Very British Problems

July 5, 2017

So when you’ve told someone that you’re going to be late to a meeting because you’ve got another meeting beforehand and they’re eight miles apart and you are travelling by bike …

… and then your first meeting is effectively cancelled because nobody shows up …

… and it’s pissing down, and has been all day, and your waterproof trousers have proved Not Waterproof in Scotland, and your only spare gloves are your ridiculous winter ones …

path end

Do you a) cycle as quickly as possible to your second meeting and take the opportunity to dry off, because that would be the sensible thing to do?

interesting new signage

Or b) decide to add an extra couple of very wet miles to your route so that you don’t have to show up early having said you’d be late, a decision that appeared to make the most sense to me at the time?

At least option b gave me the opportunity to photograph some new cycling infrastructure…

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Call me a Fair Weather Cyclist …

June 14, 2017

… but I cannot deny that my bike becomes a whole lot more appealing means of transport when the rain stops

Fair weather road

June has been a bit too Octoberish for my liking recently, but this afternoon the clouds thinned, the wind dropped, the air warmed up and I even took my gloves off

Add in the fact that the hedgerows are full of birds who haven’t quite taken their L-plates off yet, so are often still fluttering about around me as I pass, and of course the hares, and suddenly spending time on my bike becomes a positive delight, rather than the virtuous chore it can frankly be when it is bucketing it down.

Oddly enough, the sunshine doesn’t just make rural roads more pleasant to ride on. Even my least favourite bits of today’s cycling – getting into the Tesco carpark, the roundabout-of-doom where I swear I will meet my end one day, even the hill home – they all seemed so much more doable somehow, although the last one might have been the tail wind.

As a result, I am rashly planning a little mini adventure on my way up to Embra tomorrow. More anon. If I’m spared …


Hope Springs

June 7, 2017

I’m trying to distract myself from the election, which has gone from a head-in-hands, can’t-watch horrorshow to something much more painful – the faintest dawning glimmer of hope that we might not end up with a Tory landslide on our hands. Obviously, that will just make Friday morning even more crushing so instead I bring you the fruits of a project I’ve been working on in the background for the last few weeks entitled ‘discovering how difficult it is to do a timelapse properly’.

We have a wood on the way to our house which is just lovely, and I’ve been trying to record the way it has been changing over the seasons. Woods generally are very difficult to capture properly, and trying to get a consistent image (never mind the lighting) is harder still, as I think my efforts probably demonstrate. But if you squint a bit and apply your imagination I hope you will catch some feeble reflection of what I was attempting to do.

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Enjoy. You have until Friday morning to feel that sense of springlike optimism pervading your soul.


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.


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.

 

 


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


What Lies Beneath

March 25, 2017

So, I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to discover how the manky pink carpet experiment has been getting on.

carpet-covered veg bed

Well, as it happens, due to a rare confluence of events that meant I was not required to be in a random Scottish city this weekend, combined with a slight lull in the immediate pressure of POP preparation (but there’s still time to contribute to our crowd funder, just saying), and a day promising sunshine and light winds, gave me the perfect (indeed, possibly the only) opportunity to find out. In fact, I would have been hard pressed not to spend today out in the garden, given the gloriousness of the weather.

potatoes chitting

So far this year, my entire preparation for growing veg has been a half-hour trolley dash through potato day (top tip: label your seed potato bags before you pick your potatoes, and then put them in alphabetical order for maximum efficiency), and chitting my seed potatoes. I knew that the carpet hasn’t been down long enough to properly deal with the weeds or let the organic matter break down, but spring waits for nobody, and I decided to open up the first bed and put my first and second earlies in today.

veg bed uncovered

If I’d been hoping that underneath there had been a magical transformation into wonderful friable rich soil, I would have been disappointed, but if I’ve learned anything in gardening these past few years it’s to manage my expectations, so I was just pleased to discover that the grass it had covered up wasn’t just sitting there unscathed. There are still some clumps hanging in there to deal with, and a lot of the coarser plant material hadn’t broken down yet, but there was also a fairly healthy population of worms. So the carpet has saved me a lot of digging, although I suspect come later in the season when I’m battling the weeds that did survive, I will wish I’d been more patient

Fortunately potatoes have a fierce determination to grow and will do so even in a light-proof plastic bin so I suspect they will manage anyway (that said, I note that last year I was still putting potatoes in at the end of April, which might explain why we had such a rubbish crop – I had forgotten that. Clearly you can push even a seed potato too far.)

Anyway, given that I haven’t even bought any seeds yet, he rest of the bed can remain under the carpet for now, hopefully mulching down into something marvellous. Meanwhile the now-spare carpet has been moved up to where the fruit cage will be, which is currently about 50% nettle roots by volume. I don’t think we’ll be planting our raspberry canes there for a while …

potatoes planted

What with all the digging, lugging about of heavy stuff and general hard labour, I feel a bit broken now, but it does feel good to have got started for the season.