101 Uses for a Brompton: Plant Shopping

April 29, 2017

Coming into New Nearest Village was a sight to gladden any gardener’s eye …

Plant Sale sign

I’ve been feeling a bit bad that I haven’t really had a chance to attend any of the many events that seem to enliven the village scene – compared with Old Nearest Village, it’s a hotbed of activity, but it always seems to coincide with me having something else on. So when I realised I could get to the annual plant sale this weekend, I hopped on the Brompton with great excitement. I do love a village plant sale as they tend to combine randomness with cheapness, and you never quite know what you’re going to find.

Brompton basket with plants

The Brompton’s basket takes a nice number of plants, with a bit of creative packing, but also acts as a useful brake on my acquisitiveness. As it is, I’ve now got a couple of dozen nasturtium seedlings to prick out, in my ample spare time…

plant sale haul

In the end, it wasn’t a bad haul for £13 (plus a jar of strawberry jam tucked into my jacket pocket which I did think might have made for an interesting medical puzzle had I come off my bike …)

Roseroot

Most of the plants were ones I was looking out for anyway, but this (Roseroot, or Rhodiola rosea) was a new one to me and looks like it would be a nice funky addition to the garden. The internet suggests it can be used to treat mild depression, among other things, although to be honest there’s not really a huge amount of evidence behind it.

strawberry plants

If these strawberry plants come good, though, that will definitely serve to cheer us all up.


Angry Person in Local Newspaper

April 28, 2017

It’s not often I get spontaneously contacted by the local paper for a sadface photo* but I was rung up on Monday in my role as (outgoing!!!) secretary of Nearest Village Community Council to see if I could go and be angry by the river where someone had flytipped some old computers into the water.

flytipped computers

Actually this wasn’t too hard because it’s a particularly lovely spot. The last time I was looking over the bridge parapet it was to admire an otter, so finding that someone had used it to dump a load of electrical goods was pretty gutting. There’s a fair bit of flytipping near by (it’s a quiet road and vans can pull right off the road and out of sight) – but normally they confine themselves to chucking it into the bushes, not the river. I even folded my arms at one point, I was that cross.

Bridge over the river

Anyway, whether it was the folded arms that did it or what, I don’t know, but it attracted the attention of the local angling association who manage the fishing on that stretch of the river, and today they went on a slightly unorthodox fishing expedition and very efficiently cleared out the river. Unfortunately, there’s no sign that the police are at all interested in catching the perpetrators, or we would have gladly dropped off the hard drives so they could see if any identifying details could be retrieved.

Fishing expedition

If only all my sadfaces were so immediately effective. I wonder if the anglers might also be interested in building cycle lanes?

*Despite rumours to the contrary, it is not a statutory requirement that I be in the paper every week although my role in the Bigtown cycle campaign means I do seem to have to do more than my fair share of Angry People in Local Newspapers poses.


Hare Brained

April 27, 2017

As spring (or ‘spring’, as it’s been rebranded after the last couple of days of icy winds and the odd shower of is that … snow?) advances, the garden is slowly revealing itself. Or at least, what survives of the garden after, apparently, ten years of neglect and rampant chickens, if our neighbours’ stories of the previous owners are anything to go by. Probably not plants that are going to need a whole lot of cosseting to survive.

Dicentra formosa

Dicentra formosa (according to Professor Google) which has popped up in one of the bits down to be managed by strimmer…

There’s a lot of it, so my strategy was to try and identify which bits of the garden I would try and change this year, which bits I would try to maintain as they are, and which bits would be left to be managed by strimmer until we have decided what to do with them and have the time to take them on.

hare hiding

spot the hare

Since the advent of the junior hare, however, the garden has been reclassified into ‘hare habitat’ and ‘non-hare habitat’. The hare, being downright adorable, gets to have whichever bits of the garden it likes to sit in (currently: under a pile of willow sticks that were going to be burnt, in a clump of weeds by a wall that were going to be weeded, next to the bench where we like to have our coffee in the sunshine, and tucked into a huge clump of grass beside an old tree stump where it has created a hare-shaped hole (technically a ‘form’). I’ve managed to retain the veg patch, the front lawn and, so far, the house although if it wanted to come in, I can’t imagine us denying it.

hare form

Hare-shaped hole in the grass

So the gardening will be somewhat patchy this year – but we’re not complaining. When the hare is around, and visible from the windows in the house, it’s actually quite hard to tear yourself away in case it does something extra cute like scratch its nose, pull down its ears to nibble at the tips of them, or stretch out one or more of its improbably long legs before settling down to look inscrutable again in its chosen spot.

hare in weeds

hare, what hare?

It’s also quite hard to go out to the garage for more fuel for the fire, or do any gardening, or generally do anything, without scaring it off, so we’ve been reduced to walking the long way around the house to the garage, or practising our special nonchalant ‘hare, what hare?’ walk as we skirt past it as unobtrusively and unscarily as possible.

hare running away

Sometimes this works better than others.

Hares aren’t territorial, so we know that this one is really only visiting and eventually it will move on and we will get full access to our garden again. But gosh we’ll be sad to see it go …


And the Cobbler’s Child goes Barefoot

April 26, 2017

I’m getting behind with the blog – I haven’t even caught up with POP yet (although others have already summed it up much more succinctly than I ever could) and there is exciting pipeline news, the (partial) return of Moo-I5, sadfacing in the local paper, spring springing up all over the place, and the fact that our life is now being controlled by an adolescent hare – you may let me know in the comments which of those you want to hear about in more detail, but I’ll probably bore you with all of them anyway because you know, my blog, my rules.

brompton holding banner

101 uses for a Brompton: Holding up a banner at a demonstration

As for Pedal on Parliament, it went fine, indeed better than fine – and nobody need know that when I and the infamous helmet camera cyclist Magnatom led out the ride in Glasgow, it turned out that we were each relying on the other to have memorised the route. Ahem. Fortunately the policeman on the bike in front was on the case, and seemed to be having a lovely time as he bunnyhopped down the road in front of us as only a policeman can who has been given the job of going for a nice bike ride while the rest of his colleagues are girding themselves to police the Celtic Rangers match going on elsewhere.

Orange and green Bromptons

Orange and green side by side in Glasgow. POP unites everyone!

Today I spent ushering a load of council hopefuls around the cycle paths of Bigtown (and occasional scary roundabout – it turns out that, despite not riding thar frequently, the leader of the cooncil has no fear and just launches himself into a miniscule gap in the traffic and let the devil take the hindmost. Actually this might explain a lot). This is our equivalent of a cycle hustings as it allows us to show candidates the issues that matter – while not having to go to the expense of booking a room. Or, indeed, listen to any speeches. So everyone who came is now a little bit more clued up either about cycling issues (the candidates) or which candidates to vote for (the other participants).

Candidate line up

Except for me. For, despite spending the last few weeks frantically urging everyone in Scotland to engage with their local candidates on active travel, with a week to go until the election, I’ve had precisely no contact with any of my candidates at all, not even a flyer. Well, I tell a lie. I did email all my candidates to ask them where they stood on the three Walk Cycle Vote asks. One – a sitting councillor – replied. His email read, in its entirety, ‘thank you for getting in touch’.

I guess when there are five of you standing for three seats, you can take things a little easy.


And I’m to be Queen of the PoP …

April 21, 2017

Well, that’s it – this weekend it’s Pedal on Parliament, and there’s not much more I can do after many frantic weeks of emailing, tweeting, messaging, planning, phoning, flyering, writing, lying awake worrying and having bizarre POP-related anxiety dreams.* In fact, there was something I could do as I was supposed to be spending this afternoon looking at the giant hole that someone has inconveniently dug right across the planned POP route in Edinburgh but I managed to miss the train attempting to do some last-minute paperwork and then got caught up in Bigtown’s rush-hour traffic – oh the irony. Fortunately there were others in the hole-inspecting team, who have inspected the hole, and so now, more or less, everything is ready to go.

Tomorrow will be the usual roller-coaster ride of fretting, anxious planning, chasing up last-minute details and almost (but not quite) forgetting in the whirl to enjoy the moment of actual achievement. Always assuming anyone actually does turn up, and that the giant hole doesn’t scupper us completely.

However, on Sunday, I hope, I will get to experience something of what it is to actually participate in POP because the PoPpers organising it in Glasgow are a formidably organised bunch, and thus my role in POP Glasgow has largely consisted of me sending them anxious messages about some detail that I had just remembered only to be told that they had thought of that three weeks ago and someone was on the case already, but thanks for the advice. Generously, they are letting me lead out the ride, granting me some sort of elder stateswoman role as the figurehead of POP – possibly to keep me out of the way of the people doing the actual work. I am working on my regal wave even as we speak, although I won’t be doing it in quite such style as this character

And then, on Monday, although the work is not yet over with the local elections still to come, I might be able to devote a little more time to all the things I used to do before the madness started.

I think I remember what they used to be …

leek seedling coming up
* The last two are not, strictly speaking, part of the preparation process but apparently unavoidable all the same.


Vote till you Boak*

April 18, 2017

Lunching with the other half today, I admitted to feeling a bit weary. There’s a lot of bitty stuff to do at the moment, not just with last-minute preparations for Pedal on Parliament but particularly with the ongoing We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote campaign. The good news is that we are getting lots of candidates signing up in support of our three ‘asks’. The less good news is that each one involves a little bit of work – finding the relevant tweet on Twitter, or replying to their email, finding and updating the relevant record, trying to turn a politician’s words into a firm actionable promise… nothing individually too arduous, but it is all starting to feel a bit relentless.

The long road home

The good news, as I told the other half, was that it would all be over in a few weeks. And even better, I was off to meet a couple who have agreed to take of the role of community council secretary. Their house happened to be on the reservoir road, which leads to one of my all-time favourite rides, the reservoir loop. It wasn’t exactly on the direct route home and it involved many entirely unnecessary feet of climbing, but I needed to be away from my computer for a while so I took the long road home.

Stone dykes

I got home much refreshed, ready to face the last two and a half weeks of election campaigning, happy in the knowledge that, whatever happened, there wouldn’t be any more elections after this one for at least two years.

bike on the long road home

* The #votetillyouboak hashtag has been going the rounds on social media as a way of explaining the voting system for the current local elections where it’s most effective to put everyone in order, all the way down to the person you absolutely don’t want to get elected … Unfortunately, it seems Theresa May misunderstood


Exciting* Sheep News

April 17, 2017

The field on one side of the house has suddenly been upgraded with the addition of some ewes and their lambs, who have perhaps grown a bit beyond the maximum cute stage.

growing lamb

But are beginning to look fairly delicious.

Fortunately this is not the field with the hole in the fence, which I imagine would not prove lamb-proof even with my improvised defences. Even so, I imagine my lamb-putting-back-in-field adventures are by no means over.

* Not really