November 21, 2008

Brrr. As predicted with much excitement by what Huttonian likes to call the BBC Terror Centre, the wind has shifted around from our prevailing south and south-westerlies to the north. (A cold snap – in November! – who would ever have thought it?) But anyway, the point is, it managed to do the shift during the five minutes today that I was exchanging pleasantries in the papershop.

No prizes for guessing the prevailing direction of my ride into – and home from – the shop. Suffice it to say, that I’ve never come to a standstill going downhill before…

*Bi-directional head wind


Hedgehog Pie

November 20, 2008

It was unavoidable. I hadn’t noticed it on my way out – perhaps it wasn’t there then, because it was pretty recently squashed. Just over the brow of the hill and round a bend, so I didn’t have much warning it was there. Right in the part of the road where I like to ride, where the car wheels have worn the rough tarmac smooth but not yet rutted it out. I hadn’t time to steer around it, and I didn’t want to brake and besides, I thought, it’s already dead. What harm can another wheel do? I’ll just ride over it.

Which is how I found myself spending the ride back watching the splat-splat-splat of the patch of hedgehog gore going round on my front wheel.

In other news, my E number has finally crept up to twelve. Pathetic. Must try harder. If only to ensure that every last molecule of hedgehog has been worn from my bicycle’s tyres…

By His Works, ye shall Know Him

November 19, 2008

Our neighbour is moving out and has left a stack of books behind for us to rummage through and keep or give away as we feel fit. They’re an odd selection – lots of classic boys’ own stuff for the most part, like Rider Haggard and Jules Verne, but there are some other, more esoteric, volumes as well. The other half has just reported the latest additions to the pile: the SAS Survival manual, the Complete Book of Air Rifle Hunting and Language, Truth and Logic by A.J. Ayer.

We’ve passed on the latter two – I’m more of a late Wittgenstein woman, myself – but the former has a section on lighting fires. And as soon as I’ve wrenched the other half away from the chapter on shark wrestling, I shall be checking it out. With that, and your excellent advice, I’m sure we’ll be in front of a blazing fire in no time.

Hopefully, in the cottage, rather than of it.

From my Mouth to God’s Ear

November 17, 2008

‘It’s not so bad so far,’ I said to my sister on the phone the other day. ‘At least on the cold days it’s been sunny, and on the wet days it’s been fairly mild.’

So today, when I had to get up in the dark and cycle five miles to get a lift to a bog where we were to spend the day laying waste to half an acre of rhododendron? Cold and wet. 3°C (or F.cold in Farenheit) – not freezing yet, but it gave a nice icy edge to the rain. And, while laying waste to stuff is always fun and generally warming, the bike ride home – uphill, into the wind – was not.

Hot bath and a gin and tonic, I think.

Well I Never

November 15, 2008

So it turns out that if instead of trying to sleep in the bedroom with three external walls and a north-facing window you sleep in the room with just the one external wall and a west-facing window, life gets a lot warmer and more pleasant.

More findings from the department of the bleeding obvious as and when they seep into my thick skull.


November 13, 2008

Townie that I am, I lack many necessary rural skills – sheep wrangling, chicken sexing, advanced gate-leaning – but the one that looms large at the moment is starting fires. No, not arson – remind me to tell you of the time I almost set fire to Ascot racecourse – but little domestic fires, the kind that keep you warm. My mother, who was a girl guide, made much of the fact that she had learned to start a fire with a single match, but all I can recall from my brief stint in the guides was making up rude words to the songs (they don’t give you a badge for that) and I can’t have been paying attention when they taught us this part, if indeed they did.

I’ve got all the theory. Newspaper to start, then sticks, then bigger sticks, then the logs, then all the poking about that makes having a fire so much fun and such an inefficient way to heat a room. And once I’ve got the newspaper going, the rest of it usually goes more or less as advertised, it’s lighting the newspaper that seems to be the hard part. This seems odd. I apply the lit match to the paper and after some luridly coloured flames (colour printing has a lot to answer for) it seems to lose heart and simply go out.

I’m beginning to think it’s the newspaper itself that’s at fault. It is, after all, the Guardian. Perhaps it’s not just metaphorically, but actually wringing wet –  I’m sure the Telegraph takes a much more robust approach to starting fires. And the Daily Mail? No need for even the one match, I’m guessing. Just show it an illegal immigrant single mother on benefits and it will spontaneously combust then and there…

Any suggestions, folks? Petrol? Or change the newspaper reading habits of a lifetime?

Great Wood Heist

November 12, 2008

This is one of the reasons why I love living in the country. We were out on a walk this afternoon, it being glorious weather*, and we stopped to pass the time of day with a chap chopping up wood in the bit of land near us which had been recently felled. I asked if he was planning to take it all – because there was a mountainous pile of rooted up tree stumps and other brash behind him, and he only had a small trailer – and he replied, ‘why, would you like some?’

Well, of course I said yes, and he very kindly left us a pile of smallish birch logs to come and collect later when he had finished. So once he had gone we set out to go and pick up our stash. Now here’s where the Londoner in me comes out. The other half suggested taking the car, but I was a bit reluctant because while casually going and picking up a few bits of wood felt okay, loading up a car boot full did not. And even though a man with a chainsaw had said it was okay – and who’s going to argue with a man with a chainsaw? – that was going to sound a bit lame if anyone came along and demanded to know what we were doing, seeing as how the man with the chainsaw had gone.

Of course in the end it was fine because nobody saw us because nobody was about. Nobody ever is. But even knowing that, I can’t get past that paranoid London feeling that somebody, somewhere, is watching what you’re doing. In London, of course, they are, although they probably don’t care. But out here, what are they going to use, squirrel-cam?

And besides, seeing as I then go and blog about it, why would they bother?

Keep your guesses coming in the great bucket mystery. I’m off to start a fire and go sit as close as possible to it as I can

*sans pigs