March 1, 2020
I think I may have mentioned this before, but I’m pretty much done with this weather. We may not, fortunately, have had the flooding they’ve suffered further south but it seems to have been day after day of pulling on the waterproofs, hoping I remembered to dry my sodden gloves out after the last outing, and heading out for the next battering. I’ve reached the point where if it’s ‘only’ raining or ‘only’ blowing a gale, it doesn’t actually feel that bad, considering some of the other days I’ve had on the bike.
On Friday I knew I was in for a wet one but I felt I was more or less prepared as I readied myself. Gloves, check. Waterproof socks, check. Boots, check. Waterproof trousers, check. Hat, check. Glance out the window to see snow of some description mixed in with the rain, ah well, these things are sent to try us. What I hadn’t factored in until I’d set off was that these weren’t fluffy soft gentle snowflakes, oh no. These were vengeful handfuls of ice being flung by the wind into my face and – especially painfully – my ears. Stinging doesn’t begin to describe the sensation. It is of moments like these that cycling in February is made, and even the most ardent evangelist of the joys of cycling can claim there’s any pleasure to be gained from it, other than a grim sense of satisfaction at having endured the month.
Today, though, it is March and while the wind is still pretty ferocious, we must surely be within sprinting distance of spring. Storm Jorge was still raging this morning as I headed down to Bigtown for a little path clearing, but working out of the wind and in the sun we felt … actual warmth. Layers were even removed, albeit mostly only temporarily. Could it be the end of this endless winter is in sight?
Actually, Weather Gods, maybe don’t answer that question.
Me, contemplating another three weeks of winter
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.
This was not one of those mornings.
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.
November 2, 2018
Gosh, it’s been a bit quiet here, hasn’t it? Somehow the week ran away with me without anything too blogworthy happening, although I did witness a sheep-related miracle
Winter has also firmly arrived, forcing us to turn on the heating properly and also finally get around to installing some foil behind the radiators that are sitting on outside walls. This is probably of marginal benefit, but comes under the heading of ‘might as well’ – especially when I realised it gave me the chance to use that fabled substance from my Blue-Peter watching youth, double-sided sticky tape.*
So far the weather has been erring on the cold and sparkly side, which is how I like my winters. This has led to another revelation. It turns out that cork-lining your study (and possibly also painting it orange – the brain is a funny thing) does seem to have an appreciable affect on how warm it is, or at least feels. There have been mornings when the sun has been pouring in and I have actually had to not only remove my woolly freelancer hat but also my outermost jumper and I was still Too Warm.
This is marvellous.
This afternoon I’m off to Edinburgh and then Dundee, before briefly returning home and then heading out to Stirling again, all in the name of stirring up trouble. This could mean much more frequent updates or it could mean more radio silence – keep tuning in to find out which.
* Sadly, in practice, this comes firmly under the heading of ‘never meet your childhood idols’ as it turns out that it’s fiddly and annoying to use, and not particularly brilliant at sticking things to other things, at least the brands we used.
February 11, 2018
Just before going to bed last night, I was confronted by this simultaneously baffling and yet distinctly terrifying tweet
It didn’t help that the Met Office had been predicting overnight snow last night and all day today – indeed it was snowing as we went to bed last night so I was fully expecting to wake up to …
Well, anything but sunshine and not even a flake of snow. Indeed, the sun mostly shone all day, apart from a few snow flurries, giving me a chance to empty out one of the compost daleks and ponder our composting deficiencies (of which more anon). Then back indoors to light the fire, drink coffee, thaw out, and look out of the window to discover that the Arctic Oscillation had finally gone negative on our ass as threatened
In other news, the shop in Papershop Village is under threat. Does anyone want to buy a shop?
November 21, 2016
I don’t know why I should be surprised – cold weather in Scotland in November,* shock horror – but even given the fact it has already snowed this month, I wasn’t expecting to wake up to temperatures of -5C this morning and neither was the poor olive tree which I still hadn’t got around to moving to the warmer climes of our porch last night. Hopefully the olive tree will wake up from its cryogenic adventure – apparently they are tougher than you might think, especially if they have been watered before they get frozen which is not a problem around here. And nor have I put the ice tyres on my bike yet, so stop asking.**
This lunchtime, once the road had safely thawed out, I headed off for the paper to discover the OTHER big disadvantage of living two-thirds of the way up a long hill, which is that when you don’t need to turn a pedal for the first ten minutes of your ride, you get very, very cold. As in cold enough to make your eyeballs ache, which is a new one on me. Looking on the bright side, I also arrived home considerably less sweaty than I usually am after tackling the chief disadvantage of living two-thirds of the way up a long hill.
I do remind myself every morning to take a moment to appreciate the views (when we can see them) because I suspect that this winter I will be regularly paying the price for our wonderfully exposed position. Even as I write, the latest weather warning is rattling the windows, but the woodburner is doing its stuff and the olive tree is safely tucked up in its winter quarters and so, for now, am I.
*especially as the Met Office has already predicted a colder than average three months, in this genuinely interesting if somewhat cagey article – I’d heard of El Nino and La Nina, and the polar vortex, but the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation was a new one on me. No mention of the weather gods, though, for some reason
** Although come to think of it, that may be the very thing we need to reverse polar vortex and unleash the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, and return us to milder winter weather.
February 24, 2016
Cycling along with a companion the other day, we both remarked on how cheering it is to see the first flush of colour on the bare trees as the buds thicken ready to burst into leaf. It’s something we neither of us noticed until we moved up here; whether because living urban lives we weren’t as attuned to the passage of the seasons, or simply because we’ve got longer to stare at the leafless winter trees up here and try and imagine spring into happening, who knows.
You can see it, can’t you?
We woke this morning to a surprise dusting of snow, with hard frost forecast again for tonight, so I suppose we should be grateful for any presentiments of spring we can get our hands on. And in the interests of full disclosure I should note that shortly after stopping to take this photo (and having a chat with the cyclist you see approaching in the distance, who turned out to be a neighbour who was combining triathalon training with the joys of utility cycling by dashing up the Col du Doctor’s Surgery to pick up a prescription) it began to sleet…
February 16, 2015
It will not be spring for some time (calendar dates notwithstanding), there are still pockets of snow lurking in the lee of the dykes, the north wind can still deliver a sharp nip when it gets up and there is undoubtedly more weather coming our way.
The trees are starting to show that first fuzz of colour that promises leaves.
And in the sunshine, you can almost feel the warmth.
Bit of a contrast with the last pictures of trees I posted, anyway
February 7, 2015
This afternoon I headed up to the greenhouse for a little pottering in my own pet Mediterranean climate (my random perennial experiment is still going strong, amazingly), trying not to let time’s winged chariot breathe too heavily down my my neck, whatever other gardeners in the village might say.
And then I walked down the road where a nice temperature inversion was keeping everything in the depth of winter, in the fog. Normally it’s us who gets the fog while everywhere else basks in the sunshine, so it was nice to be able to walk back up the hill and into the sunshine again.
In other news, the gardening neighbours are moving out (I don’t think it’s anything I’m doing, but who knows). We’re hoping the next set of tenants will be a little more slapdash in their gardening approach, although the current lot have given them something of a head start…
Must get my seed order in.
February 6, 2015
I hardly dare mention this, but we’ve had over a week now of clear skies and bright winter sunshine. Of course, clear skies also come with hard overnight frosts – but also a brilliant full winter moon that was a welcome companion riding back from the village the other night, with only a rather feeble battery-powered lamp to guide me home. The snow is still sticking around but that just makes the sunshine brighter, and in February we are none of us going to turn our noses up at a bit of extra light, wherever it comes from.
Cold though it is, even February marches on. I was reminded this morning that time stops for nobody, and gardeners least of all. I haven’t got my seed order in yet – hell, I haven’t even thought about it – but my gardening buddy in the village has already got his first tomato seeds in, and his onion sets sprouting on the windowsill. Time to get myself up to the greenhouse and get back in gear. Just as soon as I can find my vegetable beds under their blanket of snow…
February 11, 2014
… we sit up here and listen to the South East of England getting all our weather. I used to live in Maidenhead so the news bulletins have been a bit of a trip down memory lane, albeit one where memory lane has required a pair of chest waders and/or a rubber dinghy to negotiate.
We were forecast all sorts ourselves today from sleet to heavy rain to ice, but so far apart from one short snow flurry it’s actually been (whisper it) sunny, if cold. It only promises to be a brief respite between storms but I took the opportunity of a free afternoon after my epic work bout to go and see whether anything was going on in the garden – looks like the snowdrops have recovered from last year’s harvest, anyway.
Whether you’re flooded, soggy, or just anxiously watching the waters rise, hang on in there. Spring *is* on its way…
It has to be.