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.

The New Normal

June 18, 2010

Out for a walk last night – taking full advantage of the endless summer evenings – I pointed out to the other half the spot where the chap from the council had been industriously digging out the blocked road drains earlier in the day.

Well, semi-industriously, because hearing the noise obviously I had to go out to investigate and he’d been happy to stop for a chat, and we’d passed a pleasant 20 minutes discussing drains, and gullysuckers*, snow ploughing strategies, field drain legislation and other fascinating matters**. ‘Apparently he was born a few miles from Bigtown,’ I started telling the other half, ‘and then moved a few miles further down the road but has only lived in two houses all his life…’

It was only when the other half started laughing that I remembered it’s not entirely normal to end up knowing the entire life story of every passing workman. At least, not in London it isn’t. But then, maybe that’s London’s problem, not mine?

* my new favourite word
** no sarcasm intended. Really.

Vuvuzelas? Pah! I’ll See your Vuvuzelas and Raise you…

June 17, 2010

‘Are those … bagpipes?’

It was late yesterday afternoon and I was quietly working in the veg plot alongside my neighbour, keeping on top of the weed menace. We both stopped and looked towards the peaceful rolling hills behind us, dotted with grazing cattle, where there is nothing for miles but scattered farms and cottages. Only, make that formerly peaceful rolling hills etc. for the sound we could hear was indeed bagpipes.

‘It’ll be coming from somebody’s tractor if it is,’ she said.

And I suppose if you’re going to play music in the cab of your tractor, you’d want to pick something that would be actually improved by being half drowned out by a chugging diesel engine. What other nation has a national instrument that also doubles as a weapon of war?

Scotland’s never hosted the World cup, now I come to think of it. Do you think this could be the reason?

Rocket Fuel

June 16, 2010

‘What are we supposed to be eating tonight?’

‘Pork chops’

‘Did you take them out of the freezer?’

‘Er, no.’

‘Think they’ll thaw in time?’

‘Probably not’

‘Got any other ideas?’

there was more, but we ate it (we ate the rest later)

This is the point where, in London, one of us would have nipped down to the shops. Instead, not fancying a 16-mile round trip, I dug up the first of the potatoes (Rocket, although I had actually lost track of which potato I’d planted where – thank goodness for the internet and specifically the British Potato Variety Database which, among other information, gives you the colour of the flowers so I was able to work it out. Phew. Wouldn’t want to confuse potato varieties, now, would we?) while the other half did a bit of googling and a bit of improvisation and came up with a potato salad that was almost a meal in itself. Part-steamed cabbage, new boiled potatoes*, pancetta fried with the cabbage, all combined with an oil, vinegar and mustard dressing and some chives. You’re supposed to leave it to cool before eating, but sod that, we were hungry. Serve with mackerel fillets on toast and yum. I think we have a new favourite salad.

Unfortunately we’re on the salad-leaves treadmill at the moment because my baby leaf lettuce is now fully on stream. We can just about keep on top of it as long as we have a salad every day. So now we’re having salad and salad at some meals, which, for anyone who knows me well, is just about unprecedented. If this continues we’re in danger of living healthily. If the Scots find out, we’ll probably get evicted…

* I can also report, following up from last year, that Rocket makes for nicely non-exploding potatoes.

I Have a New Hobby…

June 15, 2010

… taking photographs of the shed wall.

Not because it’s a particularly lovely wall, but because some housemartins have started showing a distinct interest in it. I don’t know if they’re planning on building a nest there (if so, they’d better get a move on) but they do seem to spend a lot of time hanging out under the eaves, apparently canoodling and talking to each other in their strangely lovely twittering language, which is how I imagine the Clangers might sound if the Clangers spoke Dutch.

They’re tantalisingly close, within range even of my little camera. But the problem is they’re also bloody quick. By the time the camera’s thought about the shot all I might end up with is a housemartin’s bum, as it samples life in the gutter…

Or what I thought was an empty shot, until I noticed the bird exiting stage right (actually stage left, if you’re being pedantic,  but never mind) …

But occasionally, they hang out just long enough for me to capture them both there, clinging to the wall…

And then bingo, just out of sheer luck, I manage to catch one on the wing.

And that, frankly, is as good as it’s going to get – at least with my camera and with me behind it.