The Cat then went Away Again

July 10, 2013

crouching cat

In good news for mice – but bad news for blog fodder – the neighbour is finally and definitely moving out this week and taking her royal highness with him

staring cat

He’s moving to Bigtown and he did suggest that she’d be better off staying with us. We were tempted but in the end he needed her (and she needed him – while she tolerates me and likes the other half, she’s very much a one-man cat when it comes down to it) more.

cat on sofa

We will miss her.

Nobody suggest getting another cat.


Bit Windy

April 18, 2013

It’s never a good sign when you’re checking in for a ferry and unwarily opening the car door results in it being almost snatched off its hinges by the wind… I have to admit that we sat in the queue to drive on to the Belfast Ferry with some trepidation, not helped by the excellent fried lunch (and extra cake) courtesy of the Tea Pot* on the way.

Fortunately, although the winds were gale force – and the waves were crashing right over the front of the ferry in an alarming way – ferry technology has moved on since I was a kid and the Irish crossings used to be completely awash with vomit. Hard concentration on the horizon meant we got across with our lunch intact. And although it’s been raining on and off since we arrived, it’s also been sunny at the same time which counts as a win in my book, albeit on points and after extra time. I could do without the town’s awesome bi-directional headwinds though: cycling or walking, whichever way you go, it’s always blowing a gale right in your face. How do they do that?

* Highly recommended. It’s basically a shed on the A75 as you drive to Stranraer where they do good if basic nosh plus stupendous home made cakes at below average prices in direct contrast to the depressing lowest common denominator at whatever they think they can get away with that the ferries serve up. Especially now the ferry terminal is out in the middle of nowhere so you’re stuck with their nasty coffee and the substance known as ‘tastes like fresh milk’ which I have objected to before and will object to again every time I encounter it.

Bah Humbug

December 31, 2012

By the time you read this, we’ll be seeing in the New Year on a plane flying from Newark to Glasgow.

I’m hoping that any self-respecting Glaswegian will have already got themselves home for Hogmanay and we’ll have a nice empty flight, but I have a bad feeling that we may very well be spending the evening with a plane full of pissed-up Weegies. Still, as being trapped and kept up all night with a load of drunks is what your average New Year’s Eve feels like anyway, we might as well get both horrors over with in one go. In fact, the worst part of the journey will likely be getting from Glasgow to Bigtown on a day when the entire public transport system of Scotland is either shut down or hungover. And then getting ourselves acclimatised again to rural plumbing after three weeks of fire-hose strength showers.

Here’s hoping you have a pleasant and enjoyable New Year and a splendid and prosperous 2013.


December 29, 2012

So we’ve been touristing today, with a trip to the historic downtown area to see the Union Depot, which used to be the railway station, back when the city was served by no fewer than five rival train companies (and we can see how well *that* sort of competition worked out, given that there’s now no passenger trains at all).


They certainly knew how to build a railway station, back then, and it’s been beautifully restored, complete with some charming period detail – and some slightly less charming ones, albeit perhaps not so very distant from the current mood…


In fact the whole historic area has been nicely spruced up and is well worth a wander, especially as it’s one of the few parts of Pueblo where walking feels like a sensible mode of transport, as opposed to something you do when your car has broken down.


But then we needed to actually buy something so we went to another jaw-dropping monument to late American capitalism, Sam’s Club.


I can’t see one of these being lovingly restored in 100 years time, but you never know…

That was the Year that Was

December 28, 2012

brompton_2 brompton_3 brompton_4

It’s odd, really. It’s the time of year when people ask you what you’ve been up to, especially if they haven’t seen you for a while. And, after casting my mind back for a bit I’ve found myself saying – oh, not much, more of the same really. 2012 seemed to pass in an uneventful succession of papershop runs, gardening mishaps and rain.

cuteness_on_legsAnd yet, when I look back properly I find that in January I learned to eat – if not love – mushrooms, became a proper cyclist, lost my mobile phone (oh, okay, that’s not very surprising) and organised our spice rack (amazingly, it’s still organised too). In Feburary the bike got to go back to its home town  and got properly lit up. In March we got a cute new neighbour not to mention a cute new bike and I took up extreme Bromptoneering.
Setting out
In April I helped organise a wee demo (and did I mention we’re doing it again?). In May we almost took up involuntary bee keeping and in June I first encounted Asbo Buzzard  - and the ford closed to pedestrians sign was finally removed  (although, as it later turned out, by the postman rather than the roads people) – oh and I wrote what has turned out to be one of my more popular posts, for those visiting via Google, anyway. In July I survived my first serious assassination attempt since leaving London  (unless you count aerial bombardments).

view from the train

bike to school 2

In August, I began to wonder if I might actually be getting the hang of this whole living in the country thing  - and got more value out of a Highland Rover ticket than anyone may ever have done before – as well as introducing my Mum to the delights of N+1. In September I nearly broke another mobile phone  (it’s still hanging in there though) and did my first, and possibly last ever school run – oh, and became a community councillor (with special responsibilities for delinquent wildlife, apparently).

dandelion rootIn October I won at weeding  but was reduced to begging for comments (keep them coming, incidentally) – while Asbo Buzzard recruited reinforcements. In November I finally gave up on my attempt to singlehandedly keep all of the local livestock where it belongs – and actually managed to write something for publication. And this month – I’ve been dabbling in the law and train driving while thankfully leaving the weather at home

winter sunshine

So the next time someone asks me what I’ve been up to I can either back them into a corner and tell them all about it AT GREAT LENGTH … or I can just give them the URL of the blog and let them experience that pleasure in the comfort of their own home.

So how was your 2012?

Have a Very Merry Christmas

December 25, 2012

tiny treeEven if it’s only a tiny one…


Not So Smart

December 21, 2012

With the year drawing to a close, alert readers may have noticed that, despite our exciting new smart meters being fitted, I haven’t been posting any details of the results. You may have thought that was because even I drew the line at such a dull post, but that’s only because you haven’t been paying close attention to the blog. After all, I never drew the line at sharing the glories of my vegetable growing spreadsheet.

But in fact, the reason is much simpler than that. Despite my poor gadget track record, I haven’t yet managed to break the smart meters – but I do appear to have broken the entire smart metering project as the website we’re supposed to log into to get the results has suffered unexpected technical difficulties (possibly I should have warned them…). So we’re still waiting to get our hands on the figures for the last few months’ oil consumption. Well, apart from the figures we’ve worked out for ourselves through the use of our mark one smart meter, the graduated stick. Proof yet again – if proof were needed – that there’s very little in life that can’t be managed somehow by poking it with a stick.

You Know you’re not in Britain Any More…

December 18, 2012

… when the only obstacle on the bike path is tumbleweed (it still never fails to amaze me that tumbleweed actually exists. As do roadrunners, although I’ve never seen one) as opposed to parked cars, random temporary road signs, potholes…

You also know you’re not in Britain when people just start talking to you in the coffee shop (we had thought we were going to burn off all the extra calories this morning again, but, you know, if you end up outside a place called ‘the Cookie Ladies’, you’re going to go in, aren’t you?)

Still, that would appear to be the least of my problems (I have suffered from almost all of these at one time or another).

No Way to Run a Railroad…

December 16, 2012

train lit up with fairy lights

portapotty_on_wheels… but a brilliant way to run a museum. The local railway museum was dressed up for Christmas (even the portaloos) and were running train rides this afternoon and evening, fairy lights and all. Three quid a ride, with hot chocolate and a cookie thrown in and a visit to Santa at the end. It’s all entirely run by volunteers, including the ones who get to drive the trains.

Quite apart from anything else it was a joy to see people so happy in their work*

Oh and the best bit? For an extra seven bucks we got to ride in the cab. Bargain.

view from the cab

* with the exception of the chap who got to play Santa. He’d rather have been driving trains too. Well, wouldn’t you?


And We’re Off…

December 11, 2012

By the time you read this, if all goes to plan, we should be well on our way to Colorado for three weeks of Christmas cheer, overeating, desert winter sun and hopefully a bit of cycling, courtesy of the other half’s family. As ever the joyous prospect is slightly marred – for me at least – by the fact that the only practical way of getting there (and believe me we have looked into it) is to fly.

It’s not just the whole environmental impact of it that bothers me – although that does bother me a lot – it’s the fact that, since I was about 19 or 20 I have had a deep-rooted dread of flying. Not enough to stop me doing it, if I can’t avoid it, but enough to colour the whole run up to a holiday (not to mention the last few days at the end) with a sort of looming sense of doom. There was no incident that triggered it, no horrific bout of turbulence or near miss with death – just the sudden and unshakeable conviction, held as much in my gut as in my head, that flying is an inherently unsafe thing to do and I’d be much happier if I never had to do it.

I do realise that, as someone whose primary means of transport is, mile for mile, the second most dangerous in the UK, being afraid of what is statistically the very safest is a bit daft. But then again, logic has never really played much of a part in what we fear and what we don’t. True or not, I feel as if I’m in control on a bike, and that if something does go wrong I’ll be concentrating so hard on getting out of trouble I won’t have time to panic, even as the quarry lorry bears down on my back wheel which is not so much the case when you’re strapped into an aluminium tube somewhere over the Atlantic. That, on the whole, tends to trump the sort of statistics people like to quote at you in a way that’s meant to be reassuring. Which, for your information, it isn’t.

And that’s also why, when people say that they’re frightened of cycling on the roads, I don’t waste my time or theirs telling them how safe it is, statistically, for every mile cycled, that they’d have to cycle a million miles on average before they got into an accident, or anything like that. It might all be true, but it’s basically pointless. They might be nodding and smiling and taking it all in – but their gut isn’t listening. It’s looking at the road and all the lorries and cars and fragile little cyclists mixing in with them and thinking ‘yeah, right’.

So anyway, I do realise that by posting this now I’m probably tempting fate in a major way, but what the hell. If nothing else ‘blogger predicts her own death online’ would make a great story and even if I did go down in a blazing fireball over the Atlantic, I’d have the satisfaction of knowing it would at least do wonders for my stats

See you on the other side …


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