Papershop Run, Viking Biking Style

January 18, 2018

As will possibly surprise nobody but myself, I didn’t make it to Glasgow today. Perhaps having someone from your very own coonsil on the Today Programme explaining why they’d effectively told everyone not to attempt to go anywhere at all overnight might have been the clue – that and the additional few inches of snow that meant we weren’t going to get the car out in time for me to catch the morning train – and even if we did, there was no guarantee that the other half would be able to get in again to meet the 10pm train back once the temperatures had dropped and the next yellow warning had rolled around.

BT track marks in snow

By mid morning, indeed, the only vehicle that had attempted to get up our hill was the BT van which had ignominiously ground to a halt half way up (‘it was stopping to look at the telegraph pole that did it’, according to the driver; I imagine it’s an occupational hazard) and then slid back down again. We could see that the main road was moving okay so, with the sun briefly out, and a newspaper to fetch, I kitted up the bike with the second spiked tyre and wheeled it down to the main road to give it a go.

Bike in the snow

Actually, once up and running it wasn’t too bad – slushy rather than icy, and I could probably have got away with ordinary tyres. I considered staying on the main road all the way down, but after a close-ish pass from a bin lorry, of all things, I decided to take my chances on the back roads, where not everyone had been so lucky.

lorry slid off road in snow

(The advantage of being on a bike is that when you are on your way back and the rescue lorry has arrived and is blocking the road and there are four men just standing around having a blether about how it all happened and what to do now, a bike can just slip through the gap and get past)

clouds and snow

Plus it was lovely to be out – and even lovelier to get back just as the next snow shower rolled in.


Snowed Under

January 17, 2018

It seems odd to recall that only two days ago, it was mild and sunny enough in the Borders for me to take my visiting Irish uncle out and get him thoroughly lost* on a Paperbike.

Uncle and paperbike

The next morning we woke to falling snow and and by the time I had returned home (via England, for reasons too complicated to go into, and Notso Bigtown to try out a local choir that seems open to new members who can’t necessarily, technically, sing all that well) the snow was falling and settling thickly enough to possibly merit the approximately 17,000 warning messages the Met Office App has has been sending to my phone.

snowy dawn

We woke to find that perhaps yesterday might have been better spent panic-buying supplies than gadding about and singing, but with a bit of wheelspinning the other half got the car out of the drive and went and emptied out what was left in Tesco. With him safely home again, a full fridge, and the path to the garage cleared and gritted, so we can get at our fuel supplies, we decided we weren’t going anywhere else today than a nice gentle walk between snow showers.

snowy track snowy woods snowy fields

The Met Office is predicting more of the same overnight, and I’d love nothing more than to hole up and make inroads on our emergency cheese supplies, but I have a couple of meetings in Glasgow instead, if we’re able to get out of our drive in the morning. The weather may be wintry, but spring – and peak cycle-campaigning season – is just around the corner.

speaking of which, fingers crossed the Weather Gods will either relent for this – or give us enough snow for it to be double the fun.

* fortunately, he is surgically attached to his iPhone so was able to navigate us a route home

Room with Rather Too Much of a View

January 12, 2017

Apologies to my twitter followers today who were subjected to a stream of tweets of the view out of my study window

The view is distracting at the best of times; add in snow and it becomes very difficult to concentrate on anything else.

sunny interlude

In the end, after lunch, when there was a lull in the weather and everything began to go a bit sparkly, I cracked and decided to go out and enjoy it properly.

sheep in the sun

You said there could never be too many pictures of sheep, right?

snowy lane looking uphill

avenue of trees

snowy lane looking downhill

And then it was back to the grindstone again

Well, sort of.

Pathetic Fallacy

November 9, 2016

You know, if anyone on my creative writing course had turned in a plot like the last few months we’ve had, they’d have been jumped on:

‘OK, I see what you’re doing with the narrator waking on the morning of the election and there’s snow everywhere, but I think you’re over-egging it. And besides, it’s November. It’s hardly going to snow in November.’

‘Besides, you know there are just too many elections in the book. I mean, it’s getting a bit samey: the Scottish one, and then the general election, and then Britain going out of the EU …’

‘… which was kind of testing our suspension of disbelief anyway …’

‘… and then having someone like Trump running for president, I mean I know it’s satire, but you’ve got to keep it within the realms of the possible …’

‘… but I just keep coming back to the snow. Even if you accept that people would actually be that stupid as to vote for the guy, having it snow in November is too much. I mean, come on…’

Still, in my experience, the Weather Gods can be relied on never to miss the opportunity to overdo things…

hazel bush weighed down by snow

Hazel bush bowed down by the weight of snow. Just too bloody perfect a metaphor

I have nothing to add to all that has been written and said and all that will be written and said about the American election. They say the darkest hour is just before dawn, so perhaps some good will come out of it. Or perhaps things will just go on getting darker. Ever since Brexit my inclination has been to turn inwards: to concentrate on the things that I can do something about and let the rest of the world go to hang. Cycle campaigning I can do. Saving the world is beyond my paygrade. And I’ll take what comfort where I can…

So today has been a day for knitting, hanging curtains and installing smoke alarms. The latter feels especially necessary.

egg cosy

Uh Oh

November 8, 2016

There is much I have been meaning to blog about, when I got the time, but I have been gadding about again, to Perth this time for a cycling conference where unusually I didn’t come away completely depressed about the future, even though there was an actual government transport minister there, which is usually enough to pour a dose of cold water on everyone’s enthusiasm.* Of course, this may have been because someone was foolish enough to fit me up with a microphone and let me loose on the closing panel (after someone more important pulled out at the last minute

But never mind all that. Because, while I noticed ice on the puddles yesterday as I cycled down to catch the bus on my way to Perth, I really wasn’t expecting to come back this evening in increasingly heavy snow (fortunately, the other half had driven to pick me up, so I was witnessing this from inside the car. There are limits to my devotion to active travel…). We have inherited a rather sorry looking olive tree in a round-bottomed pot from the previous owners of the house, which we have spent most of the autumn picking up after it has blown over in the wind (top tip for gardeners: don’t put trees in round bottomed pots. I mean seriously, what were they thinking?) I had been meaning to find out whether to bring it indoors to our entrance way to the winter but hadn’t got round to it because it’s only the first week of November, for crying out loud. Hopefully it is not too late already…

I say nothing about the election over the water, but I do hope that when I wake up tomorrow, sorry-looking olive trees and Scottish cycling policy will still be top of my list of worries…

*Although it’s even worse when they don’t bother to turn up but post in a video presentation because there’s a much more important meeting about trains they want to be at instead


April 27, 2016

We woke this morning to clear skies and glorious sunshine – and no frost on the grass, for once, which was an improvement on the last couple of weeks. What better day, I thought, to take the peas and beans out of the greenhouse where I started them in a panic at the end of March and try and harden them off to plant them out before it’s actually May? And maybe get some washing out to boot?

hailstorm on laundry

And yes, I did stop to take a photo for the blog before rescuing the washing …

In retrospect, a day when it didn’t keep suddenly hailing, alternating with snowing, might have been better.

The weird thing was, in between hail/snow showers it was rather nice and even warm. In fact, I was sitting on the bench with my lunch when the first lot fell and it confused me because there I was enjoying the warmth of the sun, and here was this white stuff falling out of the sky – I confess, I looked up to see if there was a jackdaw or something dropping things because that made more sense than snow.

Anyway, according to all the gardening columns, hardening off your glasshouse-grown plants is a gradual process of putting them out on sunny days and progressively getting them used to the great outdoors with longer spells in the cold and eventually keeping them out overnight – not subjecting them to a day of violent freak weather conditions and hoping for the best.

broadbean seedlings

Fortunately, my peas and broad beans seem a pretty hardy bunch. With any luck they’ll survive tomorrows plague of frogs, or whatever it is the Weather Gods have in store, and I can plant them out at the weekend, ready for it to hail taxis.

Pea seedlings

Thaw Point

January 18, 2016

snow on plants

I was expecting a challenging ride down to the papershop today because the forecast was for it to barely lift above freezing. Yesterday was so still and so cold that the snow didn’t melt at all, and the roads were just packed snow by the end of the day, with no sign of the tarmac underneath.

snow on trees

But this morning it was a little warmer and there was a fine misting drizzle and by the time I got out on the bike the road was more slush than anything. The thaw has already reached that nasty gloomy drippy squelchy stage, like the snotty part of a cold, and while I welcome the signs of impending improvement, I can’t say it’s all that attractive.

snowy track

So you’ll just have to vicariously enjoy our walk through the woods yesterday, which was a perfectly gorgeous winter’s day. What with the roads and the snow, we weren’t going anywhere, and neither, it seemed, was anybody else.

snow_woods snow_woods_2

We forget, sometimes, how beautiful a place it is that we live in, and how privileged we are to have it mostly to ourselves.

snow, trees and gate

In other news, I think the garlic may be getting cold enough now

garlic under snow

There are some garlic bulbs somewhere underneath all that…