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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by Irving, shows the Black Esk reservoir which provides us with our drinking water.  I have often meant to visit it but never have so perhaps this will spur me into action.

Black Esk reservoir

We had another frosty morning heralding another beautifully calm and sunny day and we tried to make good use of it.   For some mysterious reason, I was feeling a little tired in the morning so I needed a leisurely breakfast which morphed into a leisurely cup of coffee and a look out of the window…

Black Esk reservoir

…before I went off for a little walk while Mrs Tootlepedal put a second coat of paint on the bathroom door.  (It is looking very smart.)

There are no new flowers on the go as the frosty mornings are delaying things a bit but the drumstick primulas are looking finer every day.

drumstick primulas

Taking my walking poles in hand, I left the garden and  walked up onto Meikleholm Hill and then, having found that my legs were in working order, I went through the gate at the top of the hill…

Meikleholm gate

… and  continued to the top of Timpen at which at 326m offers fine views.

Timpen trig point

I was in windmill country and I could see not only the long established Craig turbines but some of the new ones on the Ewe Hill wind farm peeping over the horizon behind.

windmills

To the north I could see the Ettrick Hills….

Ettrick Hills

…and to the south, the same Lake District hills that I had enjoyed on my bike ride yesterday.

Lake District Hills

I was shooting into hazy sun and I liked the resulting interpretation of the scene by my camera.

Down below, on one side of the hill, the Esk river wound through the valley.

Esk at Milnholm

…and on the other, the town lay peacefully in the sun.

Langholm

As I stood there, I was delighted to be serenaded by the constant singing of larks.  It was a privilege to be alive.

On my way down, I noticed a tree which was doing its best to get a little shelter in the lee of a slope….

Meikleholm tree

…and a bright dandelion beside the track into the town.

dandelion

When I got back home, Mrs Tootlepedal had finished her painting and was going three rounds with a overgrown rose that needed pruning.

We retired indoors for lunch and then put her fairly speedy bike and my slow bike into the back of the car and drove off to Longtown.

Our aim was an eleven mile circular drive up the hill behind the town and then back down again.

We hoped for quiet cycling and great views and got both……as a nice little bridge too.

Easton road bridge

We had a bit of work to do to get our views….

Easton road

…but it was worth it.

My camera has many virtues but taking pictures of extensive views is not among them so you will have to take my word for it.  This is the view looking back towards Langholm.

Easton panorama

You can click on this if you want to get the bigger picture.

The view towards the Lake District and the Pennines was magnificent to the eye but rather hazy from a camera’s point of view…

Lake District

…but the prospect to the south and west was enough to take the breath away  (though cycling up the hill may have contributed to this).

Once we had enjoyed the views, we were able to scoot back down to Longtown in a very relaxed way.

We were cycling along without gloves and an indication of just how pleasant the day was can be gained from the fact that Mrs Tootlepedal suddenly exclaimed, “I can smell coconut.”

As we don’t have any palm trees around, it meant that the sunshine was warm enough to get the gorse to release its very coconutty aroma.  Sure enough, there was the gorse in the hedge beside the road.

gorse

It was almost like a summer day by this time and the temperature was in the mid teens.

We thoroughly enjoyed our outing and  and I hope that we get many more cycle rides together as the year goes on.  The cup of tea and a biscuit when we got home went down very well too.

I had enough energy left to do a little lawn mowing  (or moss pressing as we call it at this time of the year) and some compost sieving.   Mrs Tootlepedal’s gardening had left the stock of sieved compost rather low so I will need to get some more done soon.

During the day we had two less common bird visitors, a greenfinch in the bright morning and a coal tit as the light went down in the evening.

greenfinch and coal tit

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to the local operatic society’s performance of Sweet Charity and I had a quiet sit down.

Rather annoyingly, instead of the clear blue sky which we should have enjoyed, the atmospheric conditions revealed just how many aeroplanes fly over us and the the sky was full of drifting con trails all day.  At least the passing pilots had the good manners to sign off in style as the sun went down.

St Andrew's Cross in the sky

I took a closer look.

St Andrew's Cross in the sky

The flower of the day is a daffodil…

daffodil

…and the flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying caffinch

 

 

 

The ageing process

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my friend Bruce, shows that Langholm has two experienced hole inspectors.  Here the results of recent heavy rain were under examination.

hole inspector

The wind had finally exhausted itself and we woke to a picture perfect day.  Well, nearly picture perfect as there were signs of frost in the garden but things warmed up slowly and I waited for the thermometer to reach 5°C  before setting out on a bike ride.

I had time for a glance out of the window.  Some birds tucked into the seed…

chaffinch and siskin

…and some birds wasted time quarrelling.

chaffinch and siskin

The thermometer came up to the required point exactly at the time that I might have been eating the treacle scones that Dropscone had offered to bring round but there are some days that are just so made for cycling that even a treacle scone has to give way and in the end, in spite of pangs, I didn’t regret my decision.

It is my plan (for as long as possible) to do at least one ride each year that contains as many miles as I have years.  My birthday is in November when the days are too short for long rides at the pace which I can sustain so I have to wait for a good day in spring.  This was that day and I set out with 75 miles as my target.  To help me reach this target, I chose an easy route that ran through the flat lands along the Solway shore…

Flat lands

…although, as the elevation for the route shows…

garmin route 24 March 2017 elevation

….you always have to climb a little to leave the town if you don’t go down the main road south and if you go down to the sea, you always have to climb a little to get home again.

Generally speaking though, my ride was undemanding and delightfully windless.

Although the verges are not full of wild flowers yet, the celandines are doing their best and in places they are quite spectacular.

celandines

I did put in a little climb before I got to Annan to avoid having to go right through the town and this took me up past the nuclear power station at Chapelcross, which is being very slowly dismantled.

Chapelcross

In considering the mental gymnastics that politicians must go through when they wonder if their policies are at all consistent, I think that saying that we must have financial austerity because we don’t want to leave debts for our children to repay and being enthusiastic supporters of nuclear energy, which will require several generations of our children to keep on and on paying for decommissioning of reactors and storage of toxic waste for an energy source from which they will not have had any energy is a bit confusing.

I put this thought out of my mind and enjoyed the hill back down into Annan.

After Annan, I was cycling along the shores of the Solway for all but the last 14 miles of my journey and although the country through which I was pedalling is not very exciting, the view across the Solway was very rewarding.

Lake District snowy hills

I was more intent on cycling than taking pictures today but I did stop from time to time for a breather and tried to choose an interesting spot.

This is the bridge over the Lochar Water at Bankend….

Lochar Water

…and this is the ruined tower a little upstream.

Lochar Water

A mile or two further on, I came upon Caerlaverock Castle, an altogether better class of ruin.

Caerlaverock castle

I didn’t visit it, although it has a tearoom, because there is a cheaper tearoom with better food (in my experience) at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust nearby so I went to that for my lunch.

Fortified by a very well cooked baked potato and an apple slice, I set off home.

Once again my plan was to stop at regular intervals for a breather and my first stop this time was at the Brow Well

Brow Well

…which used to be used as a source of allegedly therapeutic drinks for invalids.  It is a chalybeate spring, meaning that the water that dribbles from the spout low on one side contains significant concentrations of iron salts.  It is chiefly famous for helping to finish off the poet Robert Burns who was sent there just before his death.   They wisely don’t let the water accumulate in it now.  I like the little bridge beside the well.

The poet was also made to bathe in the Solway so I went to have a look but the Solway was out and nowhere to be seen and I contented myself with snapping an unusually creamy brown lichen and a thriving gorse bush…

brow well lichen and gorse

…before pedalling on.

My route took me past a field with a nice comparison of horse sizes…

powfoot horses

…and a small flock of what I take to be alpacas…

powfoot alpacas

….and then down to the shore at Powfoot.

The sea was still out but there was some very nice shining mud.

Solway mud

…and the Lake District on the far shore was still looking wonderful.

Lake District

I pressed on through Annan and got to Gretna just as the cafe in which I was hoping to get a cup of tea and a fancy cake, closed for the day.

I ate half a banana and some dates and sulked.

My next stop was to admire the church at Canonbie, which was looking at its best in the evening sun.

Canonbie Church

Although, I was quite perky, my bike was a bit tired so I gave it a last rest near Irving House and while it snoozed, I offered up some suitable thanks for a brilliant cycling day at the small sacred grove nearby.

Irvine House

When I got back to the town, I looked down at my bike computer and was suddenly overcome by decimal fever so I did a gratuitous tour of the New Town to bring my mileage exactly up to eighty miles.  This was more than satisfactory.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the day painting the bathroom door and doing a lot of gardening so we were both tired but happy.

More good weather is forecast for tomorrow.

I caught a flying bird before I left.

goldfinch and siksin

For those interested in these things, details of my ride can be found by clicking on the map below.   Thanks to the benign conditions, I did the eighty miles at a better average speed than I did the twenty miles in the wind yesterday.

garmin route 24 March 2017

It was cold at the start but much warmer by the end.

Cold comfort

Today’s guest picture was taken by Thomas, one of our new members, and shows the Camera Club  group posing for a picture at the meeting on Monday.

Camera Club 2017

The forecast was quite correct and we got a dry day today which was welcome but our rapture was modified by a brisk and chilly east wind which kept the temperature down and held any thoughts of spring at bay for the time being.

Sandy came round for coffee after he had gone to top up the Moorland bird feeders.  He was going off to Carlisle so sadly there was no chance of a walk later in the day.

When he left, I took a turn round the garden and tried to photograph the Forsythia again. The light was better but the flowers were still swaying wildly in the wind.

Forsythia

It is a cheerful sight.

The birds were not very cheerful.  They are ready to start a fight at the least provocation. The fact that there were perches freely available didn’t stop this siskin abusing an innocent chaffinch…

siskin and chaffinch

I don’t know what impulse drives the birds to be so aggressive when it would be better to take the time eating the seeds.

siskins

There was no shortage of perches during this spat either. The chaffinch top left has the right idea.

siskin

This siskin took off before any arguments could start

goldfinches and siskins

This determined looking goldfinch needed to shift an incumbent

A dunnock made an appearance under the feeders.

dunnock

It should have been a good day for flying bird pictures but the strong wind made approaching the feeders tricky and there was no gentle hovering to help me out today.

I had some homemade sardine pate for my lunch but the regular consumption of oily fish doesn’t seem to be having much beneficial effect on my brain power.  Luckily, I like sardines so I shall keep eating them regardless.  I even have allegedly beneficial grains and seeds in my bread recipe (the wonderfully named ‘Oh-My Megamix’) but they don’t seem to improve my crossword solving skills either.  Ah well, I live in hope.

I spent some time in the garden sieving a little compost.  The material in Bin D is in good condition and I hope to have it all sieved soon.  I filled Mrs Tootlepedal’s big red bucket of compost and then set about sawing up some more of the logs which Dropscone brought from his garden.  I like to do these jobs a little at a time and keep my back in reasonable condition.  It is tempting to do too much on a dry day.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I put on many, many layers of cycling gear and braved the east wind for 21 miles.

When I went out a couple of days ago, there was a strong wind from the west and I went up the hill at 10mph and came back at 20mph.  Today, with the wind in the opposite direction, I went up the hill at over 13mph and came back at under 14 mph.   It can be a bit depressing to find yourself pedalling more slowly down a section of gentle gradient on your way home than you cycled up it on the way out.  The net result of the two days was an almost identical average speed.

I stopped for a tree picture…

Glencorf burn

Taken more for the position of the trees than their stature.

…and to admire the daffodils beside the road as I left the town.

Springhill Daffodils

I had a look at my bike when I got home and decided that it needed a good clean after some riding on wet and dirty roads so I set about it with soapy water, de-greaser and cloths and toothbrushes.  I won’t say that it was shining when I finished but it was a good deal cleaner.

I had another look round the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal had remarked to me in the morning that it is very surprising to her that although she really only  likes daffodils that look yellow like this…

Daffodils

…or this…

Daffodils

…she has a lot of daffodils in the garden that look like this.

 Daffodils

I am not complaining though because I like both sorts.

There are a number of these cowslippy things coming out around the garden…

cowslips

… but the present chilly spell has slowed spring’s progress down to a crawl.

I made myself a sausage stew for my tea and then Susan arrived to give me a lift to Carlisle where we played quartets with our recorder group.  We had a fine variety of music to play and excellent tea and biscuits to follow so I enjoyed the evening.

We passed the lorry gritting the main road as we drove home.  Another cold night is in prospect.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, taken during the cloudy morning.

chaffinch

Cease and desist

Today’s guest picture comes from South Africa and was  sent to me by far flung Langholm exile, Tom.  He tells me that he travelled up north to the Kimberley area and came across the Old Wagon Bridge.  It crosses the Orange River near Hopetown where the first diamond was found in South Africa.

South African bridge

The weather was even more miserable than usual today, being wet, windy and cold but once again we had escaped the worst as roads blocked by snow were reported to both the north and south of us.

It was quite bad enough to be going on with in Langholm so we were glad to be spared worse.

There was nothing much to do in the morning except to walk up to the town under my big umbrella to do a little business and look out of the window mournfully when I got back.

The birds were not bothered by the wind and the rain and arrived in numbers so that the feeders were almost always busy.

siskin and chaffinch

The chaffinches have got bolder and this little siskin was about to be dislodged by the  royal order of the chaffinch boot.

Goldfinches are the most patient of our finches and will wait for an vacant perch.

goldfinch

The feeders were sometimes full and calm…

chaffinch, siskin and goldfinch

…and sometimes full and frantic.

siskins and goldfinches

Other than siskins, chaffinches and goldfinches, the garden has very few other bird visitors at the moment and i haven’t seen a brambling, redpoll, greenfinch, blue tit, coal tit  or robin for some time.  There are occasional dunnocks though and a regular blackbird.

blackbird

I did try to walk round the garden and take a picture of new flowers but trying to take pictures with the camera in one hand and my umbrella waving violently about in the wind in the other proved impossible.

The daffodils on the back path did their best to cheer me up.

daffodils

After a very early lunch, we went off to the Infirmary in Dumfries where my eye was going to be looked at.  I have had a couple of small, harmless but mildly annoying cysts under the lid of my left eye and various medical practitioners have been assuring me for many weeks that they were quite harmless and would go away of their own accord.   I was very pleased therefore when the doctor magicked them away with the merest touch of a needle today and my eye feels much more cheerful already.

The visit was painless in every sense.  We arrived a bit early for my appointment but I was seen, treated and discharged almost before my true appointment time had come.

It was still raining when Mrs Tootlepedal drove me home but we stopped for a cup of tea and some reasonable priced compost at a garden centre on our way.  It has discovered that dinosaurs sell just as well as plants and pots….

Dinosaur clipping

…and has a large dinosaur attraction for young visitors.  I don’t think that the dinosaurs are alive though.

There was a lull in the rain when we got home and I tried to capture the new flowers again.

forsythia

There was so much swaying in the wind that this was the only Forsythia flower that I could get anywhere near in focus.

I found a more stable silver pear bud showing promise…

daffodils

…and a wallflower with its own swimming pool.

wallflower

The day continued to be soggy in the extreme so Mrs Tootlepedal got busy on her interior decorating project and I did the crossword and practised my flute and some songs.

After tea, I went off to sing with our local choir.  We have got some enjoyable music to sing but our conductor was in such a brisk mood tonight that not much of it had sunk in by the end of the evening.  Still, we have homes especially so that we can practise songs.

Looking at the forecast, we are promised a spell of brighter, drier weather and this will be most welcome, particularly if the wind drops a bit too.

I did find a flying siskin in the gloom.

siskin

 

I have recently been sent a good selection of guest pictures and will work through them.  Today’s guest picture comes from Langholm exile, Irving and shows a visitor to his garden.

squirrel

It was only a degree or two above freezing when we got up this morning and the wind was blowing more fiercely than yesterday so in spite of some cheerful sunshine, I was more than happy to stretch breakfast into coffee by way of a crossword and some bird watching.

As the birds that I watched today were exactly the same as the birds that I had watched yesterday, I thought that I might have a bird free blog today for a change.

After coffee, I took a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She is very pleased with these hellebores this year…

hellebores

…and you can see why.

To make up for the lack of pictures of birds, I went out for a walk, hoping to find interesting things to look at and choosing a route that was well protected by hedges and woods.  If you could get out of the wind and into the sunshine, it was a grand day for an expedition.

I went along the track to the Becks wood, passing fresh growth on the larches…

larch

…new lambs in the fields…

larch

…and a dove from above.

white pigeon

…or possibly a pigeon.

I kept an eye for scarlet elf caps in the wood and saw that there were still one or two about.

P1100335

(I put an editing suggestion from last night’s meeting into action with this image.  I need a bit more work at it but it was fun to play about in the photo editor.)

I thought that the light might be right for a visit to the little waterfall on the Becks Burn…

Becks waterfall

..but I still didn’t manage to capture just what a delightful corner this spot is.  I’ll try again in summer.

When I had crossed the burn and got through the woods, I walked up the road for a bit.  I noted a well built stone culvert…

culvert

…which no doubt these days would be a concrete or metal pipe.  The labour involved in creating the roads round us must have been enormous as they are crossed by endless little streams….

…and I saw my first celandine of the spring…

celandine

…which was more welcome to me by the roadside than it will be to Mrs Tootlepedal if any appear in the garden.

The views were well decorated with clouds again…

Becks view

…but they were kinder today and I got round my walk without encountering any hail or rain.

I went to visit the old curling pond but it is sadly overgrown now.  The visit wasn’t wasted though as  a’dogs tooth’ peltigera lichen caught my eye as I was jumping over a ditch in the wood.

peltigera

I walked back down the road….

Becks road

..with yet more views on the way…

View from hallcrofts

…until I stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Becks Burn as it passes under the  Wauchope road .

Becks Burn

There is a good show of daffodils waiting to greet visitors to the town as they approach from the west…

Meikleholm daffodils

…but I liked this lone dandelion as well.

dandelion

I put some vegetable soup on to cook when I got home and while it was simmering, I had another look round the garden.

In spite of the chilly weather, spring is definitely springing.

drumstick primula

A drumstick primula with a rich colour

Euphorbia

A Euphorbia shows its claws

Pulmonaria

 Pulmonaria showing its colours

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from helping at the Buccleuch Centre and joined me in a bowl of soup (which is a phrase that conjures up an image that  bends the mind slightly).

I went out into the garden again and sieved a bucket or two of compost from the contents of Bin D and the results looked pretty good.  I am hoping to rebuild Bins A and B which are falling to bits so I will have to get Bin D empty as soon as possible.

On my walk, I had noticed that the farmer who owns the manure mine from which he kindly lets Mrs Tootlepedal get her supplies, had completely cleared the manure from the site.  There will be no  manure mining for Mrs Tootlepedal there thus year.

Bearing this in mind, we set off to a garden centre after I had finished my compost sieving and purchased a selection of compost, manure and soil improver in bags as well as paying a visit to a pet food supplier nearby where I topped up my stock of sunflower seeds for the birds.

It was still sunny when we got home but the wind was just as strong and it was getting pretty chilly so we went inside where Mrs Tootlepedal got on with some interior decorating and I played about with my photo editor.

The flying bird of the day is an eager chaffinch in the morning sunshine.

flying chaffinch

Endnote:  On my walk this morning, I passed the house of a cycling friend and he invited me into his garage to look at his indoor winter cycling set up which uses an app called Zwift.  With this app, he can get on his bike on a standard turbo trainer and cycle against other cyclists from all over the world in real time while his route unwinds in front of him, projected onto a screen from his laptop.  I might never come out into the open again if i had a set up like that.  No wind!

 

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came upon this bridge over the River Dove when he was out with his walking group.  He points out that it is  unusual in that the later two lane bridge, to save costs, has been built on top of the old medieval one lane one.

River Dove bridge

We had a day of sunshine and showers here today and the trick was to choose the right moment to get the weather appropriate to your desired activity.  I started with finding a dry moment to cycle up to the Day Centre to get a key for the camera club meeting in the evening.

Then I entertained Dropscone to coffee (he brought the scones) and pondered about cycling when he had left.  Dropscone had found it pretty chilly when he had cycled through so that gave me pause for thought.

The sun was out and I walked round the garden while I thought some more about cycling (it was rather windy).

scilla and daffodil

The flowers were grateful for a dry spell.

Then I went back inside and considered things a bit more while I watched the birds.

Chaffinches approached the feeder in their own way.

chaffinch approaching feeder

Getting up close

chaffinch approaching feeder

Taking the long view

Some birds waited calmly…

chaffinch and siskin

On the pole or on the plum tree

…while others wasted time on the feeder by discussing politics.

chaffinch and goldfinch

Finally I thought that the weather looked sufficiently set fair and the wind just quiet enough for a ride so I got my cycling gear on and set out on the fairly speedy bike.

The wind turned out to be pretty fierce after all and I adopted my usual strong wind plan and skulked about in a cowardly way, going up and down the four miles in the sheltered  valley bottom to Cleuchfoot and back.   This may be a bit dull but it does mean that I get a regular break from pedalling into the wind and three trips gives me a 25 mile ride which is not to be sniffed at in testing conditions.

It also gave me chance to look for some female alder flowers which the New Hampshire gardener had told me that I ought to find as the male catkins were opening.  He was right of course.

I stopped at the alders beside the Glencorf Burn…

alder alders Glencorf Burn

…and there were the flowers.

alder flowers

On my second lap, I stopped for some hazel catkins and flowers….

hazel catkins

…and on my third and last lap, the lichens got my attention.

lichens

I also stopped to see how much water was going over my favourite cascade on the mighty Wauchope.

Wauchope cascade

Not quite as much as I had expected.

It looks from the pictures as though I had unbroken sunshine on my trip but there were some good looking clouds still about…

clouds

…and on the second lap,they produced a sharp and painful hailstorm in the middle of the most exposed section.  The temperature dropped and the wind got up and I was beginning to consider a shortened expedition when thanks to the brisk wind, the clouds and hail rapidly blew away and I was quite warm and dry by the time that I got home.

The trip took my distance to over 300 miles for the month and with ten days still to go, that is  very satisfactory.

When I got in, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal and our  neighbour Liz were planning a trip to the council dump.  Some people have all the fun.

When I went to put my bike back into the garage, I discovered a frog hopping about inside.  We left the door open and went away and the frog soon hopped out again and posed for a moment…

frog

..before disappearing into the log pile.

With a view to taking a picture suitable for transforming into a monochrome flower study for the camera club meeting, I had a quick walk round the garden…

_aP1100316

…and enjoyed the colour of the new spirea leaves..

spirea

..before going inside for a late lunch.

I waved Mrs Tootlepedal off on her joyride, promising to keep an eye on the washing which was drying in the garden but almost as soon as she had left, it started to rain so I had to jump up and get the washing in.  It was just as well that I did because the rain soon changed to pelting hail and then back to rain again, coming down in stair rods.  The temperature dropped three degrees C in a handful of minutes.

I had timed my bike ride well.

The rain didn’t improve the birds’ tempers and a chaffinch rudely booted a siskin off the feeder to the horror of the onlookers.

chaffinch and siskin squabble

By the time that Mrs Tootlepedal and Liz returned from the dump, the sun was out again.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and played the pieces which he is using for an exam later this week.  He has been learning these at school and he must have been practising very hard because he played them very well.  If all goes as it should, he ought to pass the exam.

Later on, I went to the Camera Club meeting and a good attendance of members had an excellent evening with a number of very interesting images to enjoy.  The monochrome flower challenge had brought out some innovative ideas and at the end, we agreed that a good time had been had by all.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin which almost squeezed into the frame.

siskin

 

 

 

 

Singing in the sun

Today’s guest picture is the last from my sister Mary’s visit to Regents Park.  It has been good to have such sunny pictures while we have been rather gloomy up here.

Regents park 15.03.17 007

Being Sunday, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir after breakfast and I set about making a lamb stew for the slow cooker.  I ideally like to go for a pedal on a Sunday if I can because the main roads are free from heavy goods vehicles and it gives me a chance to try different routes.  However I wasn’t sad to be cooking instead of cycling today as it was raining steadily again outside.

soggy chaffinch

I interspersed the cooking with staring and was pleased to see a brambling…

brambling

…although it only paid the feeder one visit before flying off again.

Everything looked rather subdued in the rain…

dunnock

…except some of the chaffinches who were in fine flying form, whether in the form of a direct approach…

flying chaffinches

…or creeping up from behind.

flying chaffinch

Almost exactly at midday, the sun came out much to my surprise so I had a walk round the garden. Although everything was still wet, the sun made the heart sing.

daffodils

We are entering peak daffodil period

chionodoxa and hyacinth

Chionodoxa and grape hyacinth

The one thing you learn about flowers when you have a camera is that the closer you look, the hairier everything is.

pulmonaria

Pulmonaria

After another quick glance at the birds…

singing chaffinch

Obviously the chaffinches have a choir practice on a Sunday too

chaffinch

This one was late

…I went for a stroll down to the river.  In the sunshine, it was just like spring outside although the river was pretty full after several days of gentle rain.

It might have been fine weather for ducks, as they say, but one duck was trying to block the day out completely.

duck

This looked liked a better plan that swimming in the river.

Langholm Parish Church

I walked over the bridge that you can see in the picture above and went past the front door of the church.  It is quite impressive…

Langholm Parish Church

…but the building constitutes a heavy responsibility for its congregation in terms of upkeep.

I went past the church and on into the park where I couldn’t resist an admiring look at the wall beside the river….

Park wall

…which is a flourishing garden in its own right.

Then I walked over the Park Brig,….

Park Brig

…a modern replacement for what was originally a wooden bridge, and made my way home.

In spite of the sunshine, it still looked as though it might rain at any minute so I didn’t dilly-dally but I found a moment to take a photo of the fine flowering currant in our neighbour’s garden…

Currant

..and some new leaves on our elder as I went past.

elder

Mrs Tootlepedal was worried that the orange trumpets on her Jetfire daffodils were rather pale this season but they have brightened up considerably in the last couple of days…

jetfire daffoidils

…and she is quite pleased with them now.

After lunch, we got prepared and set off for our choir practice in Carlisle.  We had our substitute conductor again and she put us through our paces while we made progress on a new song.  It is a setting of a poem by Yeats and it needs very good diction and sensitive singing to bring out the best of it so since neither of these are things that we excel at, we will have to work hard to make it succeed.  Good fun.

For the second week running, the humorous weather gods provided me with a fine sunset just to point out the fine cycling weather that I had been missing while we were singing. How I laughed.

The flying bird of the day is a sunshine chaffinch.

chaffinch