Call me a Fair Weather Cyclist …

June 14, 2017

… but I cannot deny that my bike becomes a whole lot more appealing means of transport when the rain stops

Fair weather road

June has been a bit too Octoberish for my liking recently, but this afternoon the clouds thinned, the wind dropped, the air warmed up and I even took my gloves off

Add in the fact that the hedgerows are full of birds who haven’t quite taken their L-plates off yet, so are often still fluttering about around me as I pass, and of course the hares, and suddenly spending time on my bike becomes a positive delight, rather than the virtuous chore it can frankly be when it is bucketing it down.

Oddly enough, the sunshine doesn’t just make rural roads more pleasant to ride on. Even my least favourite bits of today’s cycling – getting into the Tesco carpark, the roundabout-of-doom where I swear I will meet my end one day, even the hill home – they all seemed so much more doable somehow, although the last one might have been the tail wind.

As a result, I am rashly planning a little mini adventure on my way up to Embra tomorrow. More anon. If I’m spared …


Come in, you’ll have had your Summer…

August 11, 2016

I was thinking yesterday, as I was woken yet again by the sun at 5 am only to watch the morning cloud over and the day descend to endless drizzle, that it would be kinder of the Weather Gods not to give us that daily hour of hope and expectation, but just start the day off as they mean to go on. And then we were woken this morning by the sound of rain against the skylight and I decided I’d take what sunshine I could get* (and maybe invest in some blinds for the bedroom).

tomatoes

Still, rain or no rain, I had to get myself down to the greenhouse back at the old house – or the allotment as it is now known – if only to water the other half’s plants and harvest some produce. Because, even with the rain spattering on the roof, it’s all going great guns down there.

tomatilloes

The tomatilloes lie in wait: none of them are ready yet, but we know they will be soon, and once they start cropping, by god they are prolific. Last year we had to resort to depositing bags of tomatilloes on people’s doorsteps when we ran out of room in the fridge. This year we’ve put in fewer plants but they seem to have compensated by becoming even more prolific.

The chillies are taking their time, but the purple jalapenos are worth it for the flowers alone.

purple jalapeno flower

Time to dig out the Mexican cookbook and dream of warmer climes, and summer…

* Obviously, it would be even kinder of the weather gods to start off sunny and go on like that, but we’ve had our summer and we know better than to hope.


Busy Bees

June 1, 2016

It’s not often we get the best of the weather, but that seems to be what’s happening in recent days.

bee on chives

I have much I should be doing indoors but, like the bees, I’m making the most of the sunshine in the garden while I can.

bumblebee

Meanwhile, my thoughts are turning to the new house (or more accurately the new garden). Once we move I will for a while be maintaining two gardens as I’ll be keeping on the veg plot (which has a tendency to turn into the long lost veg plot if I turn my back on it for an instance) while also getting to grips with the garden at the new house. The latter might be interesting as it the vendors have moved out a while back and apparently left no arrangements in place to get the grass cut.

overgrown veg plot

First find your veg beds

If anyone’s in the market for some hay, we may have a meadow on our hands by the time we get the keys …


Carpe Diem

May 11, 2016

morning shadows

Yesterday I had a thing in Edinburgh which meant getting up at silly o’clock to cycle to catch the bus to catch the train, to be there for ten. Actually, once I’d got over the whole having to wake at half past five part, there was something rather nice about being out on such a perfect May morning with nothing moving on the road except me and the loose calf (how do they get out of fields with such ease and make such a meal about getting back in again?).

Edinburgh castle

It was glorious in Edinburgh too – and our vantage point at the National Museum of Scotland gave us a wonderful view out over the rooftops. Fittingly, given the subject of the meeting was air pollution, there was a bit of that too, or the view would have been even more splendid.

hazy rooftop view

If we’ve learned anything in the past eight years, it’s that you have to be ready to enjoy the summer whenever it arrives, because it could happen at any time. This week might be it for 2016 – and at least riding a bike means I have the chance to get out and experience it even when duty calls and I have to spend the bulk of the day in meetings of various kinds.

evening light

Remind me of that when I’m moaning about getting drenched and frozen in the depths of winter. Or, possibly, June …


In the Nile

August 17, 2015

We woke to a bright but chilly morning this morning, and condensation on the windows – a sign that for all the warmth of the sun we’re (finally) getting, the end of summer is looming before it has barely got into its stride.

But never mind all that, she says, sticking her fingers into her ears and singing very loudly. For I had a jacket-hat-and-glove-free ride down to the papershop today and there have been very few of those this summer so far. And as I cycled up past one farmyard, I noticed that the steading roof was almost covered in house martins, and they all of them took off at my approach so that the air was filled with their chittering little calls and the flashes of their white rumps in the sunshine.

The fact that I’m sitting here now wishing I had a jumper on, and with darkness outside the window (and it only 9:30pm) is neither here nor there. Summer isn’t over yet … how can it be when it has hardly begun?


Here it Comes, Ready or Not

June 10, 2015

I had a ton of things to do today, none of which involved going out on a bike, but you don’t have to live in Scotland very long to realise that summer can happen at pretty much any time of the year, without warning, and when it does you’d better seize the moment because it’s unlikely to hang around. So, after dutifully slaving away at my laptop all morning, after lunch we slipped the leash, just for an hour or so.

There had been rumours of golden eagles up beyond the reservoir, but in truth we needed very little excuse to tackle what is one of my favourite rides. summer road The road up top of the climb
No eagles, in the end, just a couple of well-behaved buzzards. But we did hear a cuckoo calling, and the sound of a curlew, and we sat and ate cherries in the welcome breeze at the top and then we careered down the hill and rode home through the dappled shade of the river valley. If this is the only summer we get, at least we’ll know we made the most of it

shady summer road

That said, it’s forecast to be sunny again tomorrow…


Haar de Haar Haar

July 23, 2014

So the forecast this week is just glorious – sunshine all week – and as we are on a flying visit to Duns, we got a bit overexcited with the thought of a visit to a proper beach, seeing as Bigtownshire beaches tend towards the estuarine which is fine if you like a day’s trek across mud for a paddle but not exactly swimmable. We filled the car with beach towels and swimming things and sun cream and set off in a state of great anticipation, forgetting that fine weather across the country generally means an easterly wind, and an easterly wind on the east coast generally means the dreaded haar, which stands for ‘horrible air all around’ according to my aunt.

The haar itself might have burned off, but the cloud was clinging stubbornly on by lunchtime, so as the rest of you basked in the sunshine and sent me the odd gloating tweet, we set off today for the beach anyway to sit under the cloud.

After all, there were still rockpools to explore

sea anemone in rockpool

And the other half had brought his special beach camouflage outfit, which worked a treat.

beach camouflage outfit

And cloudbathing is the new sunbathing – haven’t you heard?

clouds over cocklawburn beach

Naturally, the sun appeared as soon as we got about a mile inland on the way back…

We’ll be back to sunny West Scotland tomorrow, if we’re spared.