Scotland Agrees …

September 12, 2014

… regardless of the current debate raging over Scotland’s future, everyone I have spoken to recently is unanimous: this fine, dry, warm September weather can continue just as long as it likes. If it wasn’t for the chilly starts, we might actually be in July.

It’s been good news for the garden with a bonus second picking of broad beans – maybe not quite enough for a meal, but enough to make a solid contribution to a dish of Random Veg Risotto (where we’re going to put all the French beans is another question seeing as we have rashly filled up the freezer with blackberries).

September broad beans

My peas, which have been absolutely pathetic all summer long, have suddenly discovered their mojo. In September. (They’re still not climbing up any of the supports I provide for them, of course, but I’m used to that)

bonus peas

And the dinosaur egg mystery beans? Well, whatever they are, there are about to be a lot more of them…

mystery beans

This may or may not be a good thing.

Spain without the Sunshine?*

September 10, 2014

The weather was ridiculously nice today, to the point where I was forced into shorts which is patently absurd in Scotland in September. Cycling down to the local shortbread emporium (it pretends it’s a farm shop) for free range pork this morning we couldn’t really say anything coherent to each other than taking it in turns to sigh with contentment as we pedalled in the sunshine.

tree in the sunshine

I still haven’t made up my mind yet (I’m doing my homework though) but if I were David Cameron and I really wanted to save the union,** I’d be praying for rain. In weather like this it’s hard to pay attention to the dire warnings of even the most eminent of economists. It’s not called the dismal science for nothing…

Let’s see which way the weather gods vote, eh?

* Paul Krugman’s verdict on an independent Scotland within a monetary union.

** Actually, if David Cameron really wants to save the union he shouldn’t be up in Scotland telling it how much he loves it, he should be back in Westminster announcing the repeal of the bedroom tax, an end to reforming the NHS into a hole in the ground, and mounting a robust defence of the UK’s place in the EU and the free movement of people. Oh. So he doesn’t want it that much then? As you were, Scotland


August 12, 2014

We’re all about the casual gardening style here but I think I may have overshot the boundary between ‘deliciously informal’ and ‘inconvenient mess’ with my mangetouts, which have now formed an impenetrable thicket.

impenetrable mangetout thicket

There are mangetouts in there if you know where to look but finding them involves bodily picking up the entire tangle and rummaging around in it. As with all veg harvesting, it takes at least three iterations to even begin to feel you may have found them all, and even then you can guarantee you won’t have (see also: potatoes), which is why every time I go up to pick the next lot I find some which have clearly been beyond ready for weeks and have to be podded like conventional peas

mangetout thicket close up

Anyway, we were going to have mangetouts in our fried rice this evening but it was still hammering down and playing hunt-the-legume did not appeal, so perpetual spinach it was. Next year, I swear, I shall grow my mangetouts in regimented rows, like a proper gardener. I think I may make this resolution every year at about this time.

And talking of hunt-the-legume, the dinosaur eggs have produced dinosaurs.

mystery bean pods

Recipes for something resembling borlotti beans welcomed.


August 11, 2014


It’s all looking a bit autumnal

grasses blackberries

I’m not sure I’m ready yet. In fact, I know I’m not.

ford almost dry

But despite Bertha’s best efforts, the ford remains almost dry. They must be filling up the reservoir upstream, which was looking low last week. Some last remnants of summer are still hanging on.


Home, James

July 24, 2014

Just to say that the weather cleared up and the other half got his dip on the way home…

St Mary's Loch

… or ‘wild swim’ as I believe we must call it now.

Haar de Haar Haar

July 23, 2014

So the forecast this week is just glorious – sunshine all week – and as we are on a flying visit to Duns, we got a bit overexcited with the thought of a visit to a proper beach, seeing as Bigtownshire beaches tend towards the estuarine which is fine if you like a day’s trek across mud for a paddle but not exactly swimmable. We filled the car with beach towels and swimming things and sun cream and set off in a state of great anticipation, forgetting that fine weather across the country generally means an easterly wind, and an easterly wind on the east coast generally means the dreaded haar, which stands for ‘horrible air all around’ according to my aunt.

The haar itself might have burned off, but the cloud was clinging stubbornly on by lunchtime, so as the rest of you basked in the sunshine and sent me the odd gloating tweet, we set off today for the beach anyway to sit under the cloud.

After all, there were still rockpools to explore

sea anemone in rockpool

And the other half had brought his special beach camouflage outfit, which worked a treat.

beach camouflage outfit

And cloudbathing is the new sunbathing – haven’t you heard?

clouds over cocklawburn beach

Naturally, the sun appeared as soon as we got about a mile inland on the way back…

We’ll be back to sunny West Scotland tomorrow, if we’re spared.

London’s Boiling

July 17, 2014

So I’m in London without my Brompton having reluctantly made the decision that the short few hops I would be able to take on it weren’t worth lugging it down on the train. And it was certainly very pleasant to be able to get onto a Virgin train without having to fret about finding space for even a compactly folded bike in the luggage rack AND to have a hand free to pick up a coffee at Carlisle and save me suffering the horror that is train coffee. It was also a bit of a relief to have the other half around to give me a lift to the station yesterday morning as it was raining quite heavily for the whole period when I would have been cycling and, while technically I don’t necessarily mind cycling in the rain, four hours is a long time to be sitting on a train in wet socks.

That feeling of having made the right decision did diminish somewhat as I emerged at Euston into a budding London heatwave: hot as cycling would have been, it is somehow never as sticky and unpleasant as getting on the tube and the train in rush hour. So today, with the heat forecast to increase, and not being burdened by my bags, I decided to take the train up to Waterloo and then walk the two and a bit miles to my appointment near King’s Cross. After all, when I lived in London, I walked everywhere in zone one and I was quite looking forward to getting my city legs back. I find navigating by bike through London quite hard work, whereas on foot it’s a doddle. I had my A to Z, and there are now handy maps on every corner so I didn’t end up going off at a tangent the way I always do when I’m trying to find my way on a bike. In fact, in the course of my walk, I discovered a much more pleasant cycling route from Kings Cross down to Waterloo Bridge (via Lamb’s Conduit Street, basically) than I’d ever managed to work out for myself before. Not only that but I spotted a fellow Cycling Embassy person as he sailed past on his very spiffy bakfiets and we stopped for a brief catch up and gossip before I continued on my way.

Indeed, I was rather grateful for the break. What with one thing and another – the bike, not really living anywhere within walking distance of anywhere – I don’t actually walk that much these days. And I certainly don’t walk on hard city streets in summer sandals, so by the time I reached King’s Cross my feet were on fire. Sweat or no sweat, I took the tube back and winced the last half mile from the station. Once safely back, I was grateful for a borrowed bike for our afternoon’s excursion to the park – frankly, this walking lark is way too much like hard work. I’ll be happy to get back home tomorrow and back to cycling around again in a civilised fashion

Deer in Bushy Park

You can tell these are London deer and not Scottish ones because a) it’s not raining and b) they’re busy ignoring everyone

Indeed, given it’s due to be even hotter tomorrow than today, I might even be grateful to get back to a bit of … OK, not for any actual rain. But a little bit of Scottish cool summer weather may not go amiss.


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