2009: the Year in Numbers

December 31, 2009

Number of blog posts: 268

Number of comments: 2,3217 (thanks guys, keep them coming)

Of which contained potato recipes: 8

Number of funny google searches about which I very nearly told you in desperation for a cheap blog post but from which I heroically refrained: 3 (and one of them was a cracker, too)

Number of times other half has laughed out loud while reading blog with me hovering anxiously over his shoulder: 2, with the odd slightly amused smile on occasion.

Number of bikes bought: 1

Number needed: N+1

Miles cycled: 1,962.7 (so close to a nice round number, if it wasn’t for the ice on the roads)

Of which on new bike: 1289.9

of which on new saddle: 714.4

Eddington number: 21

OpenStreetMap GPS traces uploaded: 98

Number of items knitted: 11

Of which hats: 5

Number of new gardens acquired: 1

types of veg planted: 10

of which, simply never came up at all: 3

Number of unpleasant vegetable diseases contracted by survivors: 2

Number of kilos potatoes harvested: 13.6

Number of leeks harvested: 1 (but it was delicious)

Number of slugs killed: you know, I did consider keeping track of this, but in the end common sense prevailed

Net cost of growing own veg compared to just buying it: £5.90 (but the broccoli’s still to come)

Examples of pondlife found in odd locations: 2

Number of probably ineffective but well intentioned environmental initiatives signed up to: 1

Number of pointless spreadhseets keeping track of this stuff: 4

Number of books written: 0. well, about 0.6 to be fair. I can’t help but feel this might be related to some of the numbers above

And how was your year?

Thaw Point

December 30, 2009

The snow is melting, sort of. We woke up to the sound of dripping water, which was welcome but somehow depressing all the same. Enough cars have passed on our road to wear the ice away in ruts down to the bare tarmac, although there are still enough icy spots to make cycling, um, interesting. All those people complaining about how the councils ‘didn’t put enough grit down’ should try living out here, where our road has had none, except at a few tricky junctions where the nearest householder has done the deed themselves (see also: unblocking culverts and trimming verges, oh yes, we’re self-sufficient all right out here in the country).

There is still significant snow and ice around, though. The pictures show the walled garden a couple of days ago (too depressing to post pictures of the actual thaw – I may welcome it, but it doesn’t mean it actually makes for pleasant viewing) and it hasn’t much changed. Our courtyard is cobbled which – coupled with plenty of moisture-trapping moss – makes for an almost perfectly treacherous icy surface. Now that we’ve had enough thaw to get everything evenly wet, the temperature is dropping again and more freezing weather is predicted so I was out with my little trowel chipping off a centimetre of solid ice in a path from the front door to where we park our car. This may mean we can get in and out of the house without breaking either of our necks, or it may mean that I have merely laid the foundation for an even slicker surface than the crusted, half-melted trodden snow would have been; only time will tell. But think of the blogging material of a trip to A&E and besides, it kept me warm and exercised this afternoon – a bonus when I can’t get out and ride, especially as I’m on self-appointed eating-up-Christmas-cake duty for the rest of the time (the other half, being American and therefore excused fruitcake, is nobly ridding the house of the biscuit menace, one bourbon at a time).

Meanwhile, in a triumph of lazy gardening, I forgot to remove the bottle cloches from my overwintering self-planted garlic cloves – indeed, I had forgotten all about them – and they have therefore been snug (I hope) and protected in their own little snow caves all Christmas long.

If Cows could Talk

December 29, 2009

It’s all very well her banging on about outdoor raised cattle

But what’s the point of being grass fed, when all the grass is frozen over?

Doesn’t anyone stop to think we might actually want a nice warm barn?

Thaw predicted tomorrow. I never thought I’d ever actually find myself looking forward to the rain…

Going Nowhere

December 28, 2009

Looks like we made the right decision setting off yesterday. Apparently it rained here last night, on top of the leftover snow, and then it froze, hard, overnight. This morning it was sunny, bright, and minus four. They only grit our road when the school bus is running, which won’t be for a while. The road is mainly a sheet of ice, sometimes covered in enough snow to give a grip, sometimes not. Even the half-a-mile walk to the post box proved a bit of a challenge. It’s not a surface I’m going to be cycling on in a hurry, and it’s not all that tempting a prospect for a drive. Fortunately we stocked up at Tescos on the way home yesterday, so we aren’t going to run out of food any time soon.

That just leaves getting the paper, aka the incredible shrinking Guardian. Hmmm. Nice though it is to have it in one’s hand, I think today’s the day to be reading the thing online.

Here’s hoping my daily quid wasn’t the only thing between it and bankruptcy, and it will still be around to be fetched when we finally thaw out…

And Home

December 27, 2009

We thought we weren’t going to make it when we woke up this morning. Four inches of snow overnight, and two more falling during the course of breakfast. The car buried, and nothing moving outside except the deer browsing in the field over the road. Another night of decent central heating in front of the wood-burning stove beckoned. Heading into the town to panic-buy milk we trudged through wellie-height snow and it was all looking extremely hopeful. Except – damn, was that a gritting lorry? And a snow plough? It looked like we were to be rescued after all.

After lunch, frantic comparison of the various Traffic Scotland live web cams refused to reveal anything like the snowy carnage we were hoping for on our route home. Time to pack up as planned and come home, before the next deluge of snow/ice/sleet/hail/frogs/tornados as promised by the Met office’s severe weather warnings.

Fortunately, there was time enough before we set off for a last few rounds of sledging on the golf course. The other half took pictures and, when he has finished loading them up, correcting their colour balance, checking the exposure settings, converting them out of RAW format and adjusting the composition, I will be able to post them. So some time in March, then.

Meanwhile I think we really must do something about the damp, insulation and heating in this cottage. It was galling to discover that the place where we were staying – probably more than twice its size – was using half the oil we use to keep our cottage just above freezing, to keep the whole place toasty warm. It may take more than a bit of clingfilm, I fear…

I do the man wrong…

Christmas Day

December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Originally uploaded by nz_willowherb

My new camera is delayed due to a slight logistical issue with Santa, it seems. So you’ll just have to enjoy my uncle’s take on our Christmas morning walk instead. I think there could possibly have been more perfect Christmas weather, but I can’t off hand think what it might be.

We’ll be back in the middle of nowhere soon, and normal service – moaning about the weather – will resume shortly. But meanwhile, have a great Christmas and a cracking New Year

Snow Joke

December 23, 2009

We woke up this morning in Duns, planning to head north tonight but it didn’t look all that hopeful – four inches of snow, roads closed under a light dusting of jack-knifed lorries, Traffic Scotland crashing under the strain, doom and gloom all round. We resigned ourselves to an afternoon’s sledging instead until we realised that the small house at Duns was inexplicably sledge free and there were none to be had for love nor money anywhere else in the town. So, noticing that – worst travel conditions in Scotland since the history of ever notwithstanding – the roads were in fact clear, we decided to give it a go after all. We set off with some trepidation, a steady diet of traffic chaos on rolling repeat on the radio. A1 clear, Edinburgh ringroad clear, M8 clear, M9 clear and hardly any other cars to boot. I think we made it up in record time – there’s nothing like the BBC Terror Centre for keeping the worst of the traffic off the roads.

Sledging tomorrow, if we’re spared.

If the Snow falls in a Forest…

December 21, 2009

…and the blogger’s camera is broken, did it really snow?*

It was absolutely gorgeous yesterday, but you’ll just have to believe me. Bright sunshine, blue sky, everything white with snow. There were a few kids out sledging in one field, but otherwise it was entirely still and silent. Even the cattle just stood there, wondering where their grass had gone. They’re not all that bright, cows, are they?

Anyway, today we’re off, and the snow looks rather less lovely a prospect when we’ve the drive to Duns to negotiate. I think we won’t be taking the road over the hills this time.

I hope everyone gets where they’re going this Christmas, and only gets snowed in when they arrive.

*Fortunately, Mrs UHDD is more together so here, look at her pictures instead. They’re better than anything I could take anyway

Woke up to…

December 19, 2009

… a powercut this morning, after the coldest night so far. No shower, no heating, no lights and NO INTERNET. Thank goodness for the Rayburn which is gravity fed and chugging away happily, so that there was only a little ice on the inside of the windows… Oh and for the power company who got the electricity back on after a couple of hours*.

Meanwhile, the infamous Band of Snow is reportedly making its way towards us, but so far all we’ve had is its support act, the Band of Rain. Hmm, and we’re supposed to be out tonight, on one of our rare social occasions. Should make for an interesting drive home…


No sooner do I press ‘submit’ than the other half walks in with snow in his hair… it’s snowing. Yay!

*I find it odd that when you’re ringing to report a power cut they know where you are instantly and put you straight through to the appropriate recorded message, whereas if you’re ringing about anything else you have to repeat your details endlessly to a succession of uninterested people. Presumably the engineers know how to arrange things so that they have to talk to as few people as possible…

In nine minutes…

December 18, 2009

… I can turn on the heating.

Ooh – eight minutes now.

And we don’t even have any snow. Bah