Scary Stuff

November 30, 2009

‘Good morning!’ I called cheerfully as I cycled past a dog-walking lady on my way to the papershop – giving her plenty of room as I overtook her, I might add.

‘Aaaargh!’ cried the dog-walking lady, clutching her chest and leaping a foot  into the air.

It’s not just the sheep I terrify, then. Really must get a bell on that bike…

Bringing Home the Bacon

November 28, 2009

It was a fine day today, the sort of day that suggests the weather gods may, just, be considering forgiving us whatever transgression it was brought their wrath down on us last week.

But I didn’t have time to stand around admiring the view for I had an important mission to fulfil: the Town Mouse household had run out of bacon. Time to cycle down to our local Camphill trust, which has a farm shop selling its own excellent cheeses, bread, various organic foodstuffs and which I thought might also do bacon. Off I pedalled and sure enough, there was plenty of bacon and when I asked if it was outdoor raised I got the answer ‘Oh yes, totally, you can head on out the back and say hello to the pigs if you like’ which is far more reassuring than ‘all our meat is sourced from farms which adhere to Tescos own high animal welfare standards,’ for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on*.

23 miles later and my nose and toes were telling me all about the imminent onset of winter. I’ve hit my Eddington target for the month, blown the last soot of London out of my lungs and – best of all – according to the Highway Cycling Group Bacon Calculation Algorithm, I’ve earned myself an extra 2 and almost-a-half rashers with my supper tonight. How fortunate that we’ve got plenty to hand…

* It’s only now I’ve come to write this up that I realise I should have actually taken a picture of the pigs. Oh well, bad blogger.

You Know you’ve…

November 27, 2009

… lived in the country too long, when of all the people walking down a busy London street, you’re the only one who notices (or, at least, admits they’ve noticed) the litter bin blazing merrily away.

‘Course up here, we’d be standing around it to keep warm.

Hate Figure

November 26, 2009

Hehe – just seen my first cycling traffic warden.

Could anyone be more unpopular with drivers?

Back home tomorrow…

London Bound

November 24, 2009

As you read this, I shall be rattling my way south courtesy of Virgin Trains or – more likely – sitting in a siding somewhere watching what’s left of Cumbria wash past the windows of the train. Either way, posting will be light-to-nonexistent until I return.

I shall be staying with these two minxes – the latter showing how wellies really can be worn on a bike with style. I appear to have been roped in to babysit as well. Posting resumes on Friday, if I am spared.

Who Needs Cycle Clips…

November 23, 2009

Rural Cycle Chic

… when you have wellies?

The reason is this: the temporary lake that guards the entrance to papershop village. Mostly I’ve been whizzing through puddles – if you can call them that – with my feet in the air, which is fun but this one is too long to make it through on momentum alone and too deep to avoid submerging my foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke. So I’ve taken a leaf out of the few local cycling farmers’ books and donned my wellies (they’re proper farmer’s wellies, too. I had some of those knee-high expensive walking ones but they were clearly designed for someone with patrician thoroughbred calves, not a cyclist. And they leaked. These ones were ten quid and don’t. Bargain).

So anyway, my feet stayed dry this trip, although it’s more than I can say for my chain. Any tips for keeping a bike running when it’s mostly underwater? Because I don’t think this weather is going to go away.

Ask the Internet

November 22, 2009

Anybody know what this plant might be?

It was blooming in my mother’s garden and I’ve borrowed a few clumps… But I’m in the process of digging out roughly half a hundredweight of Crocosmia/montbretia corms, which are in the process of taking over, and this looks a little similar. I don’t want to find out I’ve adopted a monster, but on the other hand, anything that flowers in November has got to be worth tolerating.

And talking of things flowering in November…

… what do you think this rose thinks it’s up to?

Not that I’m complaining, mind, but do you think it knows something I don’t?


November 20, 2009


There was a moment yesterday when I thought we really were going to be underwater. The waves were lapping at the entrance to the other half’s chief shed, and already creeping up the garage floor. With the bikes and other vulnerable stuff moved to higher ground, we had to drive to Notso Bigtown, wondering what we would be coming back to. Coming back, through driving rain we saw the jewelled glint of eyes in the hedgerow – a dozen miserable sheep, huddled in what little shelter there was.


But fortunately, the waters had begun to recede before we went to bed last night and this morning the yard was clear, the sun was out and the wind was drying up the worst of it. I even cycled down to get the paper, although I came back soaked from the knees down, having had to negotiate more floods than I had ever seen before. The ground is completely and utterly saturated now, and every dip and hollow is an impromptu lake, every ditch and stream is overflowing. Parts of Bigtown are still underwater, and there’s more rain to come, although not on the scale we’ve seen this week.

But never mind all that, I hear you cry, what news of the ford? Well, such is our dedication to the blog that yesterday morning, before all the drama began, we headed out in the rain to check the level. And I think you’ll agree that this time we have a new high score.


(You’ll note that this is not photographed from the traditional angle. But that would have meant crossing the bridge and you know what? I didn’t fancy it…)

Forget Sandbags, Send Gopherwood

November 19, 2009

Met Office: bringing joy across the nation

‘I hope you aren’t washed away,’ a friend emailed last night having seen the forecast – our London friends do seem to like to keep track of our weather, and let us know when it’s shaping up to be truly dreadful. I was initially inclined to pooh-pooh the Met Office and its dire forecasts and severe weather warnings, particularly for ‘heavy rain’. I mean, how bad could it be? But that was before we realised that the reason why our front yard hadn’t flooded yet was because the flood was building up in the back and – when the other half had cleared the blockage that was threatening to overwhelm the damp proof course (apparently we have one…) – is now also flooding in the front. We have deployed our only sandbag, and are now moving things out of the most threatened of the other half’s shed empire onto higher ground.

There’s more to say, and pictures, but if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and google ‘cubits’ and work out how to build an ark.

Nothing but a Number

November 18, 2009

November’s been a fairly rubbish month for cycling. Well, for most things, actually, but what with the weather and everything else I’ve been out on the bike just a handful of times. This is bad for the body and bad for the soul but most of all it’s bad for my numbers, and particularly my unofficial New Year’s resolution goal of increasing my Eddington number by one every month, not that numbers are important at all in cycling, ahem*. My problem is that I’ve been pretty successful to date and my E number is now 20. My tactic for increasing it is to aim for a ride at least two miles longer than the number I’m currently working on – to get a few more for the next target under my belt – which means planning rides of at least 23 miles these days. As my longest regular ride is 20 miles, even with the odd mapping detour (which are getting harder to come by), progress is definitely slowing down.

But today is a Wednesday, the day that the BNCC – a sort of Cycle Social unplugged, now I come to think of it – meet up and the weather was not as horrible as had been promised. I checked the schedule for their next meeting point and I could make it if I hustled. So, without stopping to think too hard about it, I hopped on my bike and was off. We’ve had some really biblical weather recently, and the roads were fairly flooded, it was cold and it was grey but the rain held off long enough for me to get there and back undrenched. I made in time for tea and chat and some rather excellent parsnip soup. And then I plugged my way home again, tireder, colder, achier and much much happier than I have been for a while. Thirty miles of November riding will do that to a person, I find.

*Ok, maybe a bit.