Season’s Greetings

Wishing all my readers a happy holidays and I hope you’re looking forward to a fun and productive new year in 2019!

Topics in this post:

  • Christmas Eve cycling and red squirrel sighting
  • Santa got me…
  • Puzzles and Addiction
  • Bothersome Boxing Day
  • 3 Geese a Hooting
  • 7 Years Blogging

I’ve actually given myself some much needed time off work. Being self-employed and finding it hard to turn/let people down generally makes this quite difficult; I’ve had to ignore a few phone messages and explain to others that I’m not available for work until the new year. “Time out from dealing with other people’s problems.” I’ve felt like I’ve worked my socks off this year and the pay at the end of it doesn’t really give me the justification for putting it all first. A few weeks of riding my bike because I want to is a little bit strange since I’m so used to being paid to be places! I’m still chasing down those last few hundred miles!

Christmas Eve cycling and red squirrel sighting

I spent Christmas Day with family, which meant children, and too much food in my belly; but that morning I had run my obligatory 5 miles and shortly thereafter went for a 35+ mile ride on my bike. I’d done the same route the day before, but the other way round – I like the way one route like that can turn into two different ones. The first one was blessed with a rare sighting of a red squirrel, and later a close encounter of a vehicular kind (just someone that managed to brush their car past me at ~40mph), neither of which I caught on camera because I’d left it at home to recover from a depleted battery (this is often typical of not having my camera recording).

I thought there were only a few certain areas where the red squirrels reside, namely those designated with and signed as a “Red Squirrel Woodland”, such as Newborough Forest. But travelling along a main road that passes through a small patch of trees I cause sight of the distinctive red fluffy tail of a Sciurus vulgaris, aka red squirrel, and yes I had to look that up.

Upon looking up red squirrels on Anglesey I’ve learned that sightings of them are far more widespread than the road signs would suggest. It turns out…

Anglesey is now known globally as a red squirrel haven and many tourists come from far and wide to catch a glimpse of these cheeky gingers. Anglesey has been a red squirrel stronghold since grey squirrels were removed from the island. Over the last 21 years the population of reds has gone from strength to strength, from an all time low of 40 individuals to a high of nearly 800 today. – www.redsquirrels.info/ynys-mon-arwydd-ffordd

Back to the Christmas Lunch and I’d done my usual and made some mince pies – a British delicacy for the festive season. This year’s ones were exceedingly good, my best yet (others can vouch for this!)

The final mince pie I assembled (out of 16), using up the last of the pastry and mincemeat… it was the best one!

The pastry had been perfected through a combination of refrigerating it for a day before rolling it out, and I employed the technique of rolling it out and folding it over with flour sprinkled on numerous times – this gave the pastry its texture and layers – two things I hadn’t done before. The mincemeat I bought ready made but added some extra brandy to it. In previous years I have added extra chopped up apple and satsumas/tangerines. In all, Yummy.

Prior to the mince pies I had also created a Christmas card this year featuring my cat:

Santa got me…

Santa brought me a horn for my bike, so I got to test that out today (my sister passed me in her car and beeped, so I got to honk back – I’m not sure if she heard it though – I missed that on camera also). Choosing how and where exactly I’m to fit this thing to my bike is, as expected, going to be tricky; I thought about getting one myself but I wasn’t convinced by the “fits most bikes” claim, since pictures revealed a very skimpy mounting bracket. My handlebars have become somewhat cluttered this year with the necessary speedometer, reflector bracket, bell and space for a front light having to make room for my camera, somewhere to strap the camera’s extra battery pack, and now a horn.

My handlebars without the added bumbag/battery pack.

I could ride with no hands, but where my hands go is a wider diameter than the rest so isn’t suitable for mounting anything other than hands.

I currently store my battery pack in a bumbag (or fanny pack to you weird Americans!) strapped to the handlebars which is a somewhat nuisance to strap on and remove every time. When I arrive somewhere where I need to remove such things as lights, camera and battery pack, for security, it is quite time consuming.

I have since discovered such things as ‘Minoura Bars’ or light bars, and other such contraptions; just what I was imagining having to fashion together myself. I would like one that has a quick-release mechanism whereby I can strap the camera and somehow the battery to that and then just clip it all on.

www.amazon.co.uk

Puzzles and Addiction

In addiction addition (I honestly mistyped that) to the horn, Santa also blessed me with a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. I recently completed a 500-piece one that I received for my birthday earlier this month. I learned in the process how addictive finding pieces of a puzzle can be when I blitzed my way through this one in 4 days; it had a lot of annoyingly-similar trees and sky too. The last time I attempted a jigsaw of any considerable size was many years ago and that one I never finished; I lost interest in it and after so much time had passed I was convinced I’d lost some of the pieces, so I binned it. This one I knew I’d have to crack on and do it to avoid the same fate (this is how I am with things that drag on). There was one particular day with this recent jigsaw when I was due to go out but having some 20-minutes-or-so spare I decided to do some more of the puzzle, only to then struggle to tear myself away from it. “Just one more piece!” I kept telling myself… “I’ll just find that piece there…”

I’ve experienced a similar sensation with other things from staring at a computer screen for hours to eating biscuits/cookies. It’s like my brain is stuck in a loop.

The jigsaw was, I thought, a similar sensation to when I’m pondering some world event, such as something I might blog about, and go in search of further information and details for that (with the attention of forming some sort of conclusion). Before I know it I’m tumbling down a rabbit hole of information and hyperlinks and hours have passed by. It is curious to me how the human mind somehow craves this understanding, or seeks “completeness” – I noticed it when my niece was playing with her tablet and was required to fill in a form for something she didn’t actually want: the prompt to fill in the form got her into the mindset of “I must fill in this form” when to do so was of no benefit to her. The human brain seems to desire to gain understanding and figure something out, to find logic in something, even when there is none, like the random outcome of a game in that world we call gambling or the way a partner, ex, or stalker might become addicted to finding an answer to their distrust, or whatever it is, in their obsessed infatuation. It also seems prevalent in hobbies such as train and plane spotting, or anything where collecting things is concerned.

Anyway, the giver of this last jigsaw remarked “since you enjoyed the other one so much…” as they deemed to be the case. I just I cried “oh no, not another jigsaw!” and feigned a sob for comedic effect. I’ll leave off starting this new one though until I’ve recovered from the time spent doing the other one, and found somewhere/some-way to display it.

Bothersome Boxing Day

Today, the day after Christmas Day, in the UK is Boxing Day, so I ventured out to what I was hoping to be the “Boxing Day Sales”, but the offerings on offer at the shop I was hoping to obtain at least a pair of jeans from and a suitable shirt from, were pretty poor; I did see a shirt I liked, but it wasn’t practical, and a t-shirt, and a suitable long-sleeved t-shirt, but I decided I didn’t need any more of those, so left empty-handed. Perhaps the January Sales will prove to be better.

Then round the corner to do some grocery shopping and upon proceeding to park my bike at the bike locking area the trolley-guy shouted to me (from 50 yards away near the entrance) that I ‘should’ put my bike there. I was confused by this. Where precisely did he mean? And why not at the designated bike parking area? I could see no reason; I looked around wondering if work was being carried out there. I walked to the entrance with my bike, still confused, only to then catch sight and sound of people banging on the supermarket’s cafe window beside me. I turned to find my nieces in there with my sister; what a disturbance they must have caused to other people in the cafe banging like that to catch my attention! I was embarrassed. First having the trolley-guy call to me (who had now disappeared) and no this. I didn’t know where he meant me to park my bike so I found a blank patch of wall with something to string my lock to and proceeded to do my shopping.

Back out of the shop I met with another familiar face in the form of an eccentric guy, who upon recognising me began speaking loudly and excitedly to me, again, much to my embarrassment; there was a guy at the cash-machine nearby who I noticed turning to us to observe the goings on.

Finally back out on the road I had time to recover, recover from the house full of people yesterday, children and dogs, and today with people shouting at me and making a noise to catch my attention and speaking loudly to me. While it is nice to be around others, especially during the holiday season, since I live only with a cat, I can only tolerate this in small doses!

3 Geese a Hooting

One sight I do like to see, whilst also finding it sad, is a house I pass with geeses in the yard. Geese make me smile, the noise they make is amusing to me, as is the stance they have when they are on the ground and hooting like this. The sad thing though began last year. You see, up until Christmas last year I had come to realise there were five gooses in the yard. Then after Christmas I counted only 4… I guessed that Christmas Day lunch had something to do with it. Then when I passed by today… the count is down to three 😦

It’s observations like these that make me want to stop eating meat.

7 Years Blogging

In other news, WordPress has informed me I have been blogging with them for 7 years. Yay me and thank you for being along for the ride!

 

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