December 31, 2012
By the time you read this, we’ll be seeing in the New Year on a plane flying from Newark to Glasgow.
I’m hoping that any self-respecting Glaswegian will have already got themselves home for Hogmanay and we’ll have a nice empty flight, but I have a bad feeling that we may very well be spending the evening with a plane full of pissed-up Weegies. Still, as being trapped and kept up all night with a load of drunks is what your average New Year’s Eve feels like anyway, we might as well get both horrors over with in one go. In fact, the worst part of the journey will likely be getting from Glasgow to Bigtown on a day when the entire public transport system of Scotland is either shut down or hungover. And then getting ourselves acclimatised again to rural plumbing after three weeks of fire-hose strength showers.
Here’s hoping you have a pleasant and enjoyable New Year and a splendid and prosperous 2013.
December 30, 2012
With the last few days of our holiday suddenly upon us it’s time to do all the things we like to do when we’re here, which includes a visit to the local raptor rehabilitation centre.
We were there for the advertised 1pm talk but when the director (and sole employee) bounced in and suggested it was too cold for sitting and would we like a behind the scenes tour instead (carefully designed so that we could stand in the sun as much as possible) we jumped at the chance.*
Flight cage where the birds learn to fly again. And another chance to post a picture of that Colorado sky
Like all these places it’s a labour of love as much as anything else. Even the rats get a good life, up to the point where they become raptor food – at one point they were discussing the possibility of putting up cold frames to grow lettuce organically year round to feed to the rats to feed to the birds. I suppose, when you’re looking after something at the top of the food chain, every link is important. Birds that had been run over by trucks, birds that had been trampled by their nest mates, even one bird that had flown into an electricity substation (they may be magnificent but they’re not generally all that bright) – all being nursed back to health to mainly be set free if there’s any chance of their survival. For us it was the chance to get up close and personal with birds that are generally no more than a passing blur – like the most gorgeous albeit elderly peregrine falcon, who’d lost none of her splendid presence despite a touch of arthritis. Or a tiny little owl – barely sparrow sized – sitting basking under a heat lamp. Or a turkey vulture who just wanted to come out and play.
Rare two-headed bald eagle. Oh all right, two bald eagles, both about 40 years old, which is about 90 in eagle years.
I was too fascinated to take many pictures and my phone wasn’t really up to the challenge anyway but here’s the best I could do. And if you’re down Pueblo way I recommend a visit – it’s free, but they’ve a lot of rats to support so I’m sure a donation would be very welcome.
Juvenile Peregrine falcon, who may be able to be released into the wild once it’s regained its strength
*For the last few mornings we’ve been waking up and it’s been 5 degrees. And if you’re thinking, well that’s a bit nippy but not bad for December then you’re thinking in celsius. 5 degrees Farenheit is -15 in real money. It does warm up during the day, but you definitely want to be in the sunshine if you can
December 29, 2012
So we’ve been touristing today, with a trip to the historic downtown area to see the Union Depot, which used to be the railway station, back when the city was served by no fewer than five rival train companies (and we can see how well *that* sort of competition worked out, given that there’s now no passenger trains at all).
They certainly knew how to build a railway station, back then, and it’s been beautifully restored, complete with some charming period detail – and some slightly less charming ones, albeit perhaps not so very distant from the current mood…
In fact the whole historic area has been nicely spruced up and is well worth a wander, especially as it’s one of the few parts of Pueblo where walking feels like a sensible mode of transport, as opposed to something you do when your car has broken down.
But then we needed to actually buy something so we went to another jaw-dropping monument to late American capitalism, Sam’s Club.
I can’t see one of these being lovingly restored in 100 years time, but you never know…
December 28, 2012
It’s odd, really. It’s the time of year when people ask you what you’ve been up to, especially if they haven’t seen you for a while. And, after casting my mind back for a bit I’ve found myself saying – oh, not much, more of the same really. 2012 seemed to pass in an uneventful succession of papershop runs, gardening mishaps and rain.
And yet, when I look back properly I find that in January I learned to eat – if not love – mushrooms, became a proper cyclist, lost my mobile phone (oh, okay, that’s not very surprising) and organised our spice rack (amazingly, it’s still organised too). In Feburary the bike got to go back to its home town and got properly lit up. In March we got a cute new neighbour not to mention a cute new bike and I took up extreme Bromptoneering.
In April I helped organise a wee demo (and did I mention we’re doing it again?). In May we almost took up involuntary bee keeping and in June I first encounted Asbo Buzzard – and the ford closed to pedestrians sign was finally removed (although, as it later turned out, by the postman rather than the roads people) – oh and I wrote what has turned out to be one of my more popular posts, for those visiting via Google, anyway. In July I survived my first serious assassination attempt since leaving London (unless you count aerial bombardments).
In August, I began to wonder if I might actually be getting the hang of this whole living in the country thing – and got more value out of a Highland Rover ticket than anyone may ever have done before – as well as introducing my Mum to the delights of N+1. In September I nearly broke another mobile phone (it’s still hanging in there though) and did my first, and possibly last ever school run – oh, and became a community councillor (with special responsibilities for delinquent wildlife, apparently).
In October I won at weeding but was reduced to begging for comments (keep them coming, incidentally) – while Asbo Buzzard recruited reinforcements. In November I finally gave up on my attempt to singlehandedly keep all of the local livestock where it belongs – and actually managed to write something for publication. And this month – I’ve been dabbling in the law and train driving while thankfully leaving the weather at home
So the next time someone asks me what I’ve been up to I can either back them into a corner and tell them all about it AT GREAT LENGTH … or I can just give them the URL of the blog and let them experience that pleasure in the comfort of their own home.
So how was your 2012?
December 25, 2012
Even if it’s only a tiny one…
December 23, 2012
Actually I can’t really help you with that at the moment – but someone did wonder idly at breakfast this morning what the level was at the reservoir, in light of the recent lack of rain. This was all the excuse we needed to take the bikes (I should say that there has been no let up in the onslaught of cookies and other treats since we have arrived, not to mention mexican food, so all this cycling is, in calorific terms, more or less just standing still) on an epic journey to check the level of the reservoir, an idea that was a lot better in theory when we were standing inside the house and looking at all the blue skies and sunshine than it turned out in practice when we set off into the teeth of a ferocious headwind. It’s never a good sign when you have to pedal going downhill, put it that way, and once the road turned uphill, it wasn’t just in calorific terms that we were standing still…
But for a Brit starved of sunshine, it was still too good a day not to be outdoors so I did my best to cling on to the other half’s slipstream and we made it to the top of the dam with only a minimum of wondering what on earth we thought we were doing.
I can therefore report that 1) the water looks pretty low and 2) they really should paint depth gauges onto these things if they want their tourism industry to take off.
And on the way down (which was fairly epic with the wind behind us…) I did manage to stop and take a photo of a road sign that should strike a chill into the heart of serious bike accumulators everywhere. Clearly, a place where someone’s beloved steed was lost…
December 23, 2012
Bike-friendly business, Colorado style …
As a bonus, we got to sit in the sun and drink our coffee and watch the giant monster pick-ups pull up outside the cowboy supply store across the block.
Only in America