Friday, February 29, 2008

What a carry on

I am starting to panic-hoard carrier bags. Even if I am just buying a pint of milk, yes, I'll have a bag with that, please. I feel like those shoppers who stuffed their trollies with bread during the fuel blockades (and I think we're due another one of those too). If I don't get them now, soon there will be none left.

I fear for the future of the carrier bag. It may be much maligned, but I need it. What else will I use to carry horse food to the stables, line bins and - vitally - empty smelly cat litter into? Much as I like the idea of lovely brown paper bags that biodegrade beautifully, I can't see them performing the same functions as well as my environmentally unfriendly plastic friends.

Admittedly, I hate to see bags ripped and flapping, trapped in fences on windy days. So does the Grey Mare. I abhor litter of any kind. But I fear losing the essentially free, reusable resource that is the supermarket carrier.

I am fed up with the constant demands to ban this and ban that. New rules and regulations are never about new opportunities. Each time, they are removing something or preventing you from doing yet another thing. I vote we put a ban on banning. Let's save the endangered carrier bag from extinction before it's too late.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stop, look and listen

I am officially fed up with pheasants.

I very nearly hit my second of the week tonight when he decided to step out in front of me, totally oblivious to the fact I was driving a ton of rusty metal and he was but a few pounds covered in puffed up look-at-me-girls feathers. He was very nearly a mangled, bloody and broken mess of gold, russet and green.

Admittedly, I had been momentarily distracted by the sight of my first spring lambs silhouetted in the twilight at the top of a hill. I braked - hard - closed my eyes and when I opened them he was gone. Off, no doubt, to seek a lady friend to impress with tales of his escape from the big blue monster with the blinding eyes.

The cock pheasant that stepped out in front of me in the Monday dawn wasn't so lucky. His body was tossed into the air, its trajectory momentarily interrupted by hitting my windscreen with a sickening thud. Instinctively, I closed my eyes again, convinced the glass was about to shatter. I cannot understand how hit-and-run drivers can claim they were not aware they had hit someone when crashing into a pheasant makes such a racket.

I hate running over pheasants but at this time of year, the lust-blinded boys pay little heed to cars. I think it's such a shame after they have survived the winter, the fox and the gun that they have such an ignoble end. If pheasants spent more time flying and less time strutting, I'm sure there would be far fewer fatalties.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Of frogs and friends

"There is frogspawn in the pond," said my mum today. "It's two days earlier than last year."

As I peered into the pool, I remembered that last year one of my first blog posts had been about fecund frogs in that said same pond. I checked back and realised I'd made my usual faux pas: I'd missed my poor blog's first birthday.

It shouldn't be surprised - I manage to do this with living entities as well as virtual ones. I always feel guilty when I do and people are always so nice about it. I wonder if inwardly, they are seething. I know I would be.

I wonder if my blog is too? Admittedly, I haven't been the greatest mother during the first year of its life. I almost commited infanticide during its first few weeks as I feared discovery. I then became overly-attentive and nurtured it at a pace I couldn't keep up. For a while, I neglected it completely as worrying about the Grey Mare devoured my available energy. I also neglected the friends I had made through it.

A year and a day on, I hope I'm starting to get the balance right.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

School holiday heaven

I love the school holidays. I'm not at school nor do I have children, but I love the fact my drive to work is quick, easy and uncluttered by yummy mummies (and daddies) taking their little darlings to school. Heaven forbid that they should have to catch the bus or even use their legs.

But hang on a moment, that's what I used to do. When I went to school in the village, I walked. When I progressed to high school in the town 12 miles away, I caught the bus with everyone else. People who lived in the town walked to school or caught the town service bus. I remember being shocked when I found out that people caught a bus to different parts of town, rather than walking.

Perhaps if children walked now, there wouldn't be the growing obesity problem among our young people that the the do-goers are forever bleating on about. Perhaps if they walked, I would zip through the outskirts of the city in the four minutes it took me today, rather than the 15-20 it can take on a normal day. Perhaps, if they walked, all those yummy mummies' BMWs and 4x4s would stop contributing to climate change. Has anyone else noticed how cold it's been this week when the kids are off school?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Let the train take the strain

My name is M&M and I am a public transport snob.

Today is not the first day that I have thought that trains are a better class of carrier than buses; it's more entrenched than that. Trains and railway stations are touched by romance; there is an air that you could be going absolutely anywhere and that anything could happen. Perhaps it's because I have watched Brief Encounter too many times, or perhaps it's because buses remind me of school.

As a teenager, I hated the 12-mile trip to school, espeically in the winter when I left in the dark and came home in the dark. I don't like the smell of buses and quite often, I don't like the smell of the people on the bus. When was a student, I travelled home for the Easter holidays on a National Express bus after recovering from a sickness bug. I ate a blue cheese sandwich and some cherries the night before; unfortunately, I was not as recovered as I had thought. I have never travelled by National Express since.

Buses do have some things going for them. As you crawl along at a speed slightly less than a slow walk, you can peer into people's windows and get a glimpse into their lives. Don't tell me you've never done it. However, the impotent road rage I experience sitting in a bus that's stuck in traffic is worse than when I'm behind the wheel of a car. I don't like feeling I'm not in control.

Note to self: get the Metro tomorrow at the Park and Ride.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A spring in the stride

It was the squashed frog that started it.

Still moist, it lay spreadeagled on the road where it had met its sticky end. I thought the frogs were all still hibernating, but it would seem not. Instead, they are awaking from their elongated winter sleep and sallying forth to seek sex, mind and body obeying instinct's instruction to find water and a mate. It probably never heard the car; I hope it didn't feel anything. I have a soft spot for frogs.

But it was the first signal I have seen this year that spring may not be so far around the corner. Every year, it seems impossible that the dark dampness will end, and every year I am amazed anew. But the light is gradually winning its battle and this weekend it crowed its superiority. Today, the sea was turquoise and the beach was packed.
Beyond, the castle was masked by a diaphanous veil. Only the greyish wash sullying the blue showed it was a February not a June sky and the beach people wore coats rather than T-shirts.

Riding the Grey Mare, I spotted snowdrops beneath a naked thorn bush. The Grey Mare too, is naked - afterwards, I turned her out without her rug so she could enjoy a couple of hours of sunshine on her back. Of course, the first thing she did was roll in the mud before sallying forth to see her boys.

Like the frog, she is currently being driven by instinct. It is her first season of the year and it would be fair to say she is quite the definition of a saucy mare, as she shakes her booty at the boys, then sniffs, snorts and arches her neck. Thank god none of them have any balls.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Crisis? What crisis?

I had big plans to be a better blogger this year. Following my ill-horse-induced hiatus, I started to pick up the threads in December, writing, visiting and generally settling back into the blogosphere. But it's already February and it's almost two weeks since I have blogged.

I blame Facebook. I joined in January, just to have a look. Initially, that's all I did. Then my sister joined and quickly became addicted. She badgered me about it and I started to play. Then I started to understand the attraction. Just like when I began blogging, almost a year ago, I discovered a new and - dare I say it - addictive world. Except Facebook wasn't a totally new world; it was peopled by lots of lost friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Suddenly, I was corresponding with people I hadn't seen in more than a decade and thinking about the fun I used to have; Friday afternoons in the pub that stretched into drunken evenings; sunny days when we sat, legs dangling out of first floor windows singing along with The Monkees; feeling filled with energy and enthusiasm.

Of course, it's inevitable I will compare that with how I feel now. Yes, I am quite content, but I am tired. I start to think - again - that I'm getting old. I look at the subject matter of my blogs so far this year and there is a slight theme emerging: worrying about my age. I still have a year and a half left in my thirties but I feel I am on the cusp betwixt young and old. I don't know how old you have to be for a mid-life crisis. Is it too early to buy a Harley Davidson?