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Cleaning up

Today’s guest post comes from our son Alistair.  He found a welcome visitor in his garden and took this splendid picture of it.

alistair's bee

We had two unusual things to contend with when we got up.  It had rained overnight and there was a greenfinch and a goldfinch on the feeder.

greenfinch and goldfinch

I was able to cope quite well though, as it had hardly rained at all, just enough to wet the ground, and the birds didn’t stay long on the feeder either.

It was cool and very windy so although a poppy looked as though it wanted to open up…

nearly tulip

…it looked exactly the same at the end of the day.

We had occasional little bursts of sunshine and the hellebores looked up expectantly to get the benefit of the warmth while they could.

hellebore looking up

The little primroses liked the sun too…

cheery primroses

…but living near to the soil as they do, they find things that like them, and they tend to get a bit chewed up.

two eaten primroses

A potential pulsatilla had retained a drop or two of rain among its furry foliage.

early pulsatilla

The main gardening business of the morning was more work on the tidying up of the paving stones around the woodshed.

cleared paving stones

It will be interesting to see how long we can keep the grass at bay once life gets back to normal.  But it looks neat just now.

Contact with our distant families is virtual so I downloaded a handy app called Zoom on to my phone and we had a chat with Annie, Joe and and our granddaughter Evie through this medium during the morning.  This stuff is very clever.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a WhatsApp conversation with our son Tony too.

It should have been a bicycling day but at 30 to 35 mph the wind was too strong for me to enjoy a pedal so I went for a walk after lunch.

In site of the chilly wind, a little sunshine at the start of the walk made things seem quite springlike….

first leaves

…and I enjoyed the views and the fresh larch trees as I walked along the track towards the Becks Burn.

becks track panel

I had a look at the little waterfall above the bridge when I got there, but the lack of recent rain has reduced it to a trickle.

becks burn cascade trickle

As a consolation, a very pretty primrose was growing in a crack between moss covered rocks beside the stream.

primroses becks burn

I crossed the bridge over the Becks Burn and as I walked down the road on the other side, I looked across the valley and decided it was nice enough to walk up to the track that climbs the lower slopes of Warbla.

track up wabla from hallcrofts

I don’t take the road from the bottom but go down to the left, cross the Auld Stane Brig and walk up the grassy slope beside that line of trees and join the road half way up.

One of the trees had some colourful fungus on a branch.

warbla fungus

The sky had clouded over by the time that I had got to the track and the sun was wasting its bounty on hills three miles away.

veiw from warbla far sun

As I walked down the track towards the town, the wind got up, the temperature dropped and a few drops of rain made me fear the worst so I dived into the Kernigal woods for some cover.  I kept my head down and enjoyed a lichen covered tree stump and a mossy bank…

kernigal moss and lichen

…but when I lifted my head, I found that the clouds had cleared and the sun was out again.

kernigal wood view

One benefit of a brisk wind is that it brings quick changes to the weather.

I had met my friend Ada at the start of yesterday’s walk and she told me that if I looked very carefully when I came down the path from the wood, I might just see the first bluebell of the year.

I looked very carefully and, hey presto, there it was.

first bluebell

It is miles ahead of any other bluebell as the other plants are not even showing flower stalks yet.  Some knowledgeable person will probably tell me that it is not a bluebell at all but if it is, it is remarkably early.

I had a look at the park wall when I got there, and a casual glance might make you believe that there was nothing very interesting there….

park wall

…but put your nose closer and peer hard and there, right in the middle of the picture above, are delights to be found.

soldier lichen

After I got home, I used Zoom to chat with my brother Andrew and my sister Susan.  It is very smart to be able to see all three of us on the screen of my phone at the same time but it is tricky to get used to the fact that only one person can speak at the one time.

Later on we enjoyed a WhatsApp chat with Alistair, Clare and our other granddaughter Matilda.  They were in good form.  By the end of the day we had done a lot of family catching up.  It will still be better when we can see our grandchildren in person though.

In the evening, we were able to watch a streaming of a very amusing play from the National Theatre archives for free, a kind gesture to help people put up with the boredom of having to stay in fro night after night.  It was definitely preferable to watching never ending news bulletins of the spread of the pandemic.

The non-flying bird of the day is a jackdaw.  Fed up with pecking the lawn, it was pecking the plum tree instead.

jackdaw

Up the wall

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  Photo opportunities are scarce in lockdown London but she captured this squirrel with her phone on her short local walk today.

mary's squirrel

It was another chilly and mostly grey day here but once again it was dry and the rain gauge has been stubbornly recording no inches of rain for what seems like weeks now.

I went to the shop to top up on essential supplies and on the way out, I admired the fine show of daffodils along the dam at the back of the house…

daffs by dam

…and on the way back, I saluted the waterside birds standing loyally at their posts.

osyter catchers and gull esk

When I got in, I had a second go at making ginger biscuits, and thanks to taking a great deal of care with the weighing and measuring, they came out pretty well this time.

genuine ginger biscuits

The moral seems to be, don’t bang yourself on the nose with a short plank when you are going to cook biscuits.  Wise words indeed.

The continuing cool weather has left the garden in a state of suspension and the appearance of a tiny Brunnera flower was the only novelty today.

brunnera

Mrs Tootlepedal is continuing to tidy things up, and with some help from me paving stones were revealed that probably haven’t seen the light of day since Mary Queen of Scots was on the throne.

paving revealed

Actually that last comment may have been a pardonable literary exaggeration because in real life, the grass grows so quickly that the paving stones get covered up in a remarkably small number of years.

We had a meat and lentil soup for lunch, made with the gravy from last night’s brisket dish, and it made a tasty change from our usual vegetable soups.

Fortified by the soup, I went out for my permitted walk.

With the permission of the minor deities in charge of old people having fun, I set out to do the walk that hail and strong winds had persuaded me not to do the other day.

On my way, I passed a sparrow singing strongly on a bush beside the Kirk Brig….

house sparrow kirk birg

…and I was lucky to spot a pied wagtail standing uncharacteristically still on a rock at the Kilngreen.

pied wagtail

I followed the old road north.  It is shown on the map of 1864 so many people must have walked along this track before me.

baggra

Now there is a handy gate at the end of it to let ramblers like me into the field that leads back down to the Ewes Water.

walk eight gate

I crossed the High Mill Bridge and followed the east bank of the Ewes Water.  It hasn’t been a good year for catkins yet, but there were plenty on this particular tree as I passed.

catkins by ewes water

I got as far as the old bridge at the Target Burn.  I didn’t cross the bridge when I came to it….

ewes water bridge

…but turned away from the river and headed up through the wood, leaping across the raging burn when the path came to it, and heading on to the open hill across a stile.

walk eight taget burn

I was very happy to see fresh shoots on the larch trees as I went through the wood.

new larch

Once out on the hill, I could enjoy the views.

view from walk eight

There was a slight dip as I went along a well used track before I followed the wall which you can see going up the hill in the background of the picture.

walk eight dip

The walk along the wall is across rough ground, with no clear track and plenty of moss…

moss on walk eight

…and even on a dry day before the grass and bracken have started growing, I was happy to pause when I got near the top to draw breath and feel some modest pride in getting up the steep climb.

walk eight wall

The wall is exceedingly straight and must have been built by a man with a good eye for a straight line or perhaps the owner of a very large ball of string.

As well as keeping me on the right line, the wall was playing host to some handsome but tiny lichen.

lichen on walk 8 walkk

I was following the route of Walk 8 in the Langholm Walks booklet and to complete the route when I got to the road at the top of the wall, I should have continued upwards to the monument.  I could have got to the monument but the direct route down the face of the hill is too taxing for my knees these days so I headed back down by the road.

Taking time out to admire the view up the valley.

view up ewes from whita

I didn’t go right down the road but followed the line of pylons across the lower slopes of Whita Hill until I came to Whita Well.

Here I could look down over the town across a sea of gorse bushes in bloom.

gorst whta well

I walked down to the town across the golf course and was taken aback by the colour of the fifth green. golf green treatment

Dropscone tells me that although the course is closed to players, the greenkeeper is allowed to work to keep the course in good order for when play is resumed.  He must be very happy about this because nothing annoys a greenkeeper more than golfers walking all over his course and hacking great lumps out of it with their golf clubs.  I hope his drastic treatment on the greens works out well.

It was only a four and a half mile walk but we are very fortunate in having country round us that offers so much variety of hill and valley on a relatively short outing.

I passed two families out for a stroll on my walk and otherwise I enjoyed glorious solitude.  The town was pretty well deserted when I got back to it.  We are living in very quiet times indeed.

The evenings are even quieter than the days.

The non flying bird of the day is our resident blackbird.  It was interested to see what I was doing behind its back.

resident blackbird hedge

Plan C today

Today’s guest picture comes from my Welsh correspondent Keiron.  He had a lovely day for a pedal along the towpath.

Keiron's canal

It was cold and grey here when we got up and my original plan (Plan A) for the day was to go back to bed after breakfast, pull the covers over my head and hope that everything would go away.

That plan dissipated into nothingness when I managed to pull myself together and walk up to Sandy’s to deliver some archive work for him to do to while away the hours.  He has been badly hit by the lockdown as he has just spent six weeks confined to his house with a foot in plaster after an operation.  Then, as soon as the plaster came off, he was confined to his house again by the lockdown.  He is remarkably cheerful all things considered. I would liked to have stayed for coffee and a chat but that is not on the menu at the moment.

I did a little footling about in the garden when I got back while Mrs Tootlepedal continued her spring tidy up and general preparations.

Because of the chilly conditions, there were no new flowers or exciting developments to photograph so I took a picture of the resident blackbird…

resident blackbird

…and the rare sight of a couple of chaffinches near the feeder…

chaffinch in garden

…had a slice of toast and honey for an early lunch and went off on my bicycle

I am fully recovered from arguing with the other short plank, but I took things pretty easily.  I had planned an exciting route (Plan B of the day) deep into England but just as I was about to turn off over the hill, I met a cyclist coming the other way.  He stopped to warn me of an angry farmer up the road.

When he explained that the farmer was angry becuase he, the cyclist, had chased two stray sheep down the road in front of him,  I rather felt for the farmer and decided that I would not risk causing any further agitation so went straight on instead of turning off.

This was Plan C

My new route let me enjoy the sight of a pair of muddy beaked oyster catchers in a field on one side of the road and a plaintive curlew calling in the distance on the other side.

oyster catcher and curlew bigholms

As usual, there was a wind, not a strong wind but strong enough to make pedalling hard work for an old man as I went over Callister so I was pleased to stop when I had gone down the other side of the hill to admire some colour by the road side.

You could have any colour today as long as it was yellow.

gorse and celandine gair road

When I had passed through Eaglesfield, I had to stop again to admire this very neatly rolled field.

rolled field

Everywhere I went today, farmers were busy.  If they weren’t rolling their fields they were spreading muck, much of it on the road.  Sometimes I am pleased that my sense of smell is not very acute.

Plan C had led me to going round a rather tried and tested route, short of good views on a dull day, so I took a small diversion instead of going straight down the old main road to Gretna.

My diversion took me under the main line railway by a venerable railway bridge…

railway bridge robgill

…and over the Kirtle water by another old bridge…

kirtle water bridge robgill

…and past the even old Robgill Tower.

robgill tower

When I had puffed up the hill from the river, I got a splendid view over the Solway to the Lake District hills.

I must say that the chap who goes round putting telegraph poles up in front of good views in our area is a very conscientious worker.

view of skiddaw from near hollee

Further along my diversion, I could look across the Kirtle Water to the Kirkpatrick Fleming church on the far bank.

KPF church from Hollee

I stopped just before the last stone bridge over the river when another wild flower caught my eye.  I did say that the only colour available today was yellow.

dandelion

This is the bridge.

kirtle water bridge rigg

I crossed the Kirtle water for a second time by a small undistinguished bridge on the back road to Gretna from Rigg.  I had hardly seen a soul, either in a vehicle or on foot so far on my trip, but this quiet back road was obviously the permitted walk of the day route of choice for the locals.  I had to keep a sharp eye out to manage my social distancing as I went along.

Once at Gretna, I choose the quick route home, up main roads to Canonbie, but I did take another very small diversion to add to my churches and towers of the day with a visit to Kirkandrews on Esk.

It has a fine tower…

kirkandrews tower

…and an elegant little church.kirkandrews church

I rounded off the church collection with the Kirk at Canonbie.

canonbie church

It had got rather cold by this time, so I didn’t dilly dally for the final six miles home but I couldn’t resist these lambs trip trapping over a bridge…

lambs going trip trap

…perhaps on their way to join this relaxed sextet who were mulling over life very peacefully.

six lambs

I got home with 41 miles on my computer and discovered when I looked at my spreadsheet later in the evening that this ride had taken me up to 34 hours of cycling for the month, producing 441 miles at the very modest average speed of 12.74mph.  One of the sad facts of ageing legs is that in the not so distant past, I would have got a good many more miles for same amount of time and effort.  Still, March has been a generous month for dry days for cycling so I shouldn’t complain.

When I got home and was having my post ride cup of tea, Mrs Tootlepedal called out to say that the jackdaws were pecking the lawn again.  We point the finger at the guilty parties.

jackdaws on lawn

Earlier in the day, Mrs Tootlepedal had been to the shops and come back with a brisket of beef which she cooked for our tea.  It will last us for three days and as it tasted very good, this is very satisfactory.  I made some semolina for pudding and so, all in all, in spite of the clouds and the chill and the you-know-what, it was a day to add to the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is one of the starlings who like to collect on our electricity wire and chatter away.

flying starling

Plan B again

Today’s guest picture comes from my Welsh correspondent Kieron and shows a Welsh tree from Wales.

welsh tree

The wind was slightly kinder today but it was still very cold out in the garden, unless the sun was shining….which it did intermittently.

When it shone, I tried to be ready with my little camera.  Among the familiar faces of grape hyacinth, pulmonaria and cardamine, a dianthus, a dandelion and a daisy caught my eye.

six garden flowers

All the while, our resident blackbird kept its eye on what was going on.

blackbird panel

The tulips didn’t manage to come out as early as last year and it looks as though we might have to wait until April for them.

nearly tulip

The magnolia might just make it in March if we get a kinder day tomorrow.

magnolia

In spite of the chilly temperature, we spent quite a lot of time in the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal worked on her vegetable beds and tidied up the flower beds, and I sawed logs as the tidy up of the log shed continued.  Then, under supervision, I gave shrubs a haircut and pruned the plum tree.

haircuts

I went very cautiously about this business because I had no ambition to repeat the plank trick.  In fact, in my sawing, I dealt with the offending plank and I think that I can safely say that I have cut it down to size. My nose recovered remarkably well from the bashing and Mrs Tootlepedal’s neat work with tape meant that the cuts were well healed today.

In the afternoon, we were serenaded by a dunnock in the walnut tree.  It spent a lot of time singing loudly though it wasn’t clear if this was to attract a mate or frighten off the competition.

dunnock in walnut

We had some suitably separated conversation with Mike and Alison whose permitted exercise took them past our front gate.  I will have to give up the meadow pipit battle and settle for them being song thrushes as too many people have told me that I am wrong now.

The weather got a bit warmer in the afternoon and I was able to sit on the new bench and enjoy the daffodils…

lawn and daffs

…and the cowslips.

cowslips

It was my intention to make some ginger biscuits and then go for a bike ride in the calm of the evening, but circumstances intervened.

I enjoyed this flock of dancing daffodils and went in to cook.

flock of daffs

And once inside, somehow or other I made a mess of the ginger biscuit weighing and measuring process and the mixture wasn’t right. I had to add a bit of this and that at a late stage and hope for the best.  But the best wasn’t forthcoming and the resulting biscuits were not up to standard at all.

Perhaps because of the bang on my head and perhaps because of the general situation at the moment, I got rather gloomy about life, biscuits, bicycling and everything else too, so I decided it might be better just to go for a short walk and not risk losing concentration while pedalling.

The weather looked a bit ominous as I set out…

impressive cloud castle hill

…and a few light spots of rain made me press on past a gull on a rock…

gull back

…and a tiny wagtail in the rain.

distant wagtail

The sky cleared again as I got to the Castleholm…

clouds and tree

…and I enjoyed looking at it through the trees.

tress and clouds

Pussy willows greeted me as I crossed the Jubilee Bridge

pussy willow

…and I liked the combination of sunlight, blue sky and clouds at the monument.

monument and cloud

Our neighbour’s flowering currant is in full swing and made a cheerful end to my walk.

flowering currant

In the garden, I saw the new and the old before I went in, the first of the Erythronium and the last of the Winter Jasmine.

trout lily and jasmine

The non flying bird of the day is a chaffinch on the feeder.  (Mike and Alison say that they have plenty of birds coming to their feeder.)

chaffinch on feeder

Two short planks

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who took it on one of his walks.  A local farmer has fenced off a section of a field for the convenience of walkers passing across his land, and fortunately it is just wide enough to allow for social distancing as required these days.

andrew's walk

Although it wasn’t actually freezing here today, there was such a chill in the wind that my head actually hurt when I went for a morning stroll round the garden and I was happy to go back inside and have coffee and a biscuit in the warmth of the kitchen.  If those minor deities who helped me out yesterday had been alert and on the job, I would have stayed in the kitchen for the rest of the morning, and the afternoon too.

But they were sleeping at work, so I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal with the general tidying up.  The log shed also holds the sieved compost tubs and I went to move one of these to a better place.  It was quite heavy and I leaned forward as I went to put it down briskly, and then, in an echo of one of those scenes from early silent movies that are so amusing to watch, the tub landed on one end of a short plank which I hadn’t seen.

In obedience to the laws of physics, the other end of the plank rose up sharply and cracked me on the nose with some force.  I did not find this funny at all but like the poor cat in the cartoons, I saw stars.  In no time at all I was back in the kitchen being tended to by Mrs Tootlepedal with Dettol and paper towels.

I was not only hurt but very embarrassed by the fact that I might have to seek medical help at a time when the health service has other things to worry about.  However, the damage was not too bad and I had only suffered a cut and some bruising.  By great good fortune, the swinging plank missed my glasses by a millimetre and the main damage was to my pride, though my nose may bear a scar or two.

After a paracetamol and a shrewdly placed piece of tape, I was able to have my lunch and then to venture (very carefully) out into the garden again.

It was still cold, but the wind had dropped a bit so I wandered (carefully) about.  There was enough to look at to keep my mind off my nose if you see what I mean.

The fritillaries are coming on regardless of the cold…

fritillaries blooming

…and the blue tits were back again.

blue tit in silver pear

Daffodils are multiplying…

triple daffodil panel

…the scillas are improving and a tiny aubretia has started to come out too.

scilla and aubretia

By half past three, (really only half past two but the clocks went forward last night), the wind had calmed down enough and my fettle had improved enough for me to go for a short walk.  It was a day for a cycle ride on my alternating walk/ride schedule but I felt that that would be really pushing my luck so a (careful) walk it was.

Pool Corner looked very peaceful for a day which was still very cold and had been so windy earlier…

pool corner peace

…but as I went on, the wind continued to drop and the sun had enough warmth in it to make it a good day for a stroll.

I went to the Auld Stane Brig and then  walked up the hill, enjoying trees…

tree above auld stane brig

…and views on my way.

view from lower warbla

I didn’t go far up the hill and soon turned back towards the town.  Clouds had blocked the sunshine over me…

sunshine on distant hills

…but there was enough wind left to blow them away again as I walked through the Kernigal wood…

kernigal wood track

…enjoying the varied treescapes…

kernigal wood trees

…as I went.

kernigal wood

A fallen branch was covered in script lichen and buds on the hawthorns promised blossom to come.

script lichen and hawthorn buds

As I came back down the hill into the valley…

above the murtholm

…there was enough sunshine and warmth to make me feel very cheerful.

beechy plains

I enjoyed the contrasts of sunshine and shade as I walked back along the river…

easton's walk sunbeam

…and the blossom in the park was the icing on the cake.

blossom in park

My attempt to take a picture of the mass of daffodils on the banks of the Wauchope at Caroline Street was thwarted by Mr Grumpy getting in the way.

heron and daffodils kirk brig

I extended my walk by going along the banks of the Esk where the calm scene was a world away from the swirling floods of February.

bridge with low esk

The pair of oyster catchers were once again beside the water…

pair of oyster catchers

…with a third one a few yards away.

lone oyster catcher

I managed to get home without falling over or knocking into anything which was a relief for Mrs Tootlepedal.

And to me.

The non flying bird of the day is a collared dove which had being flying very shortly before I took this picture of it on our drive.

collarded dove

 

Plan B

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  The golf course is closed at the moment so he is going for walks and he passed one of my favourite trees  a day or two ago.  He thinks that it is a bit like us, just hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

tree above whitshiels

It was colder today and the wind was stronger so when the sun stopped shining, it didn’t feel like spring at all.

But when the sun was shining in the morning, nothing could have looked more cheerful than this delicately outlined beauty.

outline primrose

Slightly less elegant is the comfrey but any flowers are welcome.

comfrey

There were even one or two chaffinches at the feeder…

male chaffinch

…though they wouldn’t visit when I was looking.

female chaffinch

There was tidying up work in the garden again as Mrs Tootlepedal did more work on the log store and I attacked an innocent bush with the hedge trimmer.  There was a lot of shredding too.  Then I did some shopping but failed to see any interesting waterside birds on my way home.

Mrs Tootlepedal knocked up some lentil soup for lunch and afterwards I went for a walk.

I had ambitious plans to walk over some rough country and up a steep hill (and on my way to see some interesting things).

I did see a distant dipper at the Sawmill Brig…

fuzzy dipper

…but it flew off before I could get a clear shot.

And I noticed that the peltigera lichen on the wall had got white edges which looked interesting so I looked closer.  They were interesting.

peltgera lichen

I walked along the track north, admiring the trees and looking at the grey clouds…

tree and grey clouds

…and wondered whether, in view of the very strong and chilly north wind, a walk up a steep hill was a good idea.  I had just decided that it was a really good idea when I got a stroke of luck.

One of the minor deities in charge of the Celestial Department for Making Sure that Old People Don’t Make a Fool of Themselves (SOPPYDATES) sent a short but very savage hailstorm towards me accompanied by very heavy gusts of extra chilly wind.

It didn’t take me long to change my mind and head back towards more sheltered and level paths.  To reward my good sense, the minor deities then arranged for some blue sky to arrive and make me feel good about the choice.

blue sky

It wasn’t long before the sun came out, and sheltered from the cruel wind, I enjoyed a stroll through the woods…

sunshine above hlmhead

…taking a track which I had not followed before…

path in woods

…though I stopped when I got to the bottom of this hill and left this to be explored on another day…

track in woods

…while I dropped back down to the track above the river which I had followed on my last outing.

veiw from Longfauld

I had to be careful to look where I was treading as I took that picture of the view up the valley.

fuzz

I have had some discussion with my Somerset correspondent as to whether the bird in the plum tree in yesterday’s post, which we thought might be a meadow pipit, was in fact a song thrush.  As a result, I was interested to see some birds in a field today which looked like meadow pipits to me as they seemed too small to be thrushes.

meadow pipit 2

I was carrying two cameras and took a picture with both of them as the Lumix could see closer but not so clearly as the Nikon.

meadow pipit 1

Perhaps they were thrushes too, I find it hard to tell.

I followed the track round the pheasant hatchery….

tree at tip of castleholm

…and dropped down to the riverside to enjoy the clear water running over the stones in the river bed.

clear water dowies pool

The minor deities intervened again at this stage, as they thought that I had been out long enough.  A smattering of hail was sent down to encourage me to get home without wasting any more time.

I did see the nuthatch on the Castleholm again but it was too far up the tree for me to get a photograph and I didn’t want to hang about on the off chance of a better view in case of more hail.

I got home after a much more pleasant three and a half mile walk than I would have had if I had been battling the winds on the open hill.

I was looking at last year’s posts for this month and saw that we had our first tulip out on the 30th March in 2019.  It is going to be a close run thing but as it is going to be cold again tomorrow, I don’t think that these are going to be out by Monday this year.

potential tulips

I will be happy to be proved wrong.

Once I was safely indoors, the sun came out again.

sunlit evening flowers

Our resident blackbird stood on our fence to take up his position as non flying bird of the day.

resident blackbird

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  It shows that when it comes to Scottish sparrows, a sparrow’s home is its castle.

bruce's sparrow

I am starting this post with a cheat, as it is a picture that I took a couple of day ago but forgot to include in that day’s post.   Mrs Tootlepedal saw a most unusual visitor on the plum and I got there in time  to take its picture.  It is a meadow pipit.  You would expect to see it up on the moor not on the plum tree in our garden, so I thought that it ought to appear on the blog, even if a bit belatedly.

meadow pipit on plum tree

Back to today.

It wasn’t as warm as yesterday by a long chalk and there was no sun about, but it wasn’t raining and we are still happy to count any dry day as a good day, even if it is a bit cold and grey.

Oddly enough, the light outside suited my pocket camera very well, and when I walked round the garden, it picked out some good detail, like the rosemary flower with its tongue out….

rosemary flower

…the emerging leaves on a raspberry cane…

raspberry shoot

…and the tiny fruits on the silver pear.

sliver pear nlossom

I am endlessly fascinated by the lengths that euophorbias go to make themselves interesting.

euphorbias

The recent compost bin reorganisation left Mrs Tootlepedal with some rough mulch on her hands, and she has bestowed it on one of the front hedges which is now well mulched.

mulched hedge

The continuing cool weather is making flowers hesitant to emerge but every day shows a little more progress…

four garden flowers

…and the magnolia is gradually shedding its winter fur coat.

magnolia peeping

Mrs Tootlepedal filled up the third log library shelf and then made a fourth while I sawed up some logs to help fill it up.

The result was very satisfactory and some sweeping up made sure that the flags on the floor of the log shed saw the light of day for the first time for many years.

completed log library

There is a little more sorting and tidying still to be done but it looks as though we will have plenty of time on our hands to do it.

We sat on a bench in front of the espalier apples to rest after our labours, and I was pleased to see the first shoots appearing on one of the apple trees.

firs apple shoot

Across the vegetable garden, the rose shoots on the fence were standing up very straight.

upright rose leaves

I went to the corner shop to collect a jar of honey which the shopkeeper had kindly procured for me and was a bit puzzled when I saw a line of people standing several yards apart from each other in front of the Buccleuch Centre which is currently closed.  The puzzle was resolved when I remembered that a butcher’s van visits the town and parks beside the Centre on a Friday.  I realised that the queue was would be shoppers correctly socially distancing themselves as they waited to buy their pound of mince.

People are taking these things seriously and I had to queue outside the ex-corner shop until it was safe for me to go in.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal took a well earned siesta and I went out for my permitted exercise.  After yesterday’s walk, it was time for a cycle ride today.  The cooler weather and a brisk wind made sure that I was back to being very well wrapped up.  Although the wind helped to get me across the hill and down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass in good time, it also meant that the trip back up to Langholm on the old A7 was a bit of a battle.

Talking of battles, I noticed as I passed that Hollows Tower had lost the fight against the virus and was closed to visitors.

hollows tower shut

And as it was a grey day, I took a picture of a grey bridge.  It carries the new A7 and is much wider than the camera angle makes it seem

grey bridge auchenrivock

Whether on the cross country roads, the new A7, or the old A7, there was very little traffic about and I enjoyed a peaceful ride.

When I got home, I had another walk round the garden and found the daffodils in a mathematical mood.  They came in squares…

square of daffodils

…straight lines…

line of daffodils

..and triangles.

triangle of daffodils

As I came through to the middle lawn, I saw a jackdaw trying to creep off unobserved…

jackdaw leaving after lawn pecking

…but it was no good, I could see the evidence of savage lawn pecking which it had left behind.

lawn pecking

Checking the news on my phone when I got in, I found that in the midst of the virus mayhem, the government had released a statement saying that they are intending to reduce private motor car travel and increase cycling and the use of public transport.   This is a jaw dropping change of tack for a government and the Ministry of Transport whose only plan for many decades has been to increase roads and road congestion at any cost.  I don’t suppose that it will actually happen, but to have the government even thinking about it must be a good thing.

The non-flying bird of the day is a ‘shopping trip’ goosander having a nap beside the river this morning.

goosander