Baselining

May 31, 2017

With the other half finally home, and things slightly easing off on the bonkers busy front, it’s been time to start getting to grips with the gardening backlog. Today, I managed an hour or so listening to the radio (PM is as ever the only news programme that’s bearable during election time, indeed increasingly the only news programme that’s bearable full stop) and planting out my leek seedlings while the other half tackled the grass.

leek seedlings

I’m putting this year’s veg growing down to establishing a baseline – things can only improve from here, effectively. Especially as I discovered this morning that the Small Emergency Backup Hare is using the potato patch as its current chilling spot. Clearly my hare defences need to be exchanged for something less rustic and more agricultural, possibly involving chicken wire and/or baler twine.

veg plot at the end of May

Meanwhile, the Large Main Hare and another Large Main Hare appear to be working on the stock of Small Emergency Backup Hares, although Mrs Main Hare doesn’t seem to be too keen right at the moment. Yesterday, as I headed off on my bike to Bigtown they were so busy chasing eachother round the farmyard at the bottom of the hill they were actually running towards me instead of away – I can only hope they’re a bit more wary around the cars. And I’ve discovered that, for an animal with a reputation for the uncanny and the magical, when hares get frisky with each other they’re actually pretty heavy footed (especially when you’re all alone in the house and wondering what on earth is thundering around outside). Humans clearly aren’t the only ones to totally lose their cool in the presence of the opposite sex…

frisky hares


Come In, You’ll Have had Your Summer

May 29, 2017

Well, it’s been a glorious weekend of cycling – adding it all up, I must have done around 130 miles since Friday what with various Bigtown Cycle Campaign activities and the KM rally. I’ve also managed to get more sunburnt in the past three days than I did in five days in Spain and a week in Colorado (I’m not the only one either; I’ve seen plenty of ‘lobster tans’ in the past few days – it turns out that suncream goes off so if you only get about three days of sunshine a year then don’t expect that bottle you bought back in 2004 to still offer any protection even if it is still half full).

The cycling has been amazing and it’s been properly fuelled too – say what you like about Cycling UK (and most people do – some of it justified, some of it not) but they know how to ensure that cyclists get properly fed. Not for nothing was it once known as ‘cafe to cafe’.

buttercups

Unfortunately, wall-to-wall cycling and warm weather, on top of a week away, means that the garden looks somewhere between ‘unkempt’ and ‘letter from the council’. The hares have been frisking around outside as if they not only owned the place but are thinking of settling down and starting a family. I suppose that’s one good thing about lax gardening habits: plenty of space for more hares.

columbines

The other half returns tomorrow, hooray, and we have no trips planned for the foreseeable future, so I may just have a chance to get to grips with the garden. Although of course that also means the glorious sunshine has disappeared and normal dreich service has returned…


Turning Left in May

May 26, 2017

As part of our commitment to get out of our comfort zones in our lives, both Back on my Bike and I have been separately trying to go on at least one small adventure a month this year. This month, we hatched a plan that involved meeting her and a fellow cycling pal at the next train station along on the line to Glasgow and cycling with them to their campsite where they were going to take part in Bigtownshire’s biennial cycling fest, the KM Rally.

What’s so adventurous about that, you might ask – for it’s a ride I’ve done a couple of times before so hardly counts as a new adventure. Well, I had a cunning plan:

Rather than rely on my own knowledge of the route, or her phone’s satnav, she was going to have to navigate the old fashioned way.

Dangerous Hill

Admiring the ‘dangerous hill’ sign

Fortunately, I seemed to have left the Scottish weather in Colorado and we have been having some distinctly Colorado weather in Scotland, so there was no hardship in stopping to consult the map from time to time, preferably in a shady spot. Indeed, so unScottish was the weather, that we ran out of water and had to ask a householder on the road to fill them for us. He looked satisfyingly in awe at the distance we were cycling (actually no more than 30 miles with no wrong turnings – despite her protestations, Suzanne proved more than capable of navigating) and not only refilled them but added ice too, which was extremely welcome and went some way towards making up for the only tearoom on the route being firmly shut by the time we arrived at 3:30 pm ready to buy All The Cake. Their loss …

shady road

Other than that, it was just a question of enjoying the quiet back roads, breathing in the heady scent of the hawthorn blossom, exclaiming over the scenery and generally enjoying Bigtownshire cycling at its best.

on the road

On the whole, the area doesn’t do a lot to sell itself as a destination for cycle tourers, or for anything else. We decided that this was because the average Scot, when asked to big up their area, would probably concede that it was ‘awright’. Before adding that ‘it’s no Spain, mind’.

Not Spain

It’s no Spain …

Actually, today, it came fairly close. It wasn’t the fastest ride ever, but it was certainly the most enjoyable day out on the bike that I’ve had for a while. And look!

Achievement unlocked.


Shiny, Shiny

May 25, 2017

And not just the strange bright light in the sky, either…

Well, I made it home safely yesterday evening, finally, after about 24 hours of travelling and today’s chore was finally reuniting myself with my old laptop, which had returned from its adventure in Bristol about 12 hours after we’d left for the US. The excitement had barely abated when a knock on the door came and a UPS delivery man arrived with my new laptop which is not, in fact, shiny at all but a rather sleek matt black. It has a super-duper screen, all the battery life you can shake a stick at and any other number of bells and whistles which I hope will make it worth the ‘how much?!’ I paid for it.

It also has Windows 10 and a new version of Office. I’m sure both have many fine features and one day I will work out what they are but for now I am wrestling with the fact that nothing is where I expect it to be and that Microsoft have, in their wisdom, removed Picture Manager from the current Office installation, apparently on the grounds that it was a nice little application that allowed people (me) to very quickly crop, adjust and compress a photo with a minimum amount of fuss and clearly nobody wants that in the modern age. A quick google has revealed that there are alternatives and when our rural broadband has finished downloading the resulting 300MB file, I will be able to resume adding photos to the blog. Just as soon as I work out the setting that allows me to transfer files from my phone via Bluetooth without having to individually give permission to accept each one. Nobody say get a Mac.*

So you’ll just have to hang on a bit longer for illustrated hare news, gardening updates and the glory that is Scotland in May when the may is out. Clouts may very well have been cast…

Oh and delighted to discover that my compatriots are treating terrorism – and the political response to it – with a little derisive mockery. I knew the UK wouldn’t let me down.

* Or &%*$ Linux. Thank you.


Homeward Bound

May 23, 2017

I was going to blog last night about our urban osprey spotting adventures but then I heard the horrific news about Manchester and it all seemed a little pointless.

bike and spring flowers

In an hour or two I set off on the long journey home, alone, because the other half is staying on an extra week to spend a bit more time with his parents. I don’t know what the mood is like in the UK, because I’m getting my news from a mixture of Twitter and the US news networks, but I’m hoping I will get back to the usual mixture of off-colour humour, persistent grumbling about peripheral issues and quiet acts of kindness that has traditionally got us through these sorts of attacks in the past. There’s a lot I haven’t recognised about my own country in recent months, but when our ability to take the piss in the face of danger deserts us, then I know that we are truly lost.

On a cheerier note, we were out for a last bike ride this morning and got chatting to a young Glasgwegian lad with a nice looking touring set up who is busy cycling across the United States. We’ve lived near Bigtown long enough now that we were completely unsurprised to discover he had done some of his medical training at Bigtownshire Hospital, and was good pals with the son of our GP. But of course. Indeed, these days wherever we might roam – Outer Mongolia, say, or half way up Kilimanjaro, or down at the bottom of the Marianas Trench – we’d be surprised and disappointed not to bump into someone from Bigtown who knew someone we knew.


I Suppose it was Inevitable…

May 20, 2017

I gather the weather has been all taps aff at home – but (and you can stop sniggering at the back, please) over here in Colorado the weather has been distinctly … well, Scottish.

abandoned jeep

Nothing daunted by the cold and threatened rain (I believe the words ‘I’m not made of sugar’ may have crossed my lips) I headed out on my own  on the bike this morning to check out the height of the Fountain Creek, because nobody else wanted to join me, for some reason.

Fountain creek flowing

Ford lovers, this will have to do. The Americans don’t put depth gauges in their rivers though, for some reason

Of course, it started raining the minute I got on the bike, but I could hardly turn back so I pressed on anyway, glad that I had, in a moment of madness at home, packed a pair of gloves as well as a rain jacket.

Sidewalk closed

The river path is currently undergoing some work, which hopefully will not be undone again by the latest rain. As there was nobody around, and the alternative involved sprinting across a road, I am sorry to say that I just ignored this sign.

spring flowers

On the other hand, I have never seen Colorado looking more green and the spring flowers are all in bloom. Some of them more springlike than others

cactus flowers

For those of you enjoying warm sunny May weather in our absence, you are most welcome.

 

 


Hare Today, No Veg Tomorrow

May 15, 2017

We’ve been sadly deficient in hares for the last few days, which is a great sadness to us because it’s been a huge privilege to be able to watch them chilling out in our back garden.

So I was quite excited the other morning to see something moving through the garden and snapped a quick somewhat hazy photo (I had just got out of the bath…)

hare in the veg plot

Hmm. Perhaps they can’t read after all. I thought my sign was pretty clear.

After it had had a nibble of the potato leaves, it hopped over my hare defences with insolent ease.

Unfortunately, we are off (again, I know, but family calls) to Colorado for a week leaving the hares in charge. At best this may bode ill for the vegetables. At worst, they may have moved in and changed the locks. I’m ruling nothing out.

Even if the latter, I think the other half is still Team Hare.