101 Uses for a Brompton: Wimping Out

December 7, 2014

The only thing worse than a weather warning when you’re suppose to be holding a fun Christmas bike ride and outdoor crafting event aimed at children, is three weather warnings. Over the past three days the Met Office has excelled itself: the forecast for today gradually deteriorating from overcast to light rain to heavy rain, to this morning’s three horsemen of the apocalypse: yellow warnings for ice, snow and gales. It might have been bright sunshine at 10 o’clock when I was busy packing the Brompton basket with all the things we needed for the event, but by 10:30 as I was getting ready to set off, the skies had darkened and it was already raining hard. ‘Are you sure you don’t want a lift in?’ the other half asked as I dug out my rain skirt and packed a spare pair of gloves so I wouldn’t have to cycle back home in the sleet in wet ones. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure. At least I could arrive dry, if nothing else.

With a little bit of time to spare due to not having to cycle eight miles into town through the rain, I finished my coffee and watch the weather change from miserable to comically grim. First the hills disappeared behind a veil of rain, then it started hailing, then snowing. Then the phone rang – common sense had prevailed, and Christmas fun in the park had been cancelled.

I can’t say I was disappointed, although we are now stuck with rather a lot of home baking.*

Oh, and no sooner had the decision been taken and communicated to all concerned? The sun came out. It’s the first time I’ve ever spent an afternoon looking out of the window, willing it to start sleeting again…

cows in sunshine

* This was intended to be a fund raiser, although having examined the economics of it, next year I will spend the minimum three hours involved working and donate my professional fee instead…

Rider on the Storm

January 31, 2014

I knew the forecast wasn’t looking too clever this morning, so I thought I’d better just quickly check the rain radar before settling down to see whether I had time to get some work done before setting off. A quick glance showed an enormous scary mass of rain marching rapidly towards us with no end in sight so I didn’t hesitate and was out on my bike to get down to the paper shop and back while I still could. In fact, I probably could have done without the rain radar as a glance to the west revealed nothing but increasing murkiness. I abandoned my normal contemplative pedalling style and concentrated on making progress, egged on by the chilly bite in the headwind: it wasn’t just rain that those dark clouds promised. The sky over papershop village was looking apocalyptic and all the east-bound cars headlights were on, never a good sign, but at least on the way home I had the wind behind me. Focusing on the lighter skies to the east, I put my head down and let it push me home and, very satisfyingly, was wheeling my bike into the shed just as the first drops fell.

Since then we’ve had rain, ice, sleet, snow, and back to rain again. Pleasant as it is to be safe at home throughout it all, it’s the village Burns supper tonight so out I must go again, and in all my Burns night finery,* because the other half has the car and won’t be back in time to ferry me down. I wonder just how easy it will be to do the Dashing White Sergeant in wellies…

* In my case, ‘clothes I haven’t gardened in recently


March 29, 2013

Both the bike and I were a tad overdressed on our run down to the papershop this morning – it with its ice tyres rattling over bone-dry tarmac, and me having to discard buff and unzip my jacket, at least until I turned for home and back into the biting east wind. It’s nice to remember what it’s like to be too warm, but a bit bizarre as I’m still cycling down through a narrow carved canyon of snow in places

snow melting

The hillsides have taken on a rather piebald aspect, depending on where the snow was blown away or where it gathered behind sheltered walls. Or was just piled up in dirty great piles, dirty being the operative word…

snow piles

And somewhere under these waves of snow our bluebells lurk. Maybe in a month or two, we’ll see them…

snow in waves under the trees

Meanwhile, we’re just happy to have glimpsed the sun.

snow on the hills

Winter Gardening

March 28, 2013

First find your leeks…

snow covered leeks

Actually, scratch that – first find your basket…

snow covered basket

In the interests of strict accuracy these pictures were taken a couple of days back, and today we’ve had actual sunshine and, if not warmth, at least the return of sensation to our fingers and toes. The snow is also gradually melting, although I expect the big piles along the roadsides will be with us for a while.

I had hoped that the snow would offer me one benefit – I might find out who or what has been eating my kale, which has basically been reduced to sticks. Yesterday, the other half reported pheasant footprints around the kale bed in the snow, so I went up this afternoon to get documentary proof only to discover this:

non-snow-covered kale

The miscreant has obviously been watching CSI:Bigtown and has decided to cover its tracks. As this would make it some kind of garden criminal mastermind, I think we can pretty well eliminate pheasants from our enquiries…


I wish a certain grey furry miscreant would learn the same trick

muddy cat footprints


March 26, 2013

I really wasn’t expecting much of my ride to the papershop this morning. To be honest, I was only going out to see whether the snow had been flattened down enough that I could pick my way through the worst bits and I was fully expecting to have to turn round long before I’d got anywhere near Papershop village but look!

wall of snow

It was very odd to be cycling between walls of snow, head high in places, especially with the hillsides mostly green and free of the stuff. It seems all the roads around have been ploughed, even the ford road (scraping off several years’ accumulation of mud and vegetation in the process). It’s narrow though – exactly a vehicle’s width in most places. A couple of times I had to tuck myself into a niche in the snow to let an oncoming vehicle through – and had a nice chat with the white van man who stopped to wind down his window to say thank you. For once round here the bike really was the quicker option, once you factor in reversing half a mile to find a space where two cars can pass…

I’m not the only one who prefers to make direct contact with the ground, picking her way very carefully through the deeper bits of snow …

cat and snow

Although I noticed that when she thought there was a mouse to hunt, she forgot all about it

cat footprints

In other news, it’s been trying to snow all day, but I’m ignoring it.

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…

Snowed Up

March 23, 2013

snowy yard

Yup, it snowed again last night.

We’re not exactly snowed in – in fact parts of our road are actually visible thanks to some ploughing and gritting yesterday. But we had no pressing reason to dig our car out of the snowdrift it was in this morning so we took the local police advice (‘Do not drive’ – note there was no messing about with ‘is your journey really necessary?’ or ‘take extra care and allow more time to get to your destination’) and holed up beside the Rayburn and stayed warm.


My twitter feed was full of those further west having it much worse than us – someone stuck in their car in the snow overnight and having to walk the last mile home, someone who had to dig themselves out of their own house after the snow overtopped their front door, a ‘last tweet’ as someone’s mobile died, their power having been off for 24 hours. So it felt like a luxury to be able to go for a walk for the hell of it – and when we were sick of wading through thigh-high drifts – just turn around and yomp home (top tip for those playing the page’s part in the Good King Wenceslas reenactment: make sure you step off on the correct foot because once you’re thigh deep in someone else’s footprints it’s hard to change legs so you have to weave extravagantly from side to side putting your left leg into the right hand footprint and vice versa)


As for us, apart from a distressing lack of a weekend paper, so far the only thing we have run out of is salad, which to be honest hardly counts as a hardship. I expect we’ll get sick of it soon, but for now we’ve decided to enjoy it while we can.

There are more snowy pics – for those who like that sort of thing – on my flickr stream


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