If Meat is Murder…

June 30, 2010

… is this infanticide?

Pea shoot, baby leaf and bacon salad (all salad is improved by the addition of bacon....)

Worth it though

Thanks to Shauna for the idea – a great way to use up all those unplanted packets of peas. Even if you’ve planted nothing else this year, there’s still time to get some of these in the ground…

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

June 29, 2010

OK, so this is a bit embarrassing but we’re thinking of changing the route of our run because we’re being attacked by a buzzard. I’ve been buzzed before, but this time it’s more serious. The first sign of trouble was when the other half was running back alone, about 50 yards from our gate and the bird didn’t just swoop low over his head, but actually made contact with his scalp with its talons.

For our next run, we decided to stick together for safety’s sake, not that we were actually scared of a bird, you understand, but just to make sure it didn’t try it again. This time the buzzard came at us as we were heading out and the first thing we knew about it was when it shot silently between us at shoulder height, no more than a flash of wings before it was gone. So much for it not taking on two of us at once, then. Then, on the way back, it dropped out of the sun in classic fighter-pilot style and I discovered sudden powers of acceleration I didn’t know I had while the other half decided the rest of his run would best be accessorised with a stout stick. We haven’t been this terrorised by a bird since we had to seek refuge in our car from an ostrich which spent the next half hour trying diferent ways to eat it.

The most worrying part is the way the bird attacks in complete silence. Normally if you’re worrying a buzzard it lets you know by calling and circling, making a lot of fuss before it resorts to swooping. The silent approach suggests it means business and it makes even a simple stroll a bit nerve-wracking. It doesn’t bother cars, and so far it hasn’t touched me on the bike, but it’s clearly not keen on pedestrians or at least joggers. Given that buzzards mostly live off squashed rabbits, it seems like a bit of a step up to go straight for people, but maybe it’s more to warn us off getting about on our own two feet. After all, if we’re not going to drive everywhere, how are we going to provide it with any road kill?

Whatever the reason is it’s certainly making me a little twitchy. I was sitting on the step yesterday morning, reading the paper, when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye – something was bounding straight towards me. Something cute and furry and ginger, but it was too late, I had screamed and sent the squirrel scuttling back into the undergrowth before I had registered it was harmless. If, indeed, it was harmless. Suddenly those little claws look awfully sharp…

Sweet Peas

June 28, 2010

The first peas are ready

The problem is finding them

Of course, when I say ready, I mean that some of them are ready, but not enough for an actual meal. The first pick produced a small handful of pods which, when shelled, produced around a mouthful of petits pois, not quite round yet. Not really worth cooking, so I decided to try eating them raw, as I’d heard that some people like them that way.

Um. Wow.

I knew peas were sweet, but only that they were sweet the way sweetcorn is sweet, or roast parsnips: vegetably sweet, as in not actively bitter. I popped the first tiny pea into my mouth and bit down and was rewarded with a burst of pure sugar. Why did nobody tell me this as a child? I thought, although of course everyone had and I just assumed it was part of the great adult conspiracy to get me to eat vile vegetables by hook or by crook (see also avocado). We sat on the step and just ate them there and then – I was going to say as a healthy snack, but it felt about as healthy as crunching up sugarlumps. If really fresh peas were actually available in the shops they’d have to have one of those traffic light warnings on them. They’re basically all sugar.

Now I know most of you will be nodding and/or rolling your eyes and saying yeah, everyone knows peas are sweet, talk about the bleeding obvious, but hey, I came late to the world of vegetables and it occurred to me that maybe I’m not alone. So if you have never actually eaten a freshly picked and barely ready pea straight from the vine, do it, because those little green pellets you’ve got in your freezer are nothing like the real thing.  And do it quick before the children find out about them and grab them all.

On the Other Hand…

June 26, 2010

… if you do get behind with the weeding

There’s always the chance that someone

or something

will come and do it for you.

As long as you don’t scare them away.

(people ask why I don’t simply use Roundup on the gravel. I think this is reason enough, don’t you?)

Letting the Grass Grow Under my Feet*

June 25, 2010

I woke up early this morning and found myself lying awake worrying. Nothing unusual there, although usually I worry about actually worrying things whereas this morning I was worrying about my spring onions (something has bent them, and they need to be moved). And my cabbages (which are busting out of the seed bed and they need to be moved to where the spring onions are now). And my broccoli (which will then be left unprotected by the butterfly netting and may get infested by caterpillars). Yes, I was spending the hour between 5 and 6 am fretting about my brassicas.

This may just reflect the relatively stress-free nature of my life, or the fact that the early hours of the morning just are for worrying in, and the content doesn’t really matter. Or it may reflect the fact that the garden is beginning to get seriously out of hand. We went out this morning for a run and found that the one of the young hares had given up hiding in the flower beds and was now hiding among the weeds on the gravel in front of the house, where it was surprisingly inconspicuous. Gardening has stopped resembled anything like producing a beautiful display of flowers and food and has become like the end stages of a game of Tetris where all I can do is try and rush from the most urgent thing to the next, trying not to actually lose.

It doesn’t help that I am spending a couple of hours weeding and clearing a day and still seem to be making absolutely no impact on the end result. It’s only because I did give up in a few places completely last year that I know that a couple of sessions of frantic clearing a year does make a difference – but the problem is that the difference it makes is not between an unkempt garden and a thing of beauty and order, but it’s the difference between having an unkempt garden and having the sort of garden that belongs to the house where the mad woman lives with her 17 cats. So I struggle on. And then I wake up in the small hours and fret that we aren’t eating our lettuces quickly enough to keep up.

And then when I open the gate to the walled garden, ready to do my usual two hour stint battling the forces of entropy, I am assailed by the soft scent of the roses rambling over the wall and by the sound of all the birds in the surrounding woods calling as the young fledgings venture out of the nests. And I remind myself that, as problems go, having too much gardening to do, in such surroundings as this, counts as a nice problem to have.

*Although as the one thing I don’t have to do is cut the lawn, the grass is still relatively under control

Short Story

June 24, 2010

Thursday. Other half out. Day to myself. Bike ride arranged. Work done. Clouds looming. Rain holding off. Time comes. Bag packed. Bottle filled. Out to shed. Shed locked.

Oh no.

Hunt for keys. Keys gone. Keys in pocket. Other half’s pocket. Other half’s phone off. Air blue. Friend rung. Ride cancelled. Day ruined. Stomp outside. Glare at shed. Stare at shed. Light dawns. Open garage. Into garage. Side door opened. Bike extracted. Friend rung. Other half forgiven. Bike ride back on. World turned right way up. Pedal away happy.

Still rained, though.


Other half returns. Story told. Points out keys. Hanging on nail. Where they always hang…

Overheard in the Post Office

June 23, 2010

Sweet little old lady: If I see one of those wee cross o’ St. George flags again ah’m gonnae set fire to it, and set fire to the car, and set fire to the people in it an a’

World Cup fever really isn’t taking hold here…

Weighty Matters

June 22, 2010

So last week I:

  • Cycled 99.1 miles,
  • Ran 6 miles,
  • Ate about 50% of my normal snacks, and
  • Gained 2 pounds.

I’m not particularly obsessed by my weight, and never have been – in fact that may be part of the problem. At some point since we’ve moved up here I have managed, quite without noticing it, to put on a whole stone. Or a stone-type unit – we bought our scales extremely cheaply and they’re pretty inaccurate*. And I’m not overweight either, not yet, but I will be if things carry on the way they’ve been. I’m not sure when the damage was done, probably last winter. I was hoping that my increasingly rounded silhouette was down to all the layering, and it’s only now that I’ve fully delayered that the awful truth is revealed. The final proof has been when I dug out my summer trousers and tried them on, because the trousers do not lie. In fact, with one pair of particularly cruel ones, the trousers don’t comfortably sit, either.

There’s no real mystery to this – the problem is having a car. Back when we were living in London, every calorie that entered the house had to be carried back half a mile from the supermarket on foot, along with everything else. When it comes to losing weight, for all the cute mottoes about bikes running on fat etc., cycling doesn’t really replace the amount of tromping about you do all day and every day when you don’t have a car. Back then, all I had to do was cut out the odd snack and any surplus pounds just dropped away. Now, it looks like I’m in for the longer haul.

It gets worse, too. Both pairs of cords – the only trousers which were still roomy enough to allow for easy pedalling – have been cycled to death: they have both worn through on exactly the same place in the rear, a place which renders them indecent even for gardening in. This means one thing and one thing only – I have to go trouser shopping. Cue a bout of self-and-retailer-loathing coming soon to a blog near you.

* I base this assumption on the number of visitors who have wanted to take them home with them. It’s always quite revealing who likes to weigh themselves…

Longest Day…

June 21, 2010

… and shortest night

(all photos taken after 10pm last night)

Making More Hay

June 20, 2010

Today I had some errands to run in Bigtown and, the weather being of the ‘this surely cannot last’ variety, there was only one way to go and that was by bike.

I even managed to dig the other half out of his cave to accompany me. For some reason, this took some doing.

Still, I think he got some vague enjoyment out of it in the end.