Summer Begins

May 20, 2010

No, the May is not out yet, clouts are only provisionally being cast, it’s not even particularly warm unless you’re in a sheltered spot and the sun is actually shining, instead of sulking behind a blanket of cloud as it is today. But I was out with my cycling pals and as we finished our lunch and prepared to ride back from Bigtown with our library books we got the first ‘Och, it’s far too hot for a cycle ride the day’ of the season from a kindly passer by

Yes, the whingeing about the heat has already begun. I just wish they’d wait until I’ve at least had a chance to put away my thermals.


They Think it’s All Over…

May 19, 2010

Just when I thought the election was done and dusted, a fat envelope plops through the door inviting me to vote in the election of members of Bigtownshire’s Health Board. Seventy candidates standing for 10 places (and the chance, so the muttering in the pub goes, for £4,000 pa in attendance fees). The ballot paper invites me to put as many as I like in order of preference, and is accompanied by a booklet listing all 70 candidates’ election statement to help me decide. The other half laughed as he saw me going through it this morning. ‘I’m glad to see you’re taking this so seriously,’ he said. ‘Just be thankful you don’t have to elect the local dogcatcher and sheriff as well.’*

Having gone through the various statements, I’m not much the wiser. I’m not really sure what makes for a good Health Board member anyway, so I’ve decided to adopt my normal long listing technique and eliminated everyone who Uses Capital Letters Inappropriately, doesn’t know how to use an apostrophe, can’t spell, claims to have ‘a vast knowledge’ of anything, or that some abstract noun or other ‘is their passion’.   I’m not sure if our health care locally will be any the better for it, but if I get my way, at least the minutes of their meetings will be a joy to any pedant’s eyes. That whittled it down nicely. Maybe elections to the education boards next?

*Actually, if David Cameron’s Big Society gets off the ground, maybe we will – or maybe everything will be run by a self-selecting committee of the only people who actually care about these sorts of things enough to turn up: the Linda Snellification of the country.


May 18, 2010

There will be no blog today, due to quite incredibly clement weather.

You will find me outside, stockpiling vitamin D

Fell off the Back of a Lorry

May 17, 2010

It was the village plant sale yesterday – a one-and-a-half hour gardeners’ feeding frenzy, with tray bakes afterwards for tea. I didn’t have anything to bring as my only spares, my squash seedlings, had succumbed to some sort of a wasting sickness. But as we walked up to the waterfall to check on Noticeboard Tree what time it started*, we noticed something strange in the river. Closer inspection showed that what looked like an enormous stack of planting seed trays was in fact exactly that. The other half nobly scrambled on boulders and retrieved about fifty of them, still in their parcel packaging, but unfortunately with no sort of a packing slip or delivery address that would allow us to track the owners down.

The river below the waterfall was also littered with seed trays so we ended up going back, getting our wellies and wading out to retrieve as many as we could. In the end we fetched more than a hundred of them out of the river. I’ve no idea how they might have got there – it’s been a long time since anyone delivered things of the sort of lorries something might genuinely have fallen out of the back of. My guess is that some courier got lost, or annoyed with his SatNav insisting that You. Have. Arrived. when he was miles away from anything that looked like a habitation (our postcodes cover quite a large area round here) just gave up and dumped them in the river. It’s the second time we’ve found something that looks like it was packaged for delivery in the same spot. I don’t understand it, but at least this time the fly tipping means I have ended up with a lifetime’s supply of plant trays. Indeed several lifetimes’.

So all that was left for me was to find some way of getting the surplus down to the village for everyone else.

A Three Bungee Problem

And then join in the mad rummage for goodies of my own.

Oh, and a top tip for anyone attending a village plant sale? Don’t bring a £20 note. You have to buy loads more plants than you can fit in a pannier to make it up to a non-embarrassing amount…

*This is important. Anyone rolling up half an hour after the start time would be left raking over the second rate stuff. In fact, anyone turning up at the start time would have been cutting it fine: the gardeners started baggsying the best plants twenty minutes early

Splitting Hares

May 16, 2010

Weeding in the garden yesterday, I had the unmistakable sensation that I was being watched.

Nestled in among the day lillies was a leveret – a young hare.

It was keeping a close eye on the big monster but it sat tight like its mother had taught it and I was able to get my camera and take a couple of photographs before it stood up and unhurriedly loped away.

I suppose it’s a bit inconsistent of me to be charmed by a baby hare but ferocious in pursuit of what’s probably a similarly-aged rabbit. But there’s something about hares – their unflappable air, their long legs, their speed, that makes me look kindly on them. And this one wasn’t in the veg patch, which helps. I was just thinking, before I saw it, that I didn’t really know what to do with that particular bit of garden. It’s too big for a flower bed, too full of shrubs to be much of a lawn, too weedy, too rocky, too rooty to grow anything interesting – altogether more of a pain than anything else. But it does, apparently, make very good hare habitat.

That’ll do me.

A Game for All the Family

May 14, 2010

Stuck what to do on a rainy Friday afternoon? Try this.

You will need:

  • Three frustrated gardeners
  • A small rabbit
  • An allegedly rabbit-proof walled garden
  • A stick
  • Some netting.

The aim of the game is to get the rabbit out of the garden.

Choose one person to be the Beater. The Beater has the stick. The other players (except the rabbit) are the Runners. The rabbit is the Rabbit.

Round one

Start with the Rabbit hiding in the herbaceous border. The Beater works his way up the border with the stick, chasing the Rabbit up towards the open gate. The Runners stand around making encouraging remarks. The Rabbit gets all the way up to the open gate and bolts for freedom to the bottom of the garden.

Round two

The Runners put up some netting to try and funnel the rabbit out of the gate. The Beater works his way up the border as before. The Rabbit gets all the way up to the open gate, sees the netting and bolts for the the bottom of the garden.

Round three

The Runners put up some more netting and stand guarding the bit where the Rabbit escaped before. The Beater works his way all the way up the border chasing the Rabbit. The Rabbit gets caught in the net, frees itself, sees the open gate, rejects that as clearly a trap, doubles back behind the Beater and bolts for the bottom of the garden.

Round four

The Runners put up more netting until almost the whole of the top bed is covered. The Runners stand guarding any gaps. The Beater works his way up from the bottom of the garden with the Rabbit as before. The Rabbit sees the netting, bolts through the legs of one of the Runners (the one who looks as if she wouldn’t beat a rabbit to death with a spade, given half a chance) and bolts for the bottom of the garden.

Repeat until humans give up, rabbit leaves garden (unlikely) or the Seeker catches the golden Snitch.

So far the score is Rabbit six, Humans nil.

To be continued…


May 13, 2010

Waiting for my train to Glasgow this morning, I noticed that Bigtown Station had had some work done. Mostly, this seems to be about improving accessibility: buttons to automagically open the doors, hearing loop signs and – my personal favourite – individual walking stick holders at the ticket windows so you can come in and make long and involved theoretical inquiries about buying tickets (‘I’m no buying any the day, mind, because I’ve come out wi’out my money, but if I were to buy one…’*) without holding up the queue of people who’ve come to buy actual tickets any further by having to search around for your cane afterwards. They’ve still not put in a ticket machine (could a ticket machine sell purely theoretical tickets? I think not) although there is an Irn Bru one, of course. And nor have they tackled the real accessibility issue which is that there are hardly any bloody trains. So a 90 minute appointment in Glasgow has turned into a full day’s travel with epic amounts of hanging around – at Bigtown Station (in case I get stuck in the queue behind someone wishing to discuss the metaphysics of possible ticket purchase and miss the morning’s train) – in Glasgow, at Bishopbriggs, and of course on the incredibly-scenic-but-not-particularly fast chunter there and back on the train.

Hmmm. I was waxing lyrical about the slow pace of life around here just a couple of days ago, wasn’t I? It just doesn’t fit too well with having to be somewhere – anywhere – at a particular time.

Oh, and it’s started raining again. I knew life would be worse under the Tories

*I really wish I were making this up