New Year, New You

January 1, 2019

Some mornings, heading out on the bike to lead the Bigtown Cycle Campaign winter rides can be a bit of a chore.

new years day sunshine

This was not one of those mornings.

group ride photo

Amazingly, it turns out 20 other people thought that a bike ride in the winter sunshine was an excellent way to start the year. As I mentioned on the ride back, it’s days like these that get us through the winter.

I hope your 2019 had as promising a start.

dead end road and blue skies


Hello Deer

December 16, 2017

So after our brief interlude in a very wintry Minnesota we made it down to Colorado yesterday. Today there was only one order of business:

garage bikes

Winter in Minnesota is definitely pretty hardcore – we did get out for one walk in the snow the day after we arrived but it feels like the sort of thing that might kill you if you’re not careful so it wasn’t a very long one – so we were pretty keen to enjoy Pueblo’s much more appealing December climate. Today did not disappoint – it might have been -9C when we woke up, but once the sun got going it soon warmed up and it was 18C by the time we’d had lunch and got the bikes out.

winter trees

The other half was suffering from a cold (bloody aeroplanes are worse than a classroom of nursery children when it comes to germ spreading) so we didn’t do more than the gentlest of pootles along the river – the cycling equivalent of a stroll. And we weren’t the only ones taking it easy: a couple of very chilled deer didn’t seem all that fazed by our presence.

deer crossing

It was warm enough that we could sit down by the water and bask in the sun and watch the birds go by. In fact, it was warm enough to take off my gloves and that doesn’t even happen in July at home…

bikes waiting

Daylight Savings

December 1, 2017

Sunlight is precious at this time of the year, and for the last three days we’ve been blessed with chilly but bright weather – perfect, you’d think, for getting out on the bike. Unfortunately it’s also been accompanied by a window-rattling north wind, the lazy kind (that goes through you, rather than around you) and as I haven’t actually needed to go anywhere, I haven’t.

Digging in the greenhouse

Fortunately the greenhouse has provided an alternative means of getting outdoors and soaking up the sunshine while it lasts without actually having your fillings blown out – but yesterday even that wasn’t too appealing as the wind was howling round every corner and drowning out the radio as I was digging out the second bed. Even the robin that was stalking me in the hope of worms was looking a bit sorry for itself with its feathers blown sideways.

Fortunately we now have an alternative: a trip to my parents netted a small drop-leaf table which was surplus* to requirements. This happened to be exactly the right size of table to fit in our sunny entrance way and provide a sunny space for basking, drinking coffee, writing shopping lists and doing crossword puzzles. I suspect in time that, being a horizontal surface, it will also find a role in holding up the post, keys, change, small gardening tools, phone chargers and random bits of plastic that look as if they might be part of something important and probably shouldn’t be thrown away – maybe even surplus Wisdens – but so far we are being reasonably disciplined about not burying it under a mound of stuff (that’s mainly because all of that stuff is currently on the dining table instead, but never mind).

entrance hall table

I have long wondered whether at some point I would manage to live ‘like a grown up’. I’m not even sure what I meant by that – possibly putting things away occasionally even if there wasn’t someone coming round. But given that my parents have long driven me mad by insisting in sitting in their own porch despite its manifold inconveniences, perhaps sitting in the porch to have my coffee will have to do.

* I say surplus – that at least was Mum’s verdict. Dad wasn’t quite so sure as he was using it to hold up the overspill of his collection of Wisdens…

As I Mean to Go On

January 1, 2017

There are worse ways to start a year than to set off into the low winter’s sun to Bigtown

slanting January sunshine

To unexpectedly find that 26 other people fancy joining you for a bike ride and some warming soup on a fine New Year’s Day

gathering for a ride

And to ride home again with weary legs after 34 miles with the last of the afternoon’s sun at your back*

sunshine and shadow

Happy New Year

*We’ll draw a veil over the accompanying headwind

In Which I Remember I have a Garden

February 10, 2016

As forecast, the sun came out today, the wind dropped, and though there was a bit of frost when we woke, it soon dissipated; all in all a very pleasant day, adjusted for it being February

snowdrops under the trees

I haven’t been getting up to the garden much, except to raid it in the semi dark for vegetables having forgotten that we were planning on having leek or kale for supper (there’s not much else going on veg wise, although as the soil warms up I’ll soon discover if I’ve missed any significant parsnips). It’s been too wet to do anything useful up to now – and it’s still rather squelchy underfoot, but I thought I had better check on the progress of the garlic which has survived everything storms Abigail through to Henry could throw at them and come up smiling. Kudos to Marshalls Seeds and their heritage garlic collection which has so far proved much more robust than the labels I used to mark which variety was which. I really had better relabel everything before the last traces fade irrevocably away.

garlic shoots

I thought I had also better plant out the remaining cloves which I started in pots. I think I got to them in time …

roots emerging from pots

On the way up to the garden, I noticed this tiny earthwork running across the lawn. I think it must be either trainee moles, or the voles are putting up flood defences of their own …

ridges in the grass