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 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

Halloween Horrors

October 29, 2015

One of the joys of going away is wondering just what will have happened to stuff in your absence. I have been growing mini ‘jack be little’ pumpkins in the greenhouse thinking they would be fun, or at the very least delicious, to have around halloween.*

So it turns out, if you slightly damage one just before you go away and leave it in a quite humid greenhouse, you come back to the Miss Havisham of pumpkins … which is quite scary enough as it is, without any additional carving

Halloween pumpkin

Now what to do with the rest of the crop?

mini pumpkins

And a touch more autumn colour from the Japanese maple in the walled garden, just because

Japanese maple

* for those muttering to themselves about how they used to carve neep lanterns when they were kids, rather than any of that rubbishy American pumpkin nonsense, I can recommend this thread in what is increasingly only nominally a cycle forum.

A Short Ride (without nuts)

October 14, 2015

autumn leaves

Buoyed by last year’s hazelnut bonanza, and with an unseasonably sunny October afternoon suddenly going spare, the other half and I ventured out on our bikes to see if we could find some hazelnuts the squirrels didn’t need.

two hazelnuts

Last year must have been a one-off though. This was 50% of our haul.

hazelnut shell


There were signs we’d been beaten to some of them by one Mr S. Nutkin esq., but not that many. Better get feeding our red squirrels this winter…

It wasn’t an entirely wasted trip though.

October trees

October trees

After all, it was by bike.

October trees

Sure Signs?

September 14, 2015

leaves turningI’m in danger of becoming one of those annoying people who actively looks forward to autumn (woodsmoke! Crisp piles of leaves! Back to school! Oh do please kindly sod off…) although a walk this afternoon left me somewhat confused as to whether autumn is on its way or not – and before you suggest it, there’s no point consulting the weather; apart from a few warm sunny days we’ve not exactly had a summer yet, although this doesn’t stop it going straight to autumn, do not pass Go, do not collect 200…

There are signs that the leaves are on the turn in some of the more hysterical trees (beech, I’m looking at you) but although we should be knee-deep in blackberries by now, it seems that only a few of them have got the memo:

sole ripe blackberry

After last year’s bonanza I’ve been actively keeping an eye on the hazelnuts to see if we can’t beat the squirrels to at least a handful but so far they’re looking pretty green and sitting tight in their cups.

green hazelnuts

And the rose hips have gone … strangely fluffy. Google tells me this is Rose Moss Gall caused by a parasitic matriarchal wasp which has largely dispensed with the need for males [insert your own jokes based on tired stereotypes, and then feel free to give each other a kicking in the comments] infesting a rose hip. It’s actually kind of cool

rose moss gall

But hazelnuts and weird wildlife aren’t the reason why we’re welcoming the coming of the cooler weather. It’s the fact that tomorrow Rayburn Man is coming and the Rayburn will be lit again, with much ceremony. Warm towels ahoy. I can’t wait…

Uh Oh

September 18, 2014

No, not the outcome of today’s vote (I made my mind up in the shower this morning, if you’re interested, and didn’t even waver as I made my cross. I did think referendum fever might have hit Nearest Village as there was a huge crowd outside the village hall where the polling station is but it turned out to be the Senior Citizens Club waiting for their coach to arrive to take them to England – a day trip, I think, rather than the first exodus of refugees), but the phone call I got from the hospital when I got back. Looks like I’ll be having my hernia operation next week. I can look forward to a few weeks of enforced non cycling, and you can look forward to an increasingly testy series of rants as a result. I’d say send chocolate, but once you stop cycling like a cyclist you have to stop eating like one too.

In other news, autumn. I wouldn’t mind so much if it wasn’t still warm enough to sit outside in bare feet.

autumn leaves


November 30, 2013

After yesterday’s pity party (mental note to self: do not blog when feeling sorry for yourself) I woke up this morning feeling less than ready for much of anything today. It was cold, I wasn’t well, and I was supposed to be helping lead a bike ride I’d done almost nothing to promote due to the whole candle-at-both-ends, gadding-about thing, which meant probably nobody would turn up. Even the fact that it was a sparkly frosty morning didn’t really help – didn’t the weather Gods know that I was ILL?

Fortunately, as the ride was going practically past my door, my fellow ride leader was happy to meet the group at the start and let me join the ride en route. Having had no text indicating a complete no-show, I set off slowly towards the rendezvous point, still thinking that this was probably a silly thing to be doing with a cold.

autumn sunshine on trees

Regular readers of this blog will probably guess what happened next. The sun was slanting across the hills and giving everything it touched a hyper-real air, like autumn had been turned all the way up to 11. There was even some faint warmth in the sun on my face. I was reminded that I live in a gorgeous part of the world and here I was out on my bike, taking advantage of it

road ahead

Not only that, but seven people had showed up for the ride, including two octogenarians – one of whom proceeded to set a cracking pace (there was a cafe stop and a bacon roll waiting for him and he wasn’t going to let anyone slow him down). There’s nothing like being dropped by an 84-year-old to give you a sense of perspective.

Clearly the main thing that was wrong with me last week was not enough cycling… I shall have to rectify that from now on.

approaching cyclists

Winter Approacheth

November 18, 2013

trees and mist

The forecast this morning was full of doom and gloom and frost and snow and ice and lions and tigers and bears (oh my). Otherwise known as ‘winter’.

morning mist

But not quite yet, and today it was still all mellow fruitfulness as autumn lingered like the morning mist.

autumn colour

Time to get the ice tyres on the bike soon …

spider web

World Turned Upside Down

October 14, 2013

I thought I was hearing things this morning when not only did the radio give out an unusually detailed forecast for Scotland, but ended with ‘and for Scotland the best of the sunshine in the west.’

But look, they weren’t kidding

sunny_morning sunny_morning_2

Which was fortunate because I still haven’t replace my anti-buzzard anti-rain hat.

me and my shadow

Of course, there was a bidirectional headwind which got me good and proper on the way home. I wouldn’t want you to think the Weather Gods were neglecting their duties…

No Sh*t Sherlock

September 18, 2013

I suppose, in the ranks of unexpected events, ‘the weather getting colder in September’ doesn’t really cut it, it being the start of autumn and us living in Scotland and everything. And yet, it seems to have caught me somewhat by surprise this year. Blame the fact that we actually had a summer and got a bit too used to walking around in – OK, not shorts and a t-shirt, let’s not go mad here, but just the one jumper and no thermals. And so we’ve not given much thought to such vital matters as getting the Rayburn lit until suddenly autumn arrived with a vengeance (it was 2°C this morning …) and it was well past time to ring up Rayburn man to book its semi-annual fettling and de-gunking so we can light it again. Incredibly, it appears we aren’t the only ones to want our main source of heat and comfort sorted out just as it gets cold and miserable because when I rang up yesterday, the earliest he could fit me in was October…

Fortunately five years of keeping in his good books: serving him our best coffee and chatting with him while he works (last time he visited I ended up giving him a twitter tutorial) has paid off. After he heard the dismay in my voice he managed to slot us in a bit earlier than October – although we will still have to wait until Monday before the kitchen will be restored to cosiness. I can’t wait. Having the Rayburn lit doesn’t quite make up for the end of summer – but at least we can look forward to soups and stews, and something warm to lean against while looking out at the rain…

Autumn Colour Redux

October 31, 2012

Hmm, so it turns out that it’s not my carefully crafted prose you’re after, but pictures of our roads so you can dream about cycling along in a bidirectional headwind completely unhindered by other traffic, albeit vaguely troubled by the scent of slurry. Unfortunately, the weather today was not co-operating so my only outing to date has been up to the walled garden for beetroot, which is still going strong (and still tastes of dirt, yet strangely I sort of like it now).

At least the autumn colour is similarly still going strong – but mostly on the ground now. Stand by for November, and a whole lot of whinging about the weather.


You have been warned.

Oh, and Happy Halloween