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

Half Way

October 24, 2013

I’m beginning to think the hardest part of this coffeeneuring lark is explaining to your non-coffeeneuring companion why you might be taking a photo of your cup of coffee.

bucket o' coffee

Actually in this case I might have photographed it anyway, but I would have included something (coin, teaspoon, small dog, a person) for scale as I’d asked for a medium Americano and been a bit startled to get a large china bucket of coffee. What can I say, I prefer a coffee you can finish before it gets cold (although I might have finished it sooner had I been talking less). And yes, this is a large national chain and not some small independent place but we’re beginning to run out of options here in Bigtown. Although they do do latte art, I noticed, if I’d wanted to get really fancy.

I made up for it by cycling back via the shortbread emporium to pick up some outdoor-reared bacon, and say hello to the pigs whose backs it turns out you can scratch if you feel that way inclined (I neglected to mention that I had their mates in slices in my bag). I’d managed to cycle right past them without noticing on my last trip


It’s been a funny autumn so far – wet (okay, that part’s not so unusual) and strangely mild. Today was the first day that actually felt and looked like autumn, with a bit of a nip in the air, and also the first day in ages it’s actually properly stopped raining. Good weather for cycling home with cured meat products in your bag.

big sky

Another 20 miler, and that’s four out of seven coffeneuring rides (pending a final arbitration on Saturday’s entry) in the bag.

Powered Out

January 27, 2011

So I’ve been working this month, which is one reason why the garden is getting so far behind (it takes me at least 30 days to put in 15 days work these days and that seems to involve all the hours God sends – apart from those spent doing essential things like cycling, seed ordering, wood chopping, camera breaking, going out for a daily walk and of course blogging). The absolute deadline is Friday, which made today an excellent day for the power company decide to cut our electricity off for the entire day*

Our nearest library was rumoured to have wifi so, nothing daunted, I packed my trusty laptop into my bike bag and cycled into to Bigtown. Did they have wifi? They did, free to library members and bookable for an hour at a time. Excellent. Where could I plug in my laptop? Ah. Plugging things in is against library policy. Less excellent, for my battery doesn’t do more than 20 minutes on a good day with a following wind. This could be a problem. Fortunately, justice in the Bigtown Library network comes tempered with mercy and policy or no policy, when I explained my dilemma, humanity won out over alleged insurance problems and I was tucked quietly in the corner and allowed discreetly to get on with my report.

Cycling home, job more or less done, I noticed that the power was still out and decided to pay the favour forward. Our neighbours are rayburnless and had been stuck at home for a good seven hours without access to a cup of tea.** I rang them up and announced that I was putting the kettle on and they should come over and we sat out the rest of the powercut having a cuppa by candlelight and putting the world to rights.

* this is the sort of thing those ‘joys of homeworking’ articles in the paper never warn you about, along with the need for thermal underwear if your heating bills aren’t going to go through the roof.

** although they had managed to cook themselves some bacon on the embers of their wood burning stove. These things are important.


November 5, 2010

Can anyone tell me whether waking up and going for a three mile run, followed by porridge isn’t entirely cancelled out (calorifically, health and happiness-wise) by then lunching on bacon and avocado toasted sandwiches? Surely there’s some sort of formula that’s been developed to make these calculations easier… Any attempt at an answer should show your working and bear in mind that it was free-range dry-cured local bacon (fetched by bicycle, naturally) and that the last half of the run was up hill and into the wind…

This Little Piggy went to Market

March 5, 2010

One of the unforseen downsides of quitting our jobs and all that is the lack of a weekend, and hence of any Friday feeling*. However, I went down to the shop today to find that the piggies have met their (sausage) maker at last, and what’s left over has been cured, so I cycled back in triumph with sausages for the freezer and bacon for lunch. It turns out that oven-baked sweet dry cured bacon from happy pigs, with the fat carefully drained off and used to fry the bread for egg-and-bacon sandwiches, works just as well as finishing work as the highlight of the week.

I know, before you comment, that as lunches go it was horribly bad for us (tasted scrumptious though); personally, I’m comforting myself with the thought that it was better for us than it was for the pigs.

* I suppose you could argue that every day is Friday for us, but it doesn’t really work that way. Still, I’m not about to go back to a full time job just to recapture that no-longer-banging-my-head-against-a-brick-wall feeling once a week. I mean, come on…

Who would have Thought…

January 18, 2010

… a couple of months ago that we would greet temperatures of 7°C, a brisk breeze and overnight rain with all the giddy excitement of spring? But that’s what it feels like, and we’ve even thrown a couple of windows open as parts of the house are once more colder than it is out doors. And then, with the sun out, and the snow gone except for a few patches of road-coloured ice hanging out in the coldest reaches of the route – I managed to tempt the other half out to join me on the papershop run.

I had to bribe him with bacon, but I think he will agree that it would have been worth it on its own.

Bringing Home the Bacon

November 28, 2009

It was a fine day today, the sort of day that suggests the weather gods may, just, be considering forgiving us whatever transgression it was brought their wrath down on us last week.

But I didn’t have time to stand around admiring the view for I had an important mission to fulfil: the Town Mouse household had run out of bacon. Time to cycle down to our local Camphill trust, which has a farm shop selling its own excellent cheeses, bread, various organic foodstuffs and which I thought might also do bacon. Off I pedalled and sure enough, there was plenty of bacon and when I asked if it was outdoor raised I got the answer ‘Oh yes, totally, you can head on out the back and say hello to the pigs if you like’ which is far more reassuring than ‘all our meat is sourced from farms which adhere to Tescos own high animal welfare standards,’ for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on*.

23 miles later and my nose and toes were telling me all about the imminent onset of winter. I’ve hit my Eddington target for the month, blown the last soot of London out of my lungs and – best of all – according to the Highway Cycling Group Bacon Calculation Algorithm, I’ve earned myself an extra 2 and almost-a-half rashers with my supper tonight. How fortunate that we’ve got plenty to hand…

* It’s only now I’ve come to write this up that I realise I should have actually taken a picture of the pigs. Oh well, bad blogger.

‘Paradise, this is. And we’re living in it’

April 15, 2009

Oh dear. It’s been a while since I did anything more adventurous on my bike than the ride down to Papershop Village and back, and even that’s not been as regular as it ought to be. Busyness and rain and trips to London and even going bicycle shopping have got in the way and I haven’t been out to make my Wednesday rendezvous with the cycling club since early March. But today the weather was fine, albeit breezy, and I had run out of excuses. I worked out my route – actually I worked out slightly the wrong route, but never mind – and set off with the wind for once on my back, although I didn’t realise quite how much effect this was having until I started for home and wondered where all the downhill bits had gone.

It was an absoulutely glorious ride. This was a road I’d not cycled before, a big loop through open moorland, following a river valley and avoiding the worst of the contour lines. Tiny lambs scattered from the road where they had been lying on the warm tarmac, their mothers facing me down and suddenly bigger and rather pointier-horned than any sheep had any right to be. Around another corner I came across a group of cattle with their calves, all standing on the road facing me with a tiny gap between them. I inched through, frightened I’d start a stampede, but they didn’t move, just stared at me the way that cows do, even as I passed close enough between them to feel the heat from their flanks, the calves sheltering and peering out between their mothers’ legs. This is the sort of thing that always happens when I don’t bring my camera. Then it was downhill on crappy patched and crumbling tarmac until I reached the main road and no signpost and the realisation that I was a bit lost. After a bit of headscratching I remembered that my GPS is not just for creating maps, but for displaying them and I was able to follow its pointer to the pub.

And then it was time for a bacon roll – two rashers, and therefore 0.7 of a rasher short according to the Highway Cycling Group bacon calculation algorithm – and a coke and the cycle home.

The title? Was a remark made to me in the car park of the pub as we got on our bicycles ready to go our separate ways. I can’t exactly say I disagreed.