Hares Today …

March 14, 2017

hare outside front doorAs I may have mentioned, we have a resident hare in the garden. It has a few favoured spots where it likes to hang out, and it’s a bit fly to be photographed on a mobile phone, although today I did my best when I went into our entranceway today and found we had a visitor right outside (possibly contemplating nibbling the second of the pair of little bay trees that I had been hoping would frame our doorway; it’s already decapitated the first.)

When I was in Inverness, I also got a text from the other half to tell me that not one but two hares were hanging out on the manky pink carpet, waiting for the rain to stop. As hares are largely solitary, two hares can mean only one thing: that the time has come when a young hare’s fancy turns to, well, other hares (the ‘boxing’ they are famous for in March is generally down to the female hare not yet being similarly inclined and reminding the male hare that hares are largely solitary and she would prefer to keep it that way, thankyouverymuch). So far we’ve seen neither boxing nor any sign that they are doing more than just tolerating each others’ presence, but we live in hope of more hares tomorrow.

hare haring off

Naturally this makes the hare-proof defences for the vegetable patch increasingly urgent, but for now we are just enjoying their presence and trying to work out a means by which we and the hares can continue to share the garden nicely.


A Little Water Otter

February 21, 2017

Cycling home from Bigtown this lunchtime with a bit of a case of the grumps because it was miserable and raining (I know, I know, it’s February in Scotland so what did I expect, but I got a bit over optimistic about this Caribbean air that was supposed to be arriving) and I’d been in too much of a hurry when I left to bring in the laundry (ditto), so not only was I going to be pretty soggy when I got home, but so would be most of my clothes.

And then as I turned across the bridge I caught a pattern of ripples on the water just out of the corner of my eye, and stopped in time to see an otter surface, dive, resurface again, then seem to catch my eye before it dove again and vanish under the bridge. I spent a hopeful few minutes darting from side to side of the bridge hoping for it to reappear long enough to be photographed, but it was too fly for me, and I cycled off again into the rain.

There are so many reasons why I ride a bike: the environment, saving money, maintaining my cake-based lifestyle – but it’s encounters like that make me happy that I cycle even on the grimmest days.

The laundry was still soaking when I got in, mind. And so was I.


Hope Springs

February 20, 2017

As the world still determinedly heads hellwards, handbasket-wise, who’s for a small amount of good news? I was cheered to learn yesterday that pine martens had been spotted fairly locally. Pine martens, as well as being desperately cute, also prey on grey squirrels (red squirrels can evade them being lighter and quicker) and have been credited with helping keep the reds going up in the Highlands where they are still reasonably numerous. Given that we have seen grey squirrels twice in our garden since we moved in, we’re clearly on the frontline here, and having a little cute furry help* to beat back the greys would be welcome. As well as pretty damn cool.

Although we have managed to get some video footage of pine martens before, they’re a bit too fly to be photographed easily even by the super-skilled photographer friend who spotted them, so you’ll have to make do with the equally hopeful but quite a bit more stationary daffodils which appear to be coming up in the garden.

emerging daffodils

Watch this space

*I assume that all of you who got a bit squeamish about us doing away with the greys last time don’t mind them being done in by other animals … nature red in tooth and claw, and all that.


Hanging in There

February 2, 2017

It shouldn’t come as any big surprise, given the time of year, but I was still pleased to see that the lane above the house has a bank of snowdrops coming through.

bank of snowdrops

At this time of year (this year of all years … remember when we were glad to see the back of 2016?) any sign of hope is welcome.

snowdrop clump

The more the merrier

lots of snowdrops

And for all you sheep lovers out there, a sheep.

lone sheep

Don’t know if this was an introverted one, or possibly an outcast, but it seemed happy away from the flock, which were all away at the other end of the field. Possibly plotting an escape, now I think about it…


You Can Keep your Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness, Frankly

October 15, 2016

‘You’ll be needing this,’ the other half said to me handing me the key to unlock the bike, before heading off with his parents. I had been having, it’s fair to say, a stressful morning: with a lot of stuff I needed to do, a duff Windows update had been causing Word to keep crashing. Eventually, with the help of Twitter and Dr. Google I had managed to back out of the changes and more or less got my computer working again, but it had effectively taken me two hours to get to the point where I could even start the thing I had meant to get done early to allow me to go out and enjoy the delights of a sunny Colorado October day. As it was, I was going to have to stay behind and let the others go out and enjoy themselves without me.

bike on path

Two hours later, I took the other half’s advice and unlocked the bike and took it for a pootle down the river trail. It was too hot to go far (fall in Pueblo is a relative thing – we’re talking 28 degrees celsius, or F hot in Farenheit – so not exactly your crisp cold autumn day) so I contented myself with taking photos.

shaded path

The path was full of grasshoppers that turn themselves magically at your approach from what look like sticks into whirring red-winged creatures, like a butterfly wearing a two-stroke jet pack. I amused myself trying to capture the moment of transformation but my reflexes are not fast enough.

grasshopper

Grasshopper in stick mode

And the trees, while not exactly the firework display you’d get in the north east, were putting on a bit of a show.

tree with autumn leaves

You’d be looking at Pueblo a long time before you mistook it for a beautiful city – but it has its moments.

And then I came back and spent the afternoon on my computer in the shade on the patio.

This is the sort of autumn weather I could get used to.

more autumn colour


Taking Flight

October 5, 2016

Yesterday, heading out early on the Brompton to catch a bus to catch a train to catch another train to Aberdeen, I was rewarded not just by a picture-perfect Junetober morning, but a huge flight of linnets* gathering over a recently harvested field. They were swirling in the morning sun, light flashing off their wings as they wheeled, forming first a river of birds and then a pool overhead, and then starting to settle on the wires until my approach spooked them and they flowed off as though they were being poured out of a jar.

It quite set me up for a day’s travelling, followed by an afternoon and evening of highs and lows: great chat with lots of fellow cyclists and campaigners (and boy does Aberdeen need cycle campaigners), tempered by bad news as bike lanes across Scotland appear to be under attack.

And then home again today, ever so slightly hungover, to a welcoming committee of cows, just in time to prepare for my next jaunt to Glasgow on Saturday where I will unaccountably be the keynote speaker for this (‘just be awesome, you’ll be fine’, says the organiser, which was perhaps not quite as reassuring as she had intended).

welcoming committee of cows

And then in a week we’re off again to the US. I wonder if the cows will miss us. Perhaps they should read the blog…

* probably


Giving Up the Ghost

September 25, 2016

It seems that trees don’t cope so well without their other halves: cycling back to the veg plot today, I was confronted with this sad sight

fallen tree

The remains of the tree that had been severed by the storm earlier has gone now too. I suppose it’s not so surprising, for the tree must have been left seriously unbalanced, but it is nonetheless a shame.

fallen tree

Meanwhile, down at the plot, some of my veg is taking advantage of my absence and displaying expansionist tendencies.

squash plant

It could be worse though: at least it’s not a courgette, but an acorn squash

acorn squash

In fact the whole plot is rather betraying the fact that it’s only getting a couple of hours of tending a week, not counting any weeding the rabbit might put in.

main plot

Meanwhile, I am coming to terms with the fact that any veg plot at the new house is unlikely to be much bigger than my original first six beds.

original plot

This is the plot I originally started with …

I shall have to be much more selective about what I grow …