That Hurricane Damage in Full

October 17, 2017

Having read some of the tweets from Ireland during Ophelia’s visit yesterday, I’ll spare you my eerie calm before the storm and weird blood-red sun anecdotes (but you know, it was very strange). When the storm finally arrived, we lay in bed last night listening to it hammering around the house hoping that the greenhouse would survive and glad that at least we’d given the two trees most likely to cause any damage a haircut.

With the cold light of morning we went out to survey the damage:

headless daleks

De-cap-it-ate

Our dalek army had been decapitated (fortunately, we had spent Sunday filling the two new bins with the contents of the pile-o’-stuff, so we only had to retrieve the lids, not go hunting for the bins themselves).

felled tree

One of our wedding anniversary twiglets had been blown over, although it was possible to resurrect it as it had only bent, not snapped.*

battered tree

The cows’ tree – whose tree tube had suffered somewhat from their enthusiastic attention – appeared battered but unbowed.

And you’ll be pleased to note from the photo above that the greenhouse is still standing and indeed completely unscathed, testament to the efforts of the other half and a friend, who spent two days constructing it.  Other than that, as the wind had helpfully blown away all the leaves that had fallen already, the garden actually looked tidier than it was before the storm.

Tomorrow we set off for Northern Ireland – or what’s left of it – for what we’re confident will be a sunshine break, very glad that we didn’t book the ferry for today as we had originally planned.

* I would claim this as a metaphor but two of the other trees we planted this spring didn’t survive, so I’m not reading too much into their fate, just at the moment.

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Hedges have Ears

October 10, 2017

That feeling when you’ve stopped your bike by the side of the road to take an important phone call …

cows listening in

“she said what?”

… and you just can’t shake off the feeling that somebody’s listening in.

The cows may have left the field next to our garden, but that doesn’t mean we’re safe from Moo I 5


Never on a Sunday

September 12, 2017

I have exciting plans for Friday, but they are of the ‘better to ask forgiveness than permission’ kind, so I shall refrain from posting them here just now, although I think it’s unlikely that the powers that be are monitoring me that closely.* However I do have other exciting plans for the weekend because it is the Cycling Embassy AGM this weekend, which is venturing north of the border for the first time ever, to Glasgow.

This means a full on weekend of bike riding, kerb measuring, campaigning chat, pub going and general gadding about, and a chance for two of my cycling worlds to intersect, as up to now the Scottish cycle campaigning scene has been a bit divorced from what’s going on down south.

It also means that I don’t have to lug my Brompton half way across the country to take part, as it’s just one train up to Glasgow from Bigtown and it takes loads of bikes so I can bring the big bike. Frustratingly, that doesn’t make it any easier to get home than if we were in Cambridge, Leicester, Brighton or any of the other places where we’ve had our AGMs over the years. Because it is decreed that no train shall move on our line on Sunday until After Kirk, and even then extremely reluctantly, so I shall have to cut the festivities short in order to get home at all …

* other than Moo-I-5, who spent most of the weekend staring at our pile of woodchips in case it turned out to be edible and magically became available


Exciting Tree Survival News

August 31, 2017

So, I thought that the cow vs tree saga might have come to a premature end when the local farmer moved a bunch of beasts* down the road, and I assumed that included our neighbours. But no sooner had I gone out to dig up some potatoes for our supper this evening, when I realised I had drawn an audience.

drawing a crowd

They soon resumed their assault on the tree, and although they looked as if they were more interested in the tree tube than the tree inside it, they were managing to bend it over to the point that I worried for the top of the tree. I clearly hadn’t attached it solidly enough to the fence. Nothing a zip tie couldn’t fix…

cow vs tree

Except that is easier said than done

cow closeup

When you are being licked to death.

cow nose

In the end I had to call the other half out so one of us could secure the tree and the other fended off our new best friends. Then, with a feeling of a job well done, we settled down to enjoy a drink in the last of the evening sunshine.

cow audience

Just have to shake off that sensation that we were being watched, that’s all …

* That’s what they call livestock around here. It makes farming sound a hell of a lot more exciting than I expect it really is.


The Return of Moo-I-5

August 28, 2017

Just after we moved in, now over a year ago, we were pleased to wake one morning to discover we had some new neighbours – the cows, soon dubbed Moo-I-5 for their habit of watching our every move.

cow next to ash sapling

Our first sight of the cows next door …

The downside of cows-for-neighbours, we were soon to discover was that everything withing cow-reach promptly became cow-lunch. This included a little ash sapling that had established itself right on the fence.

ash and cow annotated

That first picture wasn’t very clear, so I have annotated it

And was shortly reduced to a stick.

ash stick

And if you’re thinking, well at least its got a few leaves left, they went the next day

That, we thought, was the end of that, which is a shame because we like trees and ash are great for firewood and it might have provided a bit of shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. Anyway, time passed and the cows went off to pastures new, and we noticed that the ash sapling was not actually dead (why this should come as a surprise I’m not quite sure as all the other ash saplings which weren’t in quite such a suitable location and had been cut down were also resprouting, but the cows had done a pretty thorough job of chewing it down)

ash resprouting

I’m afraid, I’m a sucker for anything that survives against the odds, even an ash tree that is technically a weed, so I stuck a tree tube on it and awaited the return of the cows …

ash in tree tube

They were a bit later this year than last but pretty soon we had a black and white audience watching over the fence when we ventured outside …

cow attacking tree tube

… and having a good go at the tree when they figured we weren’t looking

So far, the tree tube has held out against a fairly determined onslaught (they appear to be attempting to lick it to death) but watch this space.

OK, so it’s not exactly the ford, but it will have to do.

 


I Brake for Baby Birds

July 25, 2017

It’s that time of year when the hedges are full of recently fledged birds, all a bit, well, crap, in the endearing way baby birds are. Which is fine, until they launch themselves in front of your bike and, like learner drivers, prove to be a bit slower off the mark than you were quite expecting. Twice now I’ve had to jam on the brakes to prevent myself from rear-ending a low-flying beginner that hadn’t quite made it to safety.

Sadly, it also means too many sad little flattened feathery corpses on the road. so far I’ve seen an oystercatcher, a rook, several blackbirds, a goldfinch, a yellowhammer and any number of unidentifiable little brown jobs (I really should probably get back to filling in Splatter Project reports).

It was cheering, though, to pass a hedgeful of a flock of something – hard to tell what when you’re zooming past. One went, and then another, and then they were all pouring out of the hedge to get away, hunners of them, chirping as they flew, setting the whole field beside me in motion. It was a laugh-out-loud kind of sight, the way they just kept coming as I passed, as if the hedge itself were taking flight.

And not a one ended up under anyone’s wheels, which counts as a bonus at this time of year.


Un-Buzzed

June 28, 2017

So it seems I’m not the only one with an ASBO buzzard, although I like to think mine is the original and best

While I don’t really miss ASBO buzzard, I do regret not taking the opportunity to try and film it in mid-attack, partly because I sense a certain scepticism when I tell people about it that a) it actually happens and b) it is genuinely scary. Plus the whole 15 minutes of fame thing, obviously.

These days, the main wildlife-related hazard I encounter on the road is an increasingly ripe badger carcase which has ended up right by a passing place on one of the narrower back roads. I always dread some well-meaning driver pausing at just that point on the road as they see me coming – leaving me unable to give it as wide a berth as I normally aim for. Squeezing past cars on a disintegrating road edge is one thing, squelching over disintegrating badgers is quite another. Sorry, were you eating?

Other road hazards are potentially a bit more fun

caution ramps ahead

Although the 14-year-old me is rather disappointed that the 48-year-old she’s trapped inside declined to even try to get some air.