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All change

Today’s guest picture shows a quiet corner of Regent’s Park in London and was taken by my sister Mary who was probably coming back from playing tennis in the Park.

Regent's parkWe had another morning of strong winds and violent showers so it was lucky that I got up late and had an entertaining crossword to help me pass the time.  Like yesterday, the forecast promised better weather in the afternoon and unlike yesterday, it was right.

I put a rain jacket on just in case and went out to do battle with the brisk winds on my fairly speedy bike.  I didn’t have any faith that we were.’t going to get another heavy shower so I settled for a trip to Wauchope School and back done three times.  This gave me twenty miles with regular breaks from bashing my head against the wind.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was bitten by the bicycling bug and set off herself on a hilly ten mile circular route and I took a picture or two in the garden…

clematis

The clematis are among the flowers that have enjoyed the weather.

sunflowers

The sunflowers are attracting friends

poppies

And the poppies are doing the best that they can

crocosmia

Crocosmia beside the dam

…and then went for a walk.  I am trying to mix walking and cycling to keep my legs as well stretched and exercised as possible.

I walked through the park….

park bench

A park bench with own swimming pool

….and along the Murtholm, which was looking gorgeous in the sunshine….

Murtholm

The grass is growing again after its recent haircut.

…but not without some sogginess.

Murtholm

There was enough water on one field to attract two herons.

There were less wild  flowers and more seed heads about but still some colour to be seen…

seed head and geranium…though the flower spikes are getting very near the top.

musk and willow herbI crossed Skippers Bridge and thought that I could see the first signs of the leaves turning in the trees along the river bank.

River esk treesThere was the usual natural graffiti on the parapet….

Skippers bridge…and some wild and garden flowers to cheer me up as I walked along the road back to the town.

buddleia and umbelliferaI saw two lots of fungus on my walk, one set around the trunk of a growing tree on my way out and one round a dead tree stump on my way back.

fungusI stopped at the Co-op to pick up some milk as I still haven’t got fully organised in my milk buying habits since our milkman gave up delivering to our doorstep and we keep running short.

I was nearly home when I met a new acquaintance sharing my path.

emperor moth caterpillarYou can see where illustrators of science fiction books get their inspiration from.  I think, from peering about on the internet, that this is an emperor moth caterpillar but I am open to better ideas.

By the time that I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had successfully conquered wind and hills and was there before me.  I suspect that she had done more climbing in her ten miles than I had done in my twenty.

Mrs Tootlepedal is eating bucket loads of veg from the garden with her healthy evening meals just now and I used our own potatoes in a feta, tomato and potato bake, garnished with two sorts of green beans.  I would like to have used our own tomatoes but the crop this year has been terrible.  We are fortunate though to have a good commercial grower only ten miles away.

I was also able to have some raspberries from the garden with a drop of ice cream for my pudding, not necessarily very healthy but jolly tasty.

Because of the bad weather in the morning and the activity in the afternoon, I didn’t spend much time looking out of the kitchen window but I did see a male chaffinch casually standing on the back of a female until she made way for him at the feeder.

chaffinchEven a siskin was shocked by this ungentlemanly behaviour.

My flying bird of the day got overtaken.

flying chaffinch

Washed up

Today’s guest picture was taken by my flute pupil’s mother Sharon, who encountered a special treat on her way to work this morning.

sharon's rainbowIt was that sort of day today but only from time to time.  Most of the time it was just raining and there was no sun at all.  And not just raining but pelting down.  I got to the corner shop in a dry spell but got wet on the way back. I took a picture of a soggy poppy…

soggy poppy…and had to nip back indoors before taking another picture.

A look at the forecast suggested that there might be a rain free spell in the afternoon so Mrs Tootlepedal and I got ready for a walk across the hills but by the time that we had got suitable footwear on, the rain was pelting down again so we gave up.

I waited until the rain stopped and shot out with the aim of a quick walk but I only got a few yards before it started again and I retreated.

We watched the World Championships on the telly to pass the time and just when it looked as though the whole day would be wasted, the sun came out again and we sneaked out for a little walk.

It was windy and chilly but the views were good.

WarblaWe crossed the Becks Burn which was running strongly….

Becks Burn

We used a proper bridge not that tree trunk.

…and paddled through the puddles in the woods.  I liked the way that the oxalis ground cover was creeping up this tree.

tree with oxalisAnd I enjoyed the pictures that I could see in the curiously etched bark of another one.

bark art We got through the woods and onto the road…

Becks road…where the leaf cover was thick enough to have kept the surface almost dry.  Just round the corner that you can see in the picture above, my eye was caught by a flash of red.

roseMrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is a rose and a little research tells me that it is a covered with a gall, probably from a wasp of some sort.  It certainly was very striking.

There were other flashes of red to be seen too.

sedumThey turned out to be sedum but I don’t know if they were genuine wild flowers or a garden escape.  Research tells me that I should have looked more carefully at the leaves to find out.  It was very pretty.

I am fairly confident that this is a horse.

horse at hallcroftsAlthough it looks like a lovely day from the photographs, there were always dark clouds looming up in the brisk wind so we didn’t dawdle.

I liked the sight of this flood of cotoneaster flowing over a wall as we got near to the town….

cotoneaster…and it was matched by the flood of water flowing over the caul at Pool Corner a couple of hundred yards later.

Pool CornerWe beat the rain home and were pleased to have got a walk in, even if it was a quick one.  We even had time for a circuit of the garden.

I had taken a torch with me on the walk in case I found an exciting fungus in a gloomy spot that needed illumination to be photographed (I hadn’t) and I made use of it to catch the long lasting lamium that lurks near the back gate into the vegetable garden.

lamiumIt worked well.  It is quite a handy photographic torch as it has a range of three settings from dim to bright.  I shot this on the dim setting.

To celebrate the fact that the government has just added even more unnecessary peers to the House of Lords, here are our our own Lords and Ladies.

Lords and Ladies

Happily, these do not require £300 in expenses every day.

I went back into the house worrying about whether there will be enough sunshine to ripen the plums this year.

plumsThey look promising but are very, very green still.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I continued working on two new pieces with some signs of progress being enough to ensure that we enjoyed our playing.

I found a chaffinch as flying bird of the day.

chaffinchNote: It occurred to us as we talked about the weather with Mike and Alison this evening, that distant readers of the blog may get the impression that the sun shines in Langholm a lot more than it really does.  This is because it may be rainy almost all day but if the sun shines at all, I rush out and take pictures.  It was a miserable cold and wet day today in spite of the brief sunny period and it really has been a miserable spring and summer this year.  Honestly.

Singing in the rain

Today’s guest picture comes from a visit that my brother paid to Sheffield.  It shows the Victoria Quay.

Victoria Quay SheffieldMrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh after breakfast and the brisk winds and heavy rain that she left behind made me quite happy to settle down to putting some weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  The good weather of the past few days had once again left me well behind in my schedule so this was not before time.

I interrupted the work once to investigate getting my new phone to work,  This turned out to be relatively painless.

I discovered that I could ‘chat’ on-line with a disembodied being and he/she revealed that I needed to wait twenty four hours after putting in the sim card before it would work.  It was as simple as that and I wondered why the email saying that my phone was ‘ready to go’ hadn’t revealed this but I assume that they think that everyone knows this already.  Anyway, on the stroke of the twenty four hours, my phone worked.  Hooray.  Now there are just the 129 pages to read.

My other pause was to entertain Dropscone to a cup of coffee.  He was in cheerful mood as he had played a good game if golf in windy conditions yesterday at a seniors tournament on a tricky course.  His scones were good too.

I completed a couple of weeks of the index before lunch and finally the rain relented enough for me to get my camera out and walk round the garden…

poppy

The palest poppy that I have ever seen has come out.

…but it was too windy to spend time on flowers so I set the camera up to watch birds for a while instead.

chaffinches on the feeder

At one moment it was all chaffinches….

siskins on the feeder

…and a few minutes later it was totally siskins.

Variety is the spice of life.

The young blackbirds were lurking about the garden again today.

young blackbirdAt lunchtime, my new phone burst into life with a query from Sandy as to  whether I was up for an outing.  The forecast looked reasonable and the rain had almost stopped so we agreed on an excursion to Longtown for a walk along the river and round the ponds.

By the time that Sandy arrived (bringing a very nice home made carrot cake with him), the weather was looking up and we set off for Longtown in good spirits.

By the time Sandy had parked the car at Longtown…

Longtown…and we had got down to the river, the sun had come out to match the flowers and we had a very pleasant if breezy stroll.

When we started our walk, we met a striking yellow flower on the banks of the Esk…

Golden RodI think it might be Golden Rod but as always, I am open to correction.

There were signs of the turning of the season though.

seed heads and convolvulusThe most common sight on our walk was fluffy seed heads and actual flowers like this convolvulus were few and far between.

The exception was a burst of Himalayan balsam….

Himalayan balsam…which is pretty but rather invasive and so is not very welcome.

There was plenty of water going down the Esk after the rain….

River esk in spate..but the ponds were as peaceful as ever.

Longtown pondsOur plan was to to walk round the ponds but this was thwarted by an outbreak of cows…

cows…who had had the same idea.

They are very handsome animals….

cows…but we didn’t feel like testing their good nature as they grazed on the path we were intending to use.

We settled for walking along the river bank and back.

Esk at Longtown

There are worse places to walk.

Although we didn’t see anything particularly exciting, the walk itself was a great pleasure and the chance to stretch our legs after a morning of miserable weather was much appreciated.  As always at a sunny moment, the bridge over the Esk looked wonderful.

Bridge at LongtownIn spite of the lure of birds and flowers in a sunlit garden,  I settled down to put a third week of the newspaper index into the database when I got home.

During the day, my new phone had brought me the exciting news that Mrs Tootlepedal and Clare had taken Matilda for a walk.  This, to coin a phrase, is a great step forward.  This was not just a few faltering footsteps but a genuine adventure involving going up the street and down another one and across…and down…and up the street again.  This was a journey of about 400 yards and from there to the World Championships can only be a matter of time now.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had to stand on her way to Edinburgh because the train was so full (we blame the Edinburgh Festival) but she got a seat on the way back and arrived home safely.

In the evening, I met Sandy again and we went to the Archive Centre.  Sandy changed the window display (we show a selection of photographs from our archives for the interest of passers by) while I put the fourth week of the day into the database.  This was a hard work for me as my typing is very erratic and I have to do endless corrections as I go along but it didn’t get me much further as the data miners had prepared another four weeks for me to take away so I was back where I had started after breakfast.

Still my new phone is working and I used it to take some of the pictures in today’s post so I am very content.

Although there was a moment on our walk when it looked as though we might have any amount of flying birds to photograph…

gulls at Longtown…they flew off before we could get near and so I found a flying chaffinch to be FBotD.

flying chaffinch

Trouser time

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba and shows a really good excuse for taking a break from a painting job.

dragonflyOur good spell of weather ended with a day of strong winds.  However, the promised rain turned out to be no more than one or two early showers and I found a dry moment to go up act as relief feeder filler at the Moorland Project bird feeders.

I stopped for a while in the hide but there was nothing out of the ordinary to see….

chaffinch and blue tit…but no trip to the feeders is wasted if I see a woodpecker.

woodpeckerThe fungus that I saw on my last visit had vanished but new crops had sprung up to take its place.

fungusWhen I got home, I noticed a couple of curiously coloured blackbirds in the garden….

blackbirdOne flew up onto a telephone pole stay and regarded me with disfavour.

I only stayed outside for a moment as the very strong winds made taking garden photos difficult.  I have enjoyed the hostas this year as they have not only flowered profusely but lasted well too.

hostaMrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the greenhouse and I took a picture of one of her thriving basil plants on the shelf there and twinned it with a very small thyme plant just outside.

thyme and basilI was quite happy to have a quiet sit inside after yesterday’s vigorous pedal but that pleasure wore off after a while and I went out and mowed the drying green and the paths on the front lawn.

Right on schedule, a delivery man turned up with my new phone and I spent some time getting it out of the box and fitting the card and battery.  To my surprise, it worked.  It is a cheaper deal than my old phone but seems just as good.  I only ever used about 5% of the capabilities of my last phone and I am going to work hard to get a bit more value out of this one (if I can), The manual has 129 pages so I don’t feel that I will master much more than a fraction of its potential.

As it is, I can make calls with it but I can’t receive calls so I visited my account page on the web to try to solve the problem and it said,  “Enter the number for your new sim card here.  The number is on the box that the card came in or on the card itself.”  There was no number on the box and although there was a number on the card, it didn’t look right.  I entered it anyway and a message came up saying, “That is not the right number,” and giving me a telephone number to ring.  I rung the number and a robot voice said, “Before you can proceed, please enter your sim card number.”  I broke down, sobbing uncontrollably.  I will try again tomorrow.

It takes good pictures though…

rudbeckia

Our first rudbeckia of the year

sedum

The sedum progresses

…so I am encouraged by that.

At lunchtime, I watched the birds for a bit.

various birds on the feeder

We had a multicultural day on the feeder today

great tit

We have had more visits from great tits lately and I was pleased that this one paused for a moment.

The chaffinches kept coming in in waves.  I took a couple of ‘coming into land’ sequences and as I am not sure which way round to pair them up, I have tried it both ways toady.

chaffincheschaffinchesIn the afternoon, we took two big bags, in which our logs were delivered, back to the garden centre and I took the opportunity to buy a new type of bird feeder.  It claims it will encourage more blue and great tits into the garden.  We shall see.

We went home by way of Gretna where I bought (under careful supervision from my stylist) two new pairs of trousers at a very reasonable price.  My old pair of trousers has been condemned by the trouser inspector as worn out and I dare say that she is right but it is very wearing having to rush out and buy new clothes every ten years or so.

I was hoping to go for a walk when we got home but the very strong winds and some gathering clouds, partnered with my natural indolence, got the better of me and I pottered about doing a little tidying up instead.

I did see a blue tit to go with the earlier great tit.

blue tit

Getting stuck in.

I look forward to an exciting day tomorrow trying to get my new phone working properly but as more strong winds are forecast, it may be a good thing to have something lengthy to do indoors.

The flying bird of the day is another of those chaffinches.

chaffinches

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our neighbour Liz who met this colourful beast on a recent walk in the south.

caterpillarI had been pressed by Scott, the minister, to go for a cycle ride of a decent distance with him as today promised wall to wall sunshine and tolerable winds.  As he had a morning meeting, the ride start  was scheduled for midday.  This gave me several hours after breakfast to change my mind about going or not going.   I used the opportunity to the full.

In the meantime, I spent a remarkably small amount of time (and mental anguish) on the phone while cancelling my existing contract and ordering a new model.  It should come tomorrow and after a few weeks, I may even be able to use it properly.  It is a 4G phone and as we only have 3G coverage in Langholm, it is a bit like casting pearls before swine.  It will be really good when i need to use in Carlisle though.

I also admired Mrs Tootlepedal’s raking skills as she achieved a fine tilth in the potato bed which we finally cleared yesterday.

tilthI also looked at a few flowers.

calendula

Two marigolds looked right back at me.

sunflowers

A burst of sunflowers is beginning to emerge.

dahlia

Possibly a perfect flower.  The dahlias have loved our recent weather.

poppy

A poppy flashing its skirts in the breeze

clematis

Yet another clematis has joined the show

In the end, I made up my mind that I was fit enough for a ‘decent’ distance and went off to meet Scott.  He kindly let me shelter behind him as we set off into the breeze and responded to my frequent requests to ‘slow it down a bit’ with the result that after twenty miles, I was relaxed enough to suggest a favourite route of mine that would give us a round fifty miles, a ‘decent distance’.

garmin route 25 Aug 2015We settled for this and pushed on.  I would have had many, many beautifully composed and  interesting pictures to show you of our route if my phone been fully charged.  As it was, it turned out to have a battery as dead as a dodo so you are spared any unnecessary details.

We stopped at Longtown after 35 miles to enjoy a pot of tea for two and some toasted tea cakes before taking on the final gently uphill section home.

The wind had seemed quite brisk when we set out but it didn’t seem so bad by the time that we finished.  This was lucky as it was coming out of the west and as you can see from the route map, this meant that it was against or across us for much longer than it was behind us.  Still, any day that I can manage 15 mph for fifty miles is a good day and thanks go to Scott for keeping my speed up by acting as a wind deflector when the going got tough.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker enjoying a cup of tea in the garden and discussing the best care for a poorly tree.  Mike told us that he had been for a couple of rides on his mountain bike with a friend who has just acquired an electric bike (they are getting increasingly popular).  He had enjoyed the outings but had found that being whizzed past by an electric bike while he was struggling up steep hills was not undiluted joy.

As Mike left, I took a picture of a very decorative poppy whose rich colour and many layers challenged Pocketcam to its limit.

poppyIt is actually redder than the pictures shows but I had to reduce the saturation in the photo editor to get any definition at all.

I also took a moment to watch the birds.

two shouting siskins

Two shouting siskins working in concert.

sparrows

In spite of the shouting siskins, it was basically ‘sparrow city’ today.

sparrow

There were some calm birds about

I resolved to go for a short walk in order to take some pictures to make up for the failure to record the bike ride.

I chose a walk that gave me a good view over the town…

Whita

You can see the top of the walnut tree in our garden at the bottom of the picture

…some interesting wild flowers.

convolvulus

The hedges are full of convolvulus now

The hedgerows are getting a bit barer now as the meadowsweet loses flowers….

meadowsweet..but not all the colour has gone.

knapweedThere was a gate that caught my eye….

gate…and then my camera battery ran out without notice (or at least without me noticing) so I turned round and came home.

Not my most successful day when it came to battery readiness.

I think that perhaps my legs were in cahoots with my battery because they felt quite pleased to be sitting down when I got back to the house.

In the evening, as there was nothing more interesting on the telly, I spent a little time watching the Bloomberg Channel.  It seems clearly evident that we are rushing headlong into another major financial crisis while governments fail to act and smart financiers see how much they can make by betting against their clients’ interests so I felt that I should be trying to find out what these experts thought was going on.  I learned that I should probably be unravelling my China shorts…..and no, it doesn’t make any sense to me either.

It is going to rain tomorrow but summer has been very good while it lasted.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Rapid improvement

Today’s guest picture comes from my older son Tony and shows a view of Oban, where he was having a short break with his partner Marianne this last weekend.

ObanWe had another lovely day here today and I was in a much better state to enjoy it than I was yesterday.  Happily, most of the aches and pains have disappeared as swiftly as they had arrived and after breakfast, I was able to potter about doing some useful tasks in the garden.  I dug up a couple of rows of quite productive potatoes and shredded some of the obstinate decorative grass that takes an age to compost of you put it in untouched.

I took a few pictures too of course.

poppiesinsects

clematis

Yet another clematis has appeared.

My good humour was further bolstered by some excellent scones which Dropsocne brought round to go with a cup of coffee or two.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at a church choir practice while we sipped and chatted and when she returned, she cast a weather eye out and decided to cycle to The Hub in Eskdalemuir for a cup of tea and a bacon butty.   I was not feeling quite confident enough about my own fitness to go with her so I waved her on her way.

This turned out to be a good decision because I was just getting organised to go out on a little ride of my own, when my watch alarm went off, reminding me that it was time to go and do my stint in the Information Hub on the High Street as the tourist office is now called.  I had completely forgotten about this.

I had time to set the tripod up and watch the birds for a moment or two before I went.

flying chaffinch

Two rapid exposures caught this chaffinch sticking on the brakes as it approached the feeder

siskin and sparrow

Two separate exposures caught a siskin and sparrow manouevering for position

My afternoon at the Information Hub was not busy but also not entirely wasted as I was able to offer some information to a couple of tourists and I received visits from Ken, the data miner, and Sandy which both helped pass the time.

When I had locked up, I went off for a short walk with Sandy.  We drove to Whitshiels and walked up one of our favourite tracks.  I was hoping for fungus.

fungiWe found fungus.

fungiWe peered into the hidden world of insect life…

soldier beetles

These are soldier beetles but I don’t know what the very tiny one at the bottom of the picture is.

We peered at plants…

plantAnd we peered at the fantastical world of lichens.

lichensWhen we emerged from the woods, we were able to enjoy the view as ever….

Ewes valley…and among the grasses, we could see the tiny moths that fluttered about….

moth

Hardly bigger than a stalk of grass

….and the much more visible stock pens….

stock pen…and once again, we marvelled at the three trees just beyond the pens.

three treesThese trees have the slenderest connection to the ground imaginable.  I always expect to find that they have upped sticks and walked away but they seem to thrive.  All three have only half a trunk and are completely hollow near the ground.

We didn’t have the time or energy to complete our usual circular walk and when we had enjoyed the sunshine and the views, we walked back down the track.

I got home just before Mrs Tootlepedal.  She returned from her 29 mile cycle ride in good order and in very good spirits.  She had chosen an excellent day for the outing with warm sunshine and light winds but the road to Eskdalemuir is hilly all the way and it is not a doddle by any means, even on a good day.  My admiration for her is unbounded.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and considering that we have not met for a few weeks, he played very well.  I am looking forward to a productive autumn  with him.

After a nourishing fish cake for my tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  I didn’t take my flute as my hands are not entirely ache free and holding and playing the recorder is much less hard work than puffing away at a heavy flute.  As a result, I enjoyed the hour’s playing a great deal.  Because I make many less mistakes on the recorder than on the flute, I think the other two enjoyed themselves as well.

I am hoping to feel even better tomorrow and I have a cycle ride planned for the afternoon.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

siskin

Thwarted dream

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and shows the River Derwent at Derby on a very, very calm day.

Statues Bridge DerbyThe forecast was for a warm and sunny day and I had a dream of what I might do on such an unusual day.  Sadly the dream was dashed as soon as I woke up.  It was not the weather that was disappointing.  Indeed it was probably the best day of the whole year.  It was my ability to make any good use of it that had vanished as almost every joint in my body was aching when I got up.

There was no obvious reason for this and I didn’t feel ill in any way but I did feel sore.  I faced up to this misfortune bravely and didn’t moan for more than fifty minutes in any given hour for the rest of the day.  As a result there is not much to write about the day at all as it consisted for the most part of going out into the garden to enjoy the warm weather for a short while and then going back in again to sit down and hope that things got better.

I took Pocketcam with me on my excursions into the garden of course.

I met beauty and the beast.

poppies

The fresh poppies were beautiful

slug and lords and ladies

Not so pretty were a  visiting slug and Lords and Ladies which I find colourful enough but very unattractive.

There was more beauty than beast about though.

sweet pea and Japanese anemone

A lofty sweet pea and a Japanese anemone

And some of the beasts were very handsome.

astrantia

Astrantia and friends

As I couldn’t hold up the big camera, I set it up on a tripod at the kitchen window but it was hard to get it set to catch flying birds when the light was right….

flying sparrowSometimes too much light is a problem.  Still I did get one picture that I was pleased with for the translucent wing feathers..

flying sparrowLuckily, there was the athletics world championships on the telly to take my mind off my troubles.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a cycle ride after lunch, by which time the wind had become very strong.  She enjoyed being blown up the hills on the way out to Westwater but she was not so taken with having to pedal quite hard to down the hills on the way back.

By the early evening, my knees had settled down enough to encourage me to go out for a short and very slow walk round Gaskells.  It was such an outstandingly pleasant day that not to go out at all would have been a crime.

Pool Corner

Pool Corner was well sheltered from the strong gusts of wind.

I kept an eye out for fungi on my way and spotted one or two.

fungusfungusfungusThe last picture shows what a difference the light makes.  They are the same sorts of fungus just a few feet apart but one lot was on one side of a tree and the other was on the other.

I walked through shady dells….

Gaskells…and along green paths..

Gaskells…until I came out onto the Stubholm and one of my favourite views.

StubholmI walked gingerly down the steps to the park where I was tempted to try a black and white photograph.

Langholm Church…but took a proper picture of the Kirk Brig as I crossed the Wauchope just to show what a lovely day it was.

Kirk BrigWhen I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal kindly made the tea and that rounded off a seriously underused lovely day.  I am hoping the aching joints disappear in the night as suddenly and mysteriously as they came.  I would be keeping my fingers crossed if they didn’t hurt when I cross them.

The flying bird of the day must be regarded sympathetically as it was the best I could do.

flying sparrow

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