Why on Earth…

September 30, 2009

… Tesco feel the need to shrink-wrap their swedes, I will never know. Do you think they come out of the factory like that?

It’s the end times, I tell you.


September 29, 2009

Red Kite4

Originally uploaded by paul_m

After the wettest August ever – announced a good three days before the end of the month, too – we’ve now had miraculously dry weather for most of September. Which is why I was confused to hear the patter of what sounded like rain on my jacket as I rode out on the bike this morning. Looking down, I found the answer scattered all over my legs: not rain, but bugs. And more than a little squall of them too, more like a steady drizzle. By the time I got to the papershop I had them in my eyes, my mouth, probably up my nose, on my glasses – if this continues, I’ll have to clean my lenses with the bug removal spray you get for windscreens.

We need them though. Down at the coast, the house martens were hoovering them up in one last feeding frenzy before they head off south. The reason why we get such abundant bird life round here is that we have such abundant bug life at the bottom of the food chain. I tried to remember that, as I cycled home. But mainly I just tried to remember to keep my mouth shut as I struggled up the hills.

And talking of bird life, no sooner does Bystander post this, than I saw a pair of our own red kites quartering the hills on my route home. They were reintroduced a fair way west of us, but have been dispersing steadily into the surrounding countryside ever since. No bugs for them; road kill’s their thing, and when the pheasant-running-over season gets into full swing at the end of the month, they should eat like kings.

Holey Moley

September 28, 2009

So, because some – well two – people have asked, I thought I’d update you on my progress in breaking in my new saddle. I’ve done almost 190 miles on it already, so I think we can say we’re past the introductory stages. It was not all plain sailing at first – and there was a moment when I thought I was going to be morally obliged to give it back, but I have bought off my conscience with a charitable donation instead. And then there was the matter of getting the rake right (i.e. how much it tilts forwards or backwards). The nose of this saddle is a little higher than my old one and that, combined with the fact that the whole set up was a little firmer, meant that … actually, you know what? I’m not going to go into any more detail on what that meant. Suffice it to say that most of the people commenting on my original post on how comfy their Brooks saddles were were men, and I’ve got the angle sorted out now thank you very much.


Unimpressed (it is, not me)

Anyway, it’s certainly different. On this one, you’re certainly aware of your sit bones and that you’re sitting on something firm, but not in a bad way. I’m definitely more upright on the bike, which is a good thing except on a really windy day. And on one long ride that both the other half and I did, he was the one wincing and pedalling standing up for the last half mile, while I was feeling fine. There’s no sign, yet, that the saddle is conforming to the shape of my bottom, so I can only conclude that I am suitably Brooks-shaped behind. That, or it’s just that there’s enough padding down there to make for a comfy ride on anything.

Oh, and as an added bonus, according to the comments here, the saddle should also contribute to the life of my jeans* (or it would do if I could actually pedal freely in my jeans any more. I’d like to think that this is due to the extra powerful thigh muscles I have developed, although I suspect it may be more to do with the power of snacks…). The wonders of a Brooks saddle will never cease.

*Although, of course according to one commenter on this related post, riding in anything but lycra is – wait for it – elitist. What riding on a Brooks amounts to, I dread to think.

Dog Bites Blogger*

September 26, 2009

The embarrassing part of this story is that it happened just after the other half and I had faced down two really mean looking boxers (the dogs, not the sweaty men in satin shorts) which had decided that the track up to the footpath was part of their territory. Having got past that particular hazard, we were walking down the road home discussing dog-ownership etiquette. ‘They really should be under better control,’ I said. ‘It’s not like the herd of little tiny dogs down at the turn to the ford. Those ones get out but they’re not exactly scary.’ ‘Yeah,’ said the other half. ‘They sort of remind me of how many five-year-olds can you take in a fight.’

How we laughed. Until we got to the turn off for the ford and one of the herd – not my friend from last time – came bounding over the wall towards us. Now normally when dogs get out of their territory they’re pretty craven, but this one hadn’t read the manual and the next thing I knew it had dashed across the road, swung round behind me, and closed its tiny needle-sharp teeth on my calf. Ow. Suddenly the words ‘you stupid bitch’ were entirely appropriate (for indeed, it was a she) although I only thought of that when I had got home and inspected the damage. It’s pretty humiliating being bested by a creature you could theoretically drop kick over a wall (although perhaps not so humiliating as realising you could only take 12 five year olds in unarmed combat. That’s my nursery teaching career out the window then).

So our walks from now on may have to be accompanied by stout sticks. And I’m going to start being extremely cautious around cows

*Yes, I know this is the archetypal not-news story but hey, it’s my blog and it happened to me and I bet you any money that even in the days of hot metal, ‘Dog Bites Newspaper Proprietor’ would have made the front page.

Another Day…

September 25, 2009

…another gardening problem. I’m seriously considering doing something less stressful next year, like bomb disposal. No sooner have I managed to get on top of the caterpillars in my broccoli, than I find my squash plants looking like this:



Hmm. Something tells me this isn’t right. A quick consultation with Dr. Google has suggested that I should water more, water less, thin the plants, pick off the leaves, not let the leaves get wet (in Scotland?), not worry about it, perform open heart surgery on the stems to remove vine weevils, and abandon all hope now and burn everything.

too young to die

too young to die

My money’s on the latter being what I’ll end up doing. But meanwhile there are still little baby squash! I can’t give up now! Won’t somebody help save my babies, before it’s too late?

(It’s possible I’m getting a little too involved with this gardening lark.)

I Lose myself a Reader

September 24, 2009

Chatting over lunch with yesterday at one of my irregular attendances at the BNCC (Motto – ‘too old to die young’) with one of the more senior members.

Him: ‘What is it you do?’

Me: ‘I’m a writer’

‘And what subjects do you write about?’

‘It’s fiction.’


And for a moment there he was interested, until a fractionally younger companion clarifies: ‘Fiction. FICTION’

‘Ah, fiction,’ followed by a rapid change of the subject.

Clearly my muse is falling down on the job if it wants me to acheive much success round here. (This is an improvement on the reaction of the chimney sweep who didn’t even want to know what my book was about. ‘I’ve only read one book in the past 10 years,’ he said hurriedly in case I was about to press one on him. ‘I was going into hospital and I picked it up for 50p. Kenny Everett’s autobiography. I couldn’t get past chapter one.’ I can’t help but feel he hasn’t given the world of literature an entirely fair crack of the whip there.)

A Fine Pallet

September 23, 2009

The excitement of the day – maybe even the week – today in the TownMouse household was the delivery of our heat logs, thanks to the generosity of Huttonian, who is perhaps hoping that the house will be a little warmer the next time he comes to stay. I was excited because it means my fingers won’t necessarily drop off this winter, but the other half was even more excited because they came on a pallet, which the delivery man left with us. They also came with what appears to be a lifetime’s supply of fine German sandpaper, between the pallet and the heatlogs which is even more exciting than bubblewrap, although less fun*. Both have been squirrelled away into the other half’s expanding shed empire, along with the heat logs themselves. I’m pretty sure if we were living in London we’d be begging the delivery man to take the pallet away so we didn’t have to try and get rid of it but here it can just sit around until a pallet-shaped hole appears in our lives. We’re still regretting not saying yes when offered our old electricity pole. I mean, what were we thinking? If nothing else, it would have made for awesome firewood. As, indeed, would the pallet, in the unlikely event we ever run out of heat logs.

*Remember when you were a kid and the packaging a thing came in was more fun than the thing itself? Some things never change…