Summer Comes but Once a Year

July 12, 2017

Sometimes Twitter gets it bang on

As is traditional when we get a couple of days’ sunshine, I am currently stuck under a pile of All The Work, so I’ve mostly had to just sit and watch it out of my study window, but I did have an afternoon appointment in town.

summer clouds

You honestly couldn’t pay me to drive on a day like today, because it was my only real chance to enjoy the sunshine.

On my way in I encountered a friend, a photographer, who has started this little project on Facebook. After chatting for a while, she offered to add me to the roster of ‘humans’ and took my photo there and then,* and then we went on our way

It was only as I was riding home again later in the afternoon, that it struck me how fortunate we are to live in a place where one can have a brief photo shoot in the middle of the road, and not be interrupted by a single vehicle, and not even think it remarkable.

summer reflections

It scrubs up quite well when the sun shines, too.

* As I have to write a few words before it gets put up, I may not be appearing there for a while

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Turning Left in May

May 26, 2017

As part of our commitment to get out of our comfort zones in our lives, both Back on my Bike and I have been separately trying to go on at least one small adventure a month this year. This month, we hatched a plan that involved meeting her and a fellow cycling pal at the next train station along on the line to Glasgow and cycling with them to their campsite where they were going to take part in Bigtownshire’s biennial cycling fest, the KM Rally.

What’s so adventurous about that, you might ask – for it’s a ride I’ve done a couple of times before so hardly counts as a new adventure. Well, I had a cunning plan:

Rather than rely on my own knowledge of the route, or her phone’s satnav, she was going to have to navigate the old fashioned way.

Dangerous Hill

Admiring the ‘dangerous hill’ sign

Fortunately, I seemed to have left the Scottish weather in Colorado and we have been having some distinctly Colorado weather in Scotland, so there was no hardship in stopping to consult the map from time to time, preferably in a shady spot. Indeed, so unScottish was the weather, that we ran out of water and had to ask a householder on the road to fill them for us. He looked satisfyingly in awe at the distance we were cycling (actually no more than 30 miles with no wrong turnings – despite her protestations, Suzanne proved more than capable of navigating) and not only refilled them but added ice too, which was extremely welcome and went some way towards making up for the only tearoom on the route being firmly shut by the time we arrived at 3:30 pm ready to buy All The Cake. Their loss …

shady road

Other than that, it was just a question of enjoying the quiet back roads, breathing in the heady scent of the hawthorn blossom, exclaiming over the scenery and generally enjoying Bigtownshire cycling at its best.

on the road

On the whole, the area doesn’t do a lot to sell itself as a destination for cycle tourers, or for anything else. We decided that this was because the average Scot, when asked to big up their area, would probably concede that it was ‘awright’. Before adding that ‘it’s no Spain, mind’.

Not Spain

It’s no Spain …

Actually, today, it came fairly close. It wasn’t the fastest ride ever, but it was certainly the most enjoyable day out on the bike that I’ve had for a while. And look!

Achievement unlocked.


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 …


A Hard Day at the Office

February 23, 2016

I have discovered one great thing about my co-working space: on a sunny but otherwise bitterly cold day, the sun comes around in the afternoon and streams through the window and, although I cannot actually see my screen to work, neither can I bring myself to move so that it is not shining in my eyes.

Another bonus is that it is just around the corner from the Greek deli which, despite having been established in Bigtown for a couple of years now, hasn’t yet succumbed to serving haggis pannini and is one of the other half’s favourite local eateries* so it is very easy to lure him down for a sneaky lunch date.

The commute home isn’t bad either.

River Nith from the bridge

*the other one does an egg, bacon and black pudding** roll for not very much money and has made him somewhat difficult to please at any other similar establishment which has the temerity to charge more or stuff their rolls with less bacon

**and did you know that black pudding is now a superfood?***

*** according to research published by the black pudding marketing board.


Life in the Day of a POP Organiser

April 22, 2015

… especially one who has inconveniently got a load of work deadlines right in the middle of the busiest part of organising Pedal on Parliament, and during an unexpected spring heatwave.

5am-6am: Wake up early, for a productive hour spent fretting. Wonder if I can possibly justify going to yoga this morning given the amount I’ve got on. Neck informs me in no uncertain terms that I can’t possibly justify missing yoga either. In the end the neck, and yoga wins. Balance tipped by the fact that the meditation session afterwards offers the chance of a nice nap, thereby cancelling out the hour’s fretting.

6am – 9am Get up, dressed. Check emails. Spend half an hour putting the finishing touches on a press release for POP Scotland. Check more emails. Send emails. Tweet stuff. Realise I’m about to be late and dash around the house trying to find my yoga stuff.

9am – 10am Cycle to Bigtown. Absolutely glorious morning. Shame I am going to spend most of it indoors staring at a screen. Get to yoga and nip into bike shop next door to find out if my front chainring has arrived yet. Get to class to discover Yoga Bunny just pipping me at the post for the coveted corner slot.

10am – 11:30 am Ahhh. And breathe. And I swear to God, it wasn’t me snoring at the end.

11:30 – 12 noon Rush around Bigtown doing a bit of social media stuff for someone else’s viral marketing campaign (a quid pro quo for spreading the word about POP). Discover it’s harder than it looks to hold up a sign and take a photograph of a building at the same time. How is everyone else managing it? Do they have three arms? Are they taking the photo with their nose? In the end I rope in a passer-by who turns out to recognise me because he sees me cycling past in Papershop Village. This being Bigtown, I am not in the least surprised.

Look up you don't know what you're missing

#GetDumfriesTalking Thank you random stranger who turned out not to be a complete stranger after all…

12 -1pm Pedal home. Still glorious. And at least I get an hour or so of cycling in the sunshine

1-2pm Eat lunch on the bench having dealt with the gazillion emails that have accumulated in my absence. Other half has learned that when I go in to fetch something I will not come out again because I have picked up my phone and am tapping away at it, having completely forgotten what it is I came in for.

2-3:30 pm Work. Realise how behind I am. Work some more. Check emails. Aargh. Workity work work. Emails. Work.

3:30 – 4pm Coffee on the bench. There’s vitamin D to be synthesised, you know, and we’re all deficient after a long winter.

4-5 pm Workity work work.

5pm Can’t stand it any longer. Toast on the bench in the last of the sunshine before the sun moves behind the house.

5:30 – 7:30 pm Work. Emails. Work. Emails. Facebook (it’s all POP stuff, promise). Twitter. Panic. Work.

7:30 – 8:30 pm cook dinner, phone in hand, checking emails and tweeting. Panic mildly about meeting deadline.

8:30 – 10pm – just as supper is ready, old friend rings for a chat. Haven’t spoken in ages. Fortunately she doesn’t mind me chewing in her ear as we catch up.

10pm – 11pm Work. Eyes propped up by matchsticks, but thank goodness for the yoga nap. Ahem. meditation. Finish work. Bed

5am Wake up fretting …


Spain without the Sunshine?*

September 10, 2014

The weather was ridiculously nice today, to the point where I was forced into shorts which is patently absurd in Scotland in September. Cycling down to the local shortbread emporium (it pretends it’s a farm shop) for free range pork this morning we couldn’t really say anything coherent to each other than taking it in turns to sigh with contentment as we pedalled in the sunshine.

tree in the sunshine

I still haven’t made up my mind yet (I’m doing my homework though) but if I were David Cameron and I really wanted to save the union,** I’d be praying for rain. In weather like this it’s hard to pay attention to the dire warnings of even the most eminent of economists. It’s not called the dismal science for nothing…

Let’s see which way the weather gods vote, eh?

* Paul Krugman’s verdict on an independent Scotland within a monetary union.

** Actually, if David Cameron really wants to save the union he shouldn’t be up in Scotland telling it how much he loves it, he should be back in Westminster announcing the repeal of the bedroom tax, an end to reforming the NHS into a hole in the ground, and mounting a robust defence of the UK’s place in the EU and the free movement of people. Oh. So he doesn’t want it that much then? As you were, Scotland


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.