Sales Pitch

February 24, 2015

I had a train to catch this morning, which meant getting up at some ungodly hour – although sadly I actually woke up at a marginally more godly hour which meant scrambling out of the house in more of a hurry than I like to be, thinking ‘ah is that rain? Probably not heavy enough for the full rain gear, might just get away with it…’

Three minutes down the road, the Weather Gods woke up and started turning the taps on. I didn’t fancy two hours in the train in wet trousers so I stopped and pulled out my rain skirt and attempted to put it on in a hurry. This proves easier to do when you’re not battling a stiff breeze and frozen fingers and watched by a curious crowd of sheep* and hurrying to get the whole palaver out of the way before one of your neighbours drives past and finds you apparently dressing on the side of the road. I was just bending down to finish off the final step (attaching the elastic cord that keeps the whole thing from turning into a spinnaker) when a little dog appeared behind my legs, closely followed by concerned dogwalking neighbour who had spotted my bike sans me, and then me apparently doubled over in agony, and was checking to see if I was okay.

Having reassured her I was fine, and merely eccentric, not injured, told her I was rushing for the train and then explained why I wasn’t on my usual train-catching bike (the Brompton; I had no idea people were paying such close attention), I zoomed off again (tailwind assistance fortunately enhanced by the rain skirt) into the now clearing weather. The rain skirt works best as a rain repelling device, I’m finding, and the more complicated it is to put it on, the better.

Still it was absolutely pissing down by the time I pulled into the station forecourt with  five minutes to spare, so that’s something. And a fellow passenger was very taken with the rain skirt – I had by this time abandoned all pretence at decorum and just whipped it off in the booking office – so there’s that too. Why cycle clothing companies aren’t inundating me with free samples of their wet-weather gear I will never know. Round here, even the non-cyclists can see the benefits.

* None of them was called Keith; I checked.


It is not Spring

February 16, 2015

It will not be spring for some time (calendar dates notwithstanding), there are still pockets of snow lurking in the lee of the dykes, the north wind can still deliver a sharp nip when it gets up and there is undoubtedly more weather coming our way.

And yet

sunshine on trees

The trees are starting to show that first fuzz of colour that promises leaves.

winter_birch

And in the sunshine, you can almost feel the warmth.

Bit of a contrast with the last pictures of trees I posted, anyway


I am Woman, Hear Me Roar*

February 9, 2015

We had a bonus afternoon of surprise gloriousness today. The promised milder weather was supposed to come at the cost of gloomy skies, but through some sort of a bureaucratic mixup with the weather gods, we got both sunshine and mild temperatures; I have no doubt that somebody somewhere is being severely reprimanded and/or shunted off to the Rainfall (Atacama Desert) dept for the next millennium. The snow is still hanging around like a houseguest that has outstayed its welcome but the roads are clear, and I’ve an evening appointment tomorrow, so that could only mean one thing: wheel change.

I would like it recorded that I can now do approximately 95% of this All By Myself, with the only hurdle being loosening the wretched wheel nuts on the winter wheels, although this might have been because I was turning the spanner the wrong way. It turns out, simply remembering ‘anti-clockwise to loosen’ is a hell of a lot easier than trying to work out which way might translate as ‘left’ in ‘lefty-loosey’ when you’re standing over an upside-down bike. Also that when the spanner does finally shift, it will do so suddenly and slam your finger into the wheel stays, and that Twitter will not be sympathetic over a fingernail broken in the course of bike maintenance (but then again, why shouldn’t I be able to fix my bike with slightly longer fingernails? Is that not the very essence of Cycle (mechanic) Chic? Of course, I’d probably do better projecting an air of feminine yet practical glamour if I hadn’t got chain oil all over my face in the process…). All that remains is to discover whether I’ve got the wheels back on tight enough that I can cycle to Bigtown and back twice tomorrow. Watch this space. I know you cannot wait to find out.

*With pain; breaking a fingernail actually hurts a lot, and it’s still hurting. You can stop smirking now, Twitter.


A Tale of Two Climates

February 7, 2015

This afternoon I headed up to the greenhouse for a little pottering in my own pet Mediterranean climate (my random perennial experiment is still going strong, amazingly), trying not to let time’s winged chariot breathe too heavily down my my neck, whatever other gardeners in the village might say.

winter_trees_2

And then I walked down the road where a nice temperature inversion was keeping everything in the depth of winter, in the fog. Normally it’s us who gets the fog while everywhere else basks in the sunshine, so it was nice to be able to walk back up the hill and into the sunshine again.

winter_trees

 

winter_trees_3

winter_trees_4

In other news, the gardening neighbours are moving out (I don’t think it’s anything I’m doing, but who knows). We’re hoping the next set of tenants will be a little more slapdash in their gardening approach, although the current lot have given them something of a head start…

winter_trees_5

Must get my seed order in.


Falling Behind

February 6, 2015

I hardly dare mention this, but we’ve had over a week now of clear skies and bright winter sunshine. Of course, clear skies also come with hard overnight frosts – but also a brilliant full winter moon that was a welcome companion riding back from the village the other night, with only a rather feeble battery-powered lamp to guide me home. The snow is still sticking around but that just makes the sunshine brighter, and in February we are none of us going to turn our noses up at a bit of extra light, wherever it comes from.

Cold though it is, even February marches on. I was reminded this morning that time stops for nobody, and gardeners least of all. I haven’t got my seed order in yet – hell, I haven’t even thought about it – but my gardening buddy in the village has already got his first tomato seeds in, and his onion sets sprouting on the windowsill. Time to get myself up to the greenhouse and get back in gear. Just as soon as I can find my vegetable beds under their blanket of snow…


Frozen Out

February 3, 2015

frozen pond

It’s cooooold at the moment. I knew this cycling home from the Community Council meeting last night when it felt like my cheeks were freezing in the wind, and I knew it when we woke to ice on the inside of the windows … and I knew it this morning when I set off before the sun had properly got up to go and be photographed for the paper about icy cycle paths.*

winter dawn

But if I had wanted confirmation, I would have got it when it took five minutes for the teacher to defrost the door lock so we could get into our yoga class this morning. ‘What’s the opposite of hot yoga?’ someone asked. That’ll be Scottish yoga, I guess.

For those awaiting with bated breath for updates on the Yoga Wars front, Yoga Bunny has proved herself a fair weather bunny and hasn’t appeared for the last two weeks, along with almost all of the newbies. But I’m too cowardly to demur when the teacher tells me where to go, and besides, I’m getting to like my new mat neighbour. So I am practising my zen mindset and remaining in my alloted temporary slot until its owner comes back from her computer course. And then I shall strike, and the corner space will be MINE.

snowdrops in snow

In other news, the snowdrops are out. Their timing is terrible, but I suppose they’re tougher than they look…

* for a minute when I got to the newspaper offices I thought we’d been foiled by the council actually clearing the path because the icy rutted mess that I’d originally complained about was suddenly beautifully clear. But fortunately their zeal or their salt had run out about ten yards further on so there was plenty of ice for me to be photographed on doing my Angry People in Local Newspapers face


Priorities Please

February 2, 2015

Well, I might regret saying that sunny snowy winter days never get old, as it seems to have ushered in days of sub-zero weather and the snow, the ice – and definitely the wind – are beginning to feel like house guests that have begun to outstay their welcome.

bike and snow

We haven’t had any more snow, but it appears that the wind has been doing more than just freeze our ears off – when I went down for the paper this morning I discovered that the few inches we had on Thursday had been helpfully swept off the surrounding hills and gathered neatly along some stretches of the road instead.

wind blown snow

The rest had been sculpted into some attractive shapes.

wind blown snow

Fortunately for us there seems to be a new policy of clearing rural roads of snow (or perhaps the local farmers have just gone out and done it themselves – I will find out tonight at the community council meeting) unlike our last big freeze. This is nice for me, because even with the ice tyres, rutted icy compacted snow can be a bit tricky. As it was, the place where I nearly came off my bike was our own driveway. I had shovelled myself a nice path out of the shed and onto the drive but had neglected to do the bit right by the road where I need to turn right just as all the ruts are trying to send me left. Oops.

This is slightly embarrassing given that a little rant I unleashed about the state of Bigtown’s pavements has been picked up by the local paper. I’m due in town tomorrow early for a traditional sadface shot next to the icy path right by the paper’s offices (unless the coonsil get wind of it and get the grit down overnight) – hopefully not with injuries from where I came off the bike on my own ice.

Still it does seem bizarre that the back road to Papershop Village, a road used by myself and about three farmers, has had more snow clearing than the pavements in most part of Bigtown. In fact, the pavements in Nearest Village have had more snow clearing than the ones in Bigtown, thanks to the community resilience scheme whereby they just give community councils a big bin full of grit and a hopper and tell them to have at it, which they do. There was more salt down than the Dead Sea when I cycled past this morning. It seemed to have done the trick, though. Perhaps the coonsil could take note.


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