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.


That’s Veg with an ‘E’…

August 28, 2015

In preparation for the big day tomorrow I spent an hour or so this afternoon selecting my very best produce and carefully washing it and preparing it for the village show. And then, obviously, tweeted this fact to the world. And got this reply

I really hope that anyone who’s paid even the most cursory attention to my blog or twitter feed would know just exactly how unlikely that would be…

Still, it would make for a *very* different village show


I Take it All Back

June 19, 2015

So yesterday, I had a little whinge on Twitter…

It’s been building for a while. I really loved twitter when I first started using it, because as someone who lives in the middle of nowhere and works from home, it was a chance to chat with like minded people (and the occasional non-like-minded person) and it was all generally fun and friendly and if you ever asked for advice the answer was normally along the lines of ‘a large gin’ or ‘sounds like you need more chocolate’* and not ‘have you tried eating more kale?’ or ‘six glasses of water every day’. But, whether because we’re all getting grumpier, or because I follow more people, it’s all started to get a bit fractious recently. It’s not just the guy who faithfully retweets every cyclist-hating tweet he sees, although it’s not exactly a jolly way to start the day to read a bunch of strangers threatening to run bikes off the road – what really gets me down is seeing the people who mainly agree with each other falling out over some slight deviation from the Accepted Doctrine of What Will Bring About Mass Cycling (or What Would the Dutch Do?) as first laid down by Saint Freewheeler of Waltham Forest and codified and elaborated by St David of Assen. Not, I hasten to add, that I disagree with either of those fathers of the Church of Safe Separated Infrastructure. It’s just that jumping on some poor innocent’s head who’s all fired up about cycling and wants to make a difference simply because they may have mentioned wearing a helmet, or suggesting cycle training, or other heresies** isn’t exactly going to encourage them to stick with this whole cycle campaigning lark, and not go away and take up something less controversial like kitten torturing instead.***

Naturally, having added my own grumpy tweet to the general whingefest, and got a host of lovely and funny replies, I immediately cheered up and more or less forgot about it. I then, having spent an hour or two fruitlessly looking for external battery chargers, tweeted again about my broken phone and got the following immediate response

I’ll say this about Twitter – it may not be quite as good fun as it was back in the good old days but it can still beat Google when you’re looking for a quick pointer to something specific – and is full of people who will take the time not just to answer but look up the exact link you need as well. An external battery charger has been ordered and is on its way. And if it actually works, I won’t have to take back this post as well.

Hopefully this also means I’ll have a working phone and camera at the end of June, when I will be repenting of this post, and reconfirming my commitment to the cycling cause by attending what is the Annual Synod of the Church of Safe Separated Infrastructure, the Cycling Embassy AGM. Stand by for more photos of Bromptons and interesting bollards than you can shake a stick at.

* pretty much regardless of what the question was

** Any non-cyclists reading this and scratching their heads and wondering what the problem might be – trust me, don’t ask. It’s long and complicated and at the end of the day it only matters a tiny fraction of the energy that is expended on the subject…

*** And nor, frankly, is criticising people who have spent several years organising mass bike protests on the seat of the Scottish Parliament because quite a lot of the people who turn up dare to wear hi vis jackets, because really we get enough flak from the people who actually hate cyclists to have to deal with the flak from our own side about what people who have given up their Saturday afternoon to Pedal on Parliament chose to wear.


On Trolliday

August 5, 2013

So yesterday I decided to join in the one-day (that’ll show’em) twitter boycott against trolling and general unpleasantness. If I’m honest, this isn’t really because I’m particularly plagued by trolls on twitter – I thought the world of cycle campaigning was prone to spats and name calling, but it’s as nothing to the battle-riven world of bank note design – who knew? In fact, since I noticed that most twitter spats consist of two people who agree on 99.9% of everything falling out about the other 0.1%, I have had a strict policy of not arguing with people on twitter which has been surprisingly effective. And I could see the point that some made that combatting trolls by silence was effectively giving in to them, instead of shouting back. In fact, the real reason why I decided to take part was because when I first heard of the plan I wondered whether I’d actually be able to go a whole day without twitter and that was a little worrying. Having held off joining Twitter for ages because I could see it would be hopelessly addictive, I duly found that it quickly became the place I spent the most time in on the internet. Time to see if I actually could manage without it…

Thinking about it a bit more I realised that the problem wasn’t twitter so much as me. Working from home as I do, it’s nice to have a place online which is basically a big pub conversation, where you get to meet new people, have a joke, ask stupid questions, set the world to rights, hear new things – even start cycle campaigns. And that’s all great and I wouldn’t live without it for the world now. It’s just that I’m not really terribly good at concentrating on one thing at a time, and having an endlessly updating scrolling world of distraction just a click away isn’t all that good an idea. The minute my brain hits any sort of a road block in a task … it’s slid off and gone to check if there’s anything new on Twitter. And then refreshed it to see if there’s anything newer. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing – just in the course of writing this blog post, I have broken off multiple times to exchange tweets with people, tweet something new, follow up some other tweets, checked to see if my latest witticism had been retweeted, found someone else to follow – and then gone and checked my email, checked my other email, and had a quick look to see if anything amusing was going on on Facebook. Clearly, if I could learn to be less distractable, I’d be more productive and I would be able to spend less time on the laptop and more in the garden.

And so, yesterday I had a go at going without. I decided not just to stay off twitter, but be disciplined about all the other distractions that are out there from cycling forums to Facebook. Twitter, I went cold turkey with. For the rest, I stuck to the basic ‘Pomodoro technique‘ – 25 minutes of concentration, followed by a 5 minute break. This was, in fact, so effective that I got most of what I needed to done in about half the time it usually takes and spent the rest of the time gardening, which I can do for hours without needing any sort of management technique to help me. Go me…

Today, I’ve been trying to stick to the discipline without actually forgoing Twitter – which has been a little hard because of the final launch of the Nice Way Code adverts which are wrong headed in so many ways, but which more focused people than me have managed to deconstruct elsewhere. It’s hard to get on with doing something at all constructive while you’re also trying to get #iamnotahorse trending on twitter.* So it hasn’t been quite as effective – but I have been finding that when I do fend off the distractions and actually knuckle down for half an hour, I think a lot better and get more done. It’s not as good as defeating the forces of violent mysogyny – or even getting the Scottish Government not to waste money on feeble safety campaigns – but it will have to do.

*Time for us all to get one of these


Dark Sky at Night

July 16, 2012

So last night, just as I was thinking of going to bed, Twitter* was all of a-twitter with the news that it would be a good night for viewing the Northern Lights – with reports coming in of sightings as far south as Darlington. Now one of the advantages of living up here – not too far from the Dark Sky Park – is that we don’t get much light pollution on the whole so when the heavens are putting on a show, be it a meteorite shower, a close pass of the ISS or the aurora borealis, we can go outside into pitch darkness and marvel at it happening up there right above our heads, completely concealed from us by approximately half a mile of thick cloud. But last night the skies were, amazingly, clear and as I thought I’d never get the chance again I postponed my bedtime and went out to have a look.

Unfortunately the other amazing thing about living here in the summer are our long summer days which meant that at 11pm there was still way too much light in the sky to see anything at all. Muttering about light pollution I went back in, read for a bit, checked twitter (still all of a-twitter), read a bit more and staggered out again at almost midnight to check again. By this time it was still not quite dark in the sky and I spent some time looking northwards wondering if that faint hint of what-might-be-dusk wasn’t in fact some not very impressive Northern Lights until I finally decided that they could be out there in the heavens dancing the Fandango, for all I cared. I’m a creature of habit, you see, and have a way of turning into a very grumpy pumpkin if I’m kept up beyond my bedtime. And besides I had stuff to do in the morning that I needed to be fresh for. And so I sacrificed the opportunity to be moved and enthralled by this amazing phenomenon in return for my beauty sleep.

All of which made it a perfectly brilliant night for the smoke alarm in our bedroom to announce its desire for a new battery with an ear-splitting burst of sound at 5:30 in the morning. Sigh.

Fortunately there are others more patient than me
* And by ‘Twitter’ I mean the bits of twitter I follow which means that it’s made up of about 80% bikes, 5% writing stuff and the rest vaguely nerdy science-y sort of things involving jokes about statistics. Apparently there are other versions of Twitter that get excited about female celebrities not wearing any makeup. Each to their own, I suppose.


Do you Tweet Under your own Name?

April 24, 2010

You know, I could have signed up to twitter aaaaages ago. I remember when it first began to appear on the radar and I toyed with the idea of signing up then, like all the cool kids were. But I recognised that it had the potential to be the crack cocaine of blogging and I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend my life tweeting ‘I’m on the loo’ to anyone who was interested (and then obsessively checking my stats to see if anyone actually was). Then, of course, Stephen Fry got stuck in a lift and Twitter got really big, and it seemed like it was too late to sign up without looking like one of those me too people who signs up for everything they’ve read about in the Technology Guardian*. So I sat it out and waited for twitter to go the way of Friends Reunited and Second Life and all my favourite bloggers to come back and write proper posts instead of chatting to their twitterbuddies in the sidebar of their blogs. By then I’d found out, rather reluctantly, that twitter was actually quite useful for keeping track of breaking stories and not just a load of people telling each other what they’d had for lunch. But that still didn’t make it something I was going to do myself – my life is barely filled with enough incident to feed the blog, let alone keep up a constant stream of commentary:

Oooh, car gone past. And another one. And a tractor. It’s like Picadilly Circus up here.

But Twitter showed no sign of going away. Not only that, but not having a twitter account was becoming a bit like not having an email address, or a mobile phone: it wasn’t making me look as though I was being a bit cool and reticent and not jumping on the latest bandwagon, it was making me look like somebody’s grandmother. So I have cracked, and done the deed – look out for articles in the popular press about the ‘death of twitter’ any moment now. That’s usually what happens when I join in the latest craze, after all.

All that was left was for me to choose a username. No doubt, if I had signed up back when I first thought of it I could even have been ‘disgruntled’ but that has gone. So I’ve decided to tweet under my real name, or as much of it as I can reasonably fit into a twitter handle (they wanted to leave off the last ‘e’! Don’t they realise that makes me come from Lancashire instead of Yorkshire? Can’t have that). You can follow me here, and please do because I look a bit of a Norma NoMates at the moment.

Anyway, must go, because Twitter is calling. There’s three cars gone past in the last half hour, for one thing…

*RIP