The Plot Thickens

January 31, 2009

Today – the weather gods having granted us a brief Israeli/Hamas style ceasefire before the hostilities resume tomorrow – I’ve been busy in the garden. Following your advice (which mostly amounted to ‘grow what you like to eat, duh’) I have planned out my planting, got some seeds ordered, and started digging. I’m doing my own half-arsed version of raised beds as I don’t really feel that my informal arrangement to have a corner of my landlord’s garden justifies the sort of semi-permanent construction that proper raised beds require  (no doubt I’ll still be saying this in ten years’ time).

So, for the rabid gardeners among you here’s the progress to date, complete with planting plan in which you can see just how limited the range of my vegetable diet is:

Planting plan

Planting plan

(there will be garlic dotted about, and tomatoes in pots, and squash in the cold frame too)

And meanwhile I have also been planting these:

Yes, sticks. But not just any sticks, because these ones (if Homebase are to be believed) will magically turn themselves into raspberry canes. The last time I planted raspberries I paid a fiver for a bundle of canes in Woolies. As these produced enough fruit for us to have raspberries every day for a month each summer for five years, I think that that was pound for pound the best investment I have ever made. These cost ten quid on special offer, so perhaps the Bank of England would care to bung another couple of fivers my way, and I will see if I can repeat the trick? It’s got to beat toxic mortgages and bailing out car manufacturers as an investment, and I promise not to pay myself any bonuses, although I will probably eat all the profits.

Twelve Again

January 30, 2009

‘Ramp ahead’ said the sign. Now often when a sign says ‘ramp’ that usually means something completely different to the thing we ordinary civilians mean by ramp – a bit of a step up or down in the road surface (or even an enormous chasm in the road) but this was a proper ramp. It was at the point where the road passed through a farm yard and the farmer was pumping some sort of agricultural substance from one part to the other and a nice steep metal ramp had been placed going over the hose. On the way out, going up the hill, this was merely a pain. But coming back, accelerating down the hill, it became something else entirely. It became a jump.

My outer thirty-*cough*-year-old was reaching for the brake as I realised this, but it seemed my inner twelve-year-old was in charge of the pedals and still accelerating. Sadly, some caution kicked in at the last minute and I didn’t get a lot of air – but if it’s still there next week, I’ll have to have another go. And properly this time.

Helmet? Why on earth would I want to wear a helmet?


January 29, 2009
Over bridge for Annan and Stations in England

Over bridge for Annan and Stations in England

Why anyone might think the Scots a bit parochial at times, I don’t know…

You’ll have to excuse the poor quality of the shot – taken a little furtively in case I had to explain to someone why I find the sign amusing. And the lazy blogging of late – I’ve actually had too much to do, and none of it blog-worthy. Back on the bike, I hope, tomorrow, with more adventures to share.

I’m Less Keen When…

January 28, 2009
View, what view?

View, what view?

… I wake up to a view like this.

In fact, this is the view at high (or rather low) noon – when it’s foggy here it’s not your wimpy southern early morning mist that clears to a fine day, it’s a proper pea-souper that hangs around basically for ever.


A Murmuration

January 26, 2009

The location had been passed onto us by a fellow enthusiast: a layby alongside the A74(M). We drove straight past the first time but the cars already parked up tipped us off and by the time we’d found a place to turn and got back there were four cars, each with a waiting couple, pulled over, and another quickly joined us. ‘I hope this isn’t actually the local dogging spot,’ I said nervously to the other half, but I didn’t think that doggers usually came sensibly dressed in knitted beanies with flasks of tea, and binoculars around their necks*.

We got out and crossed the road, wrapped up against the cold, but we didn’t have to wait long. As the sky darkened, the starlings came over in their hundreds and then their thousands, joining the gathering throng. They swirled like smoke, the flock thickening and stretching out, undulating in a whip-crack of birds that must have been a good mile long. A lone buzzard, confused by all the choice, made no attempt to have a go at this all-you-can-eat bird buffet. Even a peregrine has trouble picking out its supper from a flock like this and the buzzard knew when he was beaten. Sometimes the flock would bunch and seem to form a solid shape: as though at any moment they might make an arrow, Disney style, or a hammer and anvil, or spell out words. Sometimes a swirl would form, accelerating round and down, beginning to settle on the trees. We waited till it was almost dark, until the last few squadrons had cruised in, hedge-hopping, to settle in the trees. And then we trickled back to our waiting cars, sharing experiences with the others there.

We’d missed the best of it, apparently – the birds had moved from one small woodland to another and so we didn’t get the rush of noise and air (and worse) from having them right overhead. But it was pretty spectacular all the same. I’ve seen a starling roosting flight before – hell, I’ve written about one. But this was something else.  One day, when I have worked out how, I might well post a video. For now, here’s someone else’s to give you a pale shadow of an idea of what it might be like. Or get yourself to Gretna Green at dusk, and see it for yourself.

*and if you know otherwise, please keep it to yourself.

Putting the Burn into Burns Night

January 25, 2009


Because setting fire to things beats haggis any day

I Love it When…

January 23, 2009


… I wake up to a view like this.