That Hurricane Damage in Full

October 17, 2017

Having read some of the tweets from Ireland during Ophelia’s visit yesterday, I’ll spare you my eerie calm before the storm and weird blood-red sun anecdotes (but you know, it was very strange). When the storm finally arrived, we lay in bed last night listening to it hammering around the house hoping that the greenhouse would survive and glad that at least we’d given the two trees most likely to cause any damage a haircut.

With the cold light of morning we went out to survey the damage:

headless daleks


Our dalek army had been decapitated (fortunately, we had spent Sunday filling the two new bins with the contents of the pile-o’-stuff, so we only had to retrieve the lids, not go hunting for the bins themselves).

felled tree

One of our wedding anniversary twiglets had been blown over, although it was possible to resurrect it as it had only bent, not snapped.*

battered tree

The cows’ tree – whose tree tube had suffered somewhat from their enthusiastic attention – appeared battered but unbowed.

And you’ll be pleased to note from the photo above that the greenhouse is still standing and indeed completely unscathed, testament to the efforts of the other half and a friend, who spent two days constructing it.  Other than that, as the wind had helpfully blown away all the leaves that had fallen already, the garden actually looked tidier than it was before the storm.

Tomorrow we set off for Northern Ireland – or what’s left of it – for what we’re confident will be a sunshine break, very glad that we didn’t book the ferry for today as we had originally planned.

* I would claim this as a metaphor but two of the other trees we planted this spring didn’t survive, so I’m not reading too much into their fate, just at the moment.


Early Doors

October 14, 2017

Ever since I inadvertently angered the Weather Gods by implying that they couldn’t make it drizzle all day any more, they’ve been steadily proving me wrong. Today, after optimistically putting out and then taking back in the washing, forgetting that Bigtownshire specialises in its own special kind of rain that the forecasters can’t see, let alone forecast, I headed for Bigtown for a spot of history and poetry.

Forgotten Doors

One of the ‘forgotten doors’ of Bigtown, resurrected for the afternoon

Poetry readings, in my experience, are generally held indoors in the warm and dry and accompanied by wine and even nibbles. Clearly this is a tactical error: it turns out that if you invite people instead to march through Bigtown unrefreshed in the drizzle, instead of the usual turnout of the poet, the poet’s mates, and the odd lost soul who has wandered in by mistake, you get a veritable crowd.

gathered audience

Trust me, this is a giant crowd for poetry …

So many, in fact that the combined effect of distance, umbrellas and traffic completely drowned out the poets, so after a while I peeled off to head home while I still had parts of me that weren’t drenched. I clearly haven’t the stamina for poetry in Scotland.

And neither, I noted, do the local cows.

cows sheltering from the rain

Still, I can at least confirm that the new pannier is definitely Waterproof in Scotland.

More weather related shenanigans to come as we attempt to get to Norn Iron in the teeth of the remains of Hurricane Ophelia…


October 13, 2017

What’s that lumbering towards the wall?

dalek invasion

We appear to be having a dalek invasion.

compost daleks

Oh, okay, we have ordered a couple of new compost bins, hopefully more Tardis-like than Dalek-like, given that they are already dwarfed by the pile-o’-stuff waiting to go into them.

When we moved here, we (I) had big plans for a corner where we could do extensive and Proper Composting, and while those plans have been maturing* the pile of grass clippings, strimmings, weeds and other material which will ultimately feed this proper compost has steadily grown as the other half gets on with actual gardening as opposed to dreaming, talking and blogging about it. The original Dalek is full of kitchen and garden waste and although it never actually fills up, nor has it yet turned the bottom layer into compost. Meanwhile, I suspect that towards the bottom of the pile-o’-stuff some good organic matter might lurk but first I need somewhere to put the top of the pile.

Clearly, while a Proper Composting Solution is still ultimately the goal, we were in increasing need of a temporary solution. I’m always reluctant to bring new plastic into the world, but it turns out compost Daleks are generally made of recycled plastic, and besides there was a buy-one get-one-half-price offer on the go.

And obviously, just because we’ve tripled our emergency composting capacity, I won’t now relax and wait until Dalek No. 3 is bulging at the seams before starting work in the Proper Composting Solution. Of course not. What do you take me for?

* they have developed sliding-block-puzzle tendencies in the process, as first we need to check the septic tank is all in good order, then move the pile of woodchips that were left in the wrong place, dig out the very nice soil underneath the woodchips where the old compost heap clearly was and put it to good use, get hold of materials for composting bays, actually build the composting bays, get hold of some more manure, which involves sourcing a trailer that nobody minds us putting horse poo into, build a trellis to hide the composting bays, find something nice to grow on the trellis …

I Feel it in my Fingers, I Feel it in my Toes

October 11, 2017

Yesterday, enjoying coffee and cake with a friend in a cafe, as an unexpected shower suddenly emptied the High Street, I mentioned how we’d barely had a day all summer when it hadn’t rained at least once. “At least it’s better than those days when it just rains steadily all day,” my friend pointed out. “True,” I said, and then added before anyone could stop me, “We don’t seem to get those so often as we used to.”

park after the rain

Regular readers of this blog will know exactly what happened next. Especially as I was supposed to be spending this afternoon at an event in the Bigtown Park in which the Weather Gods take a particular interest. Although, to be fair, once I’d headed out on the bike sans spare gloves and waterproof trousers on the (as it turned out) flimsy grounds that the forecast was for it to clear up, it went from steady pacing-itself drizzle to steady pacing-itself drizzle interspersed with apocalyptic stairrods. This lasted all the way into Bigtown, and up to the other end of town where I needed to pick up a bike trailer, then cleared up into a glorious sunny autumn afternoon, so that everyone at the event could say ‘and isn’t it lovely that the rain stopped just in time?’ and I could smile through gritted teeth and tried not to let my socks squelch too loudly.

Park after the rain

Bigtown has apparently been found to be the happiest place in Scotland, from which I can only surmise that they were mostly surveying the local ducks.

Park after the rain

That said, the park does scrub up rather nicely when it has been well rinsed. Very, very well rinsed.

bike, trailer and tree

And I can report that the fastest way to tow a bike trailer home, is to concentrate on how wonderful it will be to peel off your sodden socks and sit down with dry feet in front of the fire.

Hedges have Ears

October 10, 2017

That feeling when you’ve stopped your bike by the side of the road to take an important phone call …

cows listening in

“she said what?”

… and you just can’t shake off the feeling that somebody’s listening in.

The cows may have left the field next to our garden, but that doesn’t mean we’re safe from Moo I 5

Testing Positive

October 8, 2017

thank you balloon and bikes

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been doing a bit of thinking (and talking) about how campaigners can be more effective and supportive of each other. One thing that always gets a lot of nods in the room is the idea that we need to campaign positively as well as negatively and when politicians do nice things (like double the active travel budget), it’s nice to be nice, and say thanks.

I’ll admit now, I found this surprisingly hard to do. There’s always someone on Twitter who’s prepared to win at cynicism by criticising any attempts to be positive, but it’s not just that – I found it hard myself to be straightforwardly positive in congratulating the Scottish government for doing basically what we’d asked them to do.

photo call

In the end, I satisfied myself by making sure the celebratory cake was rocky road (and I can report than the end product did look remarkably like the surface of the average Glasgow road, albeit with fewer potholes). And in fact we’ve had a pretty good response. It turns out as long as you keep their blood sugar nice and high, even cycle campaigners can be cheerful, at least until the next time they get cut up by a 4×4 driver whose phone call was more important than their life.

basket of cake

101 uses for a Brompton: transporting home baking to the minister of transport

As a corrective to all that positivity I was at a nonsultation event run by Bigtown Coonsil yesterday which reminded me of the giant task we have ahead of us before we’ll be doling out cake of any kind locally, ironically named or otherwise.

Onwards and upwards

Benign Neglect

October 6, 2017

As I have mentioned, I’ve been some what lacking in gardening mojo recently, but some mornings just invite you to get out there and do what needs to be done.

October morning

(as you can probably guess, the other half is in charge of keeping the grass in check which is why it actually is in check).

Today’s job was clearing out those bits of the veg bed that were clearly done, including the pumpkin patch that had utterly failed to produce any pumpkins.

pumpkin patch

Or had it?

hidden pumpkin

It takes special levels of neglect to produce a vegetable bed you can hide a full-size pumpkin in. I just hope that actually weeding around it doesn’t cause it to give up the ghost altogether, at least before Halloween

pumpkin revealed

It’s not the only thing apparently thriving from neglect. As the rest of the flowers are winding down for autumn, this pink geranium doesn’t appear to have got the memo and is still going strong. This despite no gardening input whatsoever except for not being strimmed. I’d love to move it to a more salubrious part of the garden than its current spot between the compost heap and the septic tank, but I’m worried that that will undo whatever it is that keeps it going so strong…

October geraniums

Maybe I’ll just quit while I’m ahead…