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A change in the weather

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who was up in London to watch tennis at the O2 Arena. During a break in play, she ventured across the river on the Emirates cable car.

emirates air line

We could hear the rain pounding down overnight so it was no surprise to wake up to a dull and soggy day.  The heavy rain had eased off but there was a lot of drizzle in the morning.

This didn’t bother me too much as I was sat in the Welcome to Langholm office for two hours not welcoming any visitors at all.  This let me get completely caught up on my entries to the Archive Group’s  newspaper database so I regarded it as time well spent (though a visitor or two to welcome would have been welcome).

There was not much fun to be had in gardening or peering at bird feeders in the gloom so after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I braved a little light drizzle and went out on an expedition round Gaskell’s Walk.

I drew her attention to some exciting lichen just after we set out…

lichen

…but she was more interested in watching the overnight rain pouring over the caul at Pool Corner.

Pool corner

It must have rained a great deal last night.

I looked at larch trees which are gradually losing their needles but still offering a treat to the passer by.

larches at pool cornerlarches at pool corner

In a satisfactory way, they lose their needles from the bottom up and this seems to make them last longer as a visual delight than if they lost them from the top.

We are never short of moss round here.

moss on hedge and wall

The walk was a bit muddy underfoot when we got to the track but this was not a surprise when we saw how much water was coming down the Becks Burn to join the Wauchope.

Becks Burn

There is a little stream, usually no more than a trickle which runs under a bridge near the end of the track.

Gaskell's Bridge

It is very narrow above the bridge but has a deep and wide gully on the other side as it plunges down a steep bank.  Today we could see how it can have enough water on a wet day to carve such a deep trench.

It wasn’t a day for views at all…

Castle Hill in cloud

…but as it was about ten degrees warmer than yesterday, it wasn’t a bad day for a walk in November.

As we got near home, I saw some Hart’s Tongue fern looking very happy on a wall…

hart's tongue fern

…and a substantial outbreak of lichen on a tree stump which was striking enough to get Mrs Tootlepedal interested.

lichen

I took a picture from the Park Bridge to show the contrast between today and yesterday.

Yesterday was like this:

Wauchope in frost

And today was like this:

P1050521

No one can accuse our weather of being boring.

It was too dark to look at birds when I got home so I went inside to pick some pictures to show at our Camera Club meeting later in the evening but Mrs Tootlepedal braved the drizzle and got some useful gardening done.

It has either been frosty or soggy since she got back from the south so the refurbished tiller is still in its box.

My flute pupil Luke came and gave more evidence of practice so we managed to play through a tricky Quantz movement with only one or two hiccups.  Next week I am sure that we will roll through it triumphantly.

In the evening, I went to our camera club meeting and there was a good turnout of members and once again we got an excellent selection of photographs from the members.  There was much to enjoy in looking at the shots and a lot to learn from the subjects and the techniques used.

In the end, a potentially very gloomy and dull day turned out to have been both useful and enjoyable and I can’t ask for more than that.

On a side note, our friend Mike Tinker turned up for a cup of tea in the afternoon and he was happily much recovered from a serious cold which has laid him low for several days.   Although he is still far from skipping and dancing, it was good to see him out and about at least.

I did manage one suitably gloomy flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Crystal clear

Today’s guest picture is another from Mike Griffiths’ visit to Stratford-upon-Avon.  This is Cox’s Yard, once a timber merchant’s place of business and now a high class eatery.

Cox's Yard

We had plenty of sunshine here today but it had to struggle against the chill and on the whole, the chill won.

frosty lawn

It was sub zero C when we got up and it never got above 3 degrees all day.  Still, it made for pretty patterns in the garden.

frosty leaves

And as a bonus, it wasn’t icy underfoot so after Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to sing with the church choir and I had made a pasta sauce for the slow cooker, I went for a short walk.

There are still remnants of my cough lurking about to discomfort me just when I think that all is clear so my walk was short and easy.

It was just above freezing when I set out but only just…

boiler venting

…but where the sun had had an opportunity, it had melted the frost away.

Wauchope in frost

A beech tree at the entrance to the park still provides a bit of colour on a sunny morning…

P1050485

…but in the woods along the river bank, things are bleaker….

P1050489

….and the ice persisted.

P1050488

As soon as I could, I came out from under the trees and enjoyed the sunshine.

Stubholm stable

There is something irresistible about an ad hoc collection of sheds like this.

My walk was very short and I was soon back down among the ice crystals on the park wall.

park wall ice

I was even more impressed by the top of a fence post in the road just outside our house.

fence post ice

As we were going to Carlisle in the afternoon, I took our car out from the very cold and shady spot where it lives in our drive and parked it in a pool of sunshine on the road outside our gate.

It needed a chance to defrost a bit.

wing mirror

This was the wing mirror.

Once the car was parked, I had a moment to watch the birds.

The plum tree made a good vantage point for a goldfinch to check out the seed scene.

goldfinch in plum tree

Down below, birds were both coming and going….

busy feeder

…and going and coming.

busy feeder

I liked this picture which shows that landing on the perches is not quite as straightforward as the birds make it look.

chaffinches landing

And of course it is easy to miss your footing when greenfinches start shouting just as you are landing.

greenfinch shouting

There were more peaceful moments.

robin

dunnock

After lunch, we had to go into the choir a bit early as a journalist from the local Carlisle newspaper was writing a story about the choir’s fifth birthday and I had been asked to chat to him as a long serving member who had joined with no singing experience.

As they are hoping to recruit more men to sing with the choir, I hope that the remarks that I and another of the tenors made will be reported in a way that encourages others to come along and try.

The journalist stayed for the first half of the practice and was quite impressed so we await his article with interest.

Once again, we were worked very hard by our conductor but with the Christmas concert looming, quite a lot of homework is on the cards.

The slow cooked pasta sauce, basically mince and veg, went very well with some tagliatelle for our tea and as Mrs Tootlepedal made semolina pudding to follow it up, we were well insulated from any evening chill.

The weather is due to warm up for the next few days but it is going to bring wind and rain so we may soon be looking back on our frosty mornings with nostalgia.

If the prose in today’s post seems a little distrait, blame it on Mrs Tootlepedal.  She kindly cut my hair today so I am feeling a little light headed.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch trying to avoid the paparazzi.

flying chaffinch

Plan A

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who came upon this sprightly (spritely?) but rather unlikely fountain on one of her walks.  It makes me feel a bit nervous looking at it as it looks as though there is going to be a nasty crash in a moment.

fountain

We had another chilly day today with the temperature struggling to creep above 5° at best but once again it was dry and not very windy so there was nothing to complain about at all….except that I would have liked some better light for catching flying birds at work.

The morning was one of those that felt quite busy but in retrospect I can’t remember doing very much as I was probably operating in slow motion so that the simplest task took time.  I did make some potato soup with potatoes and onions from the garden.  The onions are nearly finished but there are still some potatoes to go so they have lasted well.

From time to time, I looked out of the window in the hope of seeing some interesting new visitors but things were very much as normal at the feeder.

goldfinch and chaffinch

A go9dfinch tucks in while a chaffinch keeps a wary eye out.

Pairs of chaffinches featured largely today.

chaffincheschaffincheschaffinches_DSC9019

The general motto was “Here’s looking at you.”

Some of the looks were sideways ones.

_DSC9011

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I girded up my loins with many layers and went out for a cycle ride.

I was a bit tentative as I hadn’t coughed all day and I didn’t want to set back my recovery by trying too hard but once I had got my legs warmed up and turning, I felt all right and managed a gentle 20 miles, mostly in the shelter of the valley bottom.

There were cloudscapes available….

cloudscape

…and traditional scenes….

Westwater

…capped by some glowing light on Meikleholm Hill just before I got home….

P1050476

…which caught a tree  on the other side of the road too…

P1050477

And the whole thing was finished off with a display of vapour trail and flying rooks when I got into the garden.

P1050478

There was no coughing after the ride so I feel that although my throat is still a little rough, the cold has finally given up and gone away.

Not the least satisfactory thing about the ride was that it brought up 4000 cycling miles for the year which was my plan A back in January.  With a few weeks still in hand, if the weather stays kind I may be able to reach the total for Plan B but I think the time off for my cold has scuppered any chance of Plan C.

Still, unlike the madder Brexiteers, I feel than any plan is better than no plan at all so I will be very happy with my 4000 miles even if it snows every day between now and Christmas and I can’t get back on my bike at all.

I had resolved not to watch the Scotland vs New Zealand rugby game on the telly as I thought that we were in for a hammering but in the end I succumbed to temptation and ended up watching a vastly entertaining match where we gave as good as we got or more.  We were only undone by making too many mistakes at vital moments, our besetting rugby sin.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see six singers do battle with the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook.   As is the fashion these days, they were vastly over amplified for our little theatre and this made their work rather less supple and sympathetic than the music deserved and at times we were being positively pummelled by the noise that they made.

Having said that though, the performers had plenty of pep and the songs have many really beautiful moments where the lyrics and melodies work together delightfully so it was an enjoyable evening.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches keeping a level head.

flying chaffinch

 

The Comeback Kid

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He lives in Derby and sent me this picture of Bonny Prince Charlie.  I asked him if the statue celebrated the Prince’s arrival or his departure from the city and he said it was probably both.

Bonnie prince Charlie

It was another frosty morning here but without being seriously cold and the goldfinches were early arrivals at the feeder.

Goldfinches

You can see the frost covered lawn in the background.

I had to go up to the Day Centre to collect a key for Mrs Tootlepedal’s embroidery group who have a meeting there tomorrow but I got home in good time to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone.

His golf game has been depressing him so much that he has been cycling this week instead of golfing.  I was quite envious.

However, my cough was much better today and I am very hopeful of getting back to regular cycling myself in the near future.

After coffee, I had to wait in for a parcel so I spent some time looking out of the kitchen window in between doing the crossword and some tidying up against the return of Mrs Tootlepedal from the south.

A collared dove was taking life very seriously.

collared dove

There were a lot of blackbirds about but by the nature of their colouring, they don’t show themselves off to the camera very well on a dull day so I got a lot of fuzzy blackbird pictures.  This was my best effort.

blackbird

The goldfinches were pushed off the feeder by greenfinches later in the morning.

Greenfinch

In our garden feeder world, what a greenfinch wants, a greenfinch gets as there are no other birds that can shift them if they don’t want to be shifted…..

…except perhaps a starling.

starling

starling

I really like the heart motifs on the starlings’ breast.  It makes them look as though they are wearing Christmas jumpers that their grannies knitted for them.

At one point,  I moved the camera to the open back door and got a different background to the feeder shots but there was not much of interest, just the usual chaffinches…

chaffinches

…and a blue tit.

The parcel arrived just after lunch.  It was the refurbished tiller that Mrs Tootlepedal had sent away for servicing as she wants to use it in her winter reshaping of the middle lawn.

As a witty reader has pointed out, she may need renaming as A-tiller the Gardener when she is using it.

I was hoping for a walk when the parcel had been delivered but it started to drizzle and looked so grey that I only went as far as the river to collect a bucket of sand for Mrs Tootlepedal’s path and then I retreated back indoors and looked out of the window instead.

robin

After a while, it had got so gloomy outside that I lit a fire in the front room and wasted a lot of time on the computer.

I was disturbed by a huge racket outside the window and went out to see a large flock of rooks shouting and screaming about something.  I didn’t have the right lens on the camera for whole flock shots….

rooks

…but it was quite spectacular and noisy while it lasted.

Somehow, the afternoon contrived to slip away without me making much of a dent on it and after tea, I went down to Carlisle to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the London train.

She has had a pleasant time in the south, visiting her mother who is 101.  While she was there, our daughter Annabel came out for a visit.  It was her birthday and they had a celebratory meal with Granny and Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother and his wife who share a house with Granny.  Her sister-in-law’s fish pie was delicious.

I was very pleased to have Mrs Tootlepedal at home again  as life is much duller when she is away.

The flying bird of the day is a back door chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

On the trail

Today’s guest picture shows the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford upon Avon.  It was kindly sent to me by Mike Griffiths, author of the Wilden Marsh blog which is always an interesting read.  He is a first class photographer.

stratford theatre

It was a dry morning again.  Recently the weather gods have taken to raining in the night and leaving the days dry.  This is very welcome.  It was extra welcome today as I had to take the car to the garage first thing in the morning to get its winter tyres put on and then walk home.

After a light breakfast, I had to walk up to the town again to sit for a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office where I was filling in for an absentee welcomer.

There was not a lot of welcoming to do so I was able to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database which I regarded as time well spent.

I picked up the car from the garage, complete with its winter tyres, and drove home in sunshine.  It was such a nice day that I rang Sandy up to see if he would like a walk after lunch. He was keen so we arranged a time and almost immediately, it began to rain.  It was only teasing though and it soon stopped and the sun came out again.

We decided to visit Rowanburn and walk to the viaduct that links Scotland and England, the route we had planned to follow last Saturday when we were foiled by the road works.

There was no let or hindrance today and we parked in the middle of the village…

Rowanburn

…just beside a tribute to its past existence as a home for coal miners and a coal mine.

We set off down the path to the old railway line from Langholm to England, passing through a coal and timber yard which looks as though it has more demand for timber than coal these days.

Rowanburn timber

Although the timber may look a bit dull, it turned out to be a treasure trove of fungi.

Every tree trunk seemed to have its own crop.

Rowanburn timber fungi

And I mean, every tree trunk.

Rowanburn timber fungi

This was my favourite.

Rowanburn timber fungi

The sun wasn’t out when we started the walk and everything is still wet after a soggy autumn so these cows with their feet in the mud summed up the situation rather well.

Rowanburn cows

It is enough to make a cow thoughtful.

Rowanburn cows

We walked on, along the disused railway bed…

Rowanburn railway track

…and entered the woods.  We thought that we would be in the woods until we reached the viaduct….

Rowanburn railway track

…but great tree felling has gone on and most of the track is now in the open.  This was made more welcome by the reappearance of the sun…

Rowanburn railway track

…and we enjoyed good views up the Liddle Water valley over the felled area…

Liddesdale

…until we came to the viaduct.

Liddesdale viaduct

It has a big new fence across it to stop me and Sandy walking on to it.  I could just poke the Lumix lens through a gap in the wires.

That is England on the far side of the bridge.

I was quite pleased not to be allowed to walk on the viaduct because it is a lofty structure as we could see from below when we had scrambled down a bank onto the road…

Liddle viaduct bridge

…and splodged through some very muddy fields to the waterside until we found a place where we could look back up at the viaduct.

viaduct

It is a rather frustrating structure to try to do justice to with a camera.  It is impossible to get a position where all the arches can be seen at once and its curved construction is very tricky to capture.

The skill of the men who designed and built it is manifest when you look up at the arches.

viaduct

The trackbed crosses the supporting pillars at an angle and on a curve and all this was done with a bit of string and a piece of chalk (and a lot of sound mathematics) and not a computer in sight.  My respect for engineers is unbounded.

I walked down the river a bit to try to get a better shot of just some of its many arches.

liddle viaduct

I enjoyed the peaceful water above the bridge too.

liddle water

Sandy didn’t fancy the splodge back through the muddy field so he clambered up a very steep path to the end of the viaduct but I took the longer way round and met him on the track.

We walked back to the car with one eye on a rainy looking cloud and got there just as a light rain started to fall.

We had stopped to looked at a few things on the way back…

fungus and hips

..so we were very pleased with our timing.

We went back to Langholm and Sandy entertained me to tea and a chocolate biscuit or two before I headed home.

It was too dark to do anything other than go in and look at the pictures that I had taken on the walk and practise a song which I have to re-learn by heart  for our Christmas concert with the Carlisle choir.

Generally speaking, my cough was much improved today and I really am quite optimistic that I may have seen the last of it soon.

In the evening, Susan arrived and she drove us to Carlisle for the monthly meeting of our recorder group.

Because I had got the winter tyres on the car, I was expecting a long spell of warm and dry weather but it was near freezing as we drove back so maybe the winter tyres will come in handy.

The recorder playing was most enjoyable as was the cup of tea and chocolate biscuits that followed it.  Two cups of tea with chocolate biscuits in the same day is a very good thing.

I didn’t have much time to look out of the kitchen window today so the flying bird of the day is a non standard one….but quite striking all the same.

flying chaffinch

Sandy has produced a record of our walk with some very nice pictures on it.  You can see it here if you would like.

 

Another worthwhile whim.

The guest picture of the day comes from my neighbour Liz.  She has been on holiday in Spain but must have strayed into Portugal because she tells me that these are Portuguese fishermen mending their nets.

net mending

It was rather chilly and the cloud was clamped on the hills when I got up.  It was nearly windless so I thought very hard about going for a cycle ride and had to weigh up the damp, cold conditions against the lack of wind.  My cough has not disappeared.  At one stage, I got into quite a heated argument with myself but in the end, sense prevailed and I invited Sandy round for a cup of coffee instead.

After coffee, I checked on the garden birds….

chaffinch

…and then I went out for a short walk with the hope of finding some misty shots involving bare trees for dramatic effect.  I found a dipper, a dripping conifer and some birch leaves….

dipper

…but no dramatic misty treescapes.

However, there was some curiously striped mist about…

misty view

…and a hint of a hilltop above the mist…

misty view

…and this was enough to suggest that a drive up to the White Yett might provide a shot worth taking or two and so, on a whim and a prayer, off I went.

Things looked promising as I went up the hill…

windmills in mist

…and more promising the higher I went…

mist from Whita

…higher and higher…

P1050358

And the promise was fulfilled when I got to the car park.

mist from Whita

I don’t think I have seen mist in such well defined streams before.

mist from Whita

I decided that a walk up to the monument was called for and as I went up, I kept snapping.

Timpen hill was like an island in an icy sea.

 

mist from Whita

The mist was filling the col between Timpen and the windmills on Craig and Ewe Hill

P1050378

On the other side of the town, the mist had smothered the Wauchope valley and I was very glad that I had decided not to cycle there earlier in the day.  It would have been dark and damp.

mist from Whita

The stripes of mist were most unusual and thanks to the cool and very still day, they stayed where they were for long enough for me to enjoy them thoroughly.mist from Whita

Once at the top of the hill, I expected to see the Solway plain full of mist too but it was pretty clear so that I could see the Gretna wind farm on this side of the firth  and the Lake District Hills on the far side. ..

Solway Firth

…but as you can see, they had some low level mist on the English shore too.

I could have sat up there for some time but I had an afternoon appointment so I reluctantly came back down to the car, taking a shot or two on the way of course…

windmills and mist

…including a panorama to try to give an impression of how neatly the mist was wrapped round the hills.  You can click on the panorama for a closer look.

mist panorama

As I came down, I saw two things of interest.  The first was a bird perched on a snow pole.  When I looked at the picture for the first time, I thought that it was only a stray chaffinch but a closer look tells me that it is something else.

bird on pole

(Helpful readers have told me that it is a stonechat,  I am grateful to them.)

The other interesting sight was Sandy.  I had sent him a  text to say that there was interesting mist and he had come up for a look for himself.

I didn’t have time to stay and chat as that afternoon appointment was looming up and I needed to have lunch before I went.

I combined lunch with staring out of the window.

There was the usual charm offensive…

blue tit and robin

….and an offensive charm too (goldfinch flocks are called charms)…

goldfinch and siskin

…but the siskins can more than hold their own when it comes to being offensive.

siskin and goldfinch

I couldn’t stay for long as I had to drive over to Powfoot on the Scottish side of the Solway shore to visit my physiotherapist.

The local health authorities have made it almost impossible to see an NHS physio so it was lucky that I know and have used the services of an excellent private physio, even though it costs me money.

A few weeks ago, I injured my left bicep by reaching gently behind me to pick something off a shelf and in the process, damaged my long head tendon.  Two visits to the doctor hadn’t provided me with either much information or a referral to an NHS physio so I was in search of good advice and, if possible, a miracle cure.

I purposely arrived in enough time to go down to the Solway shore.

The tide was out, there was no wind and the scene was eerily quiet.

solway and lake district

I don’t think that I have ever been able to see the reflections of the Anthorn radio masts in the sea before and may well never see them again.

Anthorn

It was hard to choose whether the views from the hill or the shore were better but it was a great privilege to have been able to see them both in one day.

I went to my appointment and discovered that the tendon was irreparably burst and wasn’t going to miraculously join up again so that my bicep would never recover its natural good looks.  This dashed my hopes of appearing in the Mr Universe competition.

On the up side, it turns out that as there are other tendons about, the  loss of one is not a disaster and I should, with care and attention, not do any further damage and be able to gradually improve the situation with judicious light exercise.

As the physio then eased my arthritic shoulder and freed up my neck so that I can actually turn my head now, I considered it money well spent and drove back very cheerfully.

I might have stopped on the way and waved at the starlings at Gretna but I hadn’t brought the right lens with me so I went straight home.

In the evening, I went out to the Langholm Sings choir practice and got shouted at by the pianist.  Deservedly.   But I was tired and my cough hasn’t gone away so I felt a bit hard done by.

I did get a flying goldfinch of the day before I went to Powfoot.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circuit training

After my plea for some guest pictures, there has been a lavish response so thank you to all who contributed.  This one is from Jenni Smith, who during a short holiday walked along the coast from Stonehaven to visit the spectacular Dunnottar Castle.

Dunottar Castle

After our recent cool mornings, it was good to get up to a warmer day today with no frost to be seen.

I was feeling pretty perky, all things considered and after breakfast, I had a few of those adventures that the mice have while the cat is away (Mrs Tootlepedal is visiting her mother).  I emptied the dishwasher, tidied up the kitchen and put a load of washing in the washing machine and had the place looking quite neat by the time that Dropscone came round for coffee.

I did mix in some of the usual routine with all the fun.

There were at least three robins in the garden this morning.

reobin

A siskin looked rather alarmed by the prospect of featuring on the blog.

siskin

A chaffinch basked in one of the sunny moments.  I thought it might have an eye injury when I looked closely at the picture…

chaffinch in plum tree eye shut

…but a second picture taken a moment later showed that it was just shutting its eyes and stretching.

chaffinch in plum tree eye open

Regular blue tits were in evidence again.

blue tit

And the goldfinches paid a visit much to the alarm of the siskin who cleared out at speed.

goldfinches

Dropscone brought some of his excellent scones with him and I opened a new packet of coffee beans to grind so we had a high quality ‘sip and scone’ session.

He has been having some very annoying computer problems lately so once again I am keeping my fingers crossed that I avoid any such difficulty.

After he left, I had another look out of the window….

greenfinch in plum tree

…and seeing a greenfinch enjoying the sunshine, I thought that I could have a bit of that too so I had a quick snack and got my cycling clothes on.

At 50°C it was likely to be pretty kind on my chest so I embarked on a 27 mile circular tour, hoping to do some basking in the sun myself.  Sadly, although a little sunshine caught some larches along the Wauchope road soon after I set out….

larches

….it didn’t last and once again, I suffered from seeing some distant sun as I went along….

View from callister

…but didn’t get much myself.

The prevailing mood was brown…

View of ewes wind farm

…but as the windmills were going round very slowly, I didn’t mind too much.

At this time of the year, with the sun struggling to get up into the sky, cycling views are very binary with a bit of colour to one side of the road, as in the scene above, and none on the other side as in the picture below which was shot in full colour mode.

trees

As you can see, there was a bit of threatening cloud about but it sportingly held off until the last few yards of my trip.

I did all the small amount of climbing in the first 12 miles of the trip and after passing this colourfully roofed barn at Kennedy’s Corner…

Kennedy's Corner

…it was mostly downhill and downwind all the way home.

I stopped to take a picture that combined a ruin and a bare tree,  double pleasure for me….

Ruin near Chapelknowe

…and it was just as well that I wasn’t going fast because I had to stop again a moment or two later to let a rush of traffic past.

tractor with hay

The road was unusually busy today.  I don’t normally meet anything on this section.

I had two more larch moments to record on the way.  One at the start of the new Auchenrivock road…

Hagg on Esk

…and one at the far end.

Auchenrivock larches

I really wish that the sun had been out when I stopped here as it is my favourite place for colour at this time of year on a sunny day.

Thanks to the gentle wind and the relative warmth, I managed a respectable 13.5 mph for the trip without having to breathe too hard and got off the bike feeling well enough to spend some time giving it a good clean and lubrication before I put it away.

I am still coughing from time to time but I really feel that the end is in sight at last.

While I was cleaning the bike, I enjoyed a bit of late colour against the house wall.

cotoneaster

At this time of the year, the hours between three and five o’clock in the afternoon are a rather dead time, not time for evening indoor entertainments but too dark unless the day is very fine, to do much walking or snapping outside.  It is my intention to try to make use of this time to do something useful rather than sit around grumpily waiting for spring so today I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  This was a momentous occasion as it started off another year, 1897.  (We began with the first edition in 1848 so we have come a long way.)

Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say that all was well in the south so it has turned out to be a good day all round.

The flying bird of the day is an imperious looking chaffinch.

flying chaffinch