Muddy Hell…

February 14, 2013

snow covered gardenWe had another ‘snow event’ yesterday – there was snow on the ground when we woke up and it then proceeded to snow all day until about mid afternoon when it switched seamlessly into rain. This seems to be the pattern for this winter – we’ve never seen so much snow, but it’s mostly been pretty fleeting. I didn’t get the chance to get out in it yesterday because I was insanely busy but today things eased off a bit and when the sun came out I couldn’t resist the temptation to sneak out for a walk in a rapidly thawing world…

road running with water

The road outside our house is now basically a stream bed.

cow in mud

It drains into the field opposite which is currently home to some rather depressed looking cattle. I don’t think they’ve had dry feet since they’ve been turned out there – and some of the calves probably don’t know what ‘dry’ means, poor things.

sheep on higher ground

The sheep, meanwhile, were sticking to the higher ground

hens on higher ground

As were the hens (and one duck. Go figure)

ford without depth gauge

I stopped to take the traditional but now pointless record of the ford. Presumably if I had the photoshop skills and could be bothered, I could photoshop back in the depth gauge, but I can’t. The other half did spot the torn off depth gauge lurking in the undergrowth on the other side of the river so I might have to go on a rescue mission and ‘photoshop’ it back in real life.

And then, because it was Valentine’s day and I hadn’t remembered to buy a card, I made my beloved some coconut macaroons instead.

coconut macaroons

They did get semi-dipped in chocolate but didn’t survive long enough to be photographed…


The Wheels on my Bike Go On and Off

February 5, 2013

The Met Office, and its propaganda arm the BBC Terror Centre, bless them, do love a good weather warning, and the direr the better – whether it’s for heavy rain (perhaps they should stick to warning us when it might stop), yellow snow, or the all purpose ‘put a jumper on or you’ll catch your death of cold young lady’. So in the absence of any such warning last night beyond some vague handwaving on the radio about ‘wintry showers’ for ‘and finally, Scotland’, I wasn’t too worried about the forthcoming cold snap – I mean, it is still February after all, and they’d have warned us if anything serious was coming. Even when I came out of last night’s community council meeting and found that there was a bit of slushy snow about, and then a bit more sleet on the ride home, I assumed it was just a passing phase. I did let the cat in – well, I say ‘let’, she has a way of bolting for the door and flattening herself against it when she wants in that makes it impossible not to – because it was a bit nippy out and the sleet was getting thicker. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get up in the morning and be greeted by this

snowfall

(really must prune that rose bush)

In a fit of optimism last week I swapped out the ice tyres on my bike for my normal ones and I’ve been humming and hawing about how cold it would have to be forecast and for how long before I swapped them back in again…

snowfall

I think that’s that decision made, anyway…


Thaw Point

January 26, 2013


snowy road

I suppose it had to happen – we woke up to discover a beautiful morning, and more snow, now rapidly thawing in the sun. I needed to run some errands in town and set off happily on my bike to discover that half-compacted melting slush does not make for happy cycling, magical spiky tyres or no magical spiky tyres. Of course it doesn’t make for particularly happy driving either; I had to help push the neighbour’s van out of the driveway. I decided the errands could wait and took the camera for a walk instead

slushy_road

Time to enjoy the snow (and sunshine) while it lasts …

thawing

 

Won’t be long…


Let it Snow

January 25, 2013

more snow

We woke up this morning to more snow, and then it started snowing like it meant it

What better time for a bike ride?

sheep in snow

I’m sure you’re all bored of me banging on about my new tyres (and believe me, it’s not just you – I’ve told half the village, my writers’ group and pretty much anyone else who was passing and wasn’t able to get away) but, actual bikes aside, I can’t think of a single thing I’ve bought in recent years that I’ve been quite as pleased with. It will take a few years before the tyres can justify themselves in financial terms but in human happiness terms they’ve already paid me back tenfold – and that’s after subtracting the negative effect of everyone I’ve bored rigid extolling their virtues. The last three winters have left me feeling trapped and grumpy whenever I couldn’t ride my bike but this morning, rolling along on the fresh snow, watching a raven doing aerial battle with a buzzard, totally alone apart from a few uncomprehending sheep, I felt invincible (possibly too invincible as I forgot to look out for potholes on one nasty bit of road – but even then, the bike handled fine and I was able to stay upright despite ending up on a crusty pile of ice and snow). The hardest part was getting going after stopping to take pictures – my tyres might be surefooted, but my boots don’t have enough grip to push myself off on the snow.

more snow falling

There’s more snow now – it’s snowed all day and probably even I wouldn’t want to be cycling on the roads at the moment until the cars have had a chance to compact it down a bit. The thaw is forecast to start tomorrow, but even if it doesn’t and it freezes and compacts and hangs around for weeks, I’m just happy to know I will still be able to ride my bike…


I Suppose it was Inevitable…

January 22, 2013
snowy hills

snowy hills

…after the last post that we should wake up to this sort of thing this morning

snow_2 snow_3

Still, it gave me a chance to further road test the tyres and they coped magnificently – although I should in the interests of accuracy point out that coming to a complete stop when travelling downhill on a mixture of ice, slush and snow is still … interesting.

Fortunately, for most of the ride, I was only stopping to take photos, so I could take my time

snow_4
Afterwards, we went out for a walk – cut short half way up the local 1-in-5 hill when things got a little slithery underfoot. Time to invest in spiked shoes as well as spiked tyres? Or leave the hillsides to the sheep until spring…

snow_5


Snow Fair

January 21, 2013

It has snowed ALL day – sometimes lightly, sometimes as if it means it, sometime just random flakes flying around as much up as down – but it has been just that tiny bit too warm for it to settle. This followed several days of the radio, newspaper and the whole of twitter telling me that it’s snowing!!! So while the rest of the country has been out taking arty photos and making snowmen and sledging and having the day off school, we’ve been looking at what is basically rain with good PR.

I suppose that’s what having a dandy set of ice tyres will do to your weather. But if you came here for rural snow scenes and general picturesqueness, I recommend you wander over to Mrs Uphilldowndale’s site instead. She’ll see you right…


So Sue Me

December 20, 2012

The predicted snow arrived this morning (don’t worry, it’s due to be sunny and 60F by the weeekend, oh no, hang on, you weren’t worrying about that were you?). After it had finished falling, and the wind had finished blowing it around so much, we went out with the snow shovel and shovelled it off the driveway and the sidewalk (that’s pavement to anyone who doen’t speak American) as is the American way – or rather I shovelled and the other half gave expert advice culled from a childhood growing up in Minnesota and then went inside to supervise from the warmth of the house, the novelty of shovelling snow having thoroughly worn off for him round about when he was ten.

I relate this entirely unremarkable tale because if you were to mention anywhere in the UK that members of the public might want to go out and clear the snow off the pavement outside their house then you are generally greeted with the sort of alarm that an elderly maiden aunt might greet the suggestion that she join an orgy. Because if you were to do that you might – no indeed, you almost certainly would – get sued. Despite the fact that nobody has ever been sued for clearing snow and never will be sued for clearing snow, it has somehow got lodged into the British psyche that personal injury lawyers lurk behind every bush, possibly disguised as snowmen, waiting for someone to so much as brush a flake off their front step so they can leap out, push some passing old dear over, and then slap a lawsuit on the offending householder. I was out the council training for being a community councillor and they were wheeling out their winter preparedness scheme which consisted of getting local volunteers to clear snow off the pavements and gritting them so that people might have a fighting chance of stepping outside their front door without breaking a leg. It went like this:

Council chap: just to get it out of the way first, you won’t get sued

Fellow trainees: but what if we do get sued?

Council chap: honestly, you won’t get sued

Fellow trainees: can we get people to sign something to say they won’t sue us?

Council chap: nobody has ever been sued

Fellow trainees: Should we get insurance against getting sued?

Fellow trainees: what if they sue us for *not* clearing the snow?

Fellow trainees: what if we ask someone to clear the snow and they keel over with a heart attack and then sue us?

Me: *silently loses will to live*

Sadly, I still don’t know the official Bigtownshire Council method for approved snow shovelling because we ran out of time for the actual training. This goes a long way to explaining why, the minute it snows, every pavement immediately becomes almost impassable and everyone ends up having to walk in the road.

Now clearly, I’d prefer it if the council cleared and gritted the pavements (and the cycle paths of course) and left it to motorists to voluntarily shovel and grit the roads if they wanted to go anywhere, but even I know that’s not going to happen for a while. And meanwhile, I’d like it a lot if the pavements were cleared, however amateurishly, preferably before they had become icy death traps. So here, people of Britain, is a public service announcement, just for you:

IF THE MOST LITIGIOUS SOCIETY ON EARTH CAN SHOVEL ITS SIDEWALKS WITHOUT FEAR OF LAWSUITS THEN WE, PROUD INHERITORS OF THE BLITZ SPIRIT, DEFEATERS OF THE HUN, NOT TO MENTION VICTORS IN ONE WORLD CUP, CAN ALSO CLEAR OUR PAVEMENTS AND WE WILL NOT GET SUED

I hope I’ve made that clear.


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