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.


Ford Auld Lang Syne

May 2, 2017

Cycling back from the Community Council meeting this evening with a song in my heart – for I had finally handed over the secretaryship to not one but two people* – and several insects in my eye – for the warm weather has brought the bugs out in profusion – I passed the turnoff to the ford. And as there was daylight still (and how nice it is to cycle in daylight in the evening), I thought why not.

Dear readers, I bring you for possibly the last time, the ford:

the ford

It’s been a dry spring, all in all.

* It’s always very satisfying when it takes more than one person to replace you


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.


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


N Plus – Steady On

April 11, 2017

Well, I had a tragic badger story I was going to share with you this evening but it’s all gone a bit CSI:Bigtown with talk of post mortems and special operations units, so you’ll have to wait for that one until I’ve got a conclusive ending, if I ever do.

However I did get the bike serviced, and it now has a completely new drive train and pedals and very spiffy it looks too, as well as being disconcertingly quiet.* As I was picking it up, the bike shop guy pointed to what looked like a motorbike in the corner of the shop and suggested I give it a go.

Let me just say now that I have absolutely no need for an electric fat bike, and that spending over £3,000 on an electric fat bike would be an act of lunacy, and that they have no practical use whatsoever, and that anyway, a bike that looks like a motorbike is clearly a bonkers idea. I am, after all, a serious cycle campaigner whose bike is her means of transport and nothing more, and who favours practical things like mudguards and hub gears over something whose sole purpose seems to be to make you laugh out loud with joy the minute you get on board.

So clearly that was not me riding round the gravel patches in the bike shop car park this afternoon, laughing like a loon.

Obviously.

Man, I’d love to ride it up the hill to our house though. And then cross-country back to Bigtown. Always assuming I was going to give it back …

* two people now have told me they know I’m arriving before I appear because they recognise the sound of my bike, suggesting this service may have been long overdue.


Exciting Gas Pipeline News

April 1, 2017

Look, we live in the country, we have to take our excitement where we find it …

It turns out that the gas pipe being put in on my route to Bigtown is no ordinary gas main – they are effectively dualling the main gas pipeline to Ireland (which might be interesting come Brexit) at a cost of around €92m.

On the ground, that translates into an impressive swathe through the landscape.

gas pipeline works

So far the workers seem a friendly bunch (with impeccable road manners too). I particularly like it when they’ve held up all the cars to move some impressive piece of machinery across the road, but just wave me on my bike through…

If you’re interested in how gas pipelines are laid – stop laughing at the back there, I don’t see that it’s unreasonable – then you can read all about the project here. But rest assured, I will keep you posted on progress anyway, whether you’re interested or not.


What is this Life …

March 24, 2017

spring trees

… if, full of care / We have no time to stand and stare?

There’s a field I pass on the way into Bigtown which is now full of lambs, still at their maximally cute knobbly-kneed, propeller tail stage. They’ve been sheltering by the trees right by the road, maximising photo-taking opportunities, but every time I’ve been passing I’ve been hurrying to catch a train or bus, or meet someone, or otherwise have not had time to stop. Today was probably another such occasion, but it was also a glorious if somewhat chilly spring moment so I thought I’d better try and seize the moment before they grew more reminiscent of Sunday lunch than spring.

lambs

Of course they all mostly ran away and hid behind their mothers as soon as they saw the bike, so you’ll just have to imagine the cuteness.