Angry Birds

June 29, 2012

There I was, blamelessly cycling to the papershop when I realised I was under aerial attack. I had just reached the steepest bit of the biggest hill, into the wind, and I heard the noise of an angry buzzard above me but didn’t really pay any attention to it because they’re constantly getting harassed by crows and ravens at the moment. It was only when I heard the rush of wings and actually felt it swipe the back of my head with its talons that it realised it was me it was angry at. Steep hill or no hill, headwind or no headwind, I discovered some radical powers of acceleration at that moment, I can tell you.

On the way back I nerved myself up, pulled up my hood, and then bombed down the hill as fast as I could without screaming round a blind bend on the wrong side of the road and risking a worse hazard than an stroppy raptor. Fortunately there was no sign of either buzzard or oncoming traffic and I made it home unscathed, but now what? We’ve been buzzed by buzzards before (I note *exactly* two years ago – must be buzzard nesting season) but that was on foot, making it easier to carry a stick, and besides I don’t need much persuading not to go for a run whereas not cycling down for the paper isn’t really an option. The alternative routes are either the suicide papershop run, which is lovely but not really an everyday sort of a ride, or the lorry-infested Big A Road which is even more scary than Mama Buzzard on the attack.

I’ve never been one for wearing a helmet on the bike, for various reasons which range from the rational and practical to the political and possibly illogical but which, if I’m honest, mainly boil down to the fact that I don’t really think it’s likely I’ll fall off my bike now that I’m all grown up and know how to ride one. But if the on-bike hazards are likely to continue, perhaps I’ll have to think again…

Behold the Power of the Blog

June 28, 2012

As the other half pointed out when we moseyed down to check the level of the ford yesterday. For there, leaning up against the vegetation, was the ‘Ford Closed to Pedestrians‘ sign …


It’s only seven months after they put it up (and ten days since I last blogged about it) which serves as something of a land speed record for the Cooncil for removing entirely temporary warning signs from the side of a rural road. Papershop village’s ‘Flood‘ sign, which I believe dates from 2009, is still there, albeit somewhat overgrown, and probably has Grade C listed status by now.

The depth gauge is still bent of course, but you can’t have everything. I mean, it’s not as if we’ve been having much rain around recently

Please Do not Ask for Credit…

June 26, 2012

So I made the fatal error this morning of cycling down to the shop before my mid-morning cup of coffee and, brain clearly not functioning as a result, arrived without any money at all to pay for the paper. At which point Papershop woman just smiled and gave me the paper anyway and said I could make it up tomorrow. Which isn’t really all that surprising, I suppose, given that I’ve been buying the paper from them four times a week for four years. But I ask you how long would you have had to have been buying the paper from a shop in London regularly before that would happen? Forty years? Four million?

Meanwhile, I shall be making sure not to attempt anything complicated unless my blood-coffee levels (to borrow a phrase from @scsmith4) are up to adequate levels.

Oh, and remind me to take an extra £1.20 into the shop tomorrow, would you? Might be embarrassing otherwise…

Identification Friend or Foe

June 25, 2012

It’s ask the internet time: what are these little yellow flowers?

mystery plant

I ask because they crop up in my veg plot here and there and I quite like them so I’ve been moving any I find to the flower bed under the climbing roses rather than just chucking them in the compost. But I noticed the other day when I was moving a little clump that they had thick white roots which is usually the sign of an invasive weed. I don’t want to turn out to be the idiot gardener who encouraged something like bindweed into the plot – but if they’re not likely to cause too much trouble (and if I’m honest, where I’m moving them to the alternative is bindweed or at best buttercups so they can’t be much worse).

And while I’ve got your attention: what could have done this to my leeks?

ex leeks

I’m so annoyed – last year my leeks did rather well so this year I wasn’t too worried about them once I’d got them planted out into their seed bed. But I went to weed them this afternoon and discovered something’s been neatly decapitating them. I don’t think it’s slugs, for once, because it doesn’t look like slug damage. But if it’s not slugs, then what? And how am I supposed to combat this new enemy?

I was going to ask you a third question: where my fork was. But after about half an hour’s searching it turned up in the compost heap where it had ended up because I’d seen it lying on the path and thought ‘I mustn’t leave that there because I’ll lose it’ and put it in the basket of weeds I was taking up to get rid of. Sigh. I think I may have to invest in a metal detector, or else a really long piece of string…

Brompton to the Rescue

June 24, 2012

How do I love my Brompton? Let me count the ways … like yesterday when I woke to the sound of pouring rain and an apocalyptic weather forecast and knew I had to be at Notso Bigtown – a good 13 miles away – *and* looking reasonably presentable at 10 am. The other half was willing to drive me there but he actually had to be somewhere in completely the opposite direction and so I was determined to find another way. I remembered that there actually was a bus that passes the village road end on Big A Road and having googled the timetable (and got one that was undated but subsequently proved to be out of date – thanks Stagecoach! Amazingly, Bigtownshire Council had the actual up to date timetable on its site) realised that there was a bus that would get me there with ten minutes to spare. All I had to do was pedal the couple of miles or so down to the bus stop, fold up my nifty wee bike, and await the bus. And at the other end I could unfold it and pedal off to my meeting where I was greeted like some conquering hero until I confessed that I hadn’t actually ridden there all the way. Not only that, but with the bike folding down to such a neat package, I could easily hitch a lift back with someone going roughly my way and pedal the last mile home again.

Even better was the fact that the rain held off as I cycled the last mile and then, once I was safely home and drinking my coffee, the heavens just opened and stayed open for the next two hours. I would definitely have been out in that had I attempted to cycle all the way. Occasionally, just occasionally, things work out in my favour that way.

Wet Pussy

June 22, 2012

It’s not been a good week for the cat (why, what did you think the post title meant?). She has become pretty much nocturnal these days and when the neighbour’s not around and she’s deigned to spend the early evening with us, curled up by our wood burning stove – and yes, we’re still lighting a fire most evenings – come eight o’clock or so she insists on being let out to the great outdoors where there are mice to murder, whether it’s raining or not. There’s been times this week when we’ve woken to the sound of the downpour in the night and wondered just where she is and one morning I did get up to find a forlorn wet cat sitting pitifully on the spare bedroom windowsill, having failed to raise the neighbour, who’s not exactly an early riser.

Yesterday we came home from three days away to find a worryingly undated note asking us to cat sit until Friday. After an anxious hour, madam herself showed up, sprinting out of the bushes and in a more-than-usually affectionate mood which makes walking a bit difficult as she expresses it by rubbing her head against your feet. I managed to get to the neighbour’s without breaking either my neck or hers and fed her although for once she was a bit more interested in saying hello than she was in racing for her bowl. Clearly 24 hours without the household staff around had woken her up to the fact that she needs to pay attention to the people who know how to operate doors.

It didn’t last, naturally. Having eaten, snoozed, and then graciously allowed herself to be stroked, she got up and started stomping around until we let her out into the drizzle. I woke again in the night to the sound of it hammering down but wherever she was she didn’t come to our door until I was up and dressed and then she appeared complaining loudly about the weather and appalling service she was getting, while simultaneously winding herself affectionately around our legs. Or possibly just drying herself off. With cats, it’s hard to tell.

All at Sea

June 18, 2012

It’s been a hell of a week, what with one thing and another, the sort of week that I felt it was only fitting when the weather Gods decided to top it off with two solid days of heavy rain.

So far so routine – so routine indeed, I didn’t bother to take my camera when we went down yesterday to see how far the waters had receded, hence the camera phone pictures. But more fool me, for that’s when we saw that not only had the footbridge been repaired at last:*

But the depth gauge had been bent into uselessness. Its rivets had popped, and it had just been swept aside by the force of the water, helpless to do anything about it.

I think I know just how it feels.

*the ‘ford closed to pedestrians‘ sign, I need hardly tell you, is still in place albeit getting a little overgrown these days

Top Tips for Gardeners…*

June 15, 2012

… before congratulating yourself on having staked your broad beans before the worst of the weather, remember that broad beans can fall over in *any* direction, not just in their rows.

Still, on the positive side, the depradations of the slugs earlier means that I have miraculously ended up with exactly the right number of cut-and-come again lettuces of different varieties to supply us with a steady harvest of salad leaves at about the rate we want to eat them. That won’t happen

*I was going to call this blog post ‘flaming June’ only to find that I’ve used the title before. Twice. Miserable weather in June is in fact normal. It’s just that we always remember June as being endlessly sunny and warm…

We Are Traffic

June 13, 2012

Yesterday, my bike and I found ourselves caught up in a demonstration whereby a legitimate group of road users – who were there long before the cars who currently dominate the roads – asserted their right to move en masse, slowing or even halting traffic where necessary and at times completely blocking the road in both directions.

On the whole the cars who encountered it took it in good part, waiting patiently for the group to finish making their point and disperse although they were held up or forced to move at walking pace for a fairly long time. Sadly, not all the participants were all that well-behaved, with one straggly-haired individual threatening to break away and confront the cars although those shepherding the ride along did their best to keep her under control. I thought there was going to be a bit of a stand off at one point – but in the end she saw reason and joined the bunch and pretty soon the whole group turned off and the cars were able to speed away again without so much as a horn sounded in anger.

And then I went down to Carlisle with my Brompton and joined their monthly Critical Mass.

Lost and Found

June 11, 2012

You know you’ve been neglecting the weeding when you discover a beetroot plant has managed to establish itself right in the middle of the paths between the beds

I have absolutely no idea how it got there, unless I dropped it when I was planting them out. It’s done better than the beetroot plants that have been living a pampered existence in the actual bed which have mostly gone awol so I’m rather reluctant to move it. Hopefully this little dyke of stones will keep it from being trodden on…

Also missing in action: some of my parsnips. I think I got a bit cocky with parsnips. After the monster parsnips of 2010, 2011 saw a fine crop of ‘disappointingly normal’ parsnips so I didn’t really pay too much attention to them this year, thinking I’d got the whole parsnip thing cracked. I chitted them but just put the chitted seed out when it was convenient rather than when they really needed to go out so germination was patchy. I then re-sowed and even got around to weeding them a couple of days ago but when I went up to check yesterday some of the new seedlings had vanished. No mystery about the culprits there though:

Slugs ‘found’ (and promptly ‘lost’ in the chicken run) thanks to the latest weapon in my anti-slug arsenal, the half-orange:

Works a treat. Although the slugs are still probably ahead on points.