April 16, 2012
Cycling down for the paper this morning on a day the Met office had cheerfully described as offering the ‘best weather for the week’, so only hailing a little bit, I couldn’t help but notice some of the lambs in one field were wearing what I can only describe as a tiny see-through lamb pac-a-mac.
I am certain that those of you out there who know about such things will be quick to tell me that it’s no such thing and that there are sound animal husbandry reasons why a lamb would have a clear plastic raincover on, but until that time I shall rejoice in the fact that there’s a farmer out there who’s even more soft hearted than I am.
Although, frankly, if it’s going to keep hailing, they’ll need something a little more robust. Maybe a fleece?
February 22, 2012
There are some mornings when you wonder whether it was entirely worth getting up. Not only was the weather hideous – undoing all of the last couple of weeks’ worth of reasonably dryish weather in one night – but when I did get up, bleary-eyed, to make coffee I saw the butter dish sitting out on the table. Thinking I’d be helpful, I moved it up to its normal spot on the shelf above the Rayburn – it’s the only way it remains spreadable rather than chiselable. As I put it up I dislodged a picture that was propped up on the shelf, saved the picture but failed to save the butter dish, which shattered into approximately a million pieces. Not only that, but I’d also managed to turn off the oil flow to the Rayburn, something we didn’t notice until it was too late, the burner was out and the temperature was dropping to the floor…
Fortunately, after an anxious wait for it to cool down enough so that we could relight it and a scrabble through the instructions, the other half managed to get it going and it seems to have forgiven us, for now at least and I have managed to go the rest of the day without breaking anything, which I’m counting as a win given the way it started. And I’ve reminded myself that the only thing I’m qualified to do before I’ve had coffee of a morning is make coffee and not attempt anything more complicated than that in future. The weather hasn’t exactly improved, but then there was a guy on the radio banging on about drought and how it needed to drizzle solidly for 6 weeks in order for water shortages to be avoided, but that was never going to happen. That’s just the sort of challenge the weather gods are hardly going to take lying down, is it? I just wish they’d improve their aim.
Still, weather or no weather – and it’s definitely not no weather out there at the moment – were I in London right now I’d be on this.
Best of luck guys
December 8, 2011
Because we are
I was supposed to be in Bigtown for a cycling meeting this evening (well, I say meeting, it’s in the pub) but by 4pm I’d had a bit of a failure of nerve. Although twitter was full of excitement about the weather further north, we weren’t quite having the sort of wind that rips wind turbines apart, takes out power lines and blows roofs off, but we have reached the point of sogginess where basically any amout of rain results in flooding pretty much everywhere. And I knew that between me and Bigtown there were at least two stretches of flooded road, one of which was outside our house, that I didn’t fancy navigating in the dark either on a bike or, frankly, in our car. But it didn’t seem exactly the Dunkirk spirit to cancel the meeting just because I was a bit of a wuss. In the end I took shelter behind the official police advice not to drive anywhere, possibly ever, just to be on the safe side, and called it off, feeling like I had wimped out, but relieved all the same. I’m going to have to get myself back on the bike (or remind myself how to drive) pretty soon, or I’ll be in hibernation until at least Februrary.
Still, it’s something to know that the storm I wimped out of riding through had got itself in short order its own hashtag, twitter feed, wikipedia page and exclusive line of merchandise. Something tells me the Scots aren’t quite taking this one with the seriousness it deserves.
Oh and the ford?
(You didn’t think I’d forgotten, did you?)
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…
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
October 27, 2011
There was a moment yesterday morning when the sun struggled through and the whole countryside started to steam gently
Since then we’ve had nothing but rain, interspersed with heavy showers. A break in one of the latter has at least given me a chance to have a go at one of my favourite post-wet-weather activities, de-flooding the road outside the house. It takes a surprisingly small amount of leaves to completely block up the storm drains, turning the road into a minor canal. Fortunately this means that only a small amount of poking about with a stick very quickly clears the blockage with a very satisfactory gurgling sound and within half an hour the road is back to road (albeit wet road) and I can feel like I’ve done my bit.
If only everything was as easy and as satisfying to sort out, Mr Cameron and his big society would be onto something. Sadly, there are very few other problems that can be resolved by poking them with a stick, whatever the more disciplinarian wing of the Tory party might believe.
October 17, 2011
For surely the end times are a’coming.
I headed out for the paper this morning in what I hoped would prove to be a window in the weather long enough for me to make the 11 mile round trip. In truth, by the time I’d found my keys and my bag and responded to one last email and a couple of tweets, the rain had started, but a look at raintoday suggested it would be no more than a passing shower, and that what was coming in from the north west would be much worse. I did, at least, put on the waterproof trousers, and, of course, the everything-bar-the-apocalypse-proof jacket. Thus protected, I set out into a biting headwind (mourning the loss of my waxed cap which has kept my head dry and warm ever since I moved up here – anyone know where I can get another one?). At first it wasn’t too bad, a bit blowy, but only spitting. That was just the warm up though – the rain got heavier and heavier and the wind picked up and by the time I’d got through Nearest Village and was out of the shelter of any trees, it was just flinging handfuls of water into my face so hard that it stung.
This was not a good time for the tractor driver who came up behind me to to hoot at me to remind me that his important business (turning onto Big A-Road to hold up everyone else, it transpired) was more important than my important business (it probably was but he was in a nice dry cab and I didn’t see why I should stop just because he wasn’t able to pass me). But that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst of it was getting home, unzipping my jacket and discovering that the rain had finally soaked through it to the point where it was weighed down with accumulated water. As the jacket is rated for 15,000mm of rain per 24h, or, basically, Noah’s flood, this means either its waterproofing has failed (I hope not, after only just over a year, given the amount I paid for it) or that the end of the world is nigh
Given the weather we’ve had since I got home, I’m guessing the latter.
October 10, 2011
On Thursday afternoon I had something of a dilemma – a cycling meeting to go to in Bigtown (which obviously it would be bad form to go to in the car)(and besides, when I say ‘meeting’ what I really mean is ‘pub visit’ and while I’m happy to cycle with half a pint on board, I’m not really comfortable driving having had anything more mind-altering than a coke) on a day when the weather was alternating between grim and miserable. As the appointed hour when I would have to leave approached, and with Rain Today only giving out the faintest gleams of hope, the weather switched abruptly from grim to ‘heavens opened’ and I knew that this time there was no alternative but to take desperate measures: the waterproof trousers.
Despte our notoriously wet weather, I think I’ve worn my waterproof trousers just once since moving up here. The problem with them is that while they work – in that they keep the rain off my non-waterproof trousers – in all other ways they are a terrible idea: sweaty, deeply unstylish even by my standards, and rather putting paid to the whole ‘oh you can just cycle in your ordinary clothes’ vibe I try to have going on. Plus there’s the fact that once you arrive and get off the bike you have to take them off (or go into the pub with them on) and trust me, you don’t want to be hopping about on the street in Bigtown outside a pub taking your trousers off, even if you’ve another pair on underneath. Waterproof trousers really speak volumes about the fact that their wearer has given up on everything but practicality – and that’s before the wearer has tried to put her keys in the (non) pockets and has then had to extract them from her shoe. In fact, wearing waterproof trousers is tantamount to admitting that cycling is something that, when it comes down to it, only very strange people do. At least in the rain in the dark in October.
The worst part about this whole story is that – you guessed it – the minute I’d struggled into the damn things, the rain stopped. And stayed stopped all the way into town, near enough, where I arrived looking dry and (once I’d made a dash into the pub toilets to change) reasonably fresh. They are, it would seem, not just rain proof but rain-repellent and in the interests of everyone in the area I’m going to have to start wearing them full time (just carrying them around is not enough – I had them in my bag on Sunday and got completely drenched before I had time to get off and put them on). It’s that or shell out €55 for one of these.
August 29, 2011
‘Oh so you’re a fair weather cyclist, are you?’ the guy asked as I was discussing arrangements to join a charity CTC ride over the weekend. During the five minutes we’d been on the phone, the heavens had opened and about an inch of rain had been dumped on the surrounding countryside, and I wasn’t sure I felt that a 20-mile jolly, tea and buns or no tea and buns, was going to be all that appealing if it continued
I suppose, in many ways I am a fair weather cyclist; I mostly avoid riding in the rain if I can. My schedule is more or less my own so I can generally wait it out if it’s raining and if it doesn’t stop, we use the car. And, frankly, I can’t see the point of going out for what is basically a fun ride when it’s no fun at all in the rain. Now that I’ve got the apocalypse-proof jacket, I’m more likely to risk it starting to rain when I’m on the bike, and riding in the rain usually isn’t all that bad (although it can still be quite grim if it puts its mind to it), but setting out in it? No, not if I can help it. But then, on the other hand, I cycle all through the year, through wind and ice and snow, and I wonder how many of the people who were planning on turning up on a Sunday run in August can really say that, particularly those who start off by driving to the rendezvous in their car? Not that I’m judging or anything. Well maybe a little bit, but not as much as calling someone a fair-weather cyclist.
As it happened, the weather was looking dodgy and I had stuff to do (and I actually did it too, which is something of a first) so I decided against the jolly and ended up cycling down to the garage instead for some milk, a far less scenic, but possibly more useful ride. And as I ground my way back into the teeth of a distinctly autumnal headwind, with a sprinkling of drizzle thrown in for the hell of it, any passing person might have heard the sound of muttering through clenched teeth:
‘call me a fair-weather cyclist would they? I’ll show them fair-weather cycling, I will …’
Yeah, it still rankles…
August 26, 2011
Round here, we’re pretty used to puddles, and water running across and along the road. But lately it’s occured to me that sometimes the puddles aren’t exactly where you’d expect them – like halfway up a hill – even on those rare occasions when it hasn’t actually been raining for a day or so:
… almost as if there’s so much water in the ground it’s just seeping right through the tarmac wherever it finds a weak spot.
I mean, is that even normal? Or are we gradually reverting to the primoridial swamp?