Normal Weather Service Resumes …

August 16, 2022
Japanese anemones against a grey sky

As I pulled on my waterproof trousers, wellies, rain jacket, gloves and cap yesterday morning – after a week in which the only sartorial decision I needed to make was which POP t-shirt to wear – I did send up faint curses on the heads of everyone who’s been loudly longing for rain over the past week. Glasgow cyclists, bless their little Stockholm-syndromed heads, may welcome summer for its slightly warmer rain, but I love a heatwave and the drier and sunnier the better. However much my garden may be suffering, I’ll never pray for rain – after all, round here, the Weather Gods will generally provide it, in great quantities, entirely unprompted.

All that said, one inhabitant of the garden is probably welcoming the resumption of wet weather. Five years ago we planted six trees (three silver birches and three paper birches) to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Of the paper birches, one didn’t take at all, one seemed to disappear but finally stuck its head over the top of the tree tube after about 4 years) and one was apparently flourishing like the green bay tree until it decided to fall over a couple of days ago.

It turns out that it had been flourishing so much its trunk had thickened enough to grow into the zip tie that was holding the tree tube onto the stake. That had weakened it to the point where it just snapped. We’d kept the tubes on so long to protect them all against the attentions of Moo I 5, but we hadn’t been diligent at checking for other perils, and for that I can only say I’m very sorry.

Propped up birch tree

Anyway, after consulting Twitter, the tree has been duly propped up, lopped by about half, and held in place with (what else) a bicycle inner tube. The guards have come off most of the other trees (except the late developer, which is just too close to the fence and too temptingly in reach of any coos). So far, the patient appears to be fine so fingers crossed it will remain so, and strengthen to the point where it can stand up on its own. And yes, perhaps a little rain at this point wouldn’t go amiss … although I’m not, repeat not, asking for it.

Thaw it Coming

January 28, 2021

After weeks of weather warnings that have amounted to at best a dusting of snow, we woke unexpectedly to this:

snow covered road

It’s like the Weather Gods knew my bike’s saddle was due to be repaired today (along with the rest of the bike – this winter has been tough on it; it turns out not riding it much is worse for it than riding it almost every day). Yesterday was lovely and mild and would have been perfect weather for taking the bike out on my state-sanctioned exercise but the bike was stuck in the bike shop. Today wasn’t looking quite so inviting …

However, the snow hasn’t lasted – and we are feeling quite confident that the cold snap won’t be prolonged because our ritual walk up to the road end and inspection of the empty grit bin revealed exciting developments:

full grit bin

I wasn’t that hopeful we’d see any grit at all, as the last missive I had from the council on the subject – despite sending an email clearly requesting that our existing grit bin be filled, complete with a note of the grit bin number and its location – was that my request for a new grit bin had been passed to the roads department and would be granted if it was in line with the council’s winter maintenance policy. At a time when we’re all trying to cut down on plastic waste providing a whole new grit bin for every load of grit seems a bit excessive, so I’m glad that it didn’t come with any unnecessary packaging after all…

Anyway, the bike has returned triumphant from the bike shop with a new mudguard, cassette, chain and brake blocks so I look forward to making it all a bit less shiny-looking over the next few days.

I might even go and inspect the ford …

Clouds, Silver Linings Thereof

August 4, 2020

A week or so ago, I was a little excited at the prospect of actually going to a meeting, my first in ages.

Fast forward a few days, add in the Weather Gods and the Scottish Summer and it’s fair to say that my excitement had been tempered somewhat. First it was going to be cloudy, and then it was going to rain in the morning but maybe clear up in the afternoon, and then it was going to rain heavily in the morning but only lightly in the afternoon, and then by yesterday it had settled into a solid day of double-dot rain with blustery wind, and this morning the Met Office added the cherry on the cake in the form of a yellow weather warning for rain for the entire day.

Obviously, I’m not made of sugar and I’ve ridden entire days in the rain before; I’ve even turned up at meetings in full drowned-rat mode and been (moderately) cheerful about it but I did tentatively inquire whether the meeting could be held online yesterday, and then slightly more urgently this morning. And then, having heard nothing and postponed setting off as long as I could, I reluctantly dug out the waterproof trousers and socks, Actually Waterproof in Scotland rain jacket, spare gloves, and a sweater to put on when I arrived so my teeth didn’t chatter too hard (can you tell I’ve done this before) and donned my winter boots and tweed cap ready to roll.

I’ve never been quite as happy to hear my phone ring and be able to cry off as I was two minutes later.

I still feel slightly bad about this as, for various reasons, we weren’t able to seamlessly switch to an online meeting as I had assumed we would. Ordinarily, I don’t like to inflict the limitations of my preferred mode of transport on other people as I recognise that cycling for transport in all weathers is not normal around here and it is a choice I have made, not a necessity. Even a few month’s ago I would have just gritted my teeth and gone and made something of a spectacle of myself as a result. But, if nothing else, the pandemic and lockdown has made me increasingly reluctant to cycle somewhere in rubbish weather just because my diary says so.

Online meetings aren’t perfect, but now that we know almost everyone is capable of discussing most things online, then I am not sure why that shouldn’t be the default – especially when St Swithin is having his annual massive posthumous hissy fit. And besides, if we want cycling to become a more widespread mode of transport, then being a bit flexible about arranging things around the weather might be part of making that happen.

rain radar picture

Sometimes it’s better just not to look at the rain radar

Of course, round here, that may mean far fewer meetings taking place at all. Which, thinking back over many I’ve attended in the past, might be chalked up as a win.

The Rain Falls on the Just and on the Unjust Fella*

February 3, 2020

I don’t know about you, but 2020 for me so far seems to have consisted of me pulling on my rain gear (I’m getting extremely good value out of my Aldi bargain waterproof trousers which have so far proved, remarkably, Waterproof in Scotland), wishing I’d thought to take my soggy wet gloves out of my bag to dry when I came back from the last outing, unstuffing the newspaper from my still-damp boots and heading back out into the rain for yet another Bigtownshire Cycle Campaign event that seemed like a good idea back when we planned it before the monsoon started. In just the last week we’ve had a Sunday ride (starting in the pouring rain), a Burns Night ride with the accessible cycling group (heavy rain forecast but in the end only raining lightly for most of it) and some path clearing work (solid mizzle all the way down but almost dry on the way back). Amazingly, we’ve had reasonable turnouts for all of these and none of the members have strangled me and left my body in a flooded ditch which, frankly, they would be well within their rights to do given how many times I’ve dragged them out of their warm dry homes on soggy days in recent weeks.

Today, however, the Weather Gods have given it a rest and even though I had yet another event organised, was forecast to be merely showery. I set off on the Brompton with a song in my heart, buoyed by the fact that the forecast for tomorrow (with yet another event organised – really, it’s as if I had forgotten what February is like) was even better. And got to the top of the road before I realised that when the Weather Gods take a rest, it’s only to let the Puncture Fairy have her head. For yes, the Brompton had a slow puncture in its back wheel and I had no time to fix it (even if I actually could have done which I doubt, given it’s a hub gear and a Marathon plus tyre). I couldn’t swap bikes because I was en route to Edinburgh afterwards (where the Brompton was due for a post-operative check up) and I couldn’t be late because I was meeting a bunch of council officers for a tour of the highlights of Bigtown’s cycling infrastructure. Nothing to it but to try and cycle faster than my back tyre was deflating, and then lose all credibility by arriving late, out of breath and pleading for a loan of a pump (I did have a pump in my bag but for reasons which made sense at the time, has been monkeyed with to inflate presta valves and I can’t for the life of me get it back to inflating schraders again).

Despite the suboptimal start, however, we did have a successful tour. Mostly I had erred on the informative and instructive side, choosing the route where there were opportunities to make positive suggestions about possible improvements rather than simply pointing and laughing at some of the madder stuff. But I did manage one small measure of revenge. There has been a bit of back and forth about whether it makes sense to designate one of the official bike routes up a one-in-five hill, even if it does mean a quieter road than those with a more forgiving gradient. So I made sure to include it on our route on the way back. Sometimes it’s much more powerful to show** rather than tell.

* But mainly on the just because the unjust stole the just’s umbrella.

** Especially the less-experienced officer who had borrowed one of the council e-bikes and then accidentally turned the power assist off at the bottom of the hill … amazingly he made it up, and in top gear too.

Let them Eat Broccoli

April 11, 2019

Well, I hope you’re all enjoying the fine spring weather (at least for viewers in Scotland) – it is pretty much inevitable that when I’ve got a tight work deadline and a looming cycle protest (or protests – we’ve now got 17 different events planned and more in the works) to organise, that (a) everything will start to happen at once (laptop: would now be a good time to tell that you I need an update?) and (b) the sun will come out.* While I’ve been largely chained to my desk, the other half has been taking advantage of the lengthening evenings to go out and do some gardening pottering and the hares have been taking advantage of the rising sap to, er, hare around the field next door pausing only to make more hares, and it’s beginning to get on my goat. Expect it to start raining at the weekend, when at last the deadline will be over, even if the PoP preparations can only get more frantic from here.

All of which means I’m also falling behind on the gardening, although at least it’s chilly enough at night to mean spring is not yet completely in full flow. And I’m pleased to report that I was wrong about one thing – our leeks may be almost finished and last year’s potatoes sprouted beyond all hope but, had the worst predictions of the pundits over Brexit come to pass, we wouldn’t be completely starving after all. Despite the best efforts of the local cabbage white population and Moo-I-5 we’ve got broccoli coming out of our ears at the moment. Here’s hoping that’s not the only doom-laden prediction about the whole fiasco that will fail to come to pass …

Purple sprouting broccoli

* It’s possible that there are meteorological forces at work as well, but I prefer to blame the weather gods and sod’s law.

That Hurricane Damage in Full

October 17, 2017

Having read some of the tweets from Ireland during Ophelia’s visit yesterday, I’ll spare you my eerie calm before the storm and weird blood-red sun anecdotes (but you know, it was very strange). When the storm finally arrived, we lay in bed last night listening to it hammering around the house hoping that the greenhouse would survive and glad that at least we’d given the two trees most likely to cause any damage a haircut.

With the cold light of morning we went out to survey the damage:

headless daleks


Our dalek army had been decapitated (fortunately, we had spent Sunday filling the two new bins with the contents of the pile-o’-stuff, so we only had to retrieve the lids, not go hunting for the bins themselves).

felled tree

One of our wedding anniversary twiglets had been blown over, although it was possible to resurrect it as it had only bent, not snapped.*

battered tree

The cows’ tree – whose tree tube had suffered somewhat from their enthusiastic attention – appeared battered but unbowed.

And you’ll be pleased to note from the photo above that the greenhouse is still standing and indeed completely unscathed, testament to the efforts of the other half and a friend, who spent two days constructing it.  Other than that, as the wind had helpfully blown away all the leaves that had fallen already, the garden actually looked tidier than it was before the storm.

Tomorrow we set off for Northern Ireland – or what’s left of it – for what we’re confident will be a sunshine break, very glad that we didn’t book the ferry for today as we had originally planned.

* I would claim this as a metaphor but two of the other trees we planted this spring didn’t survive, so I’m not reading too much into their fate, just at the moment.

Early Doors

October 14, 2017

Ever since I inadvertently angered the Weather Gods by implying that they couldn’t make it drizzle all day any more, they’ve been steadily proving me wrong. Today, after optimistically putting out and then taking back in the washing, forgetting that Bigtownshire specialises in its own special kind of rain that the forecasters can’t see, let alone forecast, I headed for Bigtown for a spot of history and poetry.

Forgotten Doors

One of the ‘forgotten doors’ of Bigtown, resurrected for the afternoon

Poetry readings, in my experience, are generally held indoors in the warm and dry and accompanied by wine and even nibbles. Clearly this is a tactical error: it turns out that if you invite people instead to march through Bigtown unrefreshed in the drizzle, instead of the usual turnout of the poet, the poet’s mates, and the odd lost soul who has wandered in by mistake, you get a veritable crowd.

gathered audience

Trust me, this is a giant crowd for poetry …

So many, in fact that the combined effect of distance, umbrellas and traffic completely drowned out the poets, so after a while I peeled off to head home while I still had parts of me that weren’t drenched. I clearly haven’t the stamina for poetry in Scotland.

And neither, I noted, do the local cows.

cows sheltering from the rain

Still, I can at least confirm that the new pannier is definitely Waterproof in Scotland.

More weather related shenanigans to come as we attempt to get to Norn Iron in the teeth of the remains of Hurricane Ophelia…

I Feel it in my Fingers, I Feel it in my Toes

October 11, 2017

Yesterday, enjoying coffee and cake with a friend in a cafe, as an unexpected shower suddenly emptied the High Street, I mentioned how we’d barely had a day all summer when it hadn’t rained at least once. “At least it’s better than those days when it just rains steadily all day,” my friend pointed out. “True,” I said, and then added before anyone could stop me, “We don’t seem to get those so often as we used to.”

park after the rain

Regular readers of this blog will know exactly what happened next. Especially as I was supposed to be spending this afternoon at an event in the Bigtown Park in which the Weather Gods take a particular interest. Although, to be fair, once I’d headed out on the bike sans spare gloves and waterproof trousers on the (as it turned out) flimsy grounds that the forecast was for it to clear up, it went from steady pacing-itself drizzle to steady pacing-itself drizzle interspersed with apocalyptic stairrods. This lasted all the way into Bigtown, and up to the other end of town where I needed to pick up a bike trailer, then cleared up into a glorious sunny autumn afternoon, so that everyone at the event could say ‘and isn’t it lovely that the rain stopped just in time?’ and I could smile through gritted teeth and tried not to let my socks squelch too loudly.

Park after the rain

Bigtown has apparently been found to be the happiest place in Scotland, from which I can only surmise that they were mostly surveying the local ducks.

Park after the rain

That said, the park does scrub up rather nicely when it has been well rinsed. Very, very well rinsed.

bike, trailer and tree

And I can report that the fastest way to tow a bike trailer home, is to concentrate on how wonderful it will be to peel off your sodden socks and sit down with dry feet in front of the fire.

I Suppose it was Inevitable…

May 20, 2017

I gather the weather has been all taps aff at home – but (and you can stop sniggering at the back, please) over here in Colorado the weather has been distinctly … well, Scottish.

abandoned jeep

Nothing daunted by the cold and threatened rain (I believe the words ‘I’m not made of sugar’ may have crossed my lips) I headed out on my own  on the bike this morning to check out the height of the Fountain Creek, because nobody else wanted to join me, for some reason.

Fountain creek flowing

Ford lovers, this will have to do. The Americans don’t put depth gauges in their rivers though, for some reason

Of course, it started raining the minute I got on the bike, but I could hardly turn back so I pressed on anyway, glad that I had, in a moment of madness at home, packed a pair of gloves as well as a rain jacket.

Sidewalk closed

The river path is currently undergoing some work, which hopefully will not be undone again by the latest rain. As there was nobody around, and the alternative involved sprinting across a road, I am sorry to say that I just ignored this sign.

spring flowers

On the other hand, I have never seen Colorado looking more green and the spring flowers are all in bloom. Some of them more springlike than others

cactus flowers

For those of you enjoying warm sunny May weather in our absence, you are most welcome.



Kill or Cure

March 6, 2017

The thing I really needed to happen this week was for someone to discover an extra day between Tuesday and Wednesday so I can actually manage to get all the things done I need to in time. The thing I really didn’t need to happen was me catching the other half’s cold, so naturally that’s the thing that did happen, although I’m still hoping the magic of cycling will see it off.

Of course for cycling to work properly, you have to not just go out on a bike, but get miserably cold and drenched, at least that’s my theory* and ordinarily, you can rely on the Weather Gods to serve up that sort of weather without too much problem. So I should probably have been unhappy at the fact that during today’s paper run, the only rain I got was the tiniest of sprinklings and a fragment of rainbow, and the rest was just surprisingly warm spring sunshine – not enough to see off even the feeblest of rhinoviruses.

fragment of rainbow

Rainbow posed by model as this was actually yesterday’s rainbow.

Still, maybe the vitamin D will do it instead, although I don’t think the sun’s quite high in the sky to generate useful amounts yet. I took my cap off all the same, and cycled along bare headed just in case. It might not be doing much for my vitamin levels, but it did feel good to have some sun on my skin.

In other news, the daffodils are almost out.

daffodils almost out
* I suspect that, like most cold remedies, it will simply serve to cut down the duration of the cold from a whole week to just seven days.