one house after the other in the area being painted pink. When we moved here, there was a cluster of houses in one valley that were all pink, which we put down to the eccentricities of a local landlord. But then, on the road to Papershop Village, first a whole farm (cow byre, tractor shed and all) and then a nearby house, got the rose-coloured treatment. And then, in the past few weeks, two houses in Nearest Village have succumbed. They’re all the same shade of pink – a sort of sugar-almond, sweetly pretty colour. And it’s not gentrification, either – the farms at least are all rufty-tufty working farms with the smell of slurry to match. The traditional colour for houses round here is either white and black, or one of the many depressing shades of grey that pebbledash goes when it is permanently damp. Either way, the pink stands out.
What can be behind it, do you suppose? A meme? A rebranding exercise so subtle it’s escaped me? A mix up? The mark of Cain? Or just a particularly good deal on masonry paint at Homebase?
September 14, 2009
plot in September
Gardening’s all about little and often, and for too much of this summer I’ve been managing the ‘little’ part, but not been so good at the ‘often’.
baby gem squash
Fortunately, some of it has just been getting on without me. It’s probably too late for this baby gem squash, but who knows, I might get lucky.
Larry the leek, sole survivor of the great leek massacre, is still hanging in there, and the salad leaves look almost good enough to eat
Cabbage White Caterpillar
But it’s in the broccoli bed that the real trouble lurks
Before and after…
So far I’m picking them off by hand and ruthlessly squashing sorry, I was too squeamish for that, I’ve ruthlessly thrown them in the compost instead. With a few cabbage leaves for them to eat. It probably amounts to the same thing as far as the caterpillars are concerned, but it means I don’t have to deal with all the green blood.
Four days of diligent picking seem to have contained them a bit, although whether the plants will recover is another matter. And every time my back is turned, there’s a flutter of white as another butterfly comes around with another batch of eggs to make good the deficit.
September 13, 2009
…this weekend when I sat in the sun with my coffee and a bit of the paper and I was TOO HOT
It was wonderful.
September 11, 2009
…I said to the other half yesterday as the kettle started whistling on the Rayburn. Yes, the time has finally come to get the Rayburn man in to degunk its innards and relight it for autumn (after which, of course, we’ve had nothing but glorious sunshine. Had I known it was that easy, I’d have had it relit weeks ago.) It’s been nice to have it back after almost four months without warm teatowels and whistling kettles and a plate-warming oven and somewhere cosy to park your bum when talking on the phone on a cold morning.
All of this may make it slightly strange that I have also finally signed up to 10:10. At the moment I’m not entirely sure how I’ll make the target, but I’m keeping track of our oil, electricity and petrol usage, in the hopes that ‘what gets measured gets managed’ miraculously kicks in with some savings. (‘so a bit like government targets then,’ the other half commented.) I’m also hoping that if we get all the air out of our central heating system (apparently it’s not supposed to sound like a bad attack of indigestion in pipes every time you switch it on) and sort out some of the draughts, then we’ll cut our heating costs – that and sitting very close to the Rayburn, of course. And today we both cycled in to Bigtown to run an errand the other half was going to use the car for, although the prospect of coffee and cakes might have been more of a motivator than the 16 miles worth of diesel saved. Other than that, I’m concentrating on switching things off, and we’ll just have to see how it goes.
Oh, and there’ll be a spreadsheet too, and, who knows, even some graphs. If that doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will.
September 10, 2009
Like me, my neighbour has been using slug pubs to control slugs in her veg patch. A few weeks ago, having pulled out the plants that the traps were protecting she went to wash out her jars. Finding that one of them had got a bit smelly she left it outside. Time passed. Rain happened. She forgot about the jar until today.
When she brought it over for me to see, it looked like this:
I suppose, where else would you find newts in the garden than in a pub?
a closer look
Anyway, lazy stereotyping aside, I’ve a feeling that there are better places for newts to be than a small glass jar, so I’ve put them and their jar down by the pond with a couple of sticks as an escape route. Any newt experts out there with a better idea, please get in touch
September 9, 2009
Pre-loved Brooks B67s in all its glory
Here’s how the internet works: one of my favourite bloggers, points her readers towards another blogger – her sister-in-law, as it happens – who, as well as writing a very fine (if somewhat infrequently updated) blog, mentions that she is decluttering. One of the things she is decluttering is a Brooks saddle. I, on the off chance, mention I would like one. She declares it is mine if I can pick it up.
Fast forward a couple of months and – two aborted rendezvous, one misidentified accosted stranger and one correctly identified accosted stranger later – I am the proud owner of a Brooks saddle. This makes me feel slightly better about having to tromp the streets of London in the BAKING HEAT* of a fine September afternoon carrying what turns out to be a substantial extra weight and seemingly the only person in London with no bicycle to put it on.
But never mind all that, for I got it home and here it is in situ, in all its glory. Now the breaking-in process begins. Opinions vary as to whether the saddle moulds itself to the exact shape of your rear end, or whether it is in fact your rear end which moulds itself to the exact shape of your saddle. Just after I’d picked it up, I stopped by for a coffee and a friend was admiring my new toy. I said I’d heard they took some breaking in. ‘It’s not so bad,’ he said. ‘You just need to go out three times a week for four months and ride 20 miles each time. After that, it’s like sitting on a sofa. Before that …’ and he didn’t exactly finish the sentence, but his expression said it all.
*The train pulled out of Euston in glorious late-afternoon sunshine. By the time I’d seen my first sheep, it was raining. I’d say that the brisk cold air that greeted me as I stepped onto the platform at Bigtown was a refreshing change, but I would be lying.
September 5, 2009
Just a quick entry to let you know that I’m going to London to get warm so posting will be scarce for the next few days (although why I tell you this since my stats always fall off a cliff when I do, I don’t know).
Unfortunately this means leaving my garden just as the War Against Invertebrates has hotted up – not only is there still the long-running on-going slug insurgency, but battle-hardened Cabbage White caterpillars have opened up a new front on my brassicas. So far I’m dealing with this with squashing them with extreme prejudice – it’s far too late for nets and the like – but any less gooey solutions would be appreciated.
Anyone who tells you that gardening is a relaxing hobby is clearly mad. Or drunk. Or has a gardener to do it for them.
September 4, 2009
On the other hand, if it’s directions you’re after…
I was in Bigtown the other day, doing my civic duty in giving a statement to the police (and no, I am not the prime suspect in the Great Hoe Theft, before you ask). As I left, they apologised for dragging me all the way in over a relatively trivial matter that happened several months ago.
‘We actually tried to go out to see you to save you the trip,’ one of them said. ‘But we drove around for a while and couldn’t find you and in the end we had to give up as we had another call.’
It’s something to bear in mind if we ever do get burgled – give precise directions. Meanwhile, I’ll just be happy that we’re clearly not in a high crime area. Or perhaps it’s just that all the police sat navs have been pinched?