Working – and cycling – against a head wind

First, some thoughts on summer cycling, then I promise I’ll get to the point.

1. Have I finally managed to pick all the greenfly out of my hair or are there more lurking?  (Where do they all come from?)

2. Why do cycle helmets always leave an unslightly red mark on one’s forehead?

3. How do other people manage to look poised and relaxed during and after cycling, rather than pink, blotchy and covered in greenfly?

And finally, 4. Why is it that, at the very moment when you stop on a tiny, traffic-free lane to pick a particularly persistent insect out of your cleavage, a 4×4 appears from nowhere, giving the driver a close-up view of you furtively rummaging?

Actually, that wasn’t my final question.

5. Why, when I thought I’d run out of greenfly references, do I find yet another insect crawling around inside my clothes???

I said I’d get to the point.  The point is this: some days you just have to give up working for a while.  Those are the days when you find yourself staring at the screen having not typed anything for what seems like hours.  The days when even making your 43rd cup of tea is too much effort.  The days when sitting in your chair trying to work is like struggling against a head wind.

Of course, the thing to do on those days is to get out on your bike and fight against a real head wind.

Actually, that wasn’t really my intention.  My intention was to get some exercise and hopefully wake my sluggish brain into action, maybe even finding a bit of enthusiasm for the work I was supposed to be doing.  I hadn’t reckoned on the summer breeze.  What actually happened was that pedalling along felt a lot like sitting at my desk (only sweatier)  because I still seemed to be expending a lot of energy going nowhere fast.

Even so, getting outside and expending energy one way or another is generally the solution on days like this.  Despite the head wind, today’s bike ride brought all kinds of benefits:

1. The sight of a kestrel hovering overhead.

2. Beautiful pink orchids on the road verge.  (No, I can’t tell you what kind.  For once I’d got up some speed and wasn’t stopping!)

3. The feeling of being alive that only comes outdoors.

4. A slightly clearer brain that managed to concoct a blog post, if not the charity fundraising strategy I was supposed to be writing.

So, if today the sun is calling you outside, or you can’t stand to keep plugging away at your desk, give in and go outside.  If you need permission, I’ll give you mine.


The beauty of change

I wish I could show you the beauty of this autumn garden.  A photo – especially one taken by me – just couldn’t begin to capture it.  Early this morning it was a dewy, misty corner shrouded in dripping cobwebs.  It was chilly and damp.

Now, as I hang the washing on the line, there is a golden haze all around and the glowing sun on my back is positively hot.  It highlights the glossy green of the chard and spinach in the vegetable patch, shines through the wings of the cabbage white butterflies marauding around the broccoli plants, and shows off the dusky grey-green of the leeks, making the chore of laundry management a positive pleasure.  It lures me into bringing the laptop outside to enjoy a late garden office day.  The sun is lower in the sky than it was a few weeks ago and I position myself carefully to avoid it getting in my eyes.

Change can be beautiful.  In ten minutes, one after the other, I experience intense heat, cool dampness as fat white clouds cover the sun, a sudden inexplicable breeze and a grey buildup in the eastern sky which threatens rain – followed by glorious sunshine once more.  In the vibrant radiance of this changing season I don’t miss for a second the sameness of summer, even as I chase my papers, which are skipping around the garden on the breeze for the second time.

A summer pause

August, like mischievous child, is calling me.

“Come outside and play!” he squeals.

“Look,” he whispers, “September is hiding in the bushes.  Sshhhh… Let’s run away.” And he darts around the corner, giggling and making aeroplane noises.

And, because his delight is infectious, I follow, and we dance in the sunshine.

You’ll excuse me, I hope, if the next couple of weeks are a little quiet on the blogging front.  The boy, the husband and I will be outside, making the most of August.

September?  She’ll wait patiently, like the kindly schoolmistress she is.  She has a lot to teach us, and, believe me, she has many, many things for me to d0, but for now she’s content to watch the children playing.

Come September, posts will be coming to you as regular as clockwork, themed and carefully crafted.  Because September is always a turning point.  But for now, with leaves in our hair, sand in our shoes and ice lollies in our hands, let’s take a summer pause…