The cyclist’s ordeal

I’VE said it before and I’ll say it again: you just have to be slightly mad to cycle round here.

As parking becomes ever more challenging, it would seem to be a good idea to dust down the bike and take to two wheels instead of four.

Unfortunately your average motorist doesn’t agree.

In fact your average motorist seems to develop instant selective blindness if there is a cyclist ahead of them.

The cyclist can see that there is a series of drains leading into the gutter along the road so the obvious thing to do is give them a wide berth.

The raging motorist, however, neither sees nor cares about these obstacles but takes delight in skimming the cyclist’s outside elbow.

As for speed restrictions, there is a similar disregard for them too.

If only a little respect and consideration could prevail. After all, the slipstream from a speeding vehicle can easily cause a cyclist to wobble dangerously, or fall.

Over the years, there have been attempts to increase the number of cycle paths but that in itself is costly and complicated when the basic infrastructure is so narrow.

If you do decide to cycle and manage to reach your destination in one piece, all you then have to contend with are shaky legs, dusty or muddy feet and a red face.


Spring comes and goes . . .

Tilly the terrier’s expressions says it all: “The snow isn’t bothering me, but where’s my breakfast, please?”

SNOWDROPS, primroses and birdsong. What do they mean when you wake up once more to a landscape completely covered in snow?

Just when we thought winter really was over, it happened again, with the usual disruption to travel and communication.

It will be a week or two yet before we discover what damage has been done to all those tender buds in the garden, but Tilly the terrier has no such concerns.


Signs of spring

SPRING seems a long way ahead when you look out of the window and see snow and ice, and can hear the wind roaring.

Up in the woods a couple of days ago, under a blue sky, it was heartening to see new bluebell leaves poking through the undergrowth, and there are brave daffodils to be seen in gardens, along with snowdrops and violets.

As usual Tilly the terrier runs about without a coat, no matter how many people stop me to say she needs one. She moves fast and nature gave her a really thick coat of her own.

Tilly the terrier still doesn’t wear a coat, in spite of the weather.

Bluebell leaves grow through some of last year’s chestnut leaves.

A mass of snowdrops that have thrived in the conditions.

All caution abandoned

Tilly in one of the biggest and best puddles she has found this year.

WHEN I see how fastidious Tilly is about so many things, how careful she is when offered a titbit, and how she refuses to jump out of the car in the dark, I am always surprised by her attitude to muddy puddles. She goes straight in without any hesitation. There is never any question of walking in slowly to check the depth or making sure it is not going to cover her tummy in mud. In fact, the muddier the better, as she demonstrates in the photo above.

House martins set for take-off

HOUSE martins are in the same bird family as swallows and swifts, so they, too, will soon be lining up on electricity wires before they depart to spend the winter in Africa.

It is nothing short of a miracle that they can do this, and come back to their original nesting spots in this country six or seven months later.

They often nest in the eaves of houses and these photographs show young martins at a fairly delicate stage of development, and who must be members of a second brood, having been photographed this month.

Resting on an evergreen in a tub, the young feathered martin has probably launched itself from its nest but found flying a little more tiring than expected.

The one in the nest is in a typical spot, under the eaves of a house in the middle of Salisbury and close to a water course where its parents can find plenty of insect life nearby. Its nest, made from mud, is sheltered from the elements even if it is resting on a power line.

The Happy Moonraker wishes them all ‘bon voyage’ and looks forward to their return next spring.


A green lake

This healthy barley crop has benefited from hot sun and heavy rain in the past two weeks. As the wind catches the crop, it looks like a ruffled green lake. Tilly and The Happy Moonraker often jog past and we keep an eye on how near it is to being harvested. Not for a few weeks yet, though.