Well, a day of excitement for us today – not only was it Bin Day (one of the few remaining Binday Classics as we count down to the new recycling system) but it was also V-Day as we had our appointment to get our first shot of the vaccine (Astra Zeneca, thanks for asking).
I was kind of hoping for a badge, sticker, or even just the little card you get saying which vaccine you got so I could do my requisite ‘vaccination selfie’ across all my many social media platforms, but sadly they’re above such things here in Bigtownshire so we just got a leaflet about side effects, which isn’t really the same. So far I haven’t had any side effects either, apart from the commonest one of being unable to shut up about having had the vaccine. That’s probably why they don’t bother giving out a sticker, come to think of it.
In lieu of a vaccine selfie, you’ll have to make do with this incredibly accurate recreation of the attack of ASBO buzzard, courtesy of my talented friend Vicki (although if I’m honest, I’m actually much less insouciant when under attack than I appear in the picture).
And now I’ll go back to what has become normality – living in our rural fastness on the top of the hill, making the occasional foray into town for the paper, and riding my bike. The only difference will be if some unwary stranger should stumble into within hailing distance, when I can waylay them and (socially distanced of course) inform them that I’ve had my vaccine…
… did I mention that we’d had our vaccines, at all?
In today’s exciting news, our ford correspondent sent me a text that began
“Thought it might cheer you to know that ASBO buzzard has been located …”
Apparently the nice young man who now lives in our old house has also inherited my mantle of chief buzzard victim, after three buzzard attacks in a row. If it is indeed our old friend, she’s moved her location from her old cyclist hunting grounds but I like to think that she’s up to her old tricks in a new spot – at least as long as she keeps hassling my successor rather than me.*
ASBO Buzzard’s old home, now sadly demolished
In other news, Moo-I-5 are back, but proving rather elusive at the moment. Poor weather and too much work have kept me out of the garden, so I haven’t yet found myself the centre of attention of a crowd of cows. Or perhaps they too are getting to grips with social distancing.
* My close raptor encounter of the day was a sparrowhawk shooting across the road in front of me as I laboured up the hill homewards; birds of prey are always cool and never cooler than when they’re hunting something that isn’t you.
Today’s bike outing was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me – Bigtown’s Cycle Campaign winter bike ride was to Papershop Village for a pub lunch, and amazingly we managed to slip through the gap between yesterday’s weather warning for wind and tomorrow’s one for snow. Unfortunately, in our excitement at getting what passes for a break in the weather these days (only gusts of up to 30mph and light snow flurries), we hadn’t quite clocked the fact that we’d be riding the whole way to lunch into a hefty headwind.
This meant progress was a little slow but I entertained the troops with tales of ASBO Buzzard’s reign of terror. As we finally approached the spot that marks the start of the bird’s domain, I realised that this might actually be at an end. Whether through wind action or felling or a mixture of both, the woods where ASBO Buzzard liked to lurk in wait of unwary cyclists (and more to the point, probably build its nest) are gone.
Weirdly, the warning sign doesn’t mention dive-bombing buzzards …
While I don’t really miss ASBO buzzard, I do regret not taking the opportunity to try and film it in mid-attack, partly because I sense a certain scepticism when I tell people about it that a) it actually happens and b) it is genuinely scary. Plus the whole 15 minutes of fame thing, obviously.
These days, the main wildlife-related hazard I encounter on the road is an increasingly ripe badger carcase which has ended up right by a passing place on one of the narrower back roads. I always dread some well-meaning driver pausing at just that point on the road as they see me coming – leaving me unable to give it as wide a berth as I normally aim for. Squeezing past cars on a disintegrating road edge is one thing, squelching over disintegrating badgers is quite another. Sorry, were you eating?
Other road hazards are potentially a bit more fun
Although the 14-year-old me is rather disappointed that the 48-year-old she’s trapped inside declined to even try to get some air.
I’d thought I’d have a few more chances to savour the papershop run on the bike, but with the house being in entirely the wrong direction, and with many more days worth of stripping, scraping, sanding, priming, painting, deciding the colour was wrong, and repainting in the offing before we move in, I can no longer afford to be spending an hour cycling down for the paper and back, and then another half hour on to the house. So with some reluctance, I have cancelled my paper order at Papershop Village, said my farewells to Papershop Woman and Papershop Bloke and the woman I sometimes chat to when I see her out walking as I pass her on the bike, and remembered to savour something of the ride as I barrelled home on a tailwind.
Last chance to enjoy the view at the top of the hill
It’s hard to appreciate a route you do two or three times a week for several years, but now that I won’t be doing it much any more, I’ve realised I’ve been somewhat taking the ride for the paper for granted. After all, there are cyclists who actually have to seek out a scenic 11-mile round trip on rolling and almost deserted country roads, whereas I tend to just ride through it on autopilot, when I’m not actually being divebombed by enraged raptors.
Speaking of which, I did wonder whether ASBO buzzard wouldn’t take the opportunity to put in one last appearance but it has been conspicuous by its absence this year – whether because it’s chilled out somewhat or gone to the great telegraph pole in the sky. I’d say I was disappointed that I didn’t hear the maddened onrush of wings as it made a final attack. But that would be a lie.
I wonder what adventures await me on my new cycling routes …
Two things I am not, repeat not, complaining about:
1. It is well into June and ASBO buzzard hasn’t attacked yet. Not so much as a swoop. Which is cool. It’s fine. I’d much rather *not* be attacked by a buzzard than be attacked by a buzzard. But the anticipation is getting something fierce.
2. In the past week we have been caught in a sudden rainstorm driving back from the train station on Wednesday, I got fairly heavily rained on riding to the train station in Edinburgh on Sunday and I got mildly rained on going down for the paper today. But has there been any appreciable rain on the actual garden? There has not. Or at least not enough to replenish the water butts. There are four full-size ones up by the walled garden and we’re down to half way through number four…
Help, how has it got to be Friday? I know blogging has been light of late, but this is getting ridiculous. In my defence, there’s only so many posts I can spin out of days spent desperately trying to get a load of urgent work done in the week after I told the other half that I wasn’t going to accept any more jobs in November, having spend our holiday in Northern Ireland working, and then promptly accepted one.
Oh, and cycling in the rain
What more is there to say about that either, except that the best thing about it is when you get home and get to stop and dry off and watch the rain lashing against the window from the correct side of the glass?
Yesterday I got a drenching, and today I got another with bonus headwind plus the fact that I’d been lured out by a break in the weather (‘they were just gathering themselves to have a proper go’ as Papershop Woman put it) so I didn’t bother with my brand new waterproof-albeit-not-entirely-in-Scotland trousers.
On the plus side, on the way back, I spotted what must surely have been ASBO Buzzard being mobbed by crows.
…than the one which stubbornly refuses not only to correctly forecast the rain, but even to acknowledge that it is raining at all, is the one which correctly forecasts the fact that it will be hosing it down just as you are at the furthest point from home, and which you decide to ignore because, well, I’m not entirely sure why I ignored it, now I come to think of it. Probably because it’s been so wrong and so variable in the past that the one time it decides to be bob on, I no longer believe it.
Oh and ASBO buzzard decided to have a go at me again as well. As if I needed anything else coming at me out of the sky.
Having got home and got dry I was still pretty chilled and we ended up lighting the fire this evening. Summer, eh? Remind me why I moved to Scotland …
I suppose that’s what I get for attempting to enjoy what the weather gods throw at me.
‘I should probably just wait for you here,’ said the other half as we approached the entrance to Buzzard Alley
‘Oh don’t worry about that,’ I said. ‘It’s stopped attacking me now.’
And in fairness, it didn’t attack me, it attacked him, although it only swooped on him once, and that not a very close attempt – in fact if I hadn’t shouted as it passed about eight feet over his head he wouldn’t actually have noticed. But it was quite something to see it happen to somebody else. And at least I know it isn’t personal to me …
I had a gentle gardening post lined up for you this evening, but ASBO Buzzard intervened by stepping up its War on Cyclists somewhat and proving that the only thing more scary than being hit by a buzzard completely unawares, is looking over your shoulder to discover ASBO Buzzard right behind you coming in for the strike. That did quite a lot for my acceleration up the final climb, I can tell you. And the only thing scarier than that is when you’re cycling home again and thinking that at least ASBO Buzzard doesn’t attack so much in this direction, for some reason, when you hear its querulous calling and look over to your left to see it streaking towards you across the field at more or less head height. The last impression I got – before I put my head down and pedalled like the hounds, or raptors, of Hell were after me – was of a pair of mad yellow eyes boring into me, and two giant yellow sets of talons dangling down ready to carry me off to its nest.
The other half is home tomorrow, thank goodness. Quite apart from the fact that it’s depressing and tedious to cook for yourself (beans on toast tonight, thanks for asking) and that I’m so starved of conversation I’m a threat to people innocently biding their time in bus stops, it means he’ll be heading into Notso Bigtown on Wednesday and can pick up the paper in the nice safe car, while I marshal my anti-buzzard defences for the next installment.