Maybe I’m Naive…

November 12, 2011

…But I would have thought that basic gutter installation might just possibly involve any newly installed gutters gently sloping downwards towards the drainpipe so that all the rain drains smoothly away as opposed to the gutters being bowed and sagging so that the rain gathers in the middle of the gutter, well away from any pesky drainpipes that might otherwie empty it, and instead pours over the top of the gutter and onto our bathroom windowsill making even a fairly non apocalyptic heavy shower sound like the precursor to the end of the world. But then, we do live in a part of the world where rain is pretty rare and so I suppose it’s understandable that gutter and drainpipe installation isn’t quite down to the fine art it might be in other parts of the country like, say South West Scot…

… oh no, hang on, wait…


Marking Time

November 11, 2011

One of the sad but moving side effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been the revival of the two minute silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – regardless of whether that falls on Remembrance Sunday or not. Today we were shopping when the moment arrived – standing in John Lewis in Glasgow, as it happened. The announcement came over the tannoy and then a real silence and a stillness fell, interrupted only by a bagpipe lament, which turned out to be someone’s rather appropriate ringtone, quickly hushed. It’s amazing how how powerful silence is even – especially – in the middle of a mundane shopping centre, right in the heart of Glasgow. There was the odd sound of footsteps as someone rushed past, too busy or too blithely unaware to wonder why everyone else had stopped. But mostly there was silence, a chance to pause for reflection, and the deep hush that falls when people don’t just stop talking but stop moving too, stop hurrying.

I’m glad that for once I was reminded to do this and that we were surrounded by hundreds of other people doing the same thing. I am only sad that the occasion being marked is no longer an end to war, let alone an end to all wars, but their continuation.


Bright Lights, Big City

November 10, 2011

We’re off up to Glasgow for the night tonight to go to a concert and practise our city skills such as blanking strangers and looking both ways before crossing the road. To this end, I am wearing my black jeans which are supposed to be my smart ones being the ones which haven’t yet developed a little rip on the inside right ankle from being worn on the bike. Theoretically they are also the ones which don’t have manure stains on them from being worn while gardening but, to be honest, pretty much every pair of trousers that I own ends up being gardened in eventually and, fortunately, manure washes out.

Thus scrubbed up I will, I hope (if I remember not to wear my fleece) blend effortlessly in with the smart Glasgow crowd. I’ll be the one leaning casually against a wall in a cool and urban sort of way because the other thing about my smart black jeans is that – freshly washed and not much worn as they are – I’m still having difficulty sitting down in them. Cycling may do wonders for the shape of your bum, girls, but it does absolutely nothing for the diameter of your thighs.


Reverse Squirrel

November 9, 2011

I was just turning into the home straight on the way home with the paper (and by the way, I think I really want one of these. Slow cycling indeed…) when I was pleased to see a little ginger creature darting down from a tree and out into the road …

… and even more pleased to see it do an instant u-turn when it saw me coming (they must have spring loaded spines those squirrels) and dart back up the tree. It’s nice to know that, after all we’ve gone through to protect them that the red squirrels are still around, for now at least. And it’s even nicer to know that they’re finally learning a little road sense


In Like Flynn

November 7, 2011

Despite having failed in our attempt to get it into the cat’s tiny little brain that climbing on the kitchen counters is forbidden, our attempts at – well, training is a strong word, let’s say cat behaviour modification continue. For some reason, the other half’s shed empire has become the place in the world the cat most wants to be, no doubt due to a combination of it not raining in there, it being full of things she hasn’t yet had a chance to climb inside, and it being somewhere we don’t want her to go. Whatever, the minute I slide open the door to get my bike out (I am allowed a small annexe for bikes and/or gardening related equipment) she’s through the gap with surprising speed for an animal that can spend a whole five minutes deciding which side of the front door she wants to be on.* Getting the cat out of an exciting shed full of the sort of miscellaneous junk that accumulates when you’ve got enough space to never have to throw anything away that might possibly come in useful is tedious at the best of times, and doubly so when you’re in a hurry to be somewhere, so we hit on the idea of just shutting her into the shed for a short while and then re-opening the door to let her out, suitably chastened.

All of which has been working reasonably well, at least in theory. In practice, it helps if you remember to actually go back and let her out otherwise the next person who unwarily opens the shed gets a small grey furry streak of lightning bolting past their legs as she makes her bid for freedom…

She’s still in there like a shot the next time the door opens, though.

* a process which I am afraid I occasionally speed up with the application of a gentle toe against a furry behind


Sunday Gig

November 6, 2011

For those of you who haven’t found it yet, I’m doing a weekly spot on the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain blog, rounding up the best of the last week’s cycling blog posts.  It’s possibly of little interest to those of you who are here for updates on the Weather Gods, chicken wars, and other rural pursuits, but if any of you are thinking that you don’t read nearly enough detailed analysis of cycling infrastructure, then get yourself over there.

That is all


The Good News is…

November 4, 2011

… that I can confirm that washing your previously apocalypse-proof waterproof jacket in Tech Wash* and then re-apocalypse-proofing it with TX Direct* restores it to the point where you can cycle down to Papershop Village and back in what looks like a window in the weather but turns out to be the calm before the weather gods start flinging everything they’ve got at you without your top half getting wet (although – top tip! – if you want your jacket to keep out the rain in a driving headwind, doing the zip up helps).

The bad news is I found this out the hard way.

Still, now you don’t have to, eh?

*other waterproofing products may be available


Pecking Order

November 3, 2011

Great excitement up at the walled garden, where the Landlord has purchased six new chickens to supplement the existing flock, which are now getting on a bit and depleted from the rigours of last winter. The new girls have been put into an adjacent run to the old guard so they can get used to each other, as appears to be the approved method, before they’re mixed together into a single flock. Despite this, I’m fairly certain there’ll be a bit of trouble as the new pecking order is established.

So far, the new birds are keeping themselves to themselves and seem a bit of a timid bunch, while the old ones, after spending a day or so ignoring the upstarts, are now pointedly swiping vegetation from through the fence and generally making their presence felt. On paper, you’d think the newcomers would have the upper hand as they’re younger stronger birds, and there’s six of them against four on the home side. But these four are a pretty feisty bunch, with a home advantage, and when it comes to the attack, they’ve got form. So it should make for an interesting few days…


My money’s on the home side.


No Fly Zone

November 1, 2011

It’s a good thing I never do encounter much traffic on my ride to the papershop, I realised today as I veered all the way across the road, distracted by the sight of three crows taking on a rather grumpy looking buzzard. Back on the straight (well, straightish) and narrow, I then cycled through a flock of rooks who had been spooked by a couple of fighter jets careening over the hills and pedalled on openmouthed, watching the feathered and the non-feathered aerobatics over my head. Birdwatching and bicycles, what could be a better combination?

Of course, that was before I realised I was under aerial bombardment (from the crows, not the jets). Even on a rare fine and sunny November morning, perhaps an umbrella is necessary on the bicycle after all…


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