A Rainy Sunday Morning…

March 29, 2015

.. and the other half rendering the kitchen temporarily uninhabitable by making banana bread;* what to do?

greenhouse in March


planted seed trays

A bit of seed planting

notebook with planting plan

A bit of light plot-plotting

Never has the sound of rain on the roof sounded sweeter.

* I love the stuff, especially his chocolate-chip version, but I can’t stand the smell of bananas, especially overripe ones, until they’ve been safely transformed.

Tap* Aff

March 18, 2015

hazy hills

Oh what an errandonneering day I could have had today – a dental appointment in Notso Bigtown, with a side trip to pick up the paper and deliver POP flyers to any likely looking destination. Any sane person would probably feel that 13+ miles each way by bike is a bit excessive for a 20 minute check up and a scale and polish. But the other half needed the car, and the weather forecast was unusually optimistic, and the bulk of my cycling in recent weeks has been up and down the road to Bigtown, so I didn’t really much encouragement to recast it as a nice bike ride with a small dental appointment attached. Which makes a whole lot more sense that way round.

road ahead

The promised sunshine was hazy rather than glorious, but it was certainly warmer than it has been all year, so I soon stopped to peel off my jumper and then, daringly, my gloves. Pausing only to pick up the paper and drop off some Pedal on Parliament flyers (‘Oh, I’ll give one to Roland’, said Papershop Bloke. ‘Why, is he a keen cyclist then?’ ‘No, he hates them. When the police came round to warn him because some cyclist had reported him for his driving, he said next time he saw one he’d run them over.’ Hopefully he won’t be turning up in Edinburgh on the 25th of April, in a tank), I was soon out beyond my normal daily cycling round and remembering why I like riding my bike around here so much.


Sadly, my camera doesn’t seem to manage to capture the steepness or otherwise of a hill. This is one of those ‘check your brakes’ descents that means I never take this road the other way (and yes, it is a national cycle route. Perhaps we should all have a whip round and buy Sustrans a map with some contour lines on it)

Teeth given a clean bill of health, and with more POP flyers distributed to Notso Bigtown’s three (count ’em) bike shops, I had to hurry back a bit faster than I would normally like, because I was expecting an important work-related phone call. I’m glad I took the opportunity to escape while I did because looming work commitments, not to mention organising a wee demonstration in Edinburgh, mean that opportunities for sunny cycle rides on flimsy excuses might be a little thin on the ground in the next few weeks.

And I wasn’t the only one lured out by the sunshine, either…

lizard on the cobbles

Approximately 4/5 of a lizard.

*because let’s not go mad here. Removing just the one layer is quite sufficient in March

Puttzing about

March 16, 2015

What with all the gadding about I’ve been doing recently, it’s actually been a while since I simply cycled down to the shop for the paper, but today I got to do just that. And although it was a cold day and spitting lightly with rain, it was a relief to get back on the rolling back road to Papershop Village, with almost no other traffic but me and the bike. I was relieved to note that, despite using the bigger front ring, I found the hills pretty easy all the way there. Clearly, I thought to myself, I’d got a fair bit fitter over the last couple of weeks. All this gadding about must be doing me some good.

And then I turned around and discovered I was suffering from PUTS: previously unnoticed tailwind syndrome.

We’ve been here before…

Winter, Actually You May be the Boss of Me…

March 12, 2015

I will be honest with you: I was not looking forward to getting out on the bike today. The forecast was for it to piss down with rain and the forecast had duly delivered. I had a number of things I needed to do in town, including return my library books – overdue library books wait for no man, woman, or fair weather cyclist – but the truth is, any other week of the year I would probably have wimped out and found a way around the problem that didn’t involve pedalling 45 minutes into the unrelenting rain (and a headwind), a damp and dripping visit to various establishments in Bigtown, and then 45 minutes pedalling back. But not this week, because this week is errandonneering week, and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to knock off three more errands in one day, especially given how far I am behind.

At this point, bike blog narrative conventions dictate that I should discover that in fact, cycling in the rain was not so bad after all, and that I was glad the challenge had got me out on the bike. Because yay, bikes!

In reality, it was every bit as wet and miserable as I had expected it to be. Looking on the bright side – and I’m conscious I’m scraping the barrel here – I did take the opportunity to discover that my new tweed cap is just as waterproof as my old one, and considerably more waterproof than any fancy new technology that has been developed in the meantime. I was also encouraged to discover that when your boots are filling up with water, it does at least take your mind off the fact that you can only use your biggest gears. And I have finally learned that when you get home from a wet ride, then life will be much more pleasant for you the next time you go out if you remember to take your soggy gloves out of your pocket and hang them up to dry along with basically all your other clothes.

wet kit

What I didn’t remember was to take any pictures until after I had set off for home again, so these will have to do.

bridge in the rain

Errand 5: sorting out a birthday card and present for a friend. Category: social call (well, remotely, anyway). Observation: there’s always one wag in Bigtown who will say ‘lovely day for it’ as they pass a drenched cyclist.



rainy road home

Errand 6: returning library books. Category: arts and entertainment. Observation: There is also always one cheerful soul in Bigtown who will say encouragingly ‘and they say it’s to stay set in like this all day’ as you set off again on your bike


coffee and doughnut

Errand 7: visiting the bank. Category: Personal business. Observation: there is no coffee and doughnut quite so well-earned as the coffee and doughnut you have after you have finally got home and into warm dry clothes after being thoroughly drenched on the bike.



Total 16 miles.

Bad Brompton Owner

March 10, 2015

It was a glorious day today, the first real springlike day, which meant two things: I got an urgent job to finish, and my bikes had decided to present a united front on the whole maintenance thing, meaning neither of them was strictly ridable.

I actually feel quite bad about the Brompton. I haven’t ridden it very much since Christmas, which is never good for bikes, and over Christmas I had taken it around the forest paths in Duns which were extremely muddy. Obviously, as I love the Brompton, I should have immediately washed it and oiled it before putting it away, but we were at my parents’ and then when we came home life happened, and cleaning and lubricating it sort of slipped off my list of things to do.

The end result was that I had to abandon my plans to cycle down to yoga and spend the time restoring some degree of flexibility to the Brompton chain instead. Half a pack of wet wipes, industrial quantities of Plus Gas and a bottle of chain lube later, the Brompton was once more ridable and I am duly chastened and have promised it I will never neglect it so badly again.

So what with the bike maintenance and the work, I wasn’t expecting to add to my errandonneering total today. But then – just as I was settling down with a cup of coffee in the first actual sit-outable sunshine of the year, I realised we needed to buy milk and a couple of other urgent necessities, so I got out after all…

Brompton shopping basket

Milk, wine, Lemsip. Breakfast of champions

Category: store, distance 12 miles, observation: if you must off-road on your Brompton, make sure you clean it afterwards


March 7, 2015
plants outside greenhouse

Note the blurred effect from them blowing in the wind … sorry plants!

‘You haven’t left your poor plants out in this?’ asked the other half as I dragged myself away from the fire to go and put my random perennials back into the greenhouse before nightfall. I am in the process of hardening them off which means lugging them all out of the greenhouse in the morning and letting them get used to life in Scotland rather than the Mediterranean climate of the greenhouse. Today was supposed to be reasonably mild and damp, which seemed like a perfect introduction to their new life, but what the forecast had forgot to mention was that it would also be blowing a hooly. I suppose getting used to the wind is probably good for them too…

They’re now safely back under glass again, alongside my haul from potato day, which I’ve decided to chit up in the greenhouse.

potatoes chitting

I should probably have noted what they all are (it is written on the bags at least, so I should be able to work it out). From memory, definitely Highland Burgundy, because you’ve got to have a potato that stays that purple even when it’s cooked, and Golden Wonder, which made nice big bakers last year, and Pink Fir Apple because it’s the one everyone says you should get. I was too late for some of my other choices (Charlotte and, tragically, Shetland Black) so the rest are the usual random mix of potatoes with interesting names and ones that sounded like they might fit my requirements. Given that they all end up being mixed up in the potato bin after harvest, I still haven’t formed any really strong preferences about varieties. To be absolutely honest, they still mostly taste like potatoes, however wonderful and home grown they might be…

I am experimenting with growing some super early potatoes in the greenhouse, however. And I finally got an explanation for the exploding potato problem on Gardener’s Question Time the other week: I’m harvesting them too late, according to Bob Flowerdew, allowing the starch to develop. So I’ll be digging them up earlier this year to see if that helps.

Sure Signs of Spring

March 6, 2015

Photographs of tiny white dots purporting to be lambs:


These lambs are both small and far away

My winter scarf knitting project finally nears completion:

Almost completed scarf

The scarf, in fairness, was a bit of a latecomer to the winter knitting programme. I had been rummaging around in the bargain bin of the local knitting shop in search of unfeasibly bright yarn, for some reason, when I came across a bargain ball of self-striping wool. It turned out not to be suitable for the project I had in mind for it, but I started playing around trying to see if I could get the colours to line up vertically with each other. Self-striping wool can leave you feeling like a bit of a passenger in your own knitting, but to get the effect I wanted meant something a bit more dynamic: adding a stitch or two at one end, and removing a stitch or two at the the other as needed, until I realised I had started to create a bias-knit scarf.

Well, biasish.

colour mistake

The perils of not paying attention at the crucial moment

Turns out knitting and trying to keep up with what’s going on in Wolf Hall might be a multi task too far.

Anyway, it should also add a bit of brightness to my outfit on the bike, which is otherwise a bit subfusc. And it seems to have done its job in that the forecast now is for mild spring weather. You don’t get that from a hi vis vest…


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