Stretching a Point

April 16, 2022

It seems it was over 8 years ago that I first dipped a toe into yoga. Since then, I’ve gone from irregularly attending a weekly class, to doing regular yoga videos at home, to doing yoga pretty much every morning once the pandemic hit and we were all stuck at home anyway. And then a few weeks ago, being too busy in the morning, I tried an evening session and was struck by how well I slept and how nice and mobile my neck was in the morning. Ever since, I’ve started doing ten or so minutes of yoga in the evening as well, which is great for stress and general bendiness, and unwinding the various kinks of the day.

The problem I now have is that if, for any reason, I skip the evening yoga, then I have a terrible night’s sleep (heaven forfend that I skip the morning routine). So I’m now stuck on two yoga sessions a day just to keep pace with the stresses of modern daily life and my ever-advancing years, and that’s just the start of it. I can’t help but wonder if this ends with about half of my waking hours spent undoing the damage I’m inflicting on myself during the other half. Or I could just not spend hours on my phone doing the damage in the first place, but let’s not go mad here…

In other news, I have now lived in the country long enough that I can get lambs back in their field by just pointing at them as I cycle past and saying ‘oy, you lot, get back in your field’, whereupon they do so, as meek as, well, lambs.

Parents sitting on a bench

In other other news, the Pepperpots have landed and I never want to see another box again in my life.

I Spy…

March 26, 2021

Among the lovely birthday presents I got last weekend was a fun new toy: a night-vision trail cam that we hope will reveal to us any nocturnal shenanigans among the local wildlife. As well as the hares we’ve seen signs of possible badger activity and footprints in the snow earlier this year suggest we also get nocturnal visits from foxes, which we never see during the day. We’ve left it out overnight for a few nights now, and so far it’s fair to say that we’re still perfecting its placement and set up so that we can capture something slightly more exciting than us putting it up and taking it down …

However, reviewing the footage one morning, I did realise (after 3 or 4 viewings) that we’d captured something here other than the sound of the Extremely Loud Blackbird who’s been delivering our five am wakeup call with enthusiasm. Have a look and see if you see what I see (keep your eyes on the bottom left corner …)

OK, so it’s not going to turn the world of wildlife filming upside down, but it gives me hope that with a bit of fine tuning we might be able to get some decent footage.

In other news, the lambs have reached the ‘lamb gang’ stage where they spend most of their time hanging out in the corners of fields getting up to mischief and generally looking as if they’d be smoking behind the bike sheds, if only they had opposable thumbs. And cigarettes. And, indeed, bike sheds.

lambs hanging out in the field

And, from the evidence of this photo, doing a little youthful experimentation into the joys of adult life too.

Sociable Distancing

April 4, 2020

In the past week, the days have fallen into a bit of a pattern – at my desk doing a bit of work in the morning, lunch and state-sanctioned exercise with the other half, an hour or so in the garden in the afternoon, before coming in for coffee and the now-traditional (a fortnight is long enough to form a tradition these days, right?) huddle around the wireless for the latest announcement from the government and whichever chief scientific officer* they’ve dug out of self-isolation for today’s statistics (I’m not entirely sure *why* I’m listening to what is basically the sound of someone giving a powerpoint presentation – next slide please – but I can’t stand television news so there it is).

But today being Saturday we rang the changes a bit. The other half went shopping and (glory be) brought back at least half a Guardian (as well as food and, even more excitingly, bread flour) and I headed out on my bike to combine my allotted exercise with picking up some eggs from one pal, and delivering a baby spider plant to another, who lives down the road near our old cottage. This inevitably meant not just some suitably distanced chat with both pals, but as it turned out, further chats with an old neighbour whose husband has had serious health issues (both fine), our old landlord, and the latest tenant of our old cottage who was returning from his own state-sanctioned cycle ride. All this took a little longer than I’d planned, and so I headed back in a bit of a hurry as I had stock to make and a video chat planned with my family.

Unfortunately for my plans, the traffic was terrible…

sheep on the road

It took a while for the woolly roadblock to clear mainly because the farmers wanted the sheep to go in my direction and I was a cyclist and therefore the most terrifying thing on earth, so the sheep weren’t having any of it, a situation complicated by all the lambs wanting to go in every direction possible but mainly to get stuck in things. After I’d repositioned myself somewhat and made myself as unscary as possible, and various lambs had been disentangled from various bushes, the sheep finally moved into the next field and I was free to race home for my next social engagement.

lambs moving up the road

After a fortnight of pottering and not even much cycling, this all felt like an exhaustingly giddy social whirl and I think I might need a quiet few days to recover. Which is fortunate, really, given that’s exactly what I’m getting, like it or not.

* And who knew we had quite so many scientific and health bodies for there to be chief officers of? There seems to be an endless supply and a new one each day which makes me wonder what’s happening to them all…

In Like a Sea Lion

March 13, 2019

I suppose people who install solar panels shouldn’t really be surprised when the result is unrelenting rain, interspersed with occasional sleet and snow.

sleet in march

“February fill-the-dykes”, our neighbour the oldest inhabitant is fond of saying, but as February didn’t really oblige this year, March has stepped in instead. We’ve had two nights of heavy rain blattering against the skylight in our bedroom which – when combined with high winds and thunder and lightning right overhead – tends to cross the fine line between ‘lovely and cosy to listen to when tucked up in bed’ and ‘lying awake worrying whether the solar panels are still attached.’

full river

We woke this morning to no power – fortunately just a tripped circuit breaker so I did not have to face the prospect of getting up without coffee – and no internet – less fortunately, a dead router – suggesting one of the lightning bolts came a bit close for comfort but we were back up and in time for me to head off, suitably caffeinated,* for a meeting about trains which was marginally more exciting than it sounds.**

Riding back I was pleased to notice that the brand new lambs were wearing their little plastic cagoules as the Met Office is predicting another night of double-dot rain. I might grumble at having it hammering on the skylight overhead, but at least I’m not out in it in nothing but a woolly jumper and a plastic bag…

lamb in waterproof coat

* The current coonsil austerity drive has extended from No Biscuits at meetings, which was bad enough, to No Tea and Coffee which I believe is banned under European human rights legislation, especially if it’s going to be conducted entirely in technical terms.

** top tip when in a meeting full of Serious Transport Men: don’t refer to the stopping service between Bigtown and Glasgow as ‘the chuffer’ as apparently that is not the correct technical term.

Sheep Worrying

April 12, 2018

Well, that will teach me to blog about a pleasantly warm day – it hasn’t (thankfully) snowed since my last post but it’s not exactly felt springlike, put it that way. They say the warmer weather is coming; it had better hurry, is all I can say.

Hawthorn leaves emerging

But there are signs of it, and not just in the hedgerows. Exhibit one: putting-lambs-back-in-fields season has begun, with a lamb that had, as usual, worked out the way out of the field but could not for the life of it work the way back in (are modern fences equipped with special one-way sheep valves?) Meanwhile I couldn’t work out for the life of my how a lone cyclist could corner a lamb along a straight stretch of fence in order to chuck it back into its field. Having stood there for a while trying to give it instructions (‘Under, under! You need to go under the fence, not attempt to julienne yourself by going through it, you stupid animal’) and hoping that a driver would stop to help (fat chance), I finally flagged down a tractor driver who said he’d alert the farmer and I was able to head off for my lunch with a relatively clear conscience.

fleeing lamb

My usual lamb photo effort

It only struck me later that would have been a good opportunity to get a better photo of a lamb than the usual ‘distant running-away dot on the horizon’ but it seemed a bit indecent to profit from its misfortune just to bump up my Instagram likes.

lamb huddled by tree

On a related note, I hope that this lamb spotted this afternoon was just sheltering from the east wind, and not actually sick, which was why it didn’t run away. I suppose I could have gone to find another tractor driver or farmer to ask … but while ‘lamb out of field’ seems a legitimate thing for even the most uninformed townie to report, ‘lamb looking a bit depressed’ is a bit more marginal…

Exciting* Sheep News

April 17, 2017

The field on one side of the house has suddenly been upgraded with the addition of some ewes and their lambs, who have perhaps grown a bit beyond the maximum cute stage.

growing lamb

But are beginning to look fairly delicious.

Fortunately this is not the field with the hole in the fence, which I imagine would not prove lamb-proof even with my improvised defences. Even so, I imagine my lamb-putting-back-in-field adventures are by no means over.

* Not really

What is this Life …

March 24, 2017

spring trees

… if, full of care / We have no time to stand and stare?

There’s a field I pass on the way into Bigtown which is now full of lambs, still at their maximally cute knobbly-kneed, propeller tail stage. They’ve been sheltering by the trees right by the road, maximising photo-taking opportunities, but every time I’ve been passing I’ve been hurrying to catch a train or bus, or meet someone, or otherwise have not had time to stop. Today was probably another such occasion, but it was also a glorious if somewhat chilly spring moment so I thought I’d better try and seize the moment before they grew more reminiscent of Sunday lunch than spring.


Of course they all mostly ran away and hid behind their mothers as soon as they saw the bike, so you’ll just have to imagine the cuteness.

Sure Signs of Spring

March 22, 2016

Greyish brown blobs of frogspawn in every puddle and ditch…


… and litle white blobs fleeing over the hill at the sight of a blogger with a camera phone

fleeing sheep and lambs

You’ll just have to take my word for it that the lambs are gambolling away like gooduns and are very cute, but a tad flighty.

Routine Ford Update

March 23, 2015

Because we haven’t had one of those for a while, and I know you like them.

Ford in March - almost dry

Ford status: almost dry


Frogspawn update: the annual race between the maturing frogs and the drying up of the ditch has now begun. Ordinarily in south west Scotland this would not be an issue, but given the shallowness of the ditch that Mrs Frog has chosen for her offspring this year, I’m afraid it’s the ditch’s race to lose this year. I will keep you posted, unless it all gets too desperate in which case I’ll probably draw a veil.

lambs and sheep

Bonus ickle lambs: normally given my phone camera capabilities, lambs are usually rendered as white dots on this blog, but apparently I looked enough like a farmer (it must be the tweed cap) to these sheep that they all came running over hoping for tasty sheep treats. Their disappointment is your gain.

one in five hill

We then climbed a 1-in-5 hill to reach the top of the ford road and back into a suddenly icy headwind. Inexplicably, Sustrans haven’t included this in their national cycling network yet, although I imagine it’s only a matter of time.

The Fine Art of Knowing when to Quit

March 25, 2013

Marvellous as they are, my ice tyres don’t quite manage to cope with the situation where all the snow in the surrounding fields has been blown into the road where it has gone just slushy enough to make even the most intrepid cyclist have to deploy God’s stabilisers just to stay upright.

snow covered road

I had a feeling that every dip and hollow between Nearest Village and the Papershop was going to be similar and so, not being all that intrepid, I turned round and deployed the other half in a car instead.

huge pile of snow

It’s going to be fun when this lot melts…

lambs getting fed

But after dire stories in the news about buried sheep, I was relieved to see these little chaps looking so chipper. Clearly right inside the feed bucket is the place to be this March…