Too Much Information

February 17, 2010

To Papershop Village, to enquire whether any more sausages have come in from the nearest organic farm. (We only found out about this farm because they had an open day last year, and it was only after we’d spent a happy half hour scratching pigs’ backs and generally making friends with their livestock that we discovered the shop was quietly stocking their sausages and bacon. But then, given that it sells out pretty quickly, I suppose need-to-know marketing makes a certain sense.)

‘There should be some in next week,’ Papershop woman said.

‘Oh good,’ we said.

‘In fact I think they’re going to the abattoir tomorrow.’

‘Oh right,’ we said.

‘Yes, they’re probably still gambolling round their paddock as we speak, completely unaware of their fate.’

I find I’m still enough of a townie to wonder whether anonymously shrink-wrapped meat from Tescos wouldn’t be a bit less disconcerting all round…


Trench Warfare

February 16, 2010

It was a fairly modest ambition, as I thought. Just dig up a patch of the Crocosmia (aka Montbretia – you know when plants go under an alias they’re bound to be trouble) that was taking over the front bed – and get rid of those little nettles springing up while I was at it – so I had somewhere to plant a wider variety of annuals, maybe even discover something that rabbits didn’t like to eat.

About half the corms I dug up in total

You would have thought a decade’s experience in IT projects would have warned me to be very wary of all those little jobs that start with the word ‘just’. Especially if they continue with the word ‘while’. Two weeks, and a barrow-load of corms* later, and I had cleared my first patch, at least provisionally. I’ve a horrible feeling that it was the Crocosmia that was keeping the nettles in some sort of check – for some very small nettle plants, they had an awfully large amount of root. Perhaps, like Iran and Iraq in the eighties, I should have just left them battling it out so they couldn’t get expansionist anywhere else. And there were definite signs of bindweed root in the soil too, just waiting for a bit of space and light to spring. I think I’ve got it all out, but you never know…

Two feet down, many more to go

Two feet down, several more to go...

Still, that’s a couple of feet cleared, which will have to do me for this year. If I manage to hold the territory (and it’s by no means certain that I will) I shall use it as a bridgehead for next year’s campaign and press on.

Actually, this particular battle is no more than gardening karma. Many many moons ago when I had my first garden, I happily planted a pack of Crocosmia corms along the fence I shared with my neighbour. He – despite being both a man, and actually extremely knowledgeable about gardening – was a genuinely nice person who didn’t believe in putting off beginners by patronising them with well-meant advice, so he didn’t say anything to stop me.

I expect he’s still digging them up even now.

*I wonder whether anyone has considered using Crocosmia for carbon sequestration? They certainly manage to bury a huge amount of vegetable matter in the soil.

Every Silver Lining

February 15, 2010

It’s not often I welcome a headwind on the bike, but our usual westerlies have resumed, blowing milder air at us than we’ve had these last few weeks. This means two things. The first is that, while the trip out was a bit of a slog, the trip back was once more the usual tailwind-assisted downhill roller-coaster ride: there are few everyday pleasures to beat cruising home on a bike down rolling hills on an empty road with the wind at your back.

The second is the return of the rain. Ah well, you can’t have everything…

And Breathe…

February 12, 2010

Ahhhhh. Rayburn man has come, de-gunked, re-lit and gone. Plumber has come, started de-gunking the radiators, partially broke the heating, returned, fixed it, and gone. Full heating has been restored. I may have to take off one of my emergency jumpers if this continues.

Anyway, all is now sweetness and light again in the Townmouse household, with the small exception of the TalkTalk billing department (or the Evil Slime who Ought to be Hung up by their Thumbs, to give them their full title). But that’s a subject for another day.

It’s still winter, of course. But it feels a lot less like it than it did yesterday…

I don’t Know About you Lot…

February 11, 2010

… but I’ve reached the point where I’ve more or less had it with the winter. I’m sick of wearing half-a-dozen layers every day, I’m sick of boots, I’m sick of having to put on my scarf and my hat and my gloves just to go up to empty the compost. I’m sick of the east wind. I’m sick of the sheer effort of getting out of a warm bed on a cold day. I’m sick of shutting doors and stopping up draughts and closing curtains and living as though we were under siege. I’m sick of the dark nights (and where has our moon gone?) and the dark mornings and filling hot water bottles. I’m sick of being cold, of working with frozen hands and my back and neck and shoulders tensed against the chill. I’m sick of sorting out one source of damp only to have two more spring up like dragon’s teeth. I’m sick of the smell of mould and having everything that’s left for a few days unattended growing a mildew coat. I’m sick of a wood pile that functions as a giant game of Jenga. I’m sick of frozen ground and ice still lingering in corners and the cheery way the weather people promise wintry showers.

I know that spring is on its way. I know that summer’s round the corner. My seeds arrived today and I ought to be excited, planning what to plant when. And it’s not even as though we’ve had particularly bad weather – the east wind may be cold but we’ve had clear and sunny skies most days. None of this makes any difference: I’m just sick of it all and I can’t see an end to it just at the moment.

Winter. Bah. What is it good for? Come on spring.

A Lasting Impression

February 10, 2010

While I was taking the bike’s portrait the other day, I noticed something.

You know my new Brooks saddle, the one I was having such a hard time making an impression on? Well, 850 or so miles later, it looks as though I might be getting there:

Which leaves only one burning question – does the impression of my bum look big in this?

First, Catch your Swan

February 9, 2010


No, not a recipe, you’ll be pleased to hear. But the nature reserve where the other half volunteers was having one of its winter ‘swan uppings’ and we both went along to lend a hand. The other half, being the sort to look a swan in the eye without flinching, got to put them in their natty little jackets while I – who once failed to cover myself with glory at a toad-crossing-the-road day by being incapable of picking up a live toad and had to content myself with counting the squashed ones, a job that involved a shovel and a bucket – was writing things down.

Curiously enough, given how famously stroppy a swan can be, the birds were, on the whole, pretty calm about the whole affair and submitted to being weighed, measured, ringed, sexed and swabbed with reasonably good grace. It helps that the whoopers have slightly smiley-looking beaks and a general expression of mild curiousity on their faces, which I’m sure is entirely misleading given how rudely their elevensies had just been interrupted. I know that if I had been lured into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and biscuit and ended up netted, herded, grabbed, strait-jacketed and then – the final indignity – forced to wait in a queue to be weighed, I’d have been spitting feathers. As it was, they simply reserved the right to squirt evil-smelling liquid poo on anyone who got in range. And, frankly, who could blame them?