Snow Dropping

February 11, 2018

Just before going to bed last night, I was confronted by this simultaneously baffling and yet distinctly terrifying tweet

It didn’t help that the Met Office had been predicting overnight snow last night and all day today – indeed it was snowing as we went to bed last night so I was fully expecting to wake up to …


Well, anything but sunshine and not even a flake of snow. Indeed, the sun mostly shone all day, apart from a few snow flurries, giving me a chance to empty out one of the compost daleks and ponder our composting deficiencies (of which more anon). Then back indoors to light the fire, drink coffee, thaw out, and look out of the window to discover that the Arctic Oscillation had finally gone negative on our ass as threatened

Or something.

In other news, the shop in Papershop Village is under threat. Does anyone want to buy a shop?


Next Time, we’ll Start an Actual Fire…

February 9, 2018

Things people say to you when you tell them you’re planning a pop-up parklet in a few parking spaces in Edinburgh for the Firestarter Festival:

‘Cool! Sounds fun!’

‘Why would you do that?’

‘Don’t you have a proper job?’

‘Have you done a full risk assessment?’

Things people don’t say to you when you tell them you’re planning a pop-up parklet in a few parking spaces in Edinburgh for the Firestarter Festival (but you wish they had):

‘Have you checked the alignment of the sun?’

parking spaces before

Before …

pop up park after

After …

So it turns out, St Andrews House casts a deep and brooding shadow over the road in front of it. And that on a bright, sunny, but baltic February day in Edinburgh, when you are standing deep in that shadow, staring out at the sunshine warming every other corner of the city, with the wind funnelling between the massive somewhat Nazi-esque frontage of the building and Calton Hill, you will be very glad, very glad indeed, that you chose to wear All The Merino in preparation for the day.

Sunshine Calton Hill

Sunshine on Leith and, indeed, everywhere in Edinburgh except us

That said, Scots are a hardy bunch, and also well supplied with thermal layers and turned out to be prepared to play musical instruments, fix bikes, stand around cheerfully chatting and generally making the most of it with only a few yearning glances towards the sunny sheltered patches we could have set up in, had we thought it through. We had some good conversations, made some useful connections and while we’ve clearly got a bit of a learning curve before we perfect our tactical urbanism, we can chalk this one up at the very least as a useful learning experience

hardy musicians

And lesson number one is that next time – even if we don’t actually start a fire – we will be looking for nice sheltered suntrap for our next location. Which means (as someone pointed out, cheerfully) inevitably, it will rain.

Watching Where the Wind Blows

January 29, 2018

One of the advantages of our house on the side of the hill is that you can watch the weather coming out of the windows at the back – and then going away again out the front (assuming normal prevailing winds apply and the weather actually is planning on leaving, which isn’t always a given).

So it was very satisfying to be able to time my trip to Bigtown this afternoon just behind this heavy shower – just moderating my speed enough to stay out of its skirts.

rain falling on Bigtown

Even better to get to the roundabout on my way into town and realise that the queue of cars that has built up is merely stuck behind a working bin lorry, leaving me able to filter past the lot of them and skip onto the roundabout scot free.

It’s little moments like this that make it all worth while.

They Think it’s All Over …

January 22, 2018

We did think on Saturday night that we’d seen the worst of the snow. We’d even got out in the evening to see Bill Bailey performing in Bigtown’s ‘shack of whimsy’, albeit in a neighbour’s 4×4, our road had been more or less cleared, and there was only a puny yellow warning of snow from the Met Office (after about 5 amber warnings in a row you tend to get a bit blase). We were looking forward to life returning to something like normal, being able to get the car out of the drive, little things like that …

And then it started snowing again.

snowing again

And snowed, and snowed.

walking in the snow

And snowed.

gate in snow

Fortunately, that really was the end of it, and the promised thaw has finally begun although, like the snotty end stage of a cold, this is likely to take far longer and produce more liquid matter than you would really wish for.

As someone commented, we can’t really complain we haven’t had a winter this year – and it is all on balance good for the garden (although I did notice that the hare has nibbled the tops off all of my kale plants, which some might argue was a win win) – but I think we can say that we’ve had enough snow now, thank you all very much.

In other news, the sourdough project has flourished while I’ve been largely confined indoors, if anyone’s interested …

The Best Thing about this Snow …

January 19, 2018

still snowy

… is that we definitely know the hares are back. One picked its way down our path this morning at first light and settled in a little hollow it has made for itself above the pond. It’s not as chilled as past visiting hares have been – I suspect it knows it’s a bit more conspicuous than usual (it not being one of the mountain hares that goes white for the winter) so its ears keep swivelling around like a radar dish and it takes flight at the slightest movement from the house, leaving only a hare-shaped hole in the snow.

hollow in the snow

Place where hare was, sans hare. You’ll just have to use your imagination

Some clearing and ploughing from neighbours with way better toys than we have (our retired lawyer neighbour up the hill has not one but two diggers and relishes any opportunity to use them) means our road is somewhat passable; postal deliveries have been resumed and I was able to cycle almost all the way to and from our door, thanks to the magical ice tyres.

snow on the hills, green below

We walked in the woods today and our footprints from two days ago had been completely obliterated by the snow since then. Apart from a glorious bullfinch, looking even more gorgeous than usual against the snow, the only signs of life were the tracks of badger and deer, foxes and squirrels. There’s something a little strange about coming out of the woods, having waded through pristine foot-deep snow, to see the cars back up to speed on the road across the valley and the green of the fields reappearing down below us, while everything around us remains buried in snow.

single green field

(except this one field, mysteriously, which doesn’t seem to have any snow on it at all. What do you think the farmer has done to it? Extra potent slurry? Underturf heating to make it a luxury sheep spa destination)

Papershop Run, Viking Biking Style

January 18, 2018

As will possibly surprise nobody but myself, I didn’t make it to Glasgow today. Perhaps having someone from your very own coonsil on the Today Programme explaining why they’d effectively told everyone not to attempt to go anywhere at all overnight might have been the clue – that and the additional few inches of snow that meant we weren’t going to get the car out in time for me to catch the morning train – and even if we did, there was no guarantee that the other half would be able to get in again to meet the 10pm train back once the temperatures had dropped and the next yellow warning had rolled around.

BT track marks in snow

By mid morning, indeed, the only vehicle that had attempted to get up our hill was the BT van which had ignominiously ground to a halt half way up (‘it was stopping to look at the telegraph pole that did it’, according to the driver; I imagine it’s an occupational hazard) and then slid back down again. We could see that the main road was moving okay so, with the sun briefly out, and a newspaper to fetch, I kitted up the bike with the second spiked tyre and wheeled it down to the main road to give it a go.

Bike in the snow

Actually, once up and running it wasn’t too bad – slushy rather than icy, and I could probably have got away with ordinary tyres. I considered staying on the main road all the way down, but after a close-ish pass from a bin lorry, of all things, I decided to take my chances on the back roads, where not everyone had been so lucky.

lorry slid off road in snow

(The advantage of being on a bike is that when you are on your way back and the rescue lorry has arrived and is blocking the road and there are four men just standing around having a blether about how it all happened and what to do now, a bike can just slip through the gap and get past)

clouds and snow

Plus it was lovely to be out – and even lovelier to get back just as the next snow shower rolled in.

Snowed Under

January 17, 2018

It seems odd to recall that only two days ago, it was mild and sunny enough in the Borders for me to take my visiting Irish uncle out and get him thoroughly lost* on a Paperbike.

Uncle and paperbike

The next morning we woke to falling snow and and by the time I had returned home (via England, for reasons too complicated to go into, and Notso Bigtown to try out a local choir that seems open to new members who can’t necessarily, technically, sing all that well) the snow was falling and settling thickly enough to possibly merit the approximately 17,000 warning messages the Met Office App has has been sending to my phone.

snowy dawn

We woke to find that perhaps yesterday might have been better spent panic-buying supplies than gadding about and singing, but with a bit of wheelspinning the other half got the car out of the drive and went and emptied out what was left in Tesco. With him safely home again, a full fridge, and the path to the garage cleared and gritted, so we can get at our fuel supplies, we decided we weren’t going anywhere else today than a nice gentle walk between snow showers.

snowy track snowy woods snowy fields

The Met Office is predicting more of the same overnight, and I’d love nothing more than to hole up and make inroads on our emergency cheese supplies, but I have a couple of meetings in Glasgow instead, if we’re able to get out of our drive in the morning. The weather may be wintry, but spring – and peak cycle-campaigning season – is just around the corner.

speaking of which, fingers crossed the Weather Gods will either relent for this – or give us enough snow for it to be double the fun.

* fortunately, he is surgically attached to his iPhone so was able to navigate us a route home