It’s on Days Like These ….

October 28, 2021

… days when it rained all of the day before and it rained all night and it was still raining in the morning and it has kept on raining as if it would never stop…

… days when the road has gone past wet and is no longer really a road, more of a babbling brook …

Water running down the road

… days when the fields have become lochs and the only animals visible are seagulls bobbing in the water …

field flooded up to the gate

… days when the river has burst its banks and filled the road and is pouring mightily into the adjacent field …

water pouring from road down into field below

… that I really really miss the ford.

(someone has sent me some video of it on Facebook, but it’s not the same)


In a sign …

October 23, 2021

… that I have been in Scotland for too long – and particularly the western side of it – I have started celebrating the idea of ‘slightly warmer rain’.

Exhibit A:

Group of damp cyclists looking over the river

We had a ride down to the local wetland centre on Tuesday on a day that I can only describe (indeed, I frequently did, to nobody’s amusement) as ‘nice weather for ducks’.* As we made our way damply along the river’s banks, stopping frequently to admire the complete and utter lack of views, with our socks squelching gently in our shoes, I was surprised to note that we were all actually having a really nice time. It was wet, we agreed, and that wasn’t great, but at least it was quite warm rain. I don’t know if the weather equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome is officially known as ‘Glasgow Syndrome’ but I think it should be from now on.

Anyway, we went back on Thursday on a sunny day, and I can confirm that it was much nicer when your feet are dry.

Sunny view

Anyone saying ‘no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing‘ can get in the sea.

* I asked the wildlife people and they confirmed that ducks do like the rain, but geese are indifferent to it.


In 2020 …

December 19, 2020

… you take your victories where you can.

wet road and flooding below

It feels we’ve been woken every morning this week by the sound of rain on the skylight above our bed, except on those days when it’s kept us awake all night so when there was a brief window in the weather this morning I decided to nip out for the paper while the going was good …

Sun on wet road
sun on trees with clouds behind

It’s been wet all right.

River starting to flood

But sometimes, just sometimes, you manage to get out and get back home and (more or less, adjusted for being 2020) dry before the rain resumes.

Rain through window

As our Christmas plans are thrown into confusion and we head back into lockdown, that might be as good as it gets.


A Dry Spell

May 20, 2020

Oh frabjuous day …

half full water butt

Yes, it’s come to this – I’ve actually been hoping it might rain. This is the problem with being both a gardener and a cyclist (at least in normal times).* I think I’ve mentioned that it’s been dry, and now I’ve learned by listening to Gardener’s Question Time that this has likely set back my asparagus bed another year (we have six whole spears poking up at the moment). Apparently I should be watering it all spring, even here, where watering things outside just feels like a category mistake. Of all the things I thought might go wrong with my asparagus bed back when I planted it, ‘not enough rain’ would have been right there below ‘meteorite strike’ and, indeed, ‘global pandemic’.

aloe flower spike

The other thing I wasn’t expecting was for one of my house plants to look as if it’s attempting to fill in the gap. I don’t think I’ll be steaming it and having it for supper though…

But anyway, it has rained, finally. It has even largely confined itself to raining at night rather than waiting until I need to go somewhere on my bike and arrive looking like something other than a drowned rat (something that may happen again some time in, ooh, October maybe?). And now, proving that the end times are indeed upon us, it has managed to stop raining (and I’m trying very hard not to wish that it had done this after it had finished filling up the water butt, rather than giving up half way through) and we have had a simply glorious day. I still have too much work to do, but I took the afternoon off anyway and spent it pottering around in the garden enjoying the fleeting contentment of a gardener in weather that’s nice enough to garden in but not so nice you’re worried about your water butt drying up.

meadow flowers

Or, indeed, your lake.

* and here I have to take issue with Charlie Brown’s assertion that the secret to happiness is owning a convertible and a lake. Sure, if you’re of a positive bent – a lake half full sort of person, if you like – you might be able to look on the bright side whatever the weather but most of us would simply be grumpy either way because either our lake was drying up or it was rubbish weather for riding around in a convertible. Although, now I come to think of it, I suspect that if you have the sort of life where you own a lake (and a convertible) then there are additional compensations that are not available to people who own a bicycle and a water butt …


Marching On

March 1, 2020

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I’m pretty much done with this weather. We may not, fortunately, have had the flooding they’ve suffered further south but it seems to have been day after day of pulling on the waterproofs, hoping I remembered to dry my sodden gloves out after the last outing, and heading out for the next battering. I’ve reached the point where if it’s ‘only’ raining or ‘only’ blowing a gale, it doesn’t actually feel that bad, considering some of the other days I’ve had on the bike.

On Friday I knew I was in for a wet one but I felt I was more or less prepared as I readied myself. Gloves, check. Waterproof socks, check. Boots, check. Waterproof trousers, check. Hat, check. Glance out the window to see snow of some description mixed in with the rain, ah well, these things are sent to try us. What I hadn’t factored in until I’d set off was that these weren’t fluffy soft gentle snowflakes, oh no. These were vengeful handfuls of ice being flung by the wind into my face and – especially painfully – my ears. Stinging doesn’t begin to describe the sensation. It is of moments like these that cycling in February is made, and even the most ardent evangelist of the joys of cycling can claim there’s any pleasure to be gained from it, other than a grim sense of satisfaction at having endured the month.

Today, though, it is March and while the wind is still pretty ferocious, we must surely be within sprinting distance of spring. Storm Jorge was still raging this morning as I headed down to Bigtown for a little path clearing, but working out of the wind and in the sun we felt … actual warmth. Layers were even removed, albeit mostly only temporarily. Could it be the end of this endless winter is in sight?

Actually, Weather Gods, maybe don’t answer that question.

Me, contemplating another three weeks of winter


Who Rides on a Day Like This?

November 24, 2019

I didn’t actually take a photo as I set out this morning into the dreich – but it turns out that one wet November morning looks very like another, so here’s one I prepared earlier.

foggy road

I was heading off to lead the latest Bigtown Cycle Campaign winter ride, resplendent in waterproof trousers, which, frankly, are neither a good look nor a good sign that you’re in for a wonderful day. The forecast had been for it to not actually rain, but I’ve learned the hard way since moving up here that there’s a particular kind of very fine, very wet rain, that seems invisible to forecasters and rain radars alike. So while the weather app on my phone was confidently telling me that it wasn’t raining, wouldn’t rain, and indeed hadn’t even been raining, the actual rain falling out of the sky was busy telling me otherwise.

Amazingly, though, I wasn’t the only person who thought a cycle ride in the not officially raining rain was a good way to spend a Sunday. Even more amazingly, it soon went from not officially raining to actually not actually raining and we were able to shed the waterproof trousers and enjoy the ride, if not the views.

bikes on the road

Far too much of my cycling at the moment is just wearing a groove between home and Bigtown so days like today – weather gripes aside – remind me that we’re incredibly lucky to have a massive network of largely empty roads like this to cycle on. The fact that this one also ends up at a decent cafe is just the icing on the cake.*

* actually a triple-chocolate brownie which – sacrilegiously – was actually a bit OTT even for me.


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.


To Market, to Market

September 2, 2018

The good thing about having Bigtown farmers’ market move to the train station, where it is easily accessible by bike (instead of out on the bypass where it was only accessible by bike if you were completely fearless) is that on a pleasant Sunday morning it’s a real joy to pootle down to fill your boots (and your panniers) with good things.

The downside is that when the weather decides it’s going to be one of those days when the forecast says it won’t rain, and the rain radar says it isn’t raining, and yet wet stuff is unmistakably coming out of the sky and continues to do so all day – you* still feel obliged to go down there by bike.

Dreich September

Looking on the bright side (if you squint a bit, anyway) I do at least now know that the raingear I reproofed on Friday in an unusually far-sighted move, is still Waterproof in Scotland. Plus, of course, the small matter of coming home with a bike pannier full of pies.

However, I really hope that September is not starting as it means to go on, because in the course of the month, I seem to have planned two epic rides for cake, one accessible bike open day and a bike breakfast. Here’s hoping the raingear won’t be too severely tested over the coming weeks…

* And by ‘you’ obviously I mean ‘I’ because the other half sensibly felt absolutely no compunction at spending the morning on a nice dry sofa.


Punctureproof in Scotland

November 21, 2017

“Well, at least it will give you a chance to test if your new jacket* is Waterproof in Scotland”, the other half observed as he watched me don waterproof trousers and gaiters ready to cycle down to the station on my way to Embra this morning. As bright sides go, this felt less than compelling but as it turned out, by the time I had wrestled all the various bits of conflicting velcro that hold my rain gear together, stuffed dry socks and gloves into my bag (the only thing worse than spending the whole day in wet socks is putting wet gloves on to cycle home), and got the bike out, the rain had eased off, which if I’m honest is the way that I always hope raingear will work.

Feeling pleased that I had cheated the Weather Gods out of a home win, I headed off, not hearing the wry chuckle of the Puncture Fairy who when hedgecutting season is in progress, laughs in the face of puncture resistant tyres and – it turns out – Slime-filled inner tubes. At least, that was the conclusion I reached as I got to the main road and registered the thumpa-thumpa-thump of a flat tyre. Pushing the bike hurriedly home to grab the Brompton and a lift from the other half, I discovered that my raingear may or may not be Waterproof in Scotland but is not Breathable when Pushing a Bike Up a Hill in a Hurry so either way I end up damp, but at least I did get the pleasure of hopping out of the car when we hit the first morning tailback in Bigtown, unfolding the Brompton and cycling merrily away from the traffic.

Tomorrow (which, if the Met Office’s rain warning is anything to go by, looks like a good day for testing if the house is Waterproof in Scotland, never mind my jacket) I shall have to track down the source of the problem and discover whether dealing with a slime-filled inner tube which didn’t do its job is as nasty as people say. And then on Thursday I get to go to Embra all over again to kick off the planning for next year’s POP.

Did I say that I hadn’t been all that busy recently? Silly me.

* It claims to be ‘tested on Cornish clifftops‘ but a) that is not Scotland and b) you notice it doesn’t say whether it actually passed the test …


I Feel it in my Fingers, I Feel it in my Toes

October 11, 2017

Yesterday, enjoying coffee and cake with a friend in a cafe, as an unexpected shower suddenly emptied the High Street, I mentioned how we’d barely had a day all summer when it hadn’t rained at least once. “At least it’s better than those days when it just rains steadily all day,” my friend pointed out. “True,” I said, and then added before anyone could stop me, “We don’t seem to get those so often as we used to.”

park after the rain

Regular readers of this blog will know exactly what happened next. Especially as I was supposed to be spending this afternoon at an event in the Bigtown Park in which the Weather Gods take a particular interest. Although, to be fair, once I’d headed out on the bike sans spare gloves and waterproof trousers on the (as it turned out) flimsy grounds that the forecast was for it to clear up, it went from steady pacing-itself drizzle to steady pacing-itself drizzle interspersed with apocalyptic stairrods. This lasted all the way into Bigtown, and up to the other end of town where I needed to pick up a bike trailer, then cleared up into a glorious sunny autumn afternoon, so that everyone at the event could say ‘and isn’t it lovely that the rain stopped just in time?’ and I could smile through gritted teeth and tried not to let my socks squelch too loudly.

Park after the rain

Bigtown has apparently been found to be the happiest place in Scotland, from which I can only surmise that they were mostly surveying the local ducks.

Park after the rain

That said, the park does scrub up rather nicely when it has been well rinsed. Very, very well rinsed.

bike, trailer and tree

And I can report that the fastest way to tow a bike trailer home, is to concentrate on how wonderful it will be to peel off your sodden socks and sit down with dry feet in front of the fire.